Pastor Chad Oyer, along with his wife Angie, and 4 children, came to First Congregational from Birmingham United Methodist Church, where he served for 7 years as Associate Pastor. His prior pastoral experience includes associate pastorates at the Church of Nazarene in Roseville, Michigan, at Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church in Greenville North Carolina, and as church planter and lead pastor at New Heights Community Church. Pastor Oyer’s ministry has been distinguished by team-oriented, hardworking, mission-focused, loving environments. Pastor Oyer received a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Religion from Olivet Nazarene University, and continued his education at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Most likely, you can see Pastor Chad and his family enjoying downtown Traverse City, swimming at a local beach, picking apples at an orchard, racing down ski slopes, and always playing games in the backyard.
Dr. Gary Hogue
I arrived at FCC in 1984 with my wife Karen and sons Mike and Jeremy. Over the years we have experienced God‘s faithfulness through the joys and burdens of church and family life. We are blessed to participate in God’s work at FCC. Currently I preach occasionally, consult with church leadership, and provide pastoral care to the congregation. We have eleven grand children and many friends in the church and community.
Karen and I met at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio where we received Bachelor‘s’ degrees in 1968. I went on to pursue a Master of Divinity from McCormick Seminary, earning credits also at Chicago Theological School and The University of Heidelberg, Germany. While serving my first pastorate I pursued graduate courses at Ohio State University, and later at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio where I earned my Doctor of Ministry. I served 3 churches in Ohio prior to FCC, and I’ve done sabbatical work with Max Stackhouse of Princeton Theological Seminary and Jean Elshtain of the Chicago Divinity School.
I believe we live and work in perilous times that are yet filled with the Triune God’s presence and unfolding promises. I believes the church exists to provide environments where the Holy Spirit creates, renews, or deepens faith in Jesus Christ. May God bless you as you explore what God is doing through FCC.
My name is Ben Royer, and I am the Family Pastor here at First Congregational Church. My family and I come to Traverse City from Pella, IA. My wife (Darlene) and I have been working with families and children and teenagers for 13 years together. I have 3 children and have over 15 years of experience as a Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Family Pastor. I have my B.A. in Theology from Illinois Bible College and currently working on my Masters of Divinity through Grand Canyon University. As a Family Pastor, I teach relevant messages for the teenagers and kids and create an environment of family and allow kids space to own their faith. In my free time, I enjoy photography, grilling, hanging out with my family, watching the Chicago Bears and White Sox, and playing video games.
Sanctuary Choir Director
Russ Larimer is the Sanctuary Choir Director of Traverse City‘s First Congregational Church, a position he has held since 2005, and also serves as Director for the Mel Larimer Concert Series. He is Emeritus Director of Choirs from Traverse City West Sr. High, having recently retired from public school teaching after 33 years of service. Russ’s high school choirs toured and performed frequently throughout the U.S. and Europe. He directed Michigan high school Honors Choirs on 3 occasions and was recently recognized as the 2014 Teacher of the Year by the Michigan School Vocal Music Association.
Russ is a graduate of Albion College and taught for 7 years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and in the Black Hills of South Dakota prior to returning to Traverse City in 1987.
Russ married his wonderful wife Deb in 1981, and they have 2 delightful daughters, Ashley and Allison.
Music Minister, Organist, Bell Choir Director
Sally Lewis, MM, AAGO, NCTM, is the Music Minister of FCC and serves as organist and bell choir director. She is retired from the music faculty at NMC but still maintains a private music studio. Sally is the Treasurer of the Music House Museum. Her belief is “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” - 1 Peter 4:10
Carter Jones was born and raised in Traverse City. He attended West Senior High School, earned a Bachelor’s in psychology from Hope College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in clinical social work at Ferris State University. He speaks fluent French. Carter met his wife Laura at FCC’s youth group, where they were on the youth praise team together. They now worship together in the contemporary service at FCC. Carter is a welcome addition to the FCC staff for 2016.
Cheryl Chism, Church Administrator, has been on the church staff at FCC since 2009. With a Business Administration degree from Central Michigan University, she enjoys helping church members and ministry leaders with accounting issues and office needs. She and husband, Randal, have a son, Christopher. Cheryl enjoys working on quilt hangings, playing guitar and making crafts. A favorite hymn for her is “If We Never Meet Again” sung by Selah. She feels very blessed to be a part of such a special team!
Facilities & Media Director
David Russell feels supremely blessed to be able to do something he dearly loves, in service to God. He has always been interested in recording: from mono open reel audio in grade school to digital multi-tracking, from 1inch black and white video to digital camcorders. Since 1987, he’s been able to help spread the Good News through the technical arts programs here at First Congregational, designing, installing and maintaining audio and video systems, training and organizing volunteers, and editing the finished products. His passion is creating the best possible technical support for worship here at FCC and then sharing worship excellence with people throughout northern Michigan.
David reads mostly trade magazines and equipment manuals and loves the quote from Mackie’s mixer manuals, “If, after all your best efforts, your sound system insists on humming, try teaching it the words.” In addition to all the technical things, he also loves watching things grow (farming) and building things, especially with wood.
One of David‘s favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 6:19-20, “and (pray) also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” David’s prayer for First Congregational is that we learn to open our mouths boldly to proclaim our faith in God and the redemption through Jesus Christ to the world.
Kate Attwood is the Communications Coordinator for FCC. Kate was born and raised in Traverse City. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Grand Valley State University in English and Elementary Education, and previously served as the Director of Community Children's Center at FCC for nine years. Kate is married to her high school sweetheart, Kyle, and they have 2 little boys. Kate is grateful to be a part of the wonderful staff team at FCC!
Celia has resided in Traverse City since 1980. She along with her husband Stephen are the parents of six grown children and have also been blessed with nine grandchildren. Much of her extra time is spent with family and friends, also she enjoys large family dinners. Painting, astro photography and music are some of her other interests. Celia comes to FCC with a wealth of life skills and a heart of service for the Lord and His people. She attended WCCC and NMC with an interest in science. One of her favorite Bible verses is Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
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Vladimir has provided dedicated service since December 2010. His willing attitude and warm smile have blessed our church! He and wife Valentina have four children and three nieces. Vladimir participates in choir and the men’s vocal group. He enjoys working with his hands, fishing with his sons, and spending time with family.