Staff

Rev. Ian OliverPastor of the University Church and Senior Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life

Ian Oliver is Pastor of the University Church in Yale, the ecumenical student church on campus – and the direct descendent of the oldest college church in America. Rev. Oliver also liaises between Yale and the many Christian student ministries on campus. In addition, he is an instructor in homiletics at the Yale Divinity School and advisor to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ students at YDS. He is also a Fellow at Berkeley College. Previously, he was University Chaplain at Bucknell University, and Associate Chaplain at the Kodaikanal International School in South India. Ian is a native of El Paso, Texas. He studied at Amherst College and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He was ordained to the ministry in the United Church of Christ at Wellington Avenue UCC in Chicago in 1990. His most recent publications on chaplaincy are a sermon “Dispatches from the Front Lines” in the Yale Divinity School magazine “Reflections” and an essay “In Coffin’s Pulpit:  Re-envisioning Protestant Religious Culture” in College and University Chaplaincy in the 21st Century (Lucy Forster-Smith, ed., SkyLight Paths, 2013).

Briallen HopperFaculty Fellow

Bri has been part of the UCY community since 2010. She grew up and went to college in Tacoma, Washington, got a PhD in American literature at Princeton, and studied divinity at Yale for two years before becoming a Lecturer in the Yale English department, where she teaches academic and creative writing. She is a member of Broadway United Church of Christ in New York City, and she writes about religion and other topics for publications including the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Religion & Politics, Killing the Buddha, and Sacred Matters. She loves East Rock Park, Modern Apizza, and old movies.

Gabriel Benton, UCY Organist

Born in 1991, Gabriel Benton is a keyboardist with a passion for bringing early music alive to contemporary audiences. He received his Bachelor’s degree in harpsichord performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he also worked as a church organist and keyboard technician. In addition to performing on historical keyboards and organ, Gabriel sang in choirs and played recorder with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra and Mountainside Baroque. In the Spring of 2016, he completed a Master’s degree in historical performance at The Juilliard School where he played keyboards and recorders with the period instrument orchestra Juilliard415. He has performed across the country, recently appearing at the Boston Early Music Festival and with the New World Symphony. He has won several awards including the York Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Harold Hunt Organ Scholarship, the Earl Russel Award in Historical Performance, and two summer workshop scholarships from Early Music America. Turning his interest increasingly toward church music, Gabriel is currently studying organ at the Yale School of Music.

Octavia McAloon, UCY Choir Co-Director

Octavia McAloon is a fierce advocate for the performance and support of choral music.  She prides herself on a love of and devotion to contemporary music - especially with promising female and young composers.   After receiving her B.M. in 2013 (Classical Voice), she had been performing, conducting, and teaching around Seattle until beginning the Yale School of Music Masters program in Choral Conducting in 2016.  Whether as a singer or a conductor, McAloon most enjoys working on music that achieves something genuinely new for the genre; she loves taking on complex music and addressing new musical challenges.  Other interests include songwriting, guitar, photography, hiking, and the Great Northwest.

Jenny Peek, Interim Associate Pastor/Associate University Chaplain

Jenny Peek joined the University Church as the Interim Associate Pastor in July of 2017 after receiving a Masters of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in May of 2017. During Jenny’s time at Yale, she served at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT; Westminster Presbyterian Church, in West Hartford, CT; and within Yale’s Title IX Office. She is currently Certified Ready to Receive a Call for ordination from the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.).

Prior to her time at Yale, Jenny worked with the Network for Victim of Recovery of DC as a case manager and Lutheran Volunteer Corps volunteer and earned her B.A. in Psychology from Grinnell College. As a native Coloradan, Jenny loves exploring new pockets of the East Coast and can often be found playing the djembe, swimming, or enjoying Oaxaca Kitchen’s arepas.

Joseph KemperUCY Choir Co-Director

Joseph Kemper, a native of Oregon, received his undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College where graduated with departmental distinction. He was the assistant conductor, tenor section leader, and president of the St. Olaf Choir under Anton Armstrong. During his senior year he was the conductor of the St. Olaf Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Joseph taught at Winter Park High School in Florida from 2011 through 2016. Under his direction, the Winter Park advanced women’s choir was selected to perform at the 2013 Florida ACDA Convention. He was the conductor of the Orlando Lutheran Cantata Choir from 2013-2016. In addition to his musical and academic pursuits, Joseph loves spending time with his wife Abby, hiking, biking, reading, hanging out with friends, and listening deeper to the world as he goes through the journey of life.

Megan McDermottLiturgical Coordinator 

Megan McDermott moved to New Haven in August 2014 following her college graduation, to be part of an Episcopal service year program called Saint Hilda’s House. While living downtown and interning at a soup kitchen, she fell in love with the city. She feels fortunate that she’s been able to stay in New Haven as a student at Yale Divinity School, Berkeley Divinity School, and the Institute of Sacred Music. While in school, Megan has served as a chapel minister at YDS’s Marquand Chapel and as an intern at St. James’ Episcopal Church in New Haven’s Fair Haven Heights neighborhood. She is in the ordination process through the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. Passions outside of ministry include writing poetry and having strong opinions about many TV shows. 

Nathaniel GumbsOrganist

Nathaniel (“Nat”) Gumbs has had many years of diverse experience in church music. He grew up at Trinity Baptist Church in the Bronx.  As an undergraduate music major at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia, he held part-time positions in Lutheran, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches. In 2011, he received the Master of Music degree in Organ from Yale University (YSM and ISM), where he also served as organist for Marquand Chapel. Since graduating from Yale, he worked as Director of Music and Arts at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversaw 350-400 volunteer musicians and staff, in four choirs and other ensembles, and also serves as Sunday organist. He is completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music.  This year, the Diapason Magazine named him among the top “20 under 30” organists in the United States.

Wonhee Lim,  Samuel Slie Fellow and YDS Intern

Wonhee Lim, from South Korea, joins the University Church as our Samuel Slie Fellow, having already spent a year singing in our choir as tenor section leader. A Master of Divinity student at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music, he focuses his studies on intersections between theology and constitutionalism, and sings in the Yale Schola Cantorum. He hails from the Reformed and Evangelical traditions, namely, the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Kosin). Prior to Yale, he graduated in 2016 from Washington and Lee University, where he studied in the Departments of English, Politics, and Poverty, and served as a resident advisor and tenor section leader of the University Singers. In addition to pursuing his academic interests, Wonhee spends his time experimenting with jazz piano and violin, singing in his barbershop quartet, and reading James Madison.