Rev. James Bowman Harris

Senior Minister

A native of Florida, Pastor James comes to Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ by way of Tennessee and Georgia. Growing up Pentecostal in the South, James always knew God was calling him into ministry, but it was not until he was active at a United Methodist church in Atlanta that he answered that call. James has a Bachelors Degree in Biblical Studies and Preaching from Point University, and a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. Prior to becoming the pastor at Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ, he served as pastor of the United Church of Cookeville in Tennessee. He also served as a staff chaplain with Emory Spiritual Health in Atlanta. Before going into ministry, James was a master barber in both Tampa and Atlanta, a skill he retains to this day. When he’s not leading the flock at Pilgrim Faith, James enjoys sewing, playing softball, going to the movies, and spending time with his husband Don and daughter Emma.

Sarah Koehler

Music Director

Sarah is a lifelong Chicago resident, born and raised just three miles from Pilgrim Faith. After high school, she attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. and sang in the Augustana Choir. Sarah has Bachelors’s degrees in Journalism and English Education and a Master’s in American Literature. She teaches high school English and is also an adjunct instructor of Composition and Communication at Moraine Valley Community College. She is the choral accompanist for H.L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn and can be found in the choir room daily! When she’s not working, Sarah is also the Director of Musichorale, a 70-voice community choir founded in 1947 by her grandparents. A lifelong church musician, Sarah has been music director for Presbyterian, Lutheran, and United Methodist churches, although being part of the UCC is a homecoming of sorts, as she was baptized in the UCC. She and her husband Tony (also a local high school music teacher!) live in Oak Lawn and are also the proud parents to a very spoiled 15-year old beagle-bulldog named Bella.

Charles Martin

Church Council Moderator

Charles “Chuck” Martin grew up in La Grange, Illinois. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Iowa State University and a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University. Chuck was the Band Director at Harold L. Richards High School from 1995 until his retirement in May 2019. Under his direction, the band grew from 36 students to over 100 participants. Chuck has been married to Peggy, a retired English teacher, since 1983. Together they have two sons, Nick and Nathan. In addition to serving as Moderator, Chuck and Peggy are the coordinators of the BEDS-PLUS Homeless Shelter at Pilgrim Faith Church on Thursday nights.