A Nebraska native, Reverend Patrick Collins graduated in 2003 from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he majored in Psychology and earned two letters as part of the football team. He then went on to the University of Missouri, where he received a Master’s degree in Counseling and Sport Psychology in 2005. From 2005 to 2012, Patrick served as the Director of Youth Ministries at Countryside Community Congregational Church in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2016, he completed his Masters of Divinity degree with honors at The Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.
Patrick is married to Kate, a physical therapist, and they have three boys and a daughter. The Collins family has become deeply involved in the Old Greenwich/Riverside community since their arrival in 2016. Patrick has coached flag football and baseball and is a Den Leader in Cub Scout Den 3 and Kate has served in numerous volunteer roles at Old Greenwich School.
Craig Scott Symons, Minister of Music
Craig Scott Symons began his tenure as Minister of Music at First Congregational Church of Greenwich in 2010. Craig is a native of Michigan, where he most recently served as Director of Music for 15 years at First United Methodist Church in Royal Oak, a suburb just north of Detroit. He attended the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy for four years and graduated in 1980. Craig received his Bachelor of Music degree from Wayne State University as a student of Ray Ferguson and went on to receive a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from University of Michigan, where he studied with Robert Glasgow and James Kibbie.
Craig is active in a number of organizations, presently serving as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Music in Worship for the American Choral Directors Association – State of Connecticut, He previously served as Dean for the Detroit Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and has held positions on executive boards for Fairfield-West Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Fellowship of United Methodist Musicians – Detroit Chapter, and Choristers Guild – Detroit Chapter.
From 1990-2007, Craig was the Founder and Conductor of Ars Nova, an auditioned group of 24 singers, which presented concerts of music ranging from chant to vocal jazz and everything in between. He is also Director/Pianist for the Blue Notes, a philanthropic group of women who spread the joy of music with senior citizen groups, retirement centers, and nursing facilities throughout lower Fairfield county.
Craig has performed organ recitals around the country, including numerous venues around southeastern Michigan, New York City, Boston, and Washington D. C. Since 2008, he can be found singing bass with sounding light, a professional choir based in Detroit, directed by Tom Trenney.
Reverend Cydney Van Dyke grew up in Southeast Pennsylvania. The daughter of two UCC pastors, she spent her whole life in the denomination. She now serves with many people who helped form her faith growing up. She attended Ursinus College, majoring in Peace and Justice Studies with minors in International Relations and Religious Studies. When she was the Chapel Pianist in her junior year, she received her call to ministry. This led to a “Pre-Seminarian Internship” at Trinity UCC in Collegeville in her senior year. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. While there, she served at United Parish in Brookline (American Baptist, UCC, and United Methodist), as Seminarian, Summer Pastoral Associate, and Interim Christian Education Coordinator. She then served as Associate Pastor at New Goshenhoppen UCC in East Greenville, PA, and was ordained in 2016.
She’s an avid singer, loves A Cappella, sports fan, youth-based ministry advocate, proud Hufflepuff, and is cheese obsessed. And she believes that church should be fun. Really fun.
Joining her for her call to FCCOG is her partner and boyfriend of over 5 years, Scott Lauher. They were in the same class at Ursinus College. Scott works in Washington D.C. in the environmental non-profit sector. They are excited to be ending the long-distance portion of their relationship, and are eager to begin the next phase of their lives together in Greenwich, beginning October 13, 2020.
Khaleigh Laicher (she/they) pronounced “kay-lee” “lay-sure”, “was born in New Jersey, and raised in North Texas by my parents with my younger (yet taller than me) brother, in a myriad of faith traditions. I converted to Christianity when I was a teenager, and soon became involved with my home church in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a sister denomination to the United Church of Christ, of which FCCOG and 2CC belong!
After participating in church camp, helping out in Sunday School, and more while in high school, I first heard the words “seminary” and “vocational youth ministry” at age 16. I quickly followed that by asking “Wait, I can go to school for this and do this as my job?” After graduating, I saw a number of kids and young families in attendance at church, but with no Sunday School teacher or events intended for them. I shared these thoughts with my mentor saying, “Why is there not someone here doing this?” He said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”
And … Here we are, seven years later! After moving to New England, I served as the Interim Director of Christian Education in Providence, RI. I was then called to serve as the Minister of Youth and Family Programs in Chicopee, MA. Sadly, as COVID-19 affected so many people, it also affected many churches. In late 2020 I began to serve the 6th-12th grade students of First Congregational Church and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church both in Longmeadow, MA. I have been solely serving First Church Longmeadow since January 2022.
As a faith formation leader, I care deeply about the role the church plays in the lives of the children and youth in today’s local church setting. I believe that we are called to be a people who are joyful, caring, and justice driven. Those who share meals together, are supportive of one another, questioning together, fun, and affirming. In the Gospel of Luke, we read the Parable of The Lost Sheep: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? And when he finds it, he is thrilled and carries it back home…”
The foundation of my ministry lies in the relationships we build with each other, and a faith that keeps me grounded in my calling. We read in the story that the shepherd is thrilled when each sheep makes it back home. We are taught not only to invite people in, but to prepare a way for them – to celebrate every single member. I look forward to being able to do this, getting “to care for others in the way that God would so that each and every person knows their true worth.”
Moving to Greenwich with me is my dear wife, Julianna, who goes by Julie! We were married in 2020, but had our ‘big’ wedding last September. We are often followed promptly by our 5 year old Rat Terrier named Ollivander “Ollie,” our 15 year old calico named Temprance “Tiny,” and our nearly one year old silver kitten Daphne “Daph.” I love being outside, coffee, talking to people, hiking, my family, NCIS, Gray’s Anatomy, Harry Potter and Star Trek Voyager. Fun Fact: I collect Bible interpretations, I also played golf in high school and some in college!”