Jazz & Justice

Our Pastor, Rev. Marjorie Wilkes Matthews

Marjorie 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.

Associate Pastor, Rev. Rachel Cosca

Rachel Cosca

Rev. Rachel Cosca received her Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in May 2015, also earning the Paul Wesley Yinger Award for excellence in preaching. She is a native of Davis, CA, lived for several years in the Pacific Northwest, then moved to the Bay Area to attend Pacific School of Religion. Her interests in ministry include prison reform, interfaith work and ethics.


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 eight Ministers in Covenant with Plymouth Church.

Kelly Childress

Rev. Kelly Childress

Rev. Kelly is a Board Certified Chaplain and has worked in health care for over a decade. She currently works at Kaiser Hospitals in Oakland and Richmond as a Healthcare Ombuds Mediator. Before attending seminary she was a political activist and labor organizer, working primarily on human rights issues. She received her M.Div. and M.A. (with a focus on Bioethics) at Pacific School of Religion.

Carolyn Collins

Rev. Carolyn Collins

Rev. Carolyn serves as the chaplain for the Food of God Feeding Ministry. She also serves as Co-Chair of Plymouth’s Worship Ministry, assisting the pastor in planning worship services, leading a contemplative prayer/healing service, and also leading our weekly Scripture Meditation (lectio divina) group. Carolyn received a PhD in molecular biology from Duke University and a M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion.

Leslie Leasure Photo

Rev. Leslie Leasure

Rev. Leslie is the program director at the Ignite Institute at Pacific School of Religion. She has held a number of positions at PSR, including Director of Advancement, Earl Lectures Coordinator, and creator of PSR’s interfaith event, Sacred Snapshots. She is the curator of Into the Wilderness, an experimental online spiritual practice-based community. Prior to her work at PSR, Leslie worked as fundraising director for served several nonprofit organizations. She has been active in advocacy for substance abuse treatment and prison reform. She holds a MFA in fiction from Indiana University and a M. Div. from PSR. Her fiction has been published in Blithe House Quarterly, Del Sol Review, and in various anthologies.

Rev J Monahan

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.

Ayanna Moore

Rev. Ayanna Moore

Rev. Ayanna came to Plymouth as one of our Ministers in Training during her seminary years. She’s been with Plymouth ever since! She currently works as a hospital chaplain.

Gillian M-S -- use this one

Rev. Gillian Murphy-Stephans

Rev. Gillian serves as the Chaplain of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She received a 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 on 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. She currently serves on the Plymouth Church Council as Co-Chair of the Worship Ministry.

Rhina Ramos - use this one

Rev. Rhina Ramos

Rev. Rhina was born in El Salvador and arrived in the US at age 14. From a very young age, she learned that justice is only attainable by a lifelong commitment to defend human rights. Being an immigrant, Rhina understands first-hand the pain of invisibility. Her professional life includes being a lawyer, a community organizer, and a trainer. She earned her J.D. at Hofstra Law School and her M.Div. at Pacific School of Religion. She is the founding pastor of Ministerio Latino, the first open and affirming, Spanish-speaking UCC congregation in northern California.

Dea DeWitt - use this one

Rev. Dearthrice Tamayo-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. Dea is both an ordained UCC minister and a priest with in The Renewal Church.

Kay Wellington

Rev. Kay Wellington

Rev. Kay has served several churches in the greater Bay Area from Santa Cruz to Woodside and Benicia and in between. Her longest pastorate was with San Leandro for 14 years. She served as Dean of the Bay Association for many years and is certified as a New Church Planter and Alban Institute trained transition specialist.

Ministers 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 three Members in Discernment.

Rachel Haxtema

Rachel Haxtema

Rachel Haxtema received her Master of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary, concurrently earning a Master of Arts in Christian Ethics and Social Theory at the Graduate Theological Union. She recently returned home to the Pacific Northwest and is working at Pacific Lutheran University in the Center for Community Engagement and Service as the Healthy Parkland Coordinator. Her work builds capacity of local organizations addressing healthy food access and helps connect students, staff and faculty through service-learning courses and volunteer opportunities in the same organizations. She is passionate about connecting faith communities to important issues like immigration, poverty, eco-justice and food justice.

Ashley Hiestand

Ashley Hiestand

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.

Minister in Training

Our Minister in Training is a student from Pacific School of Religion who spends nine months as an intern with Plymouth Church, learning the arts of ministry – preaching, planning worship, providing pastoral care, and so forth.

Emily Syal

Emily is a second-year Master of Divinity student at Pacific School of Religion.  Raised in the UCC, Emily was very involved in the Wisconsin Conference youth ministry as a high school and college student.  After graduating from Lakeland University, she worked at a nonprofit that partners with garbage dump communities in Central America.  In 2015, she attended UCC General Synod and felt the call to ministry as she perceived the diverse forms ministry takes in our denomination.  Emily is enjoying learning and serving at Plymouth church and seeing a “jazz” style of leadership in action.

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