Rediscover God's Love


Meet the Team

The Reverend Dr. M. Todd Shipley

Rev. Dr. M Todd Shipley has served as the Pastor at Unity Hill UCC since 2011.

Pastor Todd’s focus in ministry is on pastoral care for all. His calling was nurtured through church summer camp and youth group experiences during his high school years. He pursued his calling to serve others and nurture their faith through his work as a chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital and Vitas Hospice inc. He was able to help those in pain and the families struggling with loss and grief to feel a greater sense of peace. His calling to help others integrate faith into their lives, led him to pursue a position as a church minister. His preaching and worship integrates the sacred and secular to show how they fit together even when they seem at odds. Sermons are focused on “teaching and preaching” as he provides encouragement for faith formation across all age groups. Pastoral care is still a key aspect of his ministry and he engages with church members and the community on a regular basis to build faith and grow the spirit. He brings light where there is suffering and seeks peace where there is struggle.

Pastor Todd grew up in Texas and attended Texas Christian University earning a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy. He holds a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Brite Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) from New York Theological Seminary

Pastor Todd is an avid reader and enjoys travel. During his sabbatical in Italy, he experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity to be given the key to open the Sistine Chapel on his birthday. He is an active member of the Trumbull community and devoted father of two children.

Joanne Wickson has been the Office Manager at Unity Hill United Church of Christ since November 2006, providing administrative assistance to Pastor Todd and serving as the primary contact person for Unity Hill. She is involved in all aspects of the church and ministries, and provides a pleasant, positive presence in the office.

Joanne grew up and lives in Stratford with John, her husband of 26 years, their daughter, Jessica, Coco their dog and Misty the cat. She also has a son Peter J. Kopchik, who lives with his family in Ansonia. Her grandson Caleb, is in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in San Angelo, Texas.

Joanne graduated with honors from St. Joseph High School, Trumbull and magna cum laude from Gateway Community College, New Haven.

Joanne loves walking in the woods, getting serene watching water (any body of water, stream, river, pond, lake Long Island Sound or ocean) She relaxes by knitting, reading cozy mysteries and watching TV mysteries, especially British mysteries. Her favorite places to vacation are cruising the Caribbean or exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Joanne welcomes you to stop by the church office where she is ready to greet you with a smile and help you in any way she can!

Jeff Stokely serves as Music Coordinator for Unity Hill UCC. In this role he plans, directs, and performs to provide music that enhances the experience of Sunday worship as well as other church events. He views the musical contribution not as a performance but as a prayer to God. He enjoys melding his varied background and interests to support the church seasons, often providing new and different ways to celebrate with songs or instruments.

Jeff coordinates with the church soloists as well as guest musicians to include a variety of musical styles in worship. A positive spirit and gentle leader, Jeff brings life to classic hymns as well as more contemporary songs. He has even been known to work in a bit of country music during occasional duets with Pastor Todd. Unity Hill has been graced with Jeff’s talent and sense of humor as well as enjoying the performances of several young musicians who are students at the Trumbull Music Studio, of which Jeff is the owner.

Jeff sorely missed congregational singing during the pandemic restrictions and encourages all to add their voices to the joy of worship. He directs, on occasion, our small group of handbell ringers with his own musical arrangements that fill the sanctuary with resonating tones.

Jeff’s passion for music began with opportunities to play the piano and organ from an early age. During 7th grade, he was “recruited” by one of the school nuns to play organ for mass. This began his relationship with music during worship that continued at various churches both during college in Texas and when he returned to Connecticut. He studied classical piano at SW Texas State and holds a BS in Philosophy from Sacred Heart University. His worship and musical influences span a broad range having served in worship services at Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Russian Orthodox churches and integrating classical, pop, jazz and country music into his teaching and playing.

Jeff is a Milford resident along with his wife, Andrea. They are proud parents of adult twin sons.

Diana Builes serves as bookkeeper for Unity Hill UCC and manages the weekly and monthly accounting. Diana enjoys learning and is always ready with suggestions to help improve the financial processes in place. A graduate of Housatonic Community College, she has worked as an Assistant Controller at The Tokeneke Club in Darien since 2013. Diana has been involved with church since her childhood in Colombia and enjoys the daily practice of the Holy Rosary as a grounding element. She leads an active lifestyle, enjoying Zumba and biking. She lives in Bridgeport with her husband and two daughters.
Calap Brown serves as the Sexton at Unity Hill UCC He keeps the church building clean and tidy as well as setting up the hall for meetings and events. Calap is a friendly face you may not see unless you stop in during the week. He enjoys his home church on Sundays and serves Unity Hill during the week. Calap is always willing to lend a hand and previously operated a cleaning business of his own. Calap and his wife, Viola, are residents of Stratford.

No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.

Unity Hill United Church of Christ