Christopher Gudger-Raines

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Pastor Christopher joined First UMC in July of 2021. He is a native of West Virginia and served in the WV Annual Conference for 8 years. He then served congregations in Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. Prior to parish ministry, Pastor Christopher served in the mission wing of the Church. He was a US-2 in St. Louis, MO, served on staff at a church in Cambridge, UK and served at the General Board of Global Ministries. He earned his M.Div from Drew Theological School. He and his wife Meredith have two children.

Associate Pastor for Hispanic/Latinx Ministries

Zulma Tifre

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Assosicate Pastor of the Hispanic/Latinx Ministries, Zulma Tifre is originally from Honduras, she grew up in a city called La Ceiba. She currently studies at SMU Perkins School of Theology. Since 2012 she has been serving as a Hispanic lay missionary at First United Methodist Church and in 2022, she received her appointment as pastor. She did not imagine that she would be serving and preaching in the United States, but as a woman of faith she is faithful to her calling and ministry, she likes and enjoys helping families in her community, she loves her ministry and she is passionate about serving, and she does it with love. Pastor Zulma is the mother of 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She enjoys family gatherings, with her children, grandchildren, sisters, and nieces.

Pastora asociado del Ministerio Hispano/Latinx, Zulma Tifre, es originaria de Honduras, Creció en una ciudad llamada La Ceiba. Actualmente estudia en SMU Perkins Escuela de Teología. Desde 2012 ha estado sirviendo como misionera laica hispana en First United Methodist Church y en 2022 recibió su nombramiento como pastora hispana. No imaginó que estaría sirviendo y predicando en estados unidos, pero como mujer de fe es fiel a su llamado y ministerio, le gusta y disfruta ayudar a las familias en su comunidad, ama su ministerio y le apasiona servir, y lo hace con mucho amor, es madre de 3 hijos y 3 nietos. Disfruta de las reuniones familiares, con sus hijos, nietos, hermanas y sobrinas.




Director of Music Ministry

Eileen Brody

Our Director of Music Ministry arrived in Bellingham from Montana in September 2021 and began serving at our church shortly thereafter. She comes to us with a wide variety of experience. Eileen grew up in New York state. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the State University College at Potsdam, New York and a Master of Music in Music and Liturgy from the University of Notre Dame. Her applied studies included voice, piano and organ, and she also plays guitar and flute. Her career as an elementary and secondary music teacher spanned over thirty years, and she has worked in music ministry positions for over 45 years. She has directed numerous church choirs and community chorales in five states, as well as having been Director of Music and Campus Minister for the Catholic Student Center at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Eileen has been a vocal performer and an accompanist for numerous groups. In addition to being part of the staff at MVFUMC, she is currently working on her own compositions and is Director of Bellingham Community Chorus. She also spends a lot of her time with her children and young grandchildren. Eileen sees her role at MVFUMC as part of a mission of bringing people together in worship through the unique and uplifting gift of voices united in song and spirit

Faith In Action Coordinator

Debbie Grant

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Debbie joins our staff as Faith in Action Coordinator with 20+ years of membership and love for our church family. She served as a volunteer with Girls’ and Boys’ fellowship groups and Family Ministries, later joining the staff as Youth Coordinator. She has volunteered with Skagit Literacy, the Conway and La Conner school districts, and most recently with Hospice of the Northwest. In her current role, she looks forward to building relationships and creating opportunities for our church family to put their faith into action both within our congregation and out in our local and greater community.

Debbie and her husband Eric have lived in Skagit county for the past 25 years and have raised their children in this beautiful valley. In her free time, Debbie enjoys dark chocolate, traveling, cooking, and reading.


Karin Williams

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Karin joined the staff as treasurer in March of this year. She came to Mount Vernon from Portland, Oregon in 2012 to be closer to her parents. While in Skagit Valley, she worked as the Program Administrator at Whatcom Community College Foundation for 3 years and as the Accountant at Skagit Valley College Foundation for 7 years. She retired from her last position in November of 2022 and is very happy to be able to serve as Treasurer here at Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church.


Karin is the proud mother of 3 and equally proud grandmother of 4, all still in Portland. She and her puppy Gretchen live in Mount Vernon, across the street from her parents.

Administrative Assistant

Sue Erickson

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My husband Ron and I moved from SE Alaska to Mount Vernon in 2013. One of my favorite songs, “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” really spoke to me at the time of our move because I didn’t know to what “other seas” what God was calling me. It seems that He was calling me to be the administrative assistant here at the Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church. I was the volunteer clerk of session and quasi secretary at the church in Alaska so I feel this position was meant for me.

Ron and I have 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandkids. We love to travel and enjoy classical music. Other hobbies I enjoy are rubber stamping, knitting, gardening, spending time on the computer, and participating in bell choir, chancel choir, and playing the piano for early worship services.