Pilgrim Church Staff

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Rev. Michelle Hughes, Interim Senior Pastor

Rev. Michelle Hughes believes in the power of a contemporary gospel that can positively impact urban life. She offers years of experience in pastoral care, community organization, and non-profit endeavors.  She has served as Associate Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ for the Connecticut Conference.  As an interim Pastor, she has served First Church of Lombard in Lombard, Illinois, and was the first woman to lead as an Interim Pastor, the historic Congregational Church of Park Manor.

This graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary is also the founder of Diaspora Spirit, a women's group dedicated to connecting women of the African Diaspora in the Chicagoland area.  In 2004, Rev. Hughes was recognized by the Illinois State Treasurer, and received the "Woman to Woman - Making a Difference Award". 

Rev. is a long-time resident of Chicago's Park Manor community and is the mother of two young adults, Nia and Joshua.

More information  about Rev. Hughes and her role at Pilgrim can be found in this news article from the OakPark.com - Pilgrim gets new interim pastor: Rev. Michelle Hughes to replace Rev. Sally Iberg for 1-2 years


Rev. Gloria Cox, Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults

Gloria has enjoyed working informally with youth for much of the nearly 20 years that she and her family have been members of Pilgrim. She is thrilled to now be working with our Middle and High School youth in a more official capacity!

Gloria holds a Masters of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a Masters of Management from Kellogg Graduate School of Business. When not serving the church in a staff or lay leadership role, she is a busy wife, and proud mother of 3 young adults.  

Maureen Deahl, Director of Christian Education

Maureen Deahl is extremely honored and excited to be a part of the spiritual team at Pilgrim. The role of Director of Christian Education allows her to be a part of the spiritual and life journeys that the youth and their families are on.

Maureen has been active in many aspects of youth activities over the years from Community work with the Girl Scouts and village recreation department to many programming events at her local elementary school such as talent shows, literacy programming, sporting events, musical productions and in her Church with Christian education, youth group events, camp counselor and Vacation Bible School. She is married and the proud mother of five very unique and talented young adults and children.


Joan Hutchinson, Minister of Music

I believe that the proper music of the church is whatever music comes from the genuine lives of the worshipping congregation rather than any specific style used to market to certain believers. We welcome the gifts that we God’s messy and beloved people bring from our lives and on behalf of this beloved community. The question is less 'Do I like this music?' and more 'What do we bring to share with each other and lay on God’s altar?' All are looking for transcendence and beauty and depth, and the answer isn’t Classical, or Gospel, or Rock and Roll, but 'thank you, thank you!' and 'help me, help me!'

Joan Hutchinson has a Bachelor of Music from Boston University and a Master of Music from the American Conservatory of Music. She was also privileged to study for a year at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. She has served Pilgrim's music ministry since 1983.


Wilbert O. Watkins, Chancel Choir Director

Wilbert O. Watkins serves Pilgrim in many ways, including as deacon and Chancel Choir director. His work with the Chancel Choir maintains a focus on prayer support, multiculturalism, intelligibility, musical expressiveness, and education. Dr. Watkins is the founding artistic director for a not-for-profit organization known as Sing to Live Community Chorus, which provides a musical outlet for women and men touched either directly or indirectly by breast cancer. He is also the artistic director for the Lutheran Choir of Chicago.

His past Midwestern conducting experience has included the following: director of the mixed chorus Unison with the Windy City Performing Arts in Chicago, visiting assistant professor of music education at Northern Illinois University, adjunct faculty at DePaul University, Director of Choral Activities at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he was the originator of a multicultural choral series; and director of the Dubuque Area Men's Chorus. Having taught as both a choral music educator and an applied voice teacher in Texas, Florida, Iowa and Illinois, Dr. Watkins currently teaches voice at Pilgrim and has been involved in several volunteer community efforts.

Watkins studied with Rodney Eichenberger and André Thomas at Florida State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in music education and conducting. His formal education has included theological seminary, and he has ministered to the congregations of several Christian denominations, for over twenty years. He has served as a clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor in the South and Midwest, in Puerto Rico and in the Orient. Watkins has also sung with the Oak Park Handel's Week ensemble, the Fort Worth Renaissance Consort, Schola Cantorum of Texas and the Ft. Worth and Dallas Opera choruses. He has guest lectured in music literacy, vocal diction and music education and his professional memberships include the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, International Federation of Choral Music, Music Educators National Conference and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.


Joycelin Fowler, Office Manager

A member for over twenty years, Joycelin is involved in almost every aspect of Pilgrim. She enjoys singing in the choir, serving as a Deacon, cooking for special events, participating in the women's ministry, and much more. She assumed the Office Manager duties in 2007 and everyone appreciates her organization and attention to detail.