Mark Barger Elliott
Since 2005, Mark Barger Elliott has served as the 4th Senior Pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church. He is the author of Middle of the Maze: 5 Secrets to Find Your Way and Creative Styles of Preaching, as well as articles and sermons posted on Huffington Post and CNN.com. Mark received a Doctor of Ministry in preaching from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary where he won the John Galloway award in preaching. He has studied strategic planning at the Harvard Business School and has received a certificate in non-profit management from the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University. Mark loves the visual arts and is a documentary filmmaker. Both of his films, LOST BOY HOME, narrated by Sam Waterston, and THE LAST SONGWRITER, starring Garth Brooks and Emmylou Harris, won audience awards. He is currently working on two new books, Prayer: From the Inside Out and Blue Lobsters: Ten Traits that Make Effective Leaders.
Lynn Barger Elliott
Associate for Family Ministries and Pastoral Care
Since 2009, Lynn Barger Elliott has served on our pastoral staff. She is responsible for directing the Youth and Family Ministries, preaching and leading worship, and coordinating pastoral care and the Midweek program. She also serves as Affiliate Faculty at Calvin College working in the areas of Ministry Leadership and Vocational Formation. Lynn graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in Philosophy and from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity. She is the recipient of the David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar of the Year Award designated to one seminary graduate within the United States who demonstrates the strongest potential of benefiting the greater church with his/her skills of scholarship and preaching. She has spoken nationally on Intergenerational Ministry and has two articles being published Spring 2018 in “InterGenerate: Transforming Churches through Intergenerational Ministry” and “Faith Formation with the New Generation.” Lynn has a Certification in Non-Profit Executive Leadership through the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame and is co-founder of Ecclesia Group, a consulting group resourcing churches and non-profits.
Ruth Bell Olsson
Ruth Bell Olsson has been involved in local outreach and global activism for twenty years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and a master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Ruth and her husband Jeff are longtime residents of East Grand Rapids and have three children, Zinnia, Oskar and Kagiso.
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.
Interim 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. At Ridge Park, Josh 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. In addition to the Cosmops, Josh was 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.
Interim 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, she has been a member of our Chancel Choir. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, Andy, and their three children, Julia (6), Henry (3), and Luke (2). The whole family is hopeful that Henry will sing in the fall!
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.
Youth Ministry Leader
Ben King is a junior at Kendall College of Art and Design, studying Interior Design. He grew up at Mayflower and participated in the choirs and youth program. Ben is helping with the SNL! program on Sunday nights.
Director of Nursery Care
Rachael Cooley oversees Sunday morning programming and staffing for nursery through 3 year old children as well as child care staffing for the Wednesday night Midweek program. Rachael co-leads the 3rd-5th grade youth group on Wednesday nights and coordinates the acolytes on Sunday mornings. She also coordinates Mayflower’s Family Promise/IHN ministry for homeless families in Grand Rapids. She 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 before staying at home with her children. Rachael and her husband Andy have two children, Jackson and Harper.
Director of 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.
Director of 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. Prior to her taking the Bible Alive Coordinator position, 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.
Director of Congregational Care
Murry Idema is a long-standing member of Mayflower who, as Director of Congregational Care, directs the Friendly Visitors Group, plans the Explorers programs, and gives leadership to the Congregational Cares volunteer program.
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.
Former Controller for Compressor Technologies Inc., Lou Bardocz joined Mayflower on a part-time basis as Business Manager. Lou is also a CFP® Certified Financial Planner™.
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.
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.