Rev. Dr. Jonathan White
Interim Senior Pastor
Rev. Dr. Jonathan White and his wife Marcia joined Mayflower Congregational Church in 1986. Jonathan was ordained at Mayflower in 1992 and served several parishes in West Michigan as a part-time pastor. Jon and Marcia returned to Mayflower upon his retirement from parish service in 2012. He is ordained in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.
Jon was an interim pastor at Second Congregational, Bostwick Lake UCC, and Park Congregational. He served as pastor at Saugatuck Congregational, Douglas UCC, and Trinity Congregational. Frequently providing pulpit presence, Jon has preached at area Presbyterian, Congregational, UCC, ELCA, Episcopalian, and Methodist churches.
Jon is Emeritus Professor of Honors in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University. Having several differing roles at GVSU, Jon was the Founding Director of the School of Criminal Justice, department chair of Liberal Studies, chair of the Honors Faculty, and Dean of Social Sciences.
After the tragedy of September 11, he was seconded to the United States Bureau of Justice Assistance until 2005 to teach in an FBI-sponsored counterterrorism training program. He continued in the program as a specialist in religious terrorism until 2013. He has also served as a consultant to the United States Department of Justice, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, the Australian Federal Police, and the Turkish National Police. Jon has worked with law enforcement agencies throughout the world in the fields of counterterrorism and religious violence. He also taught classes on religious terrorism at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
The author of several dozen scholarly articles and papers, Jon’s books include – Holy War: Terrorism as a Theological Construct, Terrorism: An Introduction, Defending the Homeland, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and The Prussian Army: 1640-1871.
Jon began his professional career as a patrol officer in the Jackson Police Department and rose to the position of Assistant Administrator. He served in the training division of the Michigan State Police prior to joining the GVSU faculty in 1983. He was inducted into the Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice “Wall of Fame” in 2007.
Rev. Ruth Bell Olsson
INTERIM Associate Pastor
Rev. Ruth Bell Olsson joined the staff of Mayflower in the fall of 2017 as the church’s Interim Outreach Coordinator. After expanding her role and becoming a Pastoral Associate, Ruth was ordained at Mayflower in October of 2019. Ruth earned her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Wheaton College and her Master of Arts in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Rev. Ruth Bell Olsson is an activist in spirit and an ally at heart and has been involved in local outreach and global activism for twenty years. Ruth’s channels of alignment and activism now focus on systemic issues. She has spoken at national and international conferences and churches on the AIDS pandemic as well as related issues such as gender equality, LGBTQ inclusion, peacemaking, and racial equity; as well as changing the world’s approach to the global orphan crisis. She writes and speaks on a variety of subjects and loves to wrestle with the deep mysteries of living a life of faith in a complicated world.
Before coming to Mayflower, Ruth worked for Bethany Global. Her role addressed changing paradigms in the global response to the care of orphans and vulnerable children.
In 1999 Ruth and her husband Jeff were founding members of Mars Hill Bible Church; they were part of a team that grew the outreach efforts of Mars Hill into a network of 100 global partners and initiatives that focused on the most neglected and forsaken people, places, and issues both locally and around the world. Ruth began her activism with HIV/AIDS in this season and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Africa raising awareness and funding for prevention and treatment efforts.
In 2016 Ruth joined the One Million Thumbprints initiative; this initiative was formed to address gender-based violence in conflict zones. The initiative’s first team traveled into the worst conflict zone in the Democratic Republic on Congo in order to raise awareness for the Congolese women who survived the violence in their region. The second team trip Ruth took was in 2018 to the Syrian border to learn about the desolation women experience in the refugee camps in the midst of the violence of their home country.
Ruth is an award-winning writer, a published author, and has served on the board of directors for several local non-profit organizations. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Jeff and their three children Zinnia, Oskar, and Kagiso.
Dr. Julia Brown
Director of Music and Organist
Julia Brown joined the staff at Mayflower in August, 2018 and looks forward to nurturing the gifts of our faith community.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Julia studied piano, harpsichord, and organ in her native Brazil before receiving her Masters of Music in Church Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance from Northwestern University.
