Staff

Rev. Christa Swenson | Senior Pastor

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Christa began serving Mystic Congregational Church in September 2016. Christa is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2010. Prior to joining the staff of MCC, Christa served in Marquand Chapel, the vibrant ecumenical chapel at Yale Divinity School and as the Campus and Young Adult Minister at Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Within our walls, Christa has a commitment to the faith formation of our youth and adults, preaching the gospel of radical welcome from the pulpit, and walking alongside members as we share in the joys and challenges of this life. In her work and in her life, she has deep commitments to and likes to sing the word justice.    

Before seminary, with undergraduate degrees in Business and Psychology from Muskingum College, Christa worked in corporate merchandising in Columbus, Ohio and New York.

Christa is married to Sarah Cardwell, an Associate Dean at Connecticut College. They live in Waterford with their two children, Porter and Sydney.

Rev. Aidan Kelley | Director of Faith Formation

Aidan began serving as the Director of Faith Formation in October 2019. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ and is a graduate of Boston University School of Theology. Aidan also received a Masters of Education in School Counseling from Providence College in May 2019. Prior to joining the community at MCC, Aidan served as the Associate Minister for Youth and Young Adults at Central Congregational Church in Providence, RI.  Mystic has always held a special place in Aidan’s heart. He is a Fall 2006 alum of the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program and lived in Mystic while working as the program’s admission counselor in 2008-2009.

Aidan is married to Kathryn Kelley and is the father of Abraham and Louisa. He and his family live in Katie’s hometown of Cranston, where Katie teaches high school Italian.

Aidan is grateful to be a part of Mystic Congregational Church where he has the opportunity to dive deeply into the questions and mysteries of our faith and what it means to be human with people of all ages. He believes in the power of shared stories, humor, and a sense of wonder to spirit our walk with Christ. He is always looking for tennis partners, loves all things Star Wars (except Episodes I-III), and jumps at the slightest excuse to grab a cup of coffee.

Andrew Howell | Director of Music

Andrew Howell, conductor and organist, received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Rhode Island and was also the first graduate of URI’s Master of Music program in Choral Conducting Performance, also studying Organ Performance with George Kent. Immediately after graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Andrew joined the conducting faculty of the URI Music Department as Director of its 80-voice University Chorus and has also taught Music Appreciation and Ear Training & Sight Singing courses.

Andrew is Director of Music at Mystic Congregational Church in Mystic, Connecticut, and in the summer months is Music Director and Organist at the Watch Hill Chapel in Westerly, Rhode Island. He also serves as Music Director of the Chorus of Westerly, RI, where he conducts the roughly 90 children and 110 adults in a series of choral masterwork concerts from Bach to Britten and everything in between, as well as Christmas and Summer Pops programs each year. Andrew has previously worked with a number of choral organizations and churches in Rhode Island and Connecticut – as Music Director of the Stonington Choral Society, Organist and Choir Director of the Episcopal Cathedral in Providence, Organist and Assistant for the Anglican Singers, and most recently, Organist and Choirmaster at St. James Episcopal Church in New London, CT.

Andrew lives in Westerly with his wife Emily and their four children: Sadie, Rowan, Henry, and Arthur.

Elisha Riley | Office Administrator

Elisha Riley joined the staff in January 2020. Her hours are M-F 9-12, 1-5 pm with reduced hours in the summer.  Elisha, her husband Mike and two children, Morgan and Seth, reside in North Stonington.  She comes to us after years of managing Stonington Gardens and working with the New England Professional Planning Group.  When not working, her family raises and shows cattle and sheep throughout New England.