The Governing Board employs several officers to manage its duties, including Chairperson (held by the current Moderator of MCC), Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Mark Godette – Vice Chair
Chad Hobbs – Treasurer
Rev. Elder Diane Fisher – Clerk
Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey
Rev. Alberto Nájera
Rev. Paul Whiting
Meet the Board
Mark Godette (Vice Chair) — he, him, his
Mark started with MCC more than 15 years ago. He left while exploring other options and returned in 2013. He is currently serving a second consecutive term as a member of the Board of Directors at his local church, St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church. He has served as Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Member at Large, and his current role as Vice Moderator.
In 2015 Mark earned the certificate in the MCC Lay Certificate Program, Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship (L.E.A.D.). He also earned a certificate to teach the Creating A Life That Matters (CLM) program, and he is serving a five-year term in MCC’s Judicial Pool.
Mark is a successful technology leader, with more than 20 years of systems experience, a background in project management, data management, vendor management, process improvement, user training, and extensive experience working with both technical and non-technical management daily.
Mark and his husband, Rick Godette, have been together for 26 years. They were officially married in 2015 at their home in Knightdale, North Carolina, USA surrounded by family and friends. They are both active members of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They have three adopted children and have fostered several children, from ages 2 to 19 years of age.
In his free time, Mark enjoys traveling, learning new technology, and spending time with family and friends.
Chad Hobbs (Treasurer) – he, him, his
Chad is the Manager of the IT PMO (Project Management Office) at WellCare Health Plans. In this role he is responsible for a team of 10-15 Technical Project Managers and overseeing that they manage their multiple projects through all cycles of the Project Lifecyle and ensuring they are completed on time and within budget. This role regularly challenges me to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to manage and eliminate obstacles; as well as personnel management.
He lives in sunny Tampa, Florida, USA with his husband of over 12 years (celebrating our one year wedding anniversary on 4/27!), Samuel Asencio, and their 3 fur babies (cats) Pastina, Bailey and Kailey.
He has been a member of MCC Tampa since 2009 and attending since 2006. He has served in a variety of roles, including 5 years as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors, a member of the Pastoral Search Committee; and served as the part time Bookkeeper from mid 2015 to mid 2017. Chad was also elected to be a Lay Delegate in September of 2016 and has been an active member of the inaugural Pastoral Relations Committee at MCC Tampa since 2017. He has had an interest in the wider denomination since getting to work with many wonderful people through his various roles at MCC Tampa and that interest only grew after attending his first General Conference in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2016. At the denominational level, Chad’s work includes him being a member of the Assessments Commission that was responsible for restructuring the assessments structure for UFMCC. The Assessments Commission’s proposal was approved by a vote of the body and took affect in January 2019. In addition, he is currently very active on the Programming Team and the 50th Anniversary Gala Planning Team for General Conference 2019; and will be assisting with all AV needs at GC.
Chad loves the mission and work of MCC and is dedicated to being a part of it.
Rev. Elder Diane Fisher (Clerk) – she, her, hers
If you were to ask Rev. Elder Diane Fisher to describe herself, she would likely say, “I am a lesbian Christian pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Rehoboth in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (USA) and I am a mother of a fabulous daughter, Karli and married to Rev. Dr. Kharma Amos who delights my heart.” Diane is a queer activist, proudly Canadian, who had her daughter with two gay men (Bill and Walter). She is best known within MCC as someone who is passionate about local churches, cares deeply about God, and advocates tirelessly on behalf of young people and the LGBTQI community.
She is known internationally as the “lesbian bishop” and for her justice ministry with LGBTQI people, especially in Eastern Europe and Africa. Thanks to her tireless work in Eastern Europe, MCC became identified as the Human Rights Church. Rev. Elder Fisher was presented with MCC’s Human Rights Award in 2010 and has been the recipient of many other National and International Awards for her tireless Human Rights work. She is the convener of the Progressive Interfaith Alliance of Southern Delaware. Her passion is working to change systems that encourage or reinforce marginalization of those who have been caught “outside the system.”
Rev. Alberto Nájera – he, him, his
A native of Nicaragua in Central America and a Christian for over 32 years from childhood, Rev. Alberto grew up in the Pentecostal tradition where he assumed increasing ministry responsibilities in the areas of children, youth, and evangelism with the Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Nicaragua. Alberto first came to MCC Peace and Joy in Nicaragua in 2000. In the years that followed his participation was marked with great passion and commitment: as he was ordained a deacon in 2002; later appointed as interim pastoral leader; and in 2006, after an intensive process of theological studies, training, accreditation, recognition of studies completed, and under the leadership of Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, he was ordained as clergy in UFMCC. At that time, Rev. Nájera continued to serve as pastor of MCC Peace and Joy in Managua, Nicaragua and Founder of three groups ICM Mission in Chiriquí, Colón, and Panama City in Panama.
Alberto is also a journalist who has worked professionally in radio, television, magazine publishing, and public relations; other previous work includes experience with various NGO’s in both Nicaragua and Panama where Rev. Nájera provided leadership and developed programs in the education and prevention of HIV/AIDS. As an important part of this work, he coordinated the “Peace and Joy” Social Action Program – a partnership between the MCC church in Nicaragua and various community organizations to provide education, communication, prevention programs, pastoral and spiritual support to families and people living with HIV/AIDS.
In the United States, his professional focus includes teaching in public school and working with The LGBT Life Center of Hampton Roads, Virginia as a community health worker and medical case manager in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Since 2013 Rev. Nájera has served as staff clergy for Latino and Community Outreach at New Life MCC of Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA. In this role, Rev. Nájera began and leads the church’s Spanish Language worship, taught Spanish classes for the church and community, and has helped to coordinate both church and community involvement for marriage equality and various other human rights issues both in Hampton Roads and in Richmond, Virginia.
In addition, Rev. Nájera has provided support to the Unidos Latino ministry of MCC Washington, District of Columbia, USA and has served on the international judicial pool of MCC since 2012. Through the years, both in Nicaragua and after coming to the United States, Alberto has remained close to his family. With his parents and three older siblings his early years were spent on a rustic mountain cattle ranch where Alberto developed a lifelong love for riding and horses. Today, he lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA with his husband, Rev. Mark Byrd and their yellow lab, Nica.
Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey – she, her, hers
Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey is the president and CEO of the Religious Institute, a national multifaith nonprofit dedicated to advocating for sexual, gender, and reproductive health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. Religious Institute programs address reproductive health, rights and justice, full inclusion of LGBTQ people in faith communities and society, comprehensive sexuality education, and prevention of sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct in faith communities.
Marie holds a Master’s in Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. As president of the Religious Institute, Marie puts her faith to work alongside her passion for justice. She is a skilled communicator and relationship-builder, and delights in collaborating across faith traditions, justice movements, and all kinds of difference.
Marie has a chapter on “Sexual Justice in an Age of Trump” in the 2017 book Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump and is the lead author of the Religious Institute publication Making the Invisible Visible: Bisexuality in Faith Communities. Marie speaks, teaches, and preaches regularly on faith and sexuality.
Marie serves as volunteer assisting clergy at MCC Hartford, Connecticut, USA, and also served as sabbatical pastor there for two months this year.
In her previous life, Marie taught high school French and Spanish for 20 years. Marie and her wife April Alford-Harkey (they met at Episcopal Divinity School), an Episcopal deacon, live in Milford, Connecticut, USA with their cat Memphis and April’s ministry dog, Sandy.
Rev. Paul Whiting – he, him, his
Rev. Paul Whiting, originally from Great Britain, has lived in North America since 1995. He has been in leadership with MCC since 1987 working in England, Canada and USA.
As a Past President of the European Forum for LGBT Christian Groups, and board member for six years he has worked internationally for much of his adult life. He has also served on the board of Healthy Gay Manchester (now the LGBT Foundation), AARP Kansas Diversity Council, and a variety of boards and committees within MCC. He has moderated local church boards continuously for thirty years, and recently completed two terms of Network Leadership, in Canada and in the central USA.
He has recently been appointed as Provisional Pastor of MCC Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
In addition to an education in biblical and pastoral theology (Mattersey College, UK), he studied business administration (Birmingham City University, UK) and held a license with the Institute of Administrative Accountants.
He has been legally married to his husband Karl Zwarych since 2007.
Clare Coughlin — she, her, hers
Clare Coughlin, of Redford Michigan is a 20 year member of Divine Peace MCC where she has served on the Board of Directors in capacities including member-at- large, Treasurer, Clerk and Vice Moderator. Most recently, Clare served as Vice Moderator during a move to a new location and the calling of an Interim Pastor.
Clare currently serves as the Lay Delegate and is the Chair of the Pastoral Search Team for Divine Peace.
Clare brings a wealth of experience from her career at the Girl Scouts where she led the Outdoor Program department and later the Product Sales department. Both of these positions were responsible for vast budgets and entailed working with a very large and diverse population.
Clare recognizes the value of hard work, direct open communication, tactfulness and transparency as she endeavors to heed God’s call to help MCC move forward.
Clare’s spouse is Barbara Hardison. They have been together 32 years and married for almost 4 years. Since the wedding they sometimes call each other “Sadie” (for Sadie, Sadie married lady!) They live in Redford, Michigan, USA with their dog Abby.
James Chavis — he, him, his
Originally from New Jersey, James grew up in the Presbyterian Church and was ordained as an Elder, leading the youth for just over three years. In addition, he served on the church board serving a congregation of more than 500 members.
Upon moving to Texas USA in 2003, James attended various MCC churches in Dallas and Fort Worth. Finally settling down in San Antonio, he found his church home at MCC San Antonio. In 2014, he became a member and began serving in the choir and helping in other ministries in the church. James was appointed to the church board in 2015, still continuing to serve, he has held the position of risk manager, and now vice moderator.
James brings various levels of work experience including business and human resources. Currently working in education with 16 years experience, James has been a Teacher, Counselor, Coordinator, Director and now Interim Superintendent of a charter school district. He currently holds a Masters Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Park University.