Co-Pastors Maria LaSala and Bill Goettler
Maria and Bill share pastoral responsibilities at First Presbyterian Church of New Haven. They both lead worship, teach, and offer pastoral care, with Maria serving as the head of staff. Bill and Maria met while students at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Their ministries have taken them to the Capital region in New York, to a co-pastor position in Wilmington, Delaware, and for the last 15 years, as co-pastors in New Haven. Their daughter Anna is a graduate student in comparative literature.
Maria was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry after working as an independent school chaplain at Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and as an educator with Planned Parenthood. Maria is nurtured by a feminist perspective, which informs her ministry, her life, and her passion for justice, particularly for women and girls. She has degrees from Barnard College (BA, Education and Dance), Union Theological Seminary in New York (MDiv), and Princeton Theological Seminary (D.Min).
Maria sees the church as a place where community gathers to be strengthened by the affirmations of Christian faith and the powerful witness of faith communities to be about the work of justice and compassion that God requires. She has enjoyed helping to fashion a people on their way to becoming disciples, people of compassion and workers for justice. Great things are accomplished when people come together as a community of faith. Fear falls away. Broken places are repaired. Strangers become friends. Those with no voice are recognized and heard.
Her work has appeared in Feasting on the Word and Maria is a regular contributor to The New Haven Register’s “Faith Matters” column. She teaches Presbyterian students at Yale Divinity School, and has also taught religious ethics at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is a former board member of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, and currently sits on the board of The Connecticut Women’s Consortium. Email Maria LaSala
Bill has been a parish pastor since 1985, serving first as an associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York, then as a co-pastor with Maria at Hanover Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, before arriving in New Haven in 1998. He has degrees from Allegheny College (BA, English), Union Theological Seminary in New York (MDiv), and Andover Newton Theological School in Boston (D.Min).
Bill is especially interested in the issues of formation for ministry, and for the building of progressive communities of faith. In addition to his work at First Presbyterian Church, Bill serves as Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies at Yale Divinity School, where he works closely with all degree students as they find their way into ministry, lives of teaching, works of social justice and peacemaking, and many other directions as well.
Bill's essays have been published in a wide range of journals, from The Boston Globe to the Bulletin of Reformed Theology and the book Global Neighbors: Christian Faith and Moral Obligation in Today's Economy. Email Bill Goettler
Director of Music
Patrick McCreless is Organist and Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of New Haven, where he has served since 1999. As a Professor of Music at Yale, he teaches music theory in the Department of Music, of which he was Chair in the years 2001-2007. As a scholar, he has published on a wide range of musical topics—the music of Schubert, Wagner, Elgar, Nielsen and Shostakovich; the history of music theory; music performance and analysis; and music and rhetoric. In recent years he has lectured on these topics in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, Brazil, and China, as well as in the US. He also holds church music and congregational song dear to his heart. He delights in choir leadership, and always welcomes new singers!