The Rev. Jim Mitulski was welcomed into the Congregational Church of Belmont family on Feb. 1, 2023.
He was a familiar face to many of us since he had served as interim pastor at Island United Church in Foster City for two years and as co-leader of the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition and an active member of the San Mateo Branch of the NAACP.
In fact, after 32 years of ordained ministry in churches from New York to California and congregations both small and enormous (1,000 in the pews on Sunday!), he said he felt drawn to lead this little church on the hill as the “capstone” of his career.
Pastor Jim, who was ordained in 1983, began his ministry in the Metropolitan Community Church denomination in New York and then San Francisco before attending the United Church of Christ seminary, the Pacific School of Religion. He also studied at two schools from the Unitarian Universalist tradition: He was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity and received an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Oakland.
The first 25 years of his ministry were spent in largely gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender congregations including the largest LGBT church in the world in Dallas, the Cathedral of Hope (which is also one of the largest UCC churches).
He lives in Oakland with his cat Keats, but he will make himself fully available to the CCB community. We’ve installed a futon in his office for the occasional night he needs to spend in Belmont.
Our search committee noted that “Pastor Jim has superior executive leadership skills and development expertise and has been through lots of church growth and transformation in both settled and interim ministry situations.”
In his 15-year pastorate at MCC San Francisco, he grew the church from 100 to 500 members and provided leadership and pastoral care through the very difficult HIV/AIDS years (when he risked jail time to provide medical marijuana to his desperately ill congregants).
He published the first theological material on HIV and started a non-profit with the Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon (formerly of the Congregational Church of San Mateo) with services to homeless and at-risk children.
Pastor Jim says, “I am passionate about church, worship, liberation, art, music, and poetry… I want to help the church be credible, lively, vital and growing… I am passionate about ministry that is anti-racism, anti-oppression and pre-reconciliation… I am passionate about reading, making and listening to all kinds of music… I am passionate about God.”
Elizabeth Mye directs both our Sanctuary and Youth Choirs
Elizabeth began her musical studies at age 5 with piano, then voice at 12 and oboe at 14. She grew up in the Congregational Church of Westfield, Mass., where she participated in the youth choir, joined the senior choir at the age of 12 and then was hired as the soprano soloist starting at 16.
She won first place in the all-state music competition in Massachusetts two years consecutively while in high school where she graduated a year early and went to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, on full scholarship for oboe and vocal performance.
While at the university, Elizabeth was a member of the Opera, Chamber and Early Music instrumental and choral groups where she expanded her musical leadership through solo and choral directing.
In addition to her collegiate studies, Elizabeth held several soprano soloist positions through local churches. Her audition and performance of Laudate Dominum won her second place in the National Bel Canto Aria competition.
Elizabeth sang professionally with the Folger Consort in Washington, D.C., and the New England Conservatory Camerata. She was Musical Director at the Methodist Church in Malden, Mass., directing the adult and children’s choirs.
In parallel to Elizabeth’s music career, she has built a career as a Human Resource professional with 20 years’ experience directing and building the human resources function, with a focused strength on the ability to effectively manage through high change environments, in start-up and high growth emerging companies, as well as Fortune 100 national and international organizations in the biotechnology, health care, high technology and consumer products industries.
“I learned very early in my life that music is a voice through which we all can speak,” she says. “There is a voice in all of us and together we can make a beautiful sound. God speaks to me in love and in music, no matter what form. If you want to share or experience ‘One Voice’ through our choir, come and join us! We would love to have you!”
Organist, Pianist and Accompanist
Jeffrey Jones brings a wealth of musical experience to his position as organist, pianist and accompanist at the Congregational Church of Belmont.
Jeffrey started on the piano at age 6 and gave a full solo recital at age 8. His father, Mark Jones, would take lessons from Tom LaRatta at College of Notre Dame in Belmont and then come home to teach Jeffrey what he learned. Jeffrey developed quickly into mastering the major classical masterpieces. At San Jose State University, he was pianist for the Wind Ensemble and the SJSU Symphony Orchestra. He is known as a versatile and prolific sight-reader and has accompanied many singers, instrumentalists and chamber groups. He has also frequently been invited to perform with the Redwood Symphony under Maestro Eric K.
In addition to the piano, he plays organ, fortepiano, harpsichord, timpani, marimba and several other percussion instruments. He studied piano with the late Joann Pruitt and Professor Gwendolyn Mok and has had master classes with Stephen Hough, Vladimir Viardo, and the late historical music guru Laurette Goldberg. He plays an eclectic variety of standard classical repertoire, forgotten gems, and colorful 20th century composers.
Lea Mavroudis is the Office Administrator and Rental Coordinator at CCB. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, mainly on the peninsula and the coast. Following some challenging life circumstances after high school, she took it upon herself to return to college in her mid-twenties, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. During her time there, she did field work with a local folk dancing group and performed statistical analysis of catalogued artifacts from the ancient Harappa Civilization, among other accomplishments.
Lea had a wonderful experience in Wyoming, but greatly missed her family and friends in California. She moved back to the Bay Area in 2019 and now lives with her partner in the East Bay.
Outside of work, Lea continues to enjoy learning about a variety of topics, particularly language and linguistics. Other than English, she speaks Greek, French, and Spanish on a conversational level. She also enjoys music and singing, plays a variety of percussion instruments, and is an accomplished writer who has contributed to several publications.