Our Pastor, Rev. Marjorie Wilkes Matthews
Rev. Marjorie Wilkes Matthews has served as Pastor of Plymouth Church since October 2013. Before being called as our Pastor, she served for four years as our Associate Pastor.
Pastor Marjorie is a fifth-generation educator, descended from several generations of women who dedicated their lives to teaching and improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. She co-founded and co-directed the West Oakland Community School, a charter school for grades 6 – 8.
In addition to being ordained in the United Church of Christ, Pastor Marjorie is trained as a spiritual director, providing support to individuals, couples, and groups seeking to deepen their relationship with God. She believes that her responsibility, as pastor and spiritual director, is to help people embrace belovedness – to grow in love for God, themselves, and others.
Pastor Marjorie is a graduate of Princeton University and Pacific School of Religion. She is married to Rev. Bob Matthews.
Our Church Operations Manager,
Rev. Gwynn Fuqua
Rev. Gwynn is a native of Detroit, Michigan. She and her wife, Dr. Faith Crumpler, relocated to the Bay Area in 2011. Rev. Gwynn is a graduate of Pacific School of Religion and is ordained in our sister denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She currently serves as Associate Pastor of First Christian Church of Alameda.
Our Ministers in Covenant
Our Ministers in Covenant are members of Plymouth Church who are ordained in the United Church of Christ and are called to serve in hospitals, prisons, nonprofit organizations and other non-church settings. We are blessed to have six Ministers in Covenant with Plymouth Church.
Rev. Carolyn Collins
Rev. Carolyn serves as the chaplain for the Food of God Ministry, which serves a warm, nutritious meal to hundreds of unhoused and food-insecure people in downtown Oakland each week. Carolyn received a PhD in molecular biology from Duke University and an M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion.
Rev. Leslie Leasure
Rev. Leslie Leasure is a chaplain, writer, and group facilitator. She has been working with people in recovery for more than 26 years in various professional and volunteer roles. She currently teaches spirituality classes and provides client spiritual care at Bayside Marin and Merritt Peralta Institute, the chemical dependency treatment center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. She also serves as a spiritual care counselor at a local hospice organization and provides spiritual direction to changemakers, artists, and people in recovery. Rev. Leslie holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, and an MDiv from Pacific School of Religion. She’s the founding curator of Into the Wilderness, an online church start created in 2014 and a guest faculty member at the Chaplaincy Institute’s Interfaith Studies program. Leslie has done advocacy in the areas of substance abuse treatment access, prison reform, anti-racism, and LGBTQ/SGL rights.
Rev. Joellynn Monahan
Rev. Joellynn is the founding spiritual director at the Spiral Way, serving people of all faiths in Northern California and across the US. She also serves as Abbess of Heart of Wisdom Monastery which offers retreats and spiritual formation. Her ministry reflects over 25 years commitment to education and activism on social justice issues including anti-racism, gender equity, LGBTQI/SGL advocacy, disability rights, and environmental & food justice. Prior to ordination, Joellynn worked in secular Higher Education as a therapist and training student leaders on issues of diversity. She holds a Masters of Education in Counseling & Human Development from St. Lawrence University, a Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union, and a Certificate in Interfaith Spiritual Direction at the Chaplaincy Institute.
Rev. Gillian Murphy-Stephans
Rev. Gillian serves as the Chaplain of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She received an M.Div. with honors from Union Theological Seminary and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Hunter College. Prior to seminary, Gillian spent more than 15 years working at the intersection of social health and justice. She completed Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where she discovered her love of chaplaincy.
Rev. Rhina Ramos
Rev. Rhina Ramos is an ordained United Church of Christ minister leading an open and affirming Spanish speaking congregation in Oakland. Her church, Ministerio Latino, welcomes Latinx immigrants and also members of the LGBTQ community. She also serves as the National Coordinator of Proyecto Encuentros de Gracia y Bienvenida. The project advances ONA ministries among UCC churches that are predominantly Latinx in membership or have Latinx outreach.