She worked as Organist and Music Director at First United Methodist Church in Eugene, Oregon for almost 20 years.
Julia is passionate about music-making with volunteers and professionals of all ages. She believes that music is a powerful means of faith formation and spiritual growth. Julia has three children, Rachel, Gabriela and Alex Petty.
Director of Chancel Choir
Scott Bosscher is a choir trainer, voice teacher and worship liturgy planner who began his musical career as a Bass Section Leader at Mayflower.
A Grand Rapids native, Scott received his Bachelor of Music from Calvin College, then a Masters of Music from Oklahoma City University. While living in Chicago he sang with the St. Luke’s Choir of Men and Boys in Evanston, where he met his wife Jane. They moved to Somerset, UK, where Scott was a Choral and Chorister Voice Trainer and on the Music Faculty at Wells Cathedral (ranked #1 choir in the world).
Scott was the Choir Director at Thornapple Covenant Church for 11 years, and has been the Director of Music for the Grand Rapids Choir of Men & Boys since 2001. He teaches voice and music at Grand Rapids Community College and Calvin College.
Youth Choir Director
Josh Ledesma holds a B.A. Degree in Music Education from Grand Valley State University. Since 2014, Josh has taught at Ridge Park Charter Academy, a diverse school with students from over 40 countries and has implemented a choir, band, and theatre program, as well as an after-school ukulele program.
Josh is in his 11th year directing the Muskegon Cosmopolitan Male Singers. The Cosmops is a group with a long tradition, celebrating its 85th anniversary of choral singing. He was also the Director of Music at St. Gregory’s Episcopal church for 10 years prior to singing at Mayflower. While there, he also worked with the youth during Vacation Bible School to create and stage musicals based on well-known hymns.
Josh and his wife Lindsay are currently in their first year singing at Mayflower in the Chancel Choir. Their 4-year-old son, Marco, also enjoys singing in choir at Mayflower and will be attending Mayflower Preschool this coming fall.
Children's Choir Director
Abby Brooks completed her Master’s Degree in Music Education from Michigan State University where she focused on early childhood and elementary music education and holds a Bachelors of Music in Education and Bachelors of Arts in Dance Education degrees from Hope College. She fulfilled her student teaching requirements at Chicago Public Schools and subsequently taught General Music at Park Elementary in Hudsonville from 2006-2015. Since 2009, Abby has been the assistant director of the Hudsonville High School musicals.
She has performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and was in the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2010. Abby directed the Children’s Choir at Epworth Heights in Ludington, MI from 2000 to 2007. Currently, Abby teaches Music Together at Joyful Sounds Music Studio in Grand Rapids, a class for parents or caregivers and children that focuses on a child’s musical development.
For the past 3 years, Abby has been a member of our Chancel Choir. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, Andy, and their three children, Julia, Henry, and Luke.
Youth Ministry Director
Allison Houlihan and her husband Peter joined Mayflower shortly after being married here 18 years ago. She loved the strong sense of community Mayflower provides and she knew she wanted that same connection for her children as well.
In addition to being active in her children’s schools, she has served as a Sunday School teacher, Midweek volunteer, and part-time cook, Confirmation Partner, and the chair of the Congregational Events Committee at Mayflower.
Allison had meaningful experiences in youth groups as a teenager and is hoping to create those kinds of moments for the youth of Mayflower.
Murry Idema is a long-standing member of Mayflower, having served as Director of Mayflower Pre-School for 33 years.
Her current responsibilities include chairing the Congegational Care Committee, which is instrumental in scheduling volunteers as greeters on Sundays and in sending handcrafted cards to persons on the prayer list and also to members who are celebrating milestone birthdays. The committee is also responsible for facilitating coffee receptions before and after the Sunday services.
In addition, she directs the Friendly Visitors who participate in visiting the homebound or elderly and arrange for meals to be delivered to them as needed.
Murry also arranges the “69UP” social gatherings for Mayflower members and guests.
