Rev. Dr. David Swinton
Pastor Dave was raised in Methodist parsonages in Mr. Ayr, Wapello, and Tipton. In 1986 he graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa with majors in Religion and Speech Communication. After college, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he worked with youth in inner-city churches.
He is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Seminary at Northwestern University and he received his Doctor of Ministry from the Association of Chicago Theological Schools.
After Seminary, he served churches in Denver, Sterling, and Littleton, Colorado. And after moving back to Iowa, was appointed to serve churches in Storm Lake, Perry, and Harlan. While in Storm Lake was named Citizen of the Year by the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune in 1997. In Perry he served on the City Council. While in Harlan he was president of the area Empowerment board for early childhood education. He is now Chair of the Board of Trustees at Rust College in Holly Springs Mississippi.
His hobbies include woodworking, reading, playing guitar, and singing. He owns a nice bicycle and a cheap banjo, both of which he hopes to put to more use this year. When the rare opening in his schedule allows, he has enjoyed acting in Community Theatre productions.
Dave’s wife, Shari Stucker, works in non-profit administration. They have a son at Roosevelt High School and a daughter at the University of Iowa.
Director of Christian Education
On Sundays during the school year, our education wing is abuzz with lessons, activities, lively discussions and more! Here, grade school children begin their faith journeys with Bible stories, projects, songs, and prayer. In our middle school and high school classrooms, students deepen their faith alongside their peers, in an atmosphere that encourages questions, reflection, and sharing. All classes are led by trained adult teachers and meet from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
But Sunday school isn’t for children and youth only! Here at Grace, we have seven active and committed adult Sunday school classes, each with its own approach to supporting each other as we deepen the understanding and practice of our faith. We also offer a lectionary-based Bible study on Thursday mornings, and a contemporary Bible study–with a focus on today’s current events–on Thursday nights.
In addition to overseeing all of these programs, my job is to help you find the right class for you. Please talk to me about your Christian education goals–I’m certain there’s a group at Grace that you’ll love being a part of.
To find out more about Christian Education at Grace, please call me at 515-255-2131 ext. 230; or, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
To keep up with what I’m up to, follow me on Facebook.
Rev. Gary Nims
Minister of Congregational Care
As Minister of Congregational Care, I visit people who are sick or grieving, as well as those who are homebound or confined to hospitals, care facilities, and other residences; I also coordinate our care for each other through the church Prayer Ministry and in other ways. I can provide pastoral services such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals,, I also have the priviledge of assisting with weekend worship on a weekly basis as well as preaching about 12 times a year.
Please contact me if you have a question or pastoral care need, or if you know someone who would appreciate a call or visit. You can reach me through the church office or via email at email@example.com
I am thrilled to be serving as Director of the Chancel Choir and Grace Chimers. We welcome all people of all skill levels to join us in wonderful music making. Let us all make a joyful noise! The Grace Chimers rehearse from 6:00-7:00 on Wednesdays and Chancel Choir rehearses from 7:00-8:15 on Wednesdays.
Outside of Grace UMC, I am currently working as a full time Substitute Teacher for the Bondurant-Farrar School District. I am a cum laude graduate of Wartburg College, where I received my Bachelor of Music Education with a minor in Worship Studies. During my time at Wartburg, I served as a section leader for the Ritterchor (Men’s Choir) and the Wartburg Choir. I also had the opportunity to be one of the student conductors of the Wartburg Choir. I spent my first two years of teaching in Sheldon, IA, where my ensembles consistently earned top marks from all contests we attended. My professional mentors include Dr. Lee Nelson, Dr. Brian Pfaltzgraff, Dr. Matthew Armstrong, and Dr. Karen Black.
Director of the Chapel Choir
As the Director of the Chapel Choir, I am looking forward to making beautiful music with singers from grades 6 through 12. My job is to provide a high-quality choral experience for all singers, and extending that experience into the worship services. We will explore a range of genres and styles, while learning about the diverse experiences of ourselves and others. We will rehearse on Sundays at 4:00pm. ALL ARE WELCOME!
Outside of Grace UMC, I am a Vocal Music Teacher at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, where I conduct the Bridges 2 Harmony Gospel Choir, Junior Varsity Show Choir, and co-conduct the Concert and Chamber Choirs. During my undergraduate years, I studied at St. Olaf College, where I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education. During my time, I held positions as the Music Director of the Gospel Choir, Assistant Conductor of the St. Olaf Chamber Singers, and the Assistant Conductor of the St. Olaf Viking Chorus. I also sang in the St. Olaf Choir, the St. Olaf Chamber Singers, the St. Olaf Cantorei, and the St. Olaf Viking Chorus. My mentors in conducting, teaching, and performing were Dr. Anton Armstrong, Dr. Therees Hibbard, Dr. Linda Berger, Professor Karen Wilkerson, and Dr. Christopher Aspaas.
