Rev. Jeff Mansfield has been the Pastor at Glen Ridge Congregational Church since July 2019. Previous to that he was the Interim Minister at Broadway UCC in New York City and he was the Associate Pastor at First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. Originally from Rhode Island, Jeff studied English and Religion at Boston University and got his Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. While in New York, Jeff worked as the Chaplain to the NYC Restaurant Industry out of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village and he worked as a labor and community organizer at the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY). Jeff also did a stint in construction working for Habitat for Humanity in Miami. He loves theater and grew up acting and directing in high school and college. While running from the call to ministry, he worked as a theater technician in the California Bay Area. Now he puts most of his energies for performing and directing into preaching and creating real good church. Besides sermons, Jeff writes a lot of other stuff—most of it poetry. In 2004, Jeff thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine and he likes to get out into the woods and the mountains as much as possible. After his experience on the trail, he began learning about and practicing Zen Buddhist meditation which led him to a love of interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Jeff thinks a lot about masculinity—what it is and what its spiritual significance might be to a masculine person. Jeff is a feminist, an anti-racist, an LGBTQ ally. He's been proud to be involved with progressive and radical social movements and organizations like the Poverty Initiative and the Poor People's Campaign. One of his passions in ministry is to equip the Church—through the radical teachings of Jesus—to be a new and continuing institution for art, justice, faith and community building in the 21st century.
A native of New Jersey, Thomas Mustachio completed his undergraduate work (Piano Performance & Music Education) and graduate work (Choral Conducting) at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. He has performed as a vocalist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center and The Philadelphia Academy of Music.
From 1993 to 2008 Mr. Mustachio resided in the Twin Cities as Minister of Music of historic First Congregational Church of Minnesota (Minneapolis). From 1998 to 2008 he served as Music Supervisor and Resident Music Director of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in Minnesota, the largest professional dinner theatre in the country.
Career highlights include twice being named Twin Cities’ “Outstanding Music Director” for productions of West Side Story and Hair, and spending a summer playing piano on the Crystal Symphony cruise ship. Mustachio has music directed and/or accompanied over 50 theatrical productions and appears on three original cast recordings in the hit Nunsense series. One of his favorite opportunities was to partner with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization of New York to create the score (vocal and dance arrangements; orchestrations) for the new stage version of Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade.
Mustachio returned to New Jersey during the summer of 2008. In January 2009 he was appointed Minister of Music of Glen Ridge Congregational Church, leading a music program that consists of choral and handbell choirs for all ages. He is also Music Director of the Glen Ridge Choral Society, works as a freelance service accompanist for several North Jersey synagogues, and has a roster of private music students. He is a published author and composer.
A 23-year resident of Glen Ridge, Tyra Brown became the Director of Children's Ministries for Glen Ridge Congregational Church in August of 2023. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from Manhattan School of Music, as well as certificates in teaching yoga from Starseed (in Montclair) and floral design from the New York Botanical Garden. Tyra currently works as the Building Administrator at Pilgrim Preschool, where she will continue to spend her mornings assisting the director, staff and children.
Tyra and her family have been very active in Glen Ridge Congregational Church since arriving in Glen Ridge. Tyra, or Mrs. Brown as the children refer to her, was the Joyful Noise Choir Director for 11 years and a Kindergarten Sunday School Teacher for 12 years. Over the years, she has assisted with various Children and Youth activities and events, such as One-Room Schoolhouses, Advent Workshops, and youth Easter celebrations. She has served on the GRCC Council as the Chairs of both the Children & Youth and Worship ministries. Tyra has chaired the GRCC Women’s Association Rummage Sale for 5 years and has volunteered in the toy department for the past 20 years. Swing by the next rummage sale and you might see her there!
Tyra looks forward to working with the teachers, parents, children, and congregation to continue growing the youth programs at GRCC. She is excited to explore the path forward with Pastor Jeff on our faith journey together.
Karen has been a dedicated teacher at Pilgrim Preschool since 2008 and was recently appointed as Director replacing Mary Duus who retired after 14 years at the helm. One of Karen’s greatest pleasures is fostering the joy of learning and love of nature in young children. Watching children find their creative and independent voice is a special privilege. Karen has a BFA from Hartford Art School and has worked as a graphic designer in publishing and advertising in NYC.
After raising her family, Karen returned to the classroom to become certified by the State of New Jersey to teach both General Education and Special Education. Karen also holds an Orton-Gillingham Therapist credential which she uses both in the classroom and in her private practice. The Nisenson family has called Glen Ridge home since 1988.