Lead Pastor: Rev. Sherri Swanson
Pastor Sherri is originally from Burlington, Iowa. She graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois with a Master of Divinity degree. She also studied for a year at an Anglican seminary in Durham, England. She served previous pastorates in Michigan at Faith UMC in Grand Rapids, Three Oaks, Lakeside, Galien and Olive Branch United Methodist Churches.
Sherri is married to the Rev. Brad Bartelmay who serves as the lead pastor at First UMC in Holland. They are the parents of three young adult sons: Ben who is serving in the Peace Corps in Comoros, and twins – Tom who is a musician in Detroit and Sam who is a mechanical engineer in Grand Rapids.
In her free time, Sherri enjoys: reading, walking, playing the piano, going to the beach, skiing and yoga.
Director of Worship: Alex Barringer
Alex Barringer has worked at GUMChurch since July 2013. He has a BA in Music with emphases in Worship Arts and Piano performance. Alex moved here from the St. Louis area in the summer of 2012. He grew up in the Toledo, OH area. Alex has worked at several different churches in the past and is excited to be a part of GUMChurch. In addition to music, Alex enjoys reading, cooking, mountain biking, video games, and watching TV.
Director of Choir: Lynette Cole
Lynette Cole has been the GUMchurch Choir Director since 2001. She was previously a member of the choir and has been a member of GUMchurch since 1991. She holds a music education degree from Hope College and taught elementary music in the Hudsonville Public Schools for 10 years. After "retiring" she became a Kindermusik educator, which she has been doing since 1998. She and her husband, Kelly have two grown sons, Danny and Kenny, who grew up in the nurturing and challenging atmosphere of the GUMchurch youth program. Besides her family, singing is one of her biggest joys, along with writing, color (spring green is a good one), traveling and goat cheese. A good laugh is also high on the list.
Director of Communications & Hospitality: Heather Blaszczyk
Heather has been a member of GUM since 2015. She was raised in South Haven, MI and grew up in a Methodist church. Heather graduated from Western Michigan University and shortly after worked for a start up e-commerce company before getting married and having her first son, Adreian. Heather and her husband, Jakub built their house in Jenison in 2015 and had their second son, Breslin in 2016. She loves to spend her time with her boys outside, cooking and baking, camping, reading and is a die hard Chicago Cub's fan. Heather has served in many facets of the church and is so blessed to be part of such a wonderful and growing faith community.
Director of Young Disciples Ministries: Sara Zallar
Sara is a Grand Rapids native who moved "home" in July 2016. She attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where she received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education. She and her husband, Josh, lived in Milwaukee for 10 years as music educators. They currently reside in Georgetown Township with their two children, Olivia who will enter kindergarten in the fall and Jack who will enter preschool in the fall. Sara also leads Centering Prayer: a time of quieting, opening us to the Holy within and within each other.
Asst. Director of Young Disciples Ministries: Bailey Williams
Bailey was born in Elkhart, Indiana and grew up in both Portage and Union, Michigan. After graduating from Edwardsburg high school, she moved to Allendale to attend college at GVSU in 2015. At Grand Valley, Bailey discovered the Wesley Fellowship and applied to their internship program with GUM in the fall of 2016. Two years later and she is now the president of Wesley and taken on the role of Assistant Director of Young Disciples. In addition to working with children, Bailey’s hobbies include tennis, hiking, video games, and being out on the lake with her family.
Office Manager: Lisa Ernst
Lisa Ernst has worked for GUMchurch since November of 2013 and became a church member in 2011. She moved to Grand Rapids in 2010 from Bad Axe, MI, and has lived in ten different towns. She calls Harbor Springs “home”, from where she graduated and met her husband of 33 years, Terry. They recently bought a home in Jenison and plan to stay! Her two daughters, son-in-law and grandson live here also, as well as many other and various relatives. Lisa has a B.A. in Secondary Education with an English Major and History Minor. She taught high school for one year, co-operated a small business for twenty-five years, and worked for M.S.U. Extension Huron County as a field educator. For six years she sold golf apparel and accessories as a field representative and currently is a corporate sales representative. Lisa likes movies, books, beads, hiking, biking, camping, gardening, cooking, yoga, golf and GUMC!
Custodian: Dale Brown
Dale and his wonderful wife Anne have two amazing daughters Becky and Emily. Becky and her husband, Paul, enjoy playing volleyball whenever possible. Emily is also a sports buff playing volleyball, softball and hockey. After graduating from Western Michigan University, Dale took a circuitous route to GUMchurch. He worked along with his dad and brother in a home inspection business, while also teaching part time at Baker Business College in Muskegon. He then went to work for Jabil Circuit Inc., a provider of electronics for the automotive industry. Seeking to find a less stressful occupation, Dale joined the staff as the Building and Grounds Manager and spends his days looking after the GUMchurch property.