Our Team

Melanie Enfield

Senior Pastor

Melanie has strong ties to Newington and the Church of Christ, Congregational. Melanie was ordained here in 1991 and then served as our Associate Pastor for 4 ½ years. During that time Melanie forged additional ties to Newington when she met her future husband, Newington native Jonathan Tinkham, married and started her family. We now count this native Oregonian and graduate of the Yale Divinity School as one of our own. Melanie’s calling to serve others was apparent in her next position as the Director of Pastoral Care at the Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital’s mental health network. She loved her work at the hospital but parish ministry kept calling her back. We are fortunate that Melanie returned to her Newington “roots” at the Church of Christ, Congregational when her calling brought her back as Associate Pastor in 2008. In May 2013 she became our Senior Pastor! She feels blessed to work within this congregation and to serve God in this way. She and Jonathan Tinkham have three children: Sam, Kelly and Zachary. When Melanie has time, she loves the outdoors, reading and scrapbooking.

Pérsida Rivera-Méndez

Associate Pastor

The Rev. Pérsida Rivera-Méndez is a graduate of Andover Newton Theological School, Newton MA.  She was ordained by the Central Association of CT Conference of the United Church of Christ on July 28, 2002.  She has experience in the local church and National UCC settings of the UCC.  She has worked with ecumenical partners in church development, intercultural and multi-ethnic ministries. She is one of the co-founders of REDIL (Red Ecuménica de Desarrollo de Iglesias Latinas) an ecumenical network for Latino Church Development with five other denominiations.    She has extensive experience in church development, congregational vitality, justice advocacy, and congregational assessment, support and advancement.  She has worked promoting, presenting and assisting congregations in living out the UCC commitment to be Inter-cultural and Multi-ethnic Church (I’M Church).  

She was a liaison for Ethnic minority congregations in church development in her position in the National Offices.  She worked closely with the Hispanic/Latino constituency of the denomination with resourcing, coordinating gatherings and workshops.  She has worked with all settings of the UCC in developing strategies for ministry with and for diverse communities specifically the Hispanic/Latino community.  She is the founding pastor of Ministerio Nueva Creación a ministry of Concordia Lutheran Church in Manchester, CT a partnership with the ELCA/UCC.  She resides in Plainville, CT with her husband Heliodoro C. Mendez.

Peter Niedmann

Director of Music

Peter brings a wide range of experience to the Church: he is an accomplished organist, choir director, composer and keyboard player; he is comfortable with a range of musical genres from jazz to gospel to rock. His choral compositions are widely performed throughout the United States and have garnered unanimous critical acclaim. Peter was a prize-winner at a national organ competition, and served on the faculty of The Hartt School, University of Hartford, Harford, Connecticut. Peter’s published compositions are numerous and are included in two hymnals. He studied at The Hartt School and the University of Connecticut.  Peter received two prestigious conducting fellowships with Sir David Willcocks. He served as dean of the Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and holds the AGO Associate Certificate.

Kara Russell

Assistant to the Pastor for Youth and Outreach

Kara Russell serves as Assistant to the Pastor for Youth and Outreach. In addition to coordinating youth
events and assisting the Christian Education board with all aspects of the Church School program, Kara
“team teaches” the confirmation class alongside Melanie. Kara’s passion for social justice led her to
help establish a Family Promise chapter in Central Connecticut, a volunteer-based program that helps
homeless families with children remain intact and regain their self-sufficiency. She is so grateful to have
the support of Church of Christ, Congregational as a host church for the program.

Kara holds a PhD in Renaissance Literature from the University of Rochester, New York, and has taught as an adjunct in the English Department at Central Connecticut State University since 1996. She lives in Newington with her husband Mark and their two boys, Kevin and Brian.

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Administrative Staff

Deborah Tagle, Office Manager, dtagle@newingtonucc.org
Mary-Jane DiPaola, Finance, mjdipaola@newingtonucc.org

Maintenance Staff

David Engengro, Sexton
Robert Pinard, Assistant Sexton


Office Hours

Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
Summer hours (July 2 to August 31): Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Church office telephone: (860) 666-4689 
Fax: (860) 666-5871)
E-mail: churchofchrist@newingtonucc.org

Contact Us


(860) 666-4689


(860) 666-5871



Office Hours:

Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Summer hours (July 4 -August 31): Monday - Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Church of Christ, Congregational 
1075 Main Street 
Newington, CT 06111

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