Meet Our Ministry Staff

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Rev. Erin Dickey, Senior Pastor

 

She/Her/Hers

 

Began serving RACC in November of 2016

 

Erin is a proud graduate of Texas Christian University (2011 + 2015) with a BA in Religion, BSSW in Social Work, and a Masters in Social Work as well as a Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School. Erin was ordained by the Great River Region in May of 2015. Erin previously served as as the Youth Minister at First Christian Church in Gainesville, TX and Director of Recovery Ministries at First Christian Church in Wichita Falls, TX. Erin is a 4th generation Disciple of Christ and has a passion for children, youth, camp, and outreach ministries. 

 

What is your favorite thing about RACC?

I was drawn to RACC for two main reasons - RACC’s emphasis on children (specifically through it’s involvement in our regional church camp and the Riverside Children’s Art’s Center) and RACC’s Open & Affirming status. What has KEPT me at RACC is the spirit of welcome, compassion, and desire for justice that is evident in all of RACC’s ministries. I love that RACC welcomes all people exactly as God has created them and affirms their identity as a beloved child of God.

 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1. I. LOVE. DOGS. We have three dogs: Maggie (Australian Shepherd), Maple (Golden Retriever), & Waffles (Golden Retriever). We also have a cat, Queso, who thinks he's a dog. Maple is currently training to be a Therapy Dog and I look forward to using her in ministry. I love them so incredibly much and could talk about them for hours. I also love other people’s dogs and want to play with every dog I meet. Did I mention that I love dogs?

2. I love to bake, however, my baking projects tend to look more like ‘Nailed It!’ than ‘The Great British Bake Off.’ 

3. I met my husband, Justin, counseling church camp at Disciples Crossing in Athens, TX. We bonded over dogs and church camp cinnamon rolls. One of my favorite things about ministry is getting to share in it with him and I am grateful that RACC allows us to share in ministry together.

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Janet Novick, Administrative Pastor & Director of Children's Ministries 

 

She/ Her/ Hers

Began Serving at RACC September 2019

 

Janet was born and raised here in Jacksonville and has three children of her own.  Janet encourages children in their knowledge and walk with Jesus through planned lessons and fun hands on learning activities. 

What is your favorite about RACC? 

RACC is comprised of real people who hold no discrimination to any individual that wanders through its doors seeking a place to worship our Holy Father. No soul is turned away based on their past, color, sexual orientation, age, gender or any other factor. All are welcomed to worship and learn about Our Savior. 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1.    I am a homeschooling mom and it’s amazing. I get to go on field trips, learn and grow with my daughter and it has been such a blessing. 

2.    I LOVE books and crafts…way too much! 

3.    I met my husband through a co worker and I proposed to him. We have been married for over 24 years and I am still delighted he said YES! 

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Aimee Ortiz Low, Arts Director for Riverside Children's Arts Center

 

She/Her/Hers

Began serving RACC in August of 2018

 

Working for Riverside Children's Arts Center appealed to me because of my love for the arts.  I have always been interested in everything art, from performing on stage to cooking, and I was very excited to be able to share my experience with children.  

 

What is your favorite thing about RACC? I love how accepting and loving RACC is, that it is open and affirming, and I love the strong female leaders. It makes me proud to say I work here. 

 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1. I love to cook for other people, but when I'm by myself I will eat cereal for breakfast lunch and dinner. 

2. I keep a journal of weird or funny thoughts that I have throughout the day. 

3. I love cats. 

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Melisaa Aiuppy, Choir Director

She/her/hers

 

Began attending RACC October 2021

 

Melissa grew up in the Disciples of Christ tradition, attending Central Christian Church as a child and teen, and attending summer camp each summer. Her Grandmother, Betty Harris, attended RACC as a teen, later moving to Central Christian, and her mother, Barbara London, has been a member of RACC since 2002. Melissa loves singing, playing the piano, leading worship, and assisting others in growing in these gifts as well. 

