Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner

Senior Pastor
305.448.7421 ext. 116

Pastor Laurie’s Biography

The Rev. Dr. Laurinda M. Hafner’s passion for prophetic ministry, the social gospel and the arts has been the mark of her vibrant ministry. Called as Senior Pastor of Coral Gables Congregational UCC in August, 2006, Laurie came from Cleveland, Ohio where she served as Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ for almost 17 years. The dynamic ministry she led at Pilgrim Church has been described by Niles Harper in his book, Urban Churches, Vital Signs: Beyond Charity Toward Justice, and by Chris Hobgood in Welcoming Resistance. In 2000, Laurie was named by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as one of Those Who Will Help to Shape Our Lives in the New Millennium in the field of religion and faith. Also in 2000, Laurie planned and presided at Pilgrim Church’s Easter worship service, Joy, which was broadcast by ABC across the nation on Easter Sunday morning.

Prior to her call to Pilgrim Church, Dr. Hafner worked in the executive offices of the United Church of Christ’s national setting, and served several local United Church of Christ congregations in Ohio.

Laurie is a political science graduate of Elon University in North Carolina. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, and holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. In the early 1980s, she studied with Father Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.

Laurie serves on the Boards of Eden Theological Seminary, and the United Church Foundation. She is also the chair of the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews (MCCJ) clergy dialogue. As a daughter of the Florida Conference of the UCC, Laurie was raised and shaped in Trinity UCC in St. Petersburg, where her father served as the pastor. She is a delegate to the UCC General Synod, and at General Synod 28, held in July, 2011, in Tampa, Florida, she was chosen to be the keynote preacher for the Sunday evening worship.

Married to attorney Richard Walters, they are the proud parents of their high school age daughter, Ciana Marie. In her free time, Laurie is an avid basketball fan, and enjoys films, reading, roller coasters, and table tennis.

Rev. Megan Smith

Associate Pastor
305-448-7421 ext. 119

Pastor Megan’s Biography

Megan joined our church in 1992, and, after many years of service as our Director of Spiritual Formation, she was ordained and installed as our Associate Pastor on Sunday, January 29, 2012. Pastor Megan oversees the church’s Wellness Center, which offers yoga, Reiki, and meditation classes. She provides leadership for all educational programs within the church, including our Infant – Grade 12 Christian Education program, our active Adult Education Program, and our Theologian in Residence program. Originally born in New York City, Megan moved to Miami in 1980. She is the mother of three grown children, and recently became a grandmother. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Barry University, and graduated with her Masters of Divinity degree from Florida Center for Theological Studies/St. Thomas in December 2011.

Rev. Aaron Lauer

Pastor for Emerging Generations
305-448-7421 ext. 117

Pastor Aaron’s Biography

Pastor Aaron grew up in a small town in the Nebraska Sandhills, the youngest child in a family of four children. For his undergraduate degree, he attended Hastings College, a small liberal arts college in southern Nebraska. While there, he was introduced to progressive Christianity that had a deep concern for social justice and a liberating reading of the Bible. In his senior year, he discerned a call to seminary and moved to Minneapolis to attend United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. While there, he became more involved with the UCC, volunteering at Pilgrim Point summer camp and a local church Vacation Bible School. He graduated in 2010 with a Masters in Religion and Theology, and soon after started serving at First Congregational Church of Minneapolis, UCC as their Minister for Children, Youth, and Families. While working at First Church, he heard God calling me back to seminary once more and graduated with his M.Div. in 2015 from United Theological Seminary.