Meet the Staff

Reverend Doctor Hannah Hwa-Young Chong

Lead Pastor

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Pastor Hannah is an ordained elder in the Northern Illinois Conference. She was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in a Christian/Buddhist family. She came to the United States to pursue graduate studies in theology. Her original plan was to go back to Korea after finishing her studies, but God had a different plan!

She loves parish ministry and considers the church to be a dynamic movement through which all people of God work together to bring positive transformations in the world. She is passionate about sharing God’s love and grace through mission and ministry. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston.

Pastor Hannah loves books, music, arts, walking, and traveling. She and her husband Tom enjoy going to Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, and Art Institute of Chicago for their time together. Her older daughter Dahee is a consultant at Deloitte in Chicago. Her younger daughter, Minji, has just graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL, with a major in Music Education and a minor in Jazz Studies.

Her Korean name “Hwa-Young” means eternal peace.

Reverend Hong-kien Jeremiah Lee

Associate Pastor

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[Rev Jeremiah Lee]]

Rev Hong-kien Jeremiah Lee is an Elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC. Jeremiah’s education includes Colorado Christian University where he completed his BA degree in Youth Ministry in 1999. His Master of Divinity was completed at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2013. The following year he was commissioned as a provisional Elder attaining full ordination in 2016. Jeremiah has served at St. Thomas UMC and as an interim pastor at Sugar Grove UMC.

Prior to his call to ministry in United Methodist Church, Jeremiah served as a Youth Pastor in Colorado Spring and helped run his family’s restaurant business. Jeremiah’s hobbies include tennis, camping, cooking, snowboarding and enjoys playing electric bass guitar. My life is driven by Jesus, and I use John Wesley’s three simple rule as my guide to living my life; “Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.”

Jeremiah is a Chinese descendent born in Korea and immigrated to the United States as a teenager which makes him a Chinese-Korean-American. Jeremiah is married to Shannon who is Korean and, together, they have a son named Isaac, who’s in High School.

Chris Garofalo

Director of Music Ministry & Organist

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Chris Garofalo has been active as a pianist and accompanist in the Chicago area for over 30 years and has composed works for solo piano, voice, choir and chamber ensembles.

As a soloist with orchestra, he has performed in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. In 1990, he appeared on the television series Music Alive! sponsored by the Chicago Department of Film and Entertainment. With a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, he previously administered a program of classical music and professional soloists for 27 years in Hinsdale. Mr. Garofalo maintains a private teaching studio in Westmont.

In addition, he is a former President and current board member of the Downers Grove Music Club, a charitable non-profit arts organization that provides free monthly music concert programs, a Piano Festival, Student Music Awards and community donations to foster music performance and education in the Downers Grove area.

His recording, Silhouettes, released 2005, features 12 original compositions for solo piano and the original song cycle Within the Circle of the Seasons with tenor Henry Pleas. The four poems are from Edward Searl’s collection of seasonal reflections Beggar’s Bouquet. Previous recordings, produced by Melinda Perrin, include: Left Brain/Right Brain (1998), Earth Air Fire Water (1989), Luminaria (1990), and Soliloquy (1991). In 1999, he accompanied tenor Henry Pleas on his first CD: Deep River: A Spiritual Journey. Chris’ Suite for Flute, Violin, Cello and Piano and Sonata for Flute and Piano are featured in David Gaynes’ 2013 documentary film “Next Year Jerusalem.” Chris Garofalo is a Steinway Artist.

Beth Hagemeyer

Director of Children’s Ministry

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Beth brings her degree in Elementary Education and experience as an elementary school teacher and library learning center director to Community UMC’s children’s ministry. She has written the curriculum for and been a leader in our Children’s Church services. Beth is a former SPRC chair.

In this part-time role, Beth creates and leads opportunities for children to learn about who God is as they develop their faith.

Amy Hollander

OnCenter Worship Leader

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Bio to come.

Kyle Markwell

Director of OnCenter Music

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Kyle has been a part of CUMC since before he was born! He studied music performance at Joliet Junior College and Illinois State University and is a drum set instructor at Clarendon Hills Music Academy. Kyle played with the OnCenter band for more than 10 years and now comes to us from serving as a freelance musician at the Union Church of Hinsdale. In this role, working closely with Pastor Hannah and Pastor Jeremiah, Kyle coordinates the musical components of the OnCenter worship service.

Suzanne Wills

Administrative Assistant

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Suzanne Wills is Community UMC s Administrative Assistant. Suzanne originally hails from Dublin, Ireland; she moved to the States in 1992. She has over 30 years of experience as an office administrator and over 20 years as a graphic designer. Suzanne is active in Community Players and plays electric bass with the OnCenter band. She is absolutely thrilled to be on staff at Community UMC, which she has called her church home since 1993.

Her hours are 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday.