Archwood UCC
Want to reach us?
Please scroll down on this page
for contact information. You can also find a list of our recent guest preachers and a brief history of our congregation here.

Welcome to Archwood’s staff, Esther! Esther Baruja, M.Div., began a one-year engagement as our part-time Worship Coordinator and Leader on Jan. 25, 2016. She coordinates all services in cooperation with our Worship Team, preaching twice a month and securing guest preachers for other Sundays. She prepares the Sunday bulletin and leads Bible studies and other spiritual-growth programs. A team of Archwood leaders appointed by Moderator Judy Schumann drafted Esther’s position description and contract, which emerged from our New Beginnings process. Esther is still working separately with the Western Reserve Association of the United Church of Christ on starting a new, progressive Hispanic ministry based in our neighborhood, for which she was originally brought to Cleveland. She lives in our parsonage with her partner, Kati, and their little baby, Tekové -- plus two cats and a dog. Authorized as a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ, Esther has a B.A. degree in clinical psychology from her native Paraguay. She began her ministerial studies in the Program in Sacred Scriptures at ISEDET Seminary in Argentina and later transferred to Chicago Theological Seminary, where she finished her divinity degree. Her studies focused on what she describes as "theological-based liberation from multi-level oppressions at the intersections of race, class and gender, as a Latina woman living in the U.S." She is in the process of seeking authorization as an Ordained Minister. We first met Esther, Kati and Tekové in June 2015, and Esther was a guest preacher with us on various Sundays in October and December of that year.

How to reach us

at Archwood United Church of Christ

Here is whom to contact for various needs and questions:

Pastoral care. The Rev. Wayne Brass, a member of Archwood and an experienced local church pastor and hospital chaplain, responds to pastoral care needs. Please call or text him at 216-394-6421.

Building use. Donna Ressler coordinates our building calendar and relationships with our space sharers. We continue to welcome neighbors and community partners to make arrangements to use our historic building. Please email her at Or leave a message at the church office, 216-351-1060, and ask Donna to contact you.

Worship. Want to read scripture, lead prayer, serve as a greeter, offer special music? Speak with Worship Coordinator and Leader Esther Baruja or send an email to the church office, Also, Kathy Harlow, Grace Schumann and Elizabeth Fox are available to provide children's activities in the parlor during sermon time each Sunday. If you're interested in taking part in that ministry, contact Kathy at

Governance. Moderator Judy Schumann and the Governing Body keep our organizational life going and make sure there are “point people” for functions such as those described above. Questions? Contact Judy at

          Church office. Feel free to leave a voice mail message at Archwood’s phone number, 216-351-1060, or send an email to Both will be checked regularly.

Recent preachers at Archwood
Music filled the sanctuary during a special service led by Amanda Powell on July 24. An experienced singer, instrumentalist and worship leader, Amanda drew on music from various styles and cultures to help us pray, think and sing. Then, over lunch, we engaged Amanda in conversation on music at Archwood and how it can connect with our evolving mission. In addition to touring professionally and consulting with churches around the U.S., Amanda serves as Assistant Director of Music Ministries at The Federated Church, a congregation of United Church of Christ in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Read about her approach to song leading here.
Back in our pulpit on July 17, 2016, was the Rev. Dr. Carl P. Wallace, a longtime Northeast Ohio pastor and leader in the national setting of the United Church of Christ. A frequent guest at Archwood in the early 2000s, Carl most recently served from 2008 to 2015 as Senior Pastor of Trinity UCC, Akron. Under his leadership, the church carried out such ministries as Trinity in the Community, with free clothing, food and emergency financial assistance; Mothers on a Mission Spiritually, reaching out to young mothers; and the Empowering Scholars Project, serving homeless students and families. Previously he served as pastor of Trinity UCC, Cleveland, and Union Congregational Church, Painesville, and as Executive Associate of the UCC's national Justice and Witness Ministries. Among his responsibilities there was serving as Project Team Leader for the Gulf Coast Justice Initiative. He also previously was leader of a national UCC task force promoting public education as a fundamental civil right. Carl's academic degrees include a B.A. from Tufts University, Medford, Mass.; an M.Div. from Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Divinity from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. Carl was also at Archwood on three Sundays in September 2015 on Jan. 31 and April 17, 2016. He'll next preach for us on July 17.
Sunday in the park with Archwood. We enjoyed an outdoor service and a cookout July 10, 2016, Cleveland's Edgewater Park. Beautiful, sunny weather graced us as Esther Baruja led us in worship and we shared food and the beauty of God's great outdoors on the shore of Lake Erie.
Hans Holznagel, a member of Archwood since 2000, gave a sermon, "Spirit and Body," on June 26, 2016, based on the fifth chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Hans has worked professionally as a newspaper reporter, a staff member in the national ministries of the United Church of Christ and chief operating officer of Cleveland’s Near West Theatre. He is now development and marketing manager at Cogswell Hall, a residence for adults with disabling conditions. A graduate of Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Ore., he holds an M.A. degree in religious studies from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, New York City. His spouse, Kathy Harlow, is treasurer of Archwood and an attorney with Towards Employment. Their two grown children were both confirmed at Archwood: Clifton, a professional actor in Portland, Ore.; and Alyssa, a Cleveland-based mental health case worker with The Centers for Families and Children. Hans previously preached at Archwood on Jan. 24, 2016.
Emily at a rugby match!