Ann Gerdom is the organist at Grace and accompanies the Chancel Choir. She started attending Grace UMC when she was 5 and grew up singing in the Grace choirs. She had her first organ lessons at Grace at age 15. Ann attended Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music education, and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she received a master’s degree in organ and church music. She lived in the Chicago area for 30 years, where she served several churches as music director, choir director and organist and worked for non-profit organizations in public relations/marketing. Before moving back to Iowa in 2007, she received a master’s degree in teaching reading from Northeastern Illinois University. She currently teaches music at Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines.
Piano, Saturday Service
James Poulsen resides in Beaverdale and teaches music theory, ear training, and piano at Simpson College. He accompanies many students and faculty in weekly rehearsals, performances, and recitals. Mr. Poulsen holds an M.M. in Piano Performance from the University of South Dakota with doctoral studies at the University of Iowa. He is also a freelance composer. Poulsen has had 4 commissioned works premiered by the Des Moines Symphony. James Poulsen has written the music for nearly 400 commercials and business films over the past 25 years, including a number of projects for Disney Business Productions in the 1990s. Poulsen, the son of a Methodist minister, was raised playing piano in churches all over Iowa. He currently plays Sunday mornings at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran in West Des Moines and Marquisville UMC in NE Des Moines. Poulsen is also an avid jazz pianist and performs over a hundred times a year in Des Moines and throughout Iowa. He plays with the Nola Jazz Band, which has released one CD and plays every first Friday at the Des Moines Social Club. He also often performs at the new Noce Jazz Club in downtown Des Moines. Poulsen plays with the Steve Charlson Quartet, the Ballyhoo Foxtrot Orchestra, and Gina Gedler. He has performed a number of times at the Cedar Basin, Bix Beiderbecke, Glenn Miller, and Des Moines Jazz Festivals, plus many ‘Jazz in July’ appearances locally.
Grace Preschool Director
My job is to ensure that all children and families are welcomed to Grace Preschool and Grace United Methodist Church.
For the preschool, my staff and I provide high-quality care and early childhood education in a safe, nurturing play-based environment that will encourage hands-on exploration and build problem-solving skills.
Would you like to help? We’re always looking for “Field Experts” for our Projects Based Learning—projects that draw children’s attention to questions such as: How do things work? What do people do? What tools do people use? Possible Topics include Trees, Pumpkins, Robots, Water, Snow, Gardens, Pets, Buildings, Pizza, Lunch, and Wheels. So if you have any expertise in any of these things, I’d love to hear from you.
Families and parents can get involved in other ways. A few ideas:
• Come share knowledge of a topic: Gardeners, cooks, and others who work with their hands—I’m talking to you!
• Bring in materials that tell stories: Family photos, a rake, old cookie pans, etc.)
• Volunteer time in the classroom or on field trips.
Please contact me if you’d like to know more about Grace Preschool, or if you’d like to be a “field expert.” I’m at 515-279-5942 Ext. 100; Grace Preschool.
PS: To keep up with what I’m doing, follow Grace Preschool on Facebook!
Super Wednesday & Outreach Coordinator
Most Wednesdays throughout the school year, our church basement brims with 50 to 60 kids, ages K-5, plus 10 adult volunteers and a slew of high-school helpers. It’s a time for all kids in our community to come together for games, crafts, food–and the chance to interact with people of all ages in a safe, caring environment.
If you enjoy doing crafts with kids, if you like playing active games with kids–or if you don’t like to work with kids, but would like to help out in the kitchen, please let me know! Email or call at the contact info below.
The Super Wednesday team is also eager to get our hands on any craft supplies you no longer want. All donations can be placed in the box by the inside front door of the church.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 255-2131 extension 229.
Director of Youth Group
I direct the United Methodist Youth Fellowship (UMYF) for our church. We meet on Sunday nights, and we have an active schedule, filled with plenty of learning, service opportunities and fun. For example, this semester alone will find us heading to a corn maze and a haunted house (for fun), preparing a Consecration Sunday dinner and singing Christmas Carols at Wesley Acres (as our service projects), and following a program on Poverty Awareness. And that’s just the fall semester. Spring semester brings even more–including our annual Ski Trip to Minnesota.
If you have any questions about either of these programs–or better yet, if you’d like to help out–I’d love to hear from you!
Find me at email@example.com or 255-6400, extension 231.
Charlene Hjort is our office manager. She can be reached at 515-255-6400, ext. 222, or firstname.lastname@example.org.