Reverend Douglas Van Doren
Rev. Doug Van Doren has been pastoral leader of Plymouth UCC since 1978.
Rev. Van Doren received his Master of Divinity degree from The Chicago Theological Seminary with a concentration in Biblical Study and Pastoral Care. His leadership in the struggle for justice and equality is well-recognized in the Grand Rapids community and beyond.
Rev. Van Doren has served on numerous local boards of directors including Planned Parenthood Centers of West and Northern Michigan, where he was also board chair, and is a founding member of Concerned Clergy of West Michigan, formed to call churches to openness and acceptance of gay and lesbian people. For most of his time in Grand Rapids, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Grand Rapids Urban League, including two years as board chair.He is often sought for consultation by other clergy, churches, and community groups.
Rev. Van Doren is available for ministerial functions and for pastoral care, home and hospital visitation, crisis counseling, personal consultation, and referral. He is also a popular speaker wherever local discussions of faith intersect with social justice.
Christian Education (Sunday Sessions) Director
Sheree Alexander has attended Plymouth UCC with her family since 2003. Before becoming Sunday Sessions Director she was active with the Plymouth nursery and as a volunteer with the Sunday Sessions program.
She says, “I believe a role of the church and, more specifically, the role of Sunday Sessions is to assist families in raising compassionate children. At Plymouth, we follow Christ with an emphasis on serving those in need. The need may be spiritual or emotional, but more often than not it is food, clothing, shelter, water, etc.--both in our own community and elsewhere. We have designed a Sunday Sessions program to teach children about the Bible, about the practice of Christianity, and the proclamation of the faith through self-reflection, commitment, and service. And, we have a lot of fun along the way.”
Marilyn Pikaart began playing organ at Plymouth UCC and accompanying the choir in 1993. She has a bachelor's degree in Music Therapy and a graduate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She retired as a music therapist in 2004.
A composer with more than 70 compositions to date, Marilyn composes and arranges music for organ, keyboard, choir, vocals, trumpet, and dulcimer. She also collaborates with other Plymouth composers to bring new and uplifting pieces into the worship service. In 2001, she started a Mountain Dulcimer group, teaching Plymouth members to play the dulcimer and providing music for worship services. In recent years, the group has expanded to include guitar, bass, and viola, and now calls itself the Plymouth String Band. She says, “Working with Plymouth staff and members has been a rich blessing in my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in God’s Kingdom through the beauty of music.”
Director of Music
William (Bill) Bokhout
William (Bill) Bokhout was born and raised in Grand Rapids. He is a graduate of Calvin College where he played bassoon in the band and orchestra and also studied voice and sang in the Capella Choir. Bill became Plymouth UCC’s Director of Music in 2011. He has extensive church music experience and, for many years, has been involved in planning worship services, scheduling musicians, ensembles, worship teams, and technical staff. An operatic baritone, Bill has been the resident Baritone with Opera Grand Rapids for 26 seasons, performing as many as 35 different roles.
In 2003, Bill founded The 2nd Act Opera Company, a professional touring group dedicated to promoting Opera as an art form to young people, performing in many of the schools in the area as well as touring with his wife, Hollis, presenting Children's Opera Workshops in elementary schools across the country.
Autumn Aldrich is a graduate of Michigan State University and worked in the veterinary field for many years before coming to Plymouth in December 2014.
After questioning her career path, Autumn began looking into other opportunities. Church being an important part of her life, she felt a strong urge to apply for the secretarial position at Plymouth when it became available. She is very happy to be a part of Plymouth UCC and looks forward to her future here.
"Go back. That's your church." Those are the words that brought Jerry Hoffman to Plymouth UCC in 2004. Jerry had recently moved to Grand Rapids. He was looking for a specific church on Kalamazoo Avenue but got turned around, saw Plymouth's WAGE PEACE sign, and pulled in to the parking lot. Realizing that the worship service was well underway, Jerry returned to his car and drove off to find the original church of his search. That's when he heard the voice in his head, "go back." He did, and he's been at Plymouth ever since. A retired public school educator and administrator, Jerry was asked to be part-time custodian at Plymouth shortly after his arrival. But he spends far more time at Plymouth than "part-time" implies. He also volunteers as a quilter, music librarian, and substitute accompanist for the choir and solo performers.