Our preacher on June 12 was Emily Culp, M.Div., a recent graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. Emily grew up in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She became involved with the United Church of Christ while in seminary and is now a Member in Discernment with the Southeast Conference of the UCC. Emily was a special education teacher for several years in Atlanta, and her passion includes the intersection of disability advocacy and theology. She lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for two years as a live-in assistant and Spiritual Life Coordinator at L’Arche Belfast, a faith-based community for adults with and without disabilities, before moving to Ohio in late 2015 to work with L’Arche Cleveland. Emily also preached at Archwood on Feb. 7 and April 3, 2016.

Back in our pulpit on Sunday, May 29, was the Rev. Jim Cunningham. Now retired from full-time ministry, Jim served for 23 years as a health-care chaplain and 15 years as a parish pastor in the United Church of Christ. He was Director of Pastoral Care at Fairview Hospital, Cleveland, for 10 years. In retirement Jim is assisting congregations as a preacher, teacher, lecturer, wedding officiant and administrative consultant. Jim, Charlie and their cat, Potus, live in Lakewood, Ohio. Jim previously preached at Archwood on Palm Sunday (March 20), on Feb. 21, and three times in 2015.

Our preacher on May 15 was Dr. Edith Rasell, who serves as Minister for Economic Justice in the national ministries of the United Church of Christ, based in downtown Cleveland, and also as a part-time licensed minister at Archwood. In her national work, Edie educates and mobilizes the faith community to bring greater economic justice to people in the U.S. and around the world, especially the poor and marginalized. Before coming to the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries, she worked for 12 years at the Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank in Washington, D.C. She holds a Ph.D. in economics, has testified before Congress on a variety of issues, and has been published in The American Economic Review, the New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals. Check out her current work at the economic justice page at Her previous preaching dates at Archwood included March 6, 2016, and Labor Day weekend in 2015.
Kati Baruja will humbly tell you she got her Archwood gigs leading an April 24 Earth Day-themed service and preaching on May 1 because she has connections: she's married to Esther and lives in the parsonage! In fact, though, she's had quite a career of her own, including several years in collegiate Christian ministry in South America, where she met Esther. She's now a Spanish interpreter in local courts, hospitals and offices. Her May 1 sermon title was, "All of the Bible -- The Whole Thing." She and Esther have their hands full with their son, Tekové (11 months!), two cats and a dog. Kati is also helping get Archwood's new 4th-Saturday fruit-and-veggie sale off the ground, building on the success of the 2nd-Saturday sales that started last fall. She'll preach again for us on July 3.
The Rev. Susan A. Blain was our worship leader on Maundy Thursday, March 24, 2016, as we shared food and remembered Jesus' last meal with his friends. Sue, a longtime friend of Archwood, serves with the new Faith Formation Ministry Team in the national setting of the United Church of Christ, with primary responsibility for worship. She edits Worship Ways, the online resource for lectionary-based worship. She consults with local churches and associations on the topics of worship planning in local contexts, using arts in worship, and exploring traditions of Christian worship. In 2015, Sue was our Sunday worship leader on Nov. 8, Nov. 22 and Dec. 6 and led a special Blue Christmas service at Archwood on Monday evening, Dec. 21, the longest night of the year.
We began the traditional 40 days of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service at 7 p.m. Feb. 10, 2016, led by the Rev. Wayne Brass (profiled below). Among the thoughts he offered for our reflection was something Sojourner Truth once said in Angola, Indiana: "Then I will speak upon the ashes."
Wayne with grandsons Eli and Levin

Leading us in worship on Ash Wednesday 2016 and on two Sundays in Advent 2015 (Nov. 29 and Dec. 13) was the Rev. Wayne Brass, an Archwood member who has retired from full-time work as a United Church of Christ pastor and hospital chaplain. Wayne served as minister of UCC congregations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio and as a health-care chaplain in Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. He remains on call part-time as a chaplain at Cleveland’s MetroHealth Hospital and is also responding to pastoral care needs here at Archwood (see “Whom to Contact" on the About Us page of this website). A graduate of Lakeland College, Sheboygan, Wis., and United Theological Seminary, New Brighton, Minn., he was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1976. Wayne and his wife, Jane Brass, also an active Archwood member, live on Cleveland’s West Side.

