Our Hope Staff

Rev. Renee DuBose, Pastor

Rev. Dr. Renee DuBose brings a wealth of ministerial experience to Our Hope in her capacity as our Founding Pastor. Before being credentialed by UFMCC in November 1998, Renee completed a Master of Arts degree in Religious Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Church Vocations at William Carey College. In May 2010, she completed her Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. Her thesis entitled, Two Men, Two Movements and Our Call to Seek Justice: Bayard Rustin, Troy Perry and the Civil Rights and Gay Rights Movements, sought answers to what the Gay Rights Movement could learn from the Civil Rights Movement.

Since beginning Our Hope MCC in August 1999, Renee has been involved in various community events, groups & state wide activities. She is an active leader within several local groups including CMA (Campus Ministry Association) of UGA; she also served as an advisory board member for the UGA LGBT Resource Center; & was part of the UGA coalition of GLOBES (Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees & Supporters) & BFOS (Black Faculty or Staff). Renee has worked in several local & statewide efforts to secure equality & protection for Georgia’s g/l/b/t (gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender) citizens. In 2004, she co-chaired Georgia’s ‘Religious Advisory Committee’ that brought clergy & faith leaders together to fight Amendment 1. She was often called upon to ‘be the expert voice of the Christian, gay community’ during this time & met many incredible people. And although GA voters ultimately upheld this discriminatory amendment, Renee was proud that Athens-Clarke County led the state with the fewest numbers of ‘yes’ votes! (52%-48% – with some districts actually defeating the amendment outright!) For her part in these efforts, Renee was awarded the ‘Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. /Founder’s Award’ in 2005 by the Athens-Clarke County Human Relations Council.

Continually invited to speak in local classrooms and sit on panel discussions, Rev. Dr. DuBose encourages meaningful dialogue and tolerance as she seeks to educate the next generation of young leaders through her strong conviction that God created a broad spectrum of diversity that ought to be celebrated. Her vision challenges all of us to a higher possibility – that of living together peacefully as equal brothers and sisters in the human family.

Renee’s ideals, from her Christian faith, are embodied in the succinct teachings of Jesus Christ—to ‘love God’ & ‘to love our neighbors as ourselves’. Renee has grown from her Southern Baptist roots & now has enlarged her understanding of who God is & how God desires to ‘open up’ the infinite possibilities of grace & possibilities to ALL of God’s people! Her personal spiritual truths most closely aligns with the tenets of ‘The Center for Progressive Christianity’, which include, but are not limited to:

**Proclaim Jesus Christ as our Gate to the realm of God.
**Think that the way we treat on another & other people is more important than the way we express our beliefs.
**Find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.
**See ourselves as a spiritual community in which we discover the resources required for our work in the world: striving for justice & peace among all people, bringing hope to those Jesus called the ‘least of His brother & sisters’….

In June 2014, Pastor Renee was fortunate to survive a serious car wreck when she was hit head on by a 23 years old drunk driver. After 8 weeks of residential rehab and ongoing physical therapy, Renee has a renewed appreciation for life & the quality ”family of choice” that is Our Hope MCC & the larger community of Athens, GA. The spiritual lessons of this unexpected event are numerous & can remind us all just how blessed we are to be on this planet. Additionally, God’s grace & mercy are always on display IF we only look for them.

Pastor Renee is currently working with the members & friends of Our Hope MCC to secure more suitable worship space so that Our Hope’s progressive Christian message can be more easily accessed – by young & old alike; GLBTQ & straight allies AND a new generation of leaders! Join Pastor Renee – & see what amazing things will occur – in community – with you & others who “dare to create a world with love & light” is the norm!

Melissa Albano, Congregational Music Leader

Melissa Albano is a teacher for the Clarke County School District.  She has a Bachelors Degree in Music Education with a Masters Degree in Special Education. Melissa grew up in Athens and has been a member of a church choir since childhood. She is also an accomplished flutist.  Melissa has been a member of the Our Hope MCC Choir for the past eleven years and successfully led their music program for the past two years. Melissa and her wife and both her parents live in the Athens area and regularly attend Our Hope MCC. Having the opportunity to attend church with her entire family is one of the church’s greatest aspects.

Justin Han, Choir & Special Music Leader

Justin is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in music education and biology. He is from Seoul, South Korea, however, he has moved around the world numerous times due to his father’s military status. He has played piano, violin, and have sang since he was a child. Justin possesses a wide range of musical experiences which include orchestra, choir, A Cappella, vocal jazz, and solo piano recitals. He is currently a member of UGA’s international award-winning choir, the Hodgson Singers and also the music director of UGA’s vocal jazz group Classic City Jazz.

Peng-Chian Chen, Pianist/Accompanist

A native of Taiwan, Peng-Chian Chen, has gained recognition as an accomplished performer in both the United States and Taiwan. Her lists of achievements include first prize in TNUA Chamber Music, NTSO Youth International Piano Camp Concerto Soloist, Taichung Music Contests of Senior Professional Degree and Concerto Competition in Stella Matutina Girl’s High School, University of Georgia Concerto Competition as well as many other awards and scholarships. As a soloist, she made her orchestral debut with Stella Matutina Orchestra; since 2013, she has been invited by Hualien government to hold several lecture recitals in Taiwan. A passionate and committed teacher, Chen currently serves as a piano faculty at UGA community music school, and maintains an active studio.

Chen holds her bachelor degree from Taiwan National University of the Arts and master double degrees from the University of Michigan in Piano Performance and Chamber Music with Prof. Louis Nagel. Currently, Chen is pursing the doctor of musical arts program in piano performance as a full scholarship student with Prof. Evgeny Rivkin and is also nominated for a teaching assistant at the University of Georgia.

Megan Ward, Web Developer

Megan is a graduate of the University of Georgia with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Public Relations. She currently teaches in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.