Rhina was born in El Salvador and grew up during the civil war. Her understanding of the fight for justice was influenced by watching people rise up to fight for their human rights. Rhina graduated from Hofstra University Law School in 1995. She practiced labor law for 5 years recuperating thousands of dollars in back pay for immigrant workers and is an experienced Community Organizer leading programs to promote educational equity, labor rights, international solidarity with El Salvador and domestic violence awareness.
Rev. Dearthrice DeWitt
Rev. Dea is a native of Albany, NY. He completed his undergraduate education at Colgate University and received his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He has served as Associate Pastor of First Congregational Church of Minneapolis, project director for the New Jersey-based nonprofit Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and pastor of First Congregational Church of Poughkeepsie, NY. He currently serves as a healthcare chaplain for Sutter Care at Home. Dea is both an ordained UCC minister and a bishop of The Renewal Church.
Members in Discernment
Our Members in Discernment are members of Plymouth Church who are considering a call to ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ. We are blessed to have two Members in Discernment.
Ashley Hiestand is a graduate of Pacific School of Religion. Originally from Cleveland, home of the UCC, Ashley moved to Los Angeles to attend college and then spent five years working on food access issues, including helping to establish a farmer’s market in South Los Angeles. She moved to Berkeley to follow the call to ministry, and she feels blessed to have Plymouth Church walk with her as she continues to discern the path that is unfolding.
Alicia Van Riggs
Alicia Van Riggs has attended Plymouth since 2011 and graduated from Berkeley’s Pacific School of Religion in 2009 with a Masters in Divinity. She was born in Southern California, grew up in the rural Midwest and has called Oakland home since moving here in 1999. Alicia’s “day job” is in construction project management with UC Berkeley. She is discerning a call to ordained ministry because theology, art, and sacred story have all claimed space in her heart in a way she can’t shake off.
Retired ministers at Plymouth are very active in ministry!
They help by leading prayer, presiding over Communion, providing pastoral care, and much more.
Rev. Duncan Falls
Rev. Duncan Falls grew up in Southern California. He refused military induction as a pacifist during Vietnam, and then attended the Pacific School of Religion. Upon graduation, he briefly served as an associate pastor of a UCC church. He then went to law school and represented injured workers and the elderly for over thirty-five years. Duncan loves Plymouth Church and is highly involved, including serving as our former Moderator. He is most proud of being Darren Falls' father.
Rev. Lois Mueller, Pastor Emerita
Rev. Lois holds an MSW with an emphasis in aging, and was a geriatric social worker in her previous career. She then received her MDiv from the Pacific School of Religion, and served for many years as the pastor of Plymouth Church. Now retired, she is returning to her passion of calling elders to their identity as Blessers.
Rev. Bob Matthews
Rev. Bob graduated from Pacific School of Religion in 1973. He spent 29 years working for Alameda County, much of that time as Deputy Director of the County’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Programs. He was ordained in 1991 at First Congregational Church of Oakland (FCCO), where he was called as Associate Minister. He has also been Associate Minister and Acting Senior Minister of Hillcrest Congregational UCC in Pleasant Hill. He has a strong interest in the intersection of faith and health and helped found the Community Healing Network in Hayward. He has served as a hospital chaplain with Kaiser Permanente and John Muir Medical Center, and he currently serves as an on-call chaplain at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.
Rev. Kay Wellington
Rev S Kay Wellington is a graduate of The American Baptist Seminary of the West winning the Marian E Bratcher Prize in Functional Theology. She was ordained in January of 1983 by ABC/USA. Upon the “disfellowshipping” of her church for being a member of the Welcoming and Affirming Baptists her ordination was recognized by the UCC/NCNC in 2001. She is a certified new church planter and trained to professionally administer the MBTI Type Indicator, and Alban Institute trained Transitional Pastor. She has served several churches throughout the Bay Area and was the Field Education Director for three years at American Baptist Seminary of the West.