Longtime Archwood member Dale Lindsey offered a sermon, "Are We Trustworthy?," on Jan. 10, 2016, based on Matthew 25:38-45 and other texts. He also preached on Oct. 18, 2015. Basing his sermon, "The Prayer of Jesus -- Kind Of," on Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:5-15, he encouraged people to consider "kin-dom" as an alternative to the word "kingdom" in the prayer that Jesus taught us. Dale's varied career has included work as a swimming instructor, roofer, organizer with the National Farm Worker Ministry and United Farm Workers, local church pastor, chemical dependency counselor, and, now, mental health counselor. "I was born in Flint, Mich., where all my relatives built cars," Dale says. "I started coming to Archwood UCC in 1997 and like our dedication to grow into new ministries as time passes." Dale is on the board of Cleveland's Interreligious Task Force on Central America and is a supporter of a number of other social-justice efforts. He holds a B.A. in social work from the University of Michigan, an M.Div. from Evangelical (now Garrett-Evangelical) Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill., and an M.Ed. in counseling from Cleveland State University.
Our guest preacher on Oct. 25, 2015, was the Rev. Lois (Loey) Powell. Her sermon, based on Mark 10:46-52, was titled, "Throw Off Your Cloaks!" A longtime member and friend of Archwood, Loey serves as Executive Associate to the President/CEO of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the UCC, based in downtown Cleveland. She recently concluded 18 years of work with other ministries in the church's national setting, including the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society, Justice and Witness Ministries, and the Office of the General Minister and President. Before coming to the national setting of the church, she was a local church pastor in Oakland, Calif., and Tallahassee, Fla. Over the years Loey has been active ecumenically in the Justice for Women Working Group of the National Council of Churches, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and other advisory and task groups. She has a passion for "intersectional justice" that looks at the overlay of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression. Loey holds a B.A. in religion from Oberlin Colege and an M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion, and was ordained in 1978.
Our guest preacher on Oct. 11, 2015, was the Rev. Richard Plant, a member of the staff of our local family of United Church of Christ congregations, the Eastern Ohio and Western Reserve Associations. His sermon, based on Mark 10:17-31, will be titled, "Filling by Emptying." Rich serves our Associations as Associate for Leadership Vitality and Development. Rich grew up in New York City, is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and Queens College, and has a master's degree in counseling and human development from Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio. He previously pastored congregations in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio.
We're grateful to the Rev. Rodney Mundy-Haase for serving as our guest preacher for all five Sundays in August 2015. A member of Dover Congregational UCC in Westlake, Rod serves as Open and Affirming Coordinator with the United Church of Christ's Open and Affirming Coalition. It was great having his husband, Darryl Mundy-Haase, in worship with us as well. Thanks for your ministry, Rod, and best wishes to you both. May our paths cross again!
Godspeed, Sara! On Sunday, June 28, we said farewell to the Rev. Sara Ross and thanked her for her faithful service as our pastor from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2015. We wished her the best as she reunited with her family in Connecticut and moved on to new callings in ministry. She served in late 2015 and early 2016 in a "bridge" capacity as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church (UCC) in Southington, Conn., and is now transitional minister at West Suffield Congregational Church (UCC).

A Brief History

of Archwood United Church of Christ

Founded in 1819, Archwood is the oldest congregation of the United Church of Christ in the city of Cleveland. We are also the result of a merger of Archwood Congregational Church and Fourth Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1967, which followed the national merger of those two denominations in 1957. 
In the 1950s the membership of Archwood Church was over 1,000 people, most of whom lived in our Brooklyn Centre neighborhood on Cleveland's Near West Side. When the freeways were built in the 1960s, as many as 5,000 homes and businesses in our immediate area were torn down, causing an outward migration. Busing in the 1970s also caused some families to move to nearby suburbs. These changes contributed to the decline of the church, to such an extent that in the early 1990s there were only 30 people in worship on an average Sunday, most of whom were over 75 years of age. 
This struggling congregation found it difficult to find a pastor, and for three years, while actively searching, was served by an interim pastor. The regional UCC executive that assists congregations to find pastors suggested that they look at the candidacy of openly gay pastors, many of whom have difficulty finding placement, even though the UCC was the first denomination in the United States to ordain an openly gay man in 1972. 
(The UCC, through one of its predecessor bodies, the Congregational Church, was also the first in the U.S. to ordain a person of African descent, in the late 1700s, and the first to ordain a woman, in 1853.)
In 1992 the search committee came to a conclusion about the best qualified candidate and extended an invitation to David Bahr to preach a "call sermon," after which the congregation would vote. A two-thirds majority was required to extend a call, and the margin was exactly two-thirds. Most, but not all, of those persons who voted against his call left the church immediately. Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer, carried the news that the church had called an openly gay man as its pastor. Visitors, gay and non-gay, started coming to the church and becoming members. The long-time members who remained were exceptionally loving and welcoming. 
An Open and Affirming Covenant was developed to make explicit the church's welcome of all people and which expressed its commitment to be intentional in growing as a multicultural, multiracial congregation. A few years later our diversity further developed as we began providing interpretation for deaf and hearing impaired individuals. 
In 2001 we began to consider an explicit statement of our commitment to justice and peace. From that we developed a Just Peace Covenant, similar to those of other UCC congregations.
The Rev. David Bahr concluded his ministry at Archwood in the fall of 2007 upon receving a call from a UCC congregation in Denver, Colo. There followed a period of search and call during which the church was served successively by three interim ministers: the Rev. Joan Salmon-Campbell, the Rev. Stephen Adams and the Rev. Ruth Garwood.
The Rev. Sara Ross was called as Archwood's pastor in December 2010 and served from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2015, when she relocated to Connecticut to be reunited with her family and pursue other callings in ministry.