Murry attended Colby Junior College and received her B.A. degree and teaching certification from Michigan State University. She and her husband Phil have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
Co-Director of Christian Education Faith Formation Journey - Bible Beginnings
Andrea Koster is the Director of Bible Beginnings, a Sunday morning program which ministers to four and five-year-old children.
Andrea is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in communications and journalism. She has been a member at Mayflower Church since 2001 and has been an active volunteer with children’s ministries.
Andrea and her husband, Chad, have three children, Natalie, Lillian, and Matthew.
Co-Director of Christian Education Faith Formation Journey - Bible Alive
Susan Orban is the Director of Bible Alive, working with Mayflower’s youth from 1st-4th grade.
Susan grew up in Wilmette, IL and has lived in Grand Rapids for the past 8 years. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Business Arts degree. Her professional career consisted of fifteen years of extensive experience in commercial real estate in downtown Chicago.
She has been an active volunteer in all aspects of children’s ministry at Mayflower Church.
Susan and her husband, Bart, have three children, Braxton, Eve and Hope.
Co-Director of Christian Education Faith Formation Journey - Nursery & The Bridge
Rachael Cooley oversees programming and staffing for the Nursery on Sundays and Wednesdays. She leads the 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class The Bridge on Sunday mornings.
She directs Mayflowers Midweek program which includes choir and youth group for grade school aged children as well as fellowship for families. She is also the Coordinator of Mayflower's Family Promise/IHN ministry for homeless families in Grand Rapids.
Rachael has a background in non-profit, having worked with at-risk youth at Boys Town for 10 years and, most recently, was the Executive Director of Youth Unlimited.
Rachael and her husband Andy have two children, Jackson and Harper.
A native of East Grand Rapids, Beth Shimko happily joined the staff in 2009 and began serving as Office Administrator in 2018. She’s enjoyed getting to know Mayflower members as she is most often the first to greet visitors in our church office.
Amy is the Office Assistant and Database Manager at Mayflower.
Amy is a graduate of Washington State University, with a BA in Business, Hospitality Management. Amy worked as a Sales and Account Manager for Starbucks Coffee Company, Director of Sales for Hornblower Cruises & Events in Southern California and in Food and Beverage management for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Seattle.
Amy is originally from Seattle, Washington. She and her husband, Mark, moved their family to East Grand Rapids in 2014 and both children, Rachel and Nolan, are students at East Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Courtenay Oosterman began serving a Communications role in the spring of 2019.
She has supported Mayflower for over 15 years as a freelance graphic designer with a passion for identity and brand building yet now appreciates being a part of the Mayflower teams more directly, as needed, to support communication efforts whether in print or online.
Courtenay has a bachelor degree in Art and Letters Interdisciplinary Humanities from Michigan State University with emphases in English, Art, Communications, and Psychology. She is a protean designer and has worked in various areas of design, advertising, and marketing over the past 25+ years with non-profits, small businesses, and corporations.
Paul joined the Mayflower staff in January, 2016 and currently serves as our Building Supervisor.
Paul lives in Rockford with his wife Deb. They have three married daughters, an adult son and nine grandchildren.
In his spare time, Paul likes working in his yard, working on building projects at home, as well as his children’s homes. He enjoys watching the Tigers, NASCAR, the History Channel and especially spending time with his family.
Chris oversees the facility needs of Mayflower as our Facilities Manager. Chris has over thirty years experience, having served as Director of Facility Services at Cornerstone University and Ranir Corp. here in the Grand Rapids area.
Chris and his wife Debbie have seven children and seven grandchildren. In his free time he enjoys hunting, fishing and woodworking.
Andrew Ely (Andy) has spent 30 years in corporate finance most recently as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for a local defense firm in Grand Rapids. Andy holds a BA in Accounting from Michigan State, and an MBA from Grand Valley’s Seidman School of Business. Throughout his career he has worked for familiar companies like General Motors, Magna International, and Amway Corporation.
Andy and his wife love spending time with their 2 boys and extended family. For fun Andy enjoys playing and coaching tennis.