First Congregational Church  of Rochester

      Open and Affirming local church of the United Church of Christ

1315 N. Pine Street, Rochester, MI 48307

Phone 248-651-6225


 Join us for our weekly services on YouTube and Facebook. 

All on site meetings must be authorized and scheduled through the church office. 

Office hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rev. Case

Van Kempen

Interim Minister

When someone asks Case Van Kempen if he was born in a barn, he always answers yes, and then says, “Only it was spelled differently.” Case was born in the town of Baarn, in the province of Utrecht, the Netherlands, emigrating to the United States as an infant with his family in 1956. Upon arriving in the states, his name was spelled differently, too. The nickname for Cornelis in Dutch is “Kees,” but at the westside terminals in Manhattan, this became “Case.”

Case attended Seymour Christian School and Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, then attended Hope College in Holland, graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1977. From there he went on to Wayne State University Law School. It was while there that he heard the call to ministry, and enrolled in Western Theological Seminary.

Since Case had never intended to be a seminarian, he needed to take a crash course in Biblical Greek, which is where he met his wife, Leigh (Boelkins). She was also a student in the summer Greek course, and after a brief courtship, they were married in 1981. 

After graduating, Case and Leigh moved to the Clymer Hill Reformed Church in Clymer, New York, then to Union Reformed Church in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and from there back to Holland, to serve the Maplewood Reformed Church. While in New Jersey, Leigh was ordained to chaplaincy, serving as the multi-faith chaplain for Northwest Bergen Hospice. She is currently the chaplain for the Resthaven Care Community in Holland, Michigan, a position she has held for 19 years.

After ten years at Maplewood, Case took the training for interim ministry, and has served 16 different congregations in five different denominations all over the upper Midwest. He has also written several books and Bible study guides: Hard Questions People Ask About the Christian Faith; Daniel: Daring faith for Dangerous Times; and I, II, III John: Living in the Light of Love. His latest book, The Jericho Effect: What if We Tried it God’s Way, for a Change, was released this past August.

Case and Leigh have three adult children, all married, and seven grandchildren. Case and Leigh make their home just south of Holland, Michigan, in Laketown Township.


Director of Music

Traci K. Bartell has served as Director of Music Ministries at First Congregational since August of 2016. She has worked in the field of church music as organist, pianist, soloist, and choir director for over 15 years. Further education in the area of progressive church music has come through attending workshops and retreats led by such Christian musicians as John L. Bell, Bryan Sirchio, Andra Moran, Christopher Grundy, and Richard Bruxfort-Colligan. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from Western Michigan University and has been a music educator for over 25 years. With a 16-year career conducting middle school and high school choral groups behind her, she currently teaches general music at Oak Arbor School in Rochester Hills. Traci opened her private piano and voice studio in 1997 and currently has 15 students. In 2008 she began to listen more intently to her call to ministry and entered Wisconsin Conference UCC’s Lay Academy program. She completed the two year cycle of courses and subsequently applied to seminary. Traci is currently in her third year at Central Seminary Ann Arbor where she is pursuing a Master in Divinity degree. Traci has a passion for creating beauty, making music, and creating meaningful worship experiences that are vital and relevant for all God’s children.



Kathie Bowden has been organist/pianist at First Congregational Church for the past 28 years, providing service music and accompaniment for congregational singing for each Sunday service and all special services throughout the year. She is accompanist for the Sanctuary Choir and other soloists and groups as needed. Kathie is also the primary organist for all weddings and funerals. She has taught piano and organ to many children of the church and community. Kathie has a BA in Education and a BM in Organ Performance from Oakland University and loves being able to use her God- given gift of music to support and enhance worship at FCC. Kathie is married to Lee Bowden and has two grown sons and three grandchildren.


Office Assistant

Kim Martin is the church office assistant. Kim grew up in our church and presently works in the office part-time, driving in from Romeo where she lives with her husband and four (mostly) grown children.


Director of Faith Formation

Lisa Wilmot joined First Congregational Church in 2002 and joined the staff in June 2013 as Director of Faith Formation. She was drawn to the church from her first visit because of the wonderful children’s programs. First Congregational Church was a great fit for Lisa from the start; she has been a member of the Board of Christian Education (now known as Faith Formation), since 2002. She has worked with the senior high youth group (SHYG) and the middle school youth group (KOOL or Kids of Our Lord) as its advisor since 2007. Lisa grew up in the United Church of Christ in Warren, Michigan. She has her Associates Degree in Business Administration from Oakland Community College. Lisa and her husband Gene have lived in Rochester Hills for 20 years and are the proud parents of two sons, Aaron and Matthew.



Keith Hartley has been a member of First Congregational Church since 1984 and has been the full-time custodian at FCC since 1985. He is married to Sherry Hartley, and they have one daughter, Casey, who teaches middle school, and lives near Orlando with her new husband, Bo Sun. Both Keith and Sherry are active members of the Sanctuary Choir. While Keith coordinates much of the sound booth operation during worship, Sherry serves on the Music Committee.