Welcome Reverend Jeff Utter

During this time of pastoral transition, we welcome Reverend Jeff Utter, who will begin officiating Sunday services starting April 3, 2016.

Rev. Dr. Jeff Utter has been a UCC minister since 1968, and in 1990 he was granted ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has enjoyed a varied career, having been the settled pastor of three UCC congregations, and the interim pastor of four UCC and five Disciples congregations. He also served four years on the national staff of the UCC, supervising our work in Latin America and in Europe. Jeff has also done two years of missionary work in Argentina and Brazil, and was an exchange pastor in a West Berlin parish of the Evangelical Church of the Federal Republic of Germany, making many trips through the Berlin Wall to minister with Christians in east Germany.  He has also taught courses on religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York, the City College of New York, Fuller Theological Seminary, and California State University, Northridge.  He served as a Veterans Administration chaplain, based in the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center for nine years, ministering with homeless veterans, and a prison chaplain for three years, at the Los Angeles Federal Metropolitan Detention Center.

Jeff has been a leader in interfaith and ecumenical work, serving as President of the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council and chair of their interfaith relations committee. He was the founding president of the Interreligious Alliance of San Gabriel Valley, and co-founded the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.  He is currently one of the UCC representatives on the Board of the Southern California Ecumenical Council.

He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harvard College, the M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and the Ph.D. in sociology of religion from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary.

Jeff is married to Dr. Sharon Whittle, a psychotherapist and pastoral counselor, and has two sons, two daughters, and four grandchildren.   

Because we don’t all see God in the same way, Jeff doesn’t expect religions to unify, to become a single body. But, he adds, we can draw ever closer, learning from one another, supporting one another, enriching one another, connecting as family. To do so, he says, we need to practice real courtesy in the sense of being truly glad, not merely polite, when those of other faiths come together with us – even when we cannot agree with their beliefs. The future of the human race on planet earth, he declares, depends on that gladness.

We hope you can join us on Sundays to meet and welcome Reverend Jeff to Neighborhood Church!