 

What is your favorite thing about RACC?

Having been away from the Disciples church most of my adult life, coming back to the familiar traditions, the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer, the order of worship, the Gloria Patri, the traditional hymns, has been very comforting in this season of life. I also adore getting to see my children learn about God in the same setting that I did, through Sunday school, Children’s Moment, and Accolyting. I also love that RACC is so open, giving others the freedom to come to their own conclusions about God in a non-judgmental setting. 

 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1. I have been making music my entire life! I attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Wheaton College Music Conservatory, and I have been teaching and leading others in worship ever since! I love music. 

 

2. I have a son with severe Autism. His name is Soren, he is nine years old, and he loves hats! We try our hardest to not let special needs hold us back as a family, and bring Soren along on our family adventures as much as we are able. Whenever you see Soren at church, always feel free to say hello, give him a high five, or ask any questions at all about his disability. We welcome the discussion.

 

3. I love running! I have three Gate River Runs under my belt, and don’t intend on missing any in the future if I can help it, and I one day hope to earn a top ten percent finisher hat. I hope to run the Donna Half Marathon in February to honor a friend battling breast cancer. 

 

Deborah Bryant, Accompanist                                   

She/her/hers

Began serving RACC in 2017  

 

Deborah came to Riverside with her twins to join her parents who are also very active in the church. Deborah’s father is a retired pastor and her mother also plays the piano and organ so you can see where she gets her love of music! Deborah has been active in the church and music her entire life!

What is your favorite thing about RACC?

I love that our church is an open and affirming church and welcomes all who walk through the doors no matter what!  We are all Children of God and there are some wonderful people that are very involved in our church and have so many different talents that help us in so many different areas of our daily church activities!

I also enjoy working with so many talented choir members who play piano and sing.  It really helps when you want to take a day off to have other talented piano players to fill in for you which includes my mom who taught me how to play piano from a very young age! 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1. I am a mother of 21-year-old twins I am very proud of both of them!

2. I have a passion for Contemporary Music but still love the traditional hymns too. 

3. Other things I enjoy besides music are cooking and baking especially for the holidays. When I have the time, I really enjoy being crafty and making things such as wreaths, ornaments, cross stitching and scrapbooking. I also enjoy decorating my home for the holidays, and spending time with family as well as traveling.

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Ben Orensky, Preschool Leader

 

He/Him/His

 

Began serving RACC in 2021

 

Ben grew up in Pershing Avenue Christian Church all the way back in 2005, surrounded in the Disciples of Christ Community. As a teenager he started going to church camp where he met some amazing friends, and when he started going to school at UNF, thought to go to the church where a large group of friends came from. Since then, he has been excited to share all of his experiences with the children of the church, and provide parents with their much needed break of the week. 

 

What is your favorite about RACC?

How open the church is and how they never actually questioned me, but accepted without a second thought. 

 

What are three things that are important to know about you?

1) I love working on computers.

2) I am a pastor's child. 

3) I am always there for anyone who needs it. 

Karen Adams, Wedding Coordinator

 

She/Her/Hers

 

Began serving RACC in 2018

 

Karen is a lifelong member of RACC. As part of the congregation Karen has attended small and large weddings over the years. In 2019 Karen planned her own wedding. She is personal familiar with the excitement, joy and stress of wedding planning. 

 

What is your favorite thing about RACC?

Riverside is a open and affirming congregation that welcomes all people as a beloved children of God. From my childhood to adulthood, I have see the congregation grow into the open and affirming congregation it is today. I have also see Riverside put our mission into action. As a loving, serving and witnessing congregation, Riverside participants in Youth mission trips, the Children's Art Center, iCare, marching in the Riverside Pride Parade, presenting a Live Nativity during Luminara. These are only a few examples of how Riverside is living its mission.

*Please note that Karen works on an "as needed basis." To learn more about our wedding ministry and how to get in touch with her, please visit our Weddings Section*