Meet Our Program Staff

  • 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 reporter for the Kansas City Star/Times, Cindy discovered the thrill of marketing communications, where she developed expertise in copywriting, graphic design, branding and managing creative teams. Her work during her career has been recognized with numerous 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 operates her own business. Cindy’s interests include training and showing dogs, and perennial gardening.

  • Chris Goodson

    Director of Music and Fine Arts

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    Chris is thrilled to be called to lead the music ministry at Plymouth Church, working with the wonderful staff and volunteers.

    Chris loves what he does, and is fond of saying, “I’ve never worked a day in my life!” Chris is most happy when he stands in front of a choir or an ensemble, a band or an orchestra, in rehearsal or in worship. Chris has had the fortune to work with and direct a wide variety of instrumental and choral ensembles of all ages.

    A native of East Tennessee and cradle Methodist (until now!), Chris has been involved in leading church music and worship since age 15. Chris was active in music ministry in the Knoxville area for over a decade before moving to Wesley United Methodist Church at Frederica (2012-2017), located on St. Simons Island, Georgia. At Wesley, he was responsible for the Chancel Choir, Women’s Chorale, Men’s Ensemble, Wesley Ringers, Golden Isles Community Chorus, Messiah Chorus, and Coastal Brass Choir. Additionally, Chris actively supported and participated in other community music ensembles.

    A clarinet player, Chris holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education—Wind/Percussion (cum laude) and Master of Music in Choral Conducting, both from University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Currently, Chris is a student in the Doctorate of Worship Studies program at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida.

    While at UTK, Chris played in the “Pride of the Southland” Marching Band, the Symphonic Band, the Wind Ensemble, and sang in the UT Chamber Singers, Concert Choir and Men’s Chorale. Additionally, Chris spent three years (two as a conductor) participating in DCI’s Drum & Bugle Corps.

    When not making music, Chris enjoys cooking, tennis, reading, and exploring his new home city—Des Moines! He lives downtown with his three cats: Louis, Sam, and Miss Kitty.

  • 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, Pennsylvania, located in Bucks County near Philadelphia. Her family moved to the Midwest and Naperville, Illinois, 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. 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. Jennifer has earned two professional certifications in Human Resources, PHR and SHRM-CP.

    Jennifer has two grown children, Katie and Joe.  Other members of the family include three dogs, Lucky, Humphry, and Skeeter.

    When not at work, Jennifer loves to garden and read.

  • Karen Jeske

    Transition into Ministry Coordinator

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    Karen grew up in Eldora, Iowa, and currently lives in Johnston with her husband, Doug, and their West Highland White Terrier, Wellington. She is a former city planner and professor of community and regional planning at Iowa State University, holding a master’s degree in urban planning and a Ph.D. in sociology. She has also completed the Prairie Fire spiritual formation program, Contemplative Leadership course, Mindful Leadership course, and Brian McLaren’s Public Theologian course.

    Karen joined Plymouth Church in 1998 and has been engaged with the church in different ways over the years. She served on the Board of Spiritual Growth and as a Stephen Minister and has participated in many classes and groups, even leading a few along the way. Plymouth is Karen’s community and she credits the church for helping her to grow in love of God and neighbor in the most surprising ways.

    She joined the staff in April of 2017 to serve as Plymouth’s Connections Coordinator and added the responsibilities of the Transition into Ministry Coordinator in late 2018. In these roles, she looks forward to helping members and young ministers find their best avenues to grow in love of God and neighbor and to spread it wherever they are called.

  • Susan Waller

    Director of Youth Ministry

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    Susan joined the Plymouth staff in 2006 as the Director of Youth and Children’s Music and currently serves as Director of Youth Ministry. 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.

News

The Preaching of Paul and a Punk Rock Song: Acts 13 and 14

  This week’s Scripture reading reminds me of a punk rock song. No, seriously. Belfast’s own Stiff Little Fingers has a song called “Nobody’s Hero.” It’s a (loud, angry) reminder that human beings have a habit of trusting too much in mere mortals. But the thing is: you don’t need a punk rock song to... Read More

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