Our Clergy & Staff

The Rev. Dr. Patrick Coyle, Minister of Music and Interim Head of Staff

Rev. Dr. Patrick Coyle's distinguished career has encompassed conducting hundreds of choral and orchestral performances nationally and in over a dozen countries around the world. Coyle has prepared choruses and orchestras for many of the world’s outstanding conductors, including Robert Shaw, James Levine, Erich Kunzel, Keith Lockhart, and Michael Tilson Thomas. Additionally, he has commissioned and conducted premieres of works by composers such as Gwyneth Walker, Elizabeth Alexander and Sean Ivory.

Now in Michigan and surrounding areas, Coyle is deeply committed to the professional training of young musicians. In his work at First (Park) Congregational Church, he hires and develops Choral Scholars and young Artists-in- Residence.


His numerous awards include the “Enduring Spirit Award” (from MUSE: Cincinnati’s Women’s Chorus, 2011); “Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts” from Cincinnati in recognition of his cultural leadership in that city; and the “Outstanding Graduate Teaching” Award (1984) from Converse College.

pcoyle (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Terrie Hunter, Parish Assistant

Terrie Hunter has been at Park Church for most of the last 20 years. She started in Children’s Ministries as she was trained at Western Theological Seminary in Children’s Worship. Before coming to Park, she had opened 3 other Worship Centers in the Grand Rapids area. Her responsibilities quickly grew to include the Youth Program in which she accompanied them on many mission trips all around the United States including 2 trips to Hawaii.

 Terrie’s love of hospitality lead her to take some time off from Park Church and run a Bed and Breakfast in Fennville, MI. Upon her return, her ministry has turned to Pastoral Care and Membership Engagement. Terrie still loves hospitality and entertains as often as she can.  She has 4 married children and 3 grandsons.

thunter (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Gloria Eckert, Director of Children's Ministry

Working with children in some capacity for most of her adult life brought Gloria Eckert to her current job as Director of Children's Ministry at Park Church. 

 

In 2007, Gloria and her husband Dennis moved to Grand Rapids from St. Louis, MO, in order to be nearer their daughter and grandchildren. 

 

Gloria oversees the Children's Ministry team by recruiting and scheduling teachers for the nursery, toddlers (Little Lambs), and Worship Center classes. Maintaining open communications with parents and teachers is important to Gloria; she publishes a monthly newsletter (“Kidz News”) for families of children from birth to 5th grade.She maintains attendance records and ensures implementation of the Safe Church Policy.  

geckert (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Gene Gess, Director of Finance

Gene Gess spent years in the nonprofit world handling the finances for retirement homes and hospitals before he joined the Park Church staff as the Business Manager.

His masters degree in accounting from Western Michigan University belies the deep passion that he has for music. He once spent three years in the flute section of the United States Army Band. He also has played in the National Guard Army Band and in the West Michigan Flute Association.

Gene and his wife Carol have been Park Church members since 1998. She has retired from her career as the choir director at Caledonia High School. They raised two children who are now married with children of their own, and Gene and Carol have discovered the delights of grandparenting.

ggess (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Marty Butler, Administrative Assistant

As Park's Program Staff Assistant, Marty helps to print the weekly Sunday bulletin, and produces and prints inserts for the bulletin.  Other jobs include assisting with mass mailings, maintaining the membership files, helping out with special projects, and general receptionist duties.  Her former areas of employment include teaching and health care.  

 

Marty and her husband have been members of Park Church since 2007.  She currently is serving a second term on the Board of Deacons and plays flute in Park's Wind Ensemble.  She and her husband have an adult son who is married and two wonderful grandsons.  Her hobbies and interests include baking, sewing, knitting, gardening, genealogy, and travel.  

mbutler (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Camille DeBoer, Office Administrator

A member of Park Church since 2013, Camille has served on the Board of Deacons, sings in the Chancel Choir, and is learning to play handbells with the kind and tolerant support of the Smith-Dively Ringers.  

 

She has spent 30 years working as a children’s bookseller, most notably as owner of Pooh’s Corner. Camille is a frequent contralto soloist with many West Michigan ensembles, a member of The Holland Chorale, and Opera Grand Rapids. She is a founding member of the West Michigan Opera Project and has served on the boards of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses.

