Meet Our Program Staff

  • Rachel Corpus

    Director of Child and Family Ministry

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    Rachel has worked with children for 16 years, connecting to their energy, curiosity, and love. She has taught PK through high school in both the private and public school setting, teaching general studies, English, drama, dance, voice and choral music. She has volunteered in children’s ministry since high school, and finally decided to listen to God’s call to do it professionally in 2013.

    Rachel is passionate about finding common ground in the church setting by empowering creativity, honesty, and kindness. She loves  writing curriculum that is accessible to every volunteer and allows children to grow in their faith without restriction. In her spare time, Rachel teaches Incredible Years and Love and Logic parenting classes through Polk County/Child Abuse Prevention Council. She loves to cook, read books on Spirituality, and watch historical fiction television series on PBS.

    Rachel is a trained singer and loves to share her voice with others. She is trained in classical voice but loves to sing all types of music, especially songs from the 1930s-40s and musical theater. She has directed many productions, including Oliver, Phantom of the Opera, Gepetto and Son, The Wiz, Oklahoma, Hansel and Gretel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grease, and her own work, The Last Hours of Christ. She has sung with the University of Iowa Opera Theater, Cedar Rapids Opera, Ottumwa Symphony, Southeastern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Dubuque Orchestra, and at every church she has ever attended.

    Rachel is an Iowa girl, wife, and mom to Olivia, Sam and Felix. Her husband, Edward, teaches voice at Drake and has his own voice studio here in town called the Edward Corpus Voice Studio. They have three cats named Pepe’, Figaro and Oliver. They live in West Des Moines.

  • Cindy Eaton-Eklund

    Director of Communications

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    Cindy was born in southeast Kansas, and grew up in Kansas City, MO. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City with bachelor’s degrees in English (Journalism) and Psychology. Cindy also attended graduate school at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has lived in the Des Moines, IA area since 1991.

    After an invaluable start in newspaper journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Kansas City Star/Times, Cindy discovered the thrill of marketing communications, where she developed expertise in copywriting, graphic design and managing creative teams. Her work during her 30-year career has been recognized with a variety of awards from professional and industry associations. She has served as Director of Communication for Plymouth since March 2010.

    Cindy’s goal at Plymouth is to devise and implement a communication’s strategy that is consistent, cutting-edge and creative, and that successfully reaches the congregation’s wide variety of internal and external audiences.

    Cindy lives in Urbandale with her spouse, Sharon Eklund, who is a manager for a major retailer. Cindy’s interests include training and showing dogs, and perennial gardening.

  • Carl Gravander

    Organist

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    Carl is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in organ performance.

    Carl began playing the organ at the age of 10. He held his first permanent church position at 14. A church organist for more than 35 years, Carl joined Plymouth in 1992, after serving as organist at a church in Clearwater, FL, for more than a decade.

    Carl has won prizes in many competitions and has performed extensively in recital on both the organ and the carillon.

    As accompanist, Carl is a perennial favorite of Plymouth kids who travel on the annual Matins tour.

  • Jennifer Hines

    Director of Operations and Finance

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    Jennifer’s hometown is Yardley, PA, a small community in the Philadelphia area. Her family moved to the Midwest and Naperville, IL, when she was a sophomore in high school. Jennifer continued her education at Drake University and earned a BSBA with a major in finance.

    Her career includes a blend of private sector and church-related positions. Following graduation, she worked as a financial analyst for CNA Insurance in Chicago. Back in Des Moines, she was administrator for the Presbyterian Church in Iowa. Immediately before joining Plymouth in 2007, Jennifer served as a business manager for three magazines published by Meredith Corporation.

    Married to Rich Harbart, who is a UCC minister, Jennifer has two children in college, Katie and Joe, and Rich has two grown children, Shelaine and Jon-Martin. Other members of the family include Humphry, a rescue and Lucky, a terrier with unknown roots.

    When not at work, Jennifer gardens and reads.

  • Sharon Parker-Lenihan

    Director of Music and Fine Arts

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    Sharon has been an integral part of the Plymouth music program since 1982, serving as a soprano soloist and section leader in the Chancel Choir and as a director of three choirs in the Children’s Choir Program. She has been director of Chancel Choir since 2002.

    Sharon previously served as Director of Adult Music at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Des Moines and Covenant United Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines. She served as youth minister and high school choir director at First Baptist Church downtown. Sharon was a classroom music teacher for the Des Moines Public Schools and Des Moines Catholic Schools as well as a private voice for 35 years.

    A native Iowan, Sharon studied Music Education at Drake University and Vocal Performance at the University of Southern California. She has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Opera Guild, Des Moines Symphony, Des Moines Choral Society and the Plymouth Church Fine Arts Series.

    Sharon lives in West Des Moines with her husband Tom, an attorney, and finds great joy in her grandchildren, Addyson and Aiden.

  • Frank Thomas

    Pastoral Residency Coordinator

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    Frank Thomas, B.A., Grinnell College; J.D., Indiana University is Coordinator of the Transition into Ministry (TiM) program, a 27-month residency funded by the Lilly Endowment and Plymouth Church. He has served in Iowa State Government in the Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman Office originating the position of Legal Analyst; as an Assistant Attorney General; and, in the Department of Human Services. Frank was employed by Grinnell College from 1991 until 2009 and served in various positions—including as Special Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees; Vice-President for Human Resources; Vice President for Diversity; and Senior Counselor, from which position he retired in 2009.

    Frank’s community experiences include being a Board Member of the following: Young Women’s Resource Center; Youth Law Center; United Theological Seminary; Iowa Student Loan; and formerly Sponsor for the first “I Have a Dream” Foundation program in Des Moines, beginning in 1989 and serving as a member of the Foundation Board from 1997 through 2008. Frank has served various positions at Plymouth including Family Life Committee, Board of Christian Education, Assistant Moderator and Moderator. In the Iowa Conference he served consecutive terms as chair of the Board of Directors. In 1995 to 1997, Frank served as Assistant Moderator for the General Synod of the United Church of Christ. Frank is married to Sheena Brown Thomas, a goldsmith and co-owner of Elements, Ltd. in Des Moines and they have two adult sons. He is a long-time suffering fan of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox—waiting for next year.

     

     

  • Susan Waller

    Director of Youth Ministry and Children's Music

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    Susan joined the Plymouth staff in 2006 as the Director of Youth and Children’s Music. She had previously served as the Director of Music at Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale, Iowa for nine years.

    In November, 2011, Susan received a Certificate in Progressive Youth Theology through the Iowa & Minnesota UCC Conferences. In January, 2012 her title changed to Director of Youth Ministry and Children’s Music. Susan oversees the Youth Ministry Program at Plymouth Church as well as hands-on musical direction of the Matins Choir (9-12th grade) and the Soul Singers (7-8th grade). She also oversees the Children’s Choir Program and their directors.

    Susan is also a Spiritual Director with a certificate from the Spirations Institute of Interspiritual Formation. She holds two degrees in vocal performance – a bachelor’s from Simpson College and a master’s from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She has taught on the Adjunct Music Faculty at Simpson College and the vocal department at the Drake Community School of Music.

    Susan lives in rural Van Meter with her husband, Chad. She has two sons – Grant, who will be a attending Simpson College and Gavin, who will be a sophomore. Both boys have been actively involved in the youth program and Chad serves as the 2nd grade Lead Teacher in the Sunday School program.

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