Church Staff

Pastor: Rev Dr Thomas Blair

Rev. Dr. Blair joined with us in the fall of 2021.  He grew up attending Zion UCC in Stroudsburg, PA. He graduated from Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary, completed a year’s academic work at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, studied theological German at two Goethe Institutes, and served for a year in a congregation in Berlin, Germany. His Doctorate in Ministry comes from Columbia Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia.

In total, Rev. Dr. Blair has 31 years of ministry experience and is looking forward to being in ministry with us. He has three grown wonderful children, is an avid cyclist (road and gravel), and enjoys connecting with people, especially over coffee and something tasty. To quote his Pastor Profile, “I want to have a steady diet of preaching and teaching and encourage others to grow in new ways of ministry.”


Office Manager: Marieta Smith

Marieta Smith began working part-time at St. John’s on October 17, 2007 as Office Assistant.  On October 15, 2009, she became the Office Manager.  Marieta grew up in Centre Hall and is a graduate of Penns Valley Area High School.  She has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Centre Hall for more than 30 years.  On July 30,1993, she married John D. Smith and they live in Potters Mills.  Her hobbies include camping, boating, tubing, canoeing, counted cross stitching, making jewelry, painting, scrapbooking, swimming, card playing, photography, shopping, mowing grass and spending time with the ones she loves.

Music Staff

PaulaPaula Bassett


Paula has been a resident of State College for over 30 years. She received her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees in music from Hartt College of Music and Indiana University. She has enjoyed playing organ and piano at St. John’s for over 10 years as well as a number of other churches in the area. She also teaches piano privately to students of all ages. 






DitmerH. Ryan Ditmer  Ryan was born and raised outside of Port Royal, PA in Juniata County, started playing the piano when he was 3, and has been playing for church services since he was 10. After living and working in Bloomsburg, PA he moved to State College in January 1985 and then to Boalsburg in January 1987. Ryan joined St. John’s UCC in the spring of 1986 and has been our organist/accompanist both full time and part-time since then. Currently in addition to playing at St. John’s, Ryan is the Associate Organist at St. Paul’s Methodist Church and an Accompanist at Grace Lutheran Church, both in State College, PA. Ryan is a member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and has served as the Dean of the State College Chapter. Ryan was also a member of the former Westminster Handbell Ensemble from Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in State College and has sung with both the State College Choral Society since 1990 and the Orpheus Singers since 2012. During the week Ryan works as a Project Manager for Glass Mender Mirror & Plate Division, Inc., a glass and glazing company, in Altoona, PA. When he’s not playing, rehearsing or working Ryan, is driving, polishing or showing one of his three collector vehicles and is currently restoring a 1970 Dodge Charger.




Jonida Lazellari

Born and raised in Korce, Albania, Jonida Lazellari, began her piano studies at the age of 6 and later moved to the capital Tirana to attend the Artistic Lyceum “Jordan Misja”. She holds a bachelor degree in Piano from University of Arts in Tirana and a master degree from Syracuse University with a full scholarship. She is a versatile musician who has worked professionally as a solo pianist, piano collaborator and répétiteur. Currently, Jonida is pursuing her Doctorate in Music- Piano Performance at Penn State University where she is studying with Dr. Kristin Stephenson. 

Jonida has been frequently invited in well-renowned festivals such as: Pianodrom Festival , EPTA Albania, Brass Festival, the Festival of Young Composers “Remusica”, Valletta International Piano Festival, European Summer Music Festival in Pristina-Kosovo. During her studies in Syracuse, NY, she was an active collaborative pianist at Setnor School of Music.

Jonida has been the recipient of the 2019 and 2020 Hira Poncha Endowed Music Award in Piano for excellence in Piano Performance. She has also received the VPA Graduate Memorial Scholarship&Fellowship and Albania- Sur-Place Scholarship from German Association in Albania. Jonida has outreach concert at The Nottingham Retirement Community, at Civic Morning Musicals Wednesday Recital in Syracuse (NY), Music Hall at Penn State University.






Sue Vogt  

Sue’s mother and grandmother were a great influence on her to pursue music as a career.  Her mother encouraged Sue to practice piano every day for 30 minutes.

After receiving her degree, Sue taught music and elementary education for about 30 years.



Sue, now retired, lives in Centre Hall and has many family gatherings there with her mother.


Sue currently serves as the director of our vocal choir and our handbell choir.