First Congregational Church of Traverse City is pleased to welcome Pastor Chad Oyer as our new Lead Pastor. Pastor Oyer, along with his wife Angie, and 4 young children, comes 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.
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
Contemporary Worship Coordinator
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.
Children’s Ministry Coordinator
Jill and her family have been members of FCC since 1995. She and Jay are parents of two great kids, Carter Jones and Emily Jones Petran. She has a MA in Speech and Language Pathology and has worked in Traverse City as a pediatric speech therapist and augmentative communication specialist, as well as a recently retired practice manager for her husbands’ medical practice. She has volunteered in multiple children’s ministries and is very happy to be FCC’s Children Ministry Coordinator. Her favorite saying is “It’s not about you”, because she believes that it’s ALL about God.”
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.
Community Children’s Center Director
Kate Attwood is the director of the Community Children’s Center. Kate has a Bachelor’s Degree from Grand Valley State University in Elementary Education, as well as numerous years of experience teaching children ages birth through elementary school. Kate is married to her high school sweetheart, Kyle, and they have a sweet little boy, Charlie. Kate loves the fact that the Community Children’s Center is an outreach to the community, and she thoroughly enjoys working with each child, family, and staff member. One of Kate’s most meaningful scriptures is Matthew 25:40 (“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”).
To email Celia: click here
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.”
To email Vladimir: click here
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.
To email Judy: click here
Judy has worked at FCC since 1991, in several capacities, but of course we know her best for the delicious dishes she brings us each Sunday following service. Judy’s creativity and cooking flair enhances our fellowship time. Be sure to check out her monthly recipe under the Events tab. Judy is also an avid gardener and artist.