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
Coreen was born in Montana, but has lived in Iowa since the age of eight when her family moved to Adel. After high school, she attended Simpson College earning a BA in Communication in 1991. In 1992, she married her husband Todd, at Grace. They now live in Urbandale and have two sons…one who is a freshman at Iowa State University and one who is a sophomore at Urbandale High School.
Her ministry at Grace began in 2011. She keeps busy managing the Sunday School program for children through adults, planning and organizing Vacation Bible School, overseeing the Safe Sanctuary program at Grace, managing the church nursery, serving on the worship committee, running the acolyte program, organizing the Advent and Lent Soup & Sermon events, along with a variety of other duties. Anyone who is interested in joining a Sunday School or Bible Study class, should contact Coreen for suggestions.
When not at church, she enjoys knitting prayer shawls and baking chocolate chip cookies.
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 privilege 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
Director of Music and Organist
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.
Chancel Choir & Grace Chimers Director
Michael Gookin is the director of the Chancel Choir and Grace Chimers, an adult mixed choir and handbell choir at Grace UMC. The Chancel Choir is open for all adults, and Grace Chimers is open for any adult or student in high school. The Grace Chimers rehearse in the Grace UMC Sanctuary on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm. The Chancel Choir rehearses on Wednesdays in the Wesley Hall (second floor) from 7:00-8:00 pm. If you have questions about joining either ensemble, please contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael is from Fairfield, Iowa, where he attended First United Methodist Church. He recently graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, where he received his K-12 Bachelor of Music Education degree. In his collegiate career, he accompanied UNI Singers, UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club, and the flagship mixed ensemble, Concert Chorale. It was with those ensembles he toured as an accompanist and solo pianist to Estonia, Iceland, and Norway. In 2015, he was chosen as a Promising Artist of the 21st Century, a prestigious young artist program in Costa Rica. Michael has directed or accompanied churches, soloists, trios, choirs, and a professional musical theater company throughout his time at the University of Northern Iowa, Des Moines, and Fairfield.
Michael was featured as the musical director of Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Camp at the Sondheim Theatre for the Performing Arts (Fairfield), where he assisted playwright and composer Andrea Green with her musical The Same Sky in 2017. He was also the music director and vocal coach for the American Gothic Music Festival in Ottumwa, IA in July of 2018. He is currently the director of Choral Activities in the West Central Valley Community Schools, where he teaches grades 6-12. In his first year as choral director, the West Central Valley High School Choir was invited to perform and participate in a choral masterclass for composer and professor André Thomas of Florida State University.
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.
Director of the Grace Chorister Choir
Emily Miller, the Director of the Grace Chorister Choir, is a Drake Student from Urbandale. Her first interactions with Grace go back to 2002, when she became a member of the church and participated in Sunday school, choir, and youth group throughout her childhood. Currently, Emily is completing her third year at Drake, pursuing a degree in music education. Emily sings in both the Drake Choir and Chamber Choir at Drake, has served as a former secretary treasurer and current president for Drake’s student ACDA chapter, and is the recording secretary for Drake’s women’s music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota. In her spare time, you can find Emily traveling, or spending time outdoors.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 255-6400, extension 231.
Charlene Hjort is our office manager. She can be reached at 515-255-6400, ext. 222, or email@example.com.
Sometimes you know what you want but not who to send it to, this list is designed to get your request to the right person. Click on the link to send an email to the responsible staff member.
Grace United Methodist Church
3700 Cottage Grove, Des Moines, Iowa 50311
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.