The church is led by a dedicated group of professionals and a talented group of lay leaders.
Toby Jones, Pastor
Toby began his ministry with First Congregational UCC – Gaylord in September, 2015, having previoulsy served as the founding director of Living Vision, an alternative spiritual community in northern Michigan. Ordained as a Presbyterian minister, Toby is a graduate of DePauw University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Since leading his first church in the late ’80’s, Toby has served in a variety of church leadership capacities including the Presbyterian Chuch of Harbor Springs.
Toby has a love of music and sports. He is also a passionate teacher to students of all ages, currently serving as an instructor of World Religion at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Toby currently lives in Petoskey and enjoys shared custody of his nine-year-old daughter, Eloise. Toby has been actively involved in Petoskey’s Bay View community throughout his lifetime and it is there that he met his wife, Leila Jeanne (LJ).
Rokko’s career as a music composer and performer cross a wide variety of genres and settings. A long-time UCC member and former Chicago resident, Rokko currently makes his home in Gaylord while continuing to serve as a composer for The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He, along with Toby and Joanna, is a regular performer on Sunday mornings, and he is the conductor for the annual Advent and Lenten Choir.
Jessica Benoit, Communication Coordinator
Jessica Benoit (prounced Ben-wah) is our new Communications Coordinator. Jessica is married and a mother of two young girls – Vivien age 3 and Eva age 20 months. She attends the Methodist Church here in Gaylord. She has an extensive background in both retail and office management. Most recently, she was the chief receptionist at the Brighton Vision Center in Brighton, Michigan. Her recommendations from all previous employers were absolutely stellar. She will continue to help us improve our communication both within our church family and with the wider community.
Sandra Soderberg, Organist
Sandra’s passion for music is apparent in the dedication she brings to her role as our church organist. A former medical transcriptionist, Sandra is a long-time Gaylord resident with three grown sons who inherited her love of music.
Vicky retired to the Gaylord area and is actively involved in a number of community organizations and humanitarian efforts. In addition to serving as Church Moderator, Vicky is one of a number of exceptional cooks in our church. She is married with two adult children and three grandchildren who regularly attend church with her.
In keeping with the UCC tradition of local church governance and autonomy, a moderator is elected by the full congregation annually to serve as the lay executive officer of the Church and chair of the Church Council.