P A S T O R A L S T A F F:
Rich Kirchherr l Senior Minister l Ext. 213 l
Rich began serving as our Senior Minister in 1998. Prior to that, he served as one of our associate ministers for 11 years. Rich received both his Master's of Divinity and his Doctorate of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. He continues to serve the seminary as an adjunct professor in preaching and is a member of its board of trustees. As Senior Minister, Rich serves as the head of our staff, works with our finance and stewardship ministries, and provides the primary coordination and leadership of our worship services. Married to Clare Kralovec in 1986, they are the proud parents of three children, Jessica, Peter and Caroline.
Katherine Willis Pershey l Associate Minister l Ext. 220 l
Katherine Willis Pershey began serving as our Associate Minister in 2010. A native Ohioan, Katherine lived in California for several years, first earning her Master of Divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology and then serving as the solo pastor of South Bay Christian Christ. At First Congo, Katherine enhances our ministry with young families. She has an active role in Sunday worship, works with the Mission and Outreach Committee, and coordinates small group ministries such as Moms in Faith, a Bible Study, and a writing workshop. With her background in creative writing, Katherine brings a passion for words and the Word into the pulpit. In addition to contributing to several websites and periodicals, including the local Patch site, her first book, Any Day a Beautiful Change, will be published by Chalice Press in 2012. Katherine and her husband, Ben, have two daughters. To learn more about Katherine and her writing projects, visit www.katherinewillispershey.com.
Paul Stiffler l Minister of Pastoral Care l Ext. 233 l
June 28, 2010 marked the 57th anniversary of Paul’s ordination. Paul’s work here, now for ten years, is as Minister of Pastoral Care. He and his wife, Elsie, have been married 60 years (August 19, 1950) and have two children, Cheryl Nelson and Jon Stiffler, both of whom live in the vicinity. Seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren round out their family. In addition to caring for our congregation, Paul ensures that special attention is given to facilitating our 36 ft labyrinth throughout the year and Advent, Lenten and Taize services. Paul has authored two books: Spiritual Pathways, which follows the church year using poetry and guided imagery, and Make Angels in the Snow which is dedicated to the congregation using poetic forms.
Deb Stankiewicz l Parish Nurse l Ext. 218 l
Deb Stankiewicz and her husband, Mike, have been residents of Western Springs since 1981 and have a son and a daughter. She has been a Parish Nurse with First Congregational Church of Western Springs and Advocate Health Care for the past 20 years. As a nurse with advanced training in the specialty of Faith Community Nursing, Deb promotes holistic health in the Congregation with an emphasis on helping members see the link between their spiritual and physical health. She is available for individual health consultations with members to provide them with guidance and appropriate referrals to health and community resources. As a member of the pastoral team, she provides this guidance to members in the hospital, nursing home and their homes, as well as, in her church office. Deb also conducts group wellness education programs; coordinates pastoral volunteers and sometimes facilitates support groups and retreats. With an advanced degree in Geriatric Nursing, she is a very helpful resource for members who are caring for aging parents. Her favorite thing about her ministry has been working with individuals ages from infant to age 106. Her ministry has been enriched in recent years by becoming certified in the complementary alternative modality of Healing Touch©. As with other energy modalities, Healing Touch© techniques are used to promote balance in body energy and thereby promote health and healing.
Meredith Onion l Pastoral Seminary Associate l Ext. 222 l
Meredith and her husband Dave joined the church shortly after they were married in 1987. All three of their children, Alexandria, Connor and Aaron have been baptized in the church. Participation in the life of the church has enriched their marriage, parenting and family life. After 20+ years of working as a human resource professional, Meredith discerned the call to ministry. Supported by her family, First Congo pastors and members, she is pursuing her Master of Divinity at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago, with the ultimate goal of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