 

Camille and her husband Andrew live in Grand Rapids and have three children.

cdeboer (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Steve Smith, Principal Organist

Steve Smith is a graduate of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, where he majored in Music Education and minored in Organ Performance and Theology. He also studied organ at Moody Bible Institute with Lillian Robinson and Gil Mead. 


In 1987 Steve founded Triune Music, a firm that represents Rodgers, Johannus, Marshall & Ogletree, and Fratelli Ruffatti Pipe Organs in the Midwest. In this capacity he has designed and installed over 900 organs, and nearly 100 pipe instruments, including the Chapel Organ at Park Church.   

 

Over the past 45 years Steve has served as Organist/Music Director for several Reformed and Lutheran Church. He has served as Principal Organist of Park Church since 2014.

 

 Steve has served on the Board of the Chicago Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and has recently served as the Sub-Dean for the Fox Valley Chapter of the AGO. He has appeared as a guest artist with the Grand Valley State University Orchestra, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony and with the Elgin Symphony in performances o f Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Bach’s St. John Passion, and Holst’s The Planets, and the St. Saens' Organ Symphony which has been broadcast on WFMT.

sbsmith785 (at) aol (dot) com

Phyllis Miner, Music Associate and Associate Organist

Phyllis is a harpist/organist/pianist and freelance writer. She has served as a church musician for over 50 years.

 

She has a classical piano CD (called Gardens in the Rain) available at Spirit Dreams on Lake Drive. Her second CD, The Stages of Grief: A Journey of Healing, is original harp music and is accompanied by words of hope by Rev. Karen Hays. She just finished recording a CD called Angels Dance of peaceful harp, flute (Kathy Osborn), and violin music which should be released before Christmas.

 

She also gives music lessons to aspiring pianists and harpists.  When she’s not teaching or playing with her dogs, she studies ballroom dancing.

harpyminer (at) gmail (dot) com

Cheryl Wells, Music Associate & Director of Carol Choir

A member of Park Church and Chancel Choir since 1974, Mrs. Wells has been the Carol Choir Director since 1983.  She received her Bachelor of Music Education from Western Michigan University.  She has played and taught the flute professionally since 1975.

Mary Klaasen, Music Associate & Director of Park Singers

Mary Klaasen has been teaching K-12 vocal and general music for six years. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2011 with a BA in Vocal Music Education. While teaching in Arizona, she completed her MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Reading. Mary has taught general music for the Kent City Summer Migrant Program, and she started and developed the K-12 music program at Hope Academy of West Michigan. 

Along with directing Park Singers, she is currently teaching music for Grand Rapids Public Schools, and directs the Junior Academy choir for the Girls Choral Academy.

Elizabeth Hamm, Music Associate & Director of Joyful Noise

Elizabeth Hamm is a hard-working and energetic musician who is passionate about her work both onstage and off. She has over 13 years of experience as a choir director and vocal music teacher in school, private, and church settings and is known for her attention to good vocal technique, excellent repertoire selections and, most of all, for developing a vibrant and collaborative community within her classes and ensembles. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Cedarville University and has pursued graduate studies in literacy at Grand Valley State University. Elizabeth enjoys time on stage and performs regularly with the Opera Grand Rapids Chorus and the Chancel Choir here at Park Church in Grand Rapids.

John Ott, Lead Manager: Building and Food Services

John Ott has served Park Church over 15 years as Lead Manager for Building and Food Services. He oversees weekly needs for Park Church, as well as assisting in the maintenance of the historic building. John enjoys gardening in his spare time.

Jai Preston, Events Coordinator

As Events Coordinator, Jai schedules events and weddings, coordinates with outside groups, and assists other staff and guests with their booking needs. Jai is currently working toward his Bachelors Degree in Computer Science, and has been a member of Park Church since 2011. His hobbies include baking, gardening, and music.

jpreston (at) parkchurchgr (dot) org

Mark Kelly, Building Services

Mark Meengs, Youth Leader

Kate Meengs, Youth Leader

Gregg Hampshire, Youth Leader

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