Mark Barger Elliott

Senior Pastor

Since 2005, Mark 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 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 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

Pastoral Associate

Ruth 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.

Julia Brown

Director of Music and Organist

Julia 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.

Mark Webb

Chancel Choir Director

Mark has his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees (in Music Education and Choral Conducting) from the University of Michigan, and his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree (in Choral Conducting) from Michigan State University. Mark is an adjunct Associate Professor of Music at Aquinas College, and is the Director of the Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids. Mark and his wife, Susan, have two daughters: Natalie (married to Mickey Bullock) and Ashley, and two grandchildren–Jeremiah and Hannah Bullock.

Rachael Cooley

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.

Andrea Koster

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.

Susan Orban

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.

Allison Houlihan

Youth Ministry Director

Allison 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.

Ben King

Youth Leader

Ben 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.

Murry Idema

Director of Congregational Care

Murry 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.

Beth Shimko

Office Administrator

A native of East Grand Rapids, Beth 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.

Alayna Plews

Office Assistant

Alayna joined the Mayflower staff in January of 2019 and serves as part-time Office Assistant. She graduated from the Grand Rapids Community College music program in May of 2018. In her spare time she enjoys playing music and reading especially long books — mostly about music.

Louis Bardocz

Business Manager

Former Controller for Compressor Technologies Inc., Louis joined Mayflower on a part-time basis as Business Manager. Louis is also a CFP®  Certified Financial Planner™.

Chris Lowe

Facilities Manager

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 Klein

Building Supervisor

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.

Interim Children's Choir Director

Abby Brooks is joining us in August as Interim Director of Children’s Choirs at Mayflower Congregational Church. Abby 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.

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 (6), Henry (3), and Luke (2). 

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Interim Youth Choir Director

Joshua 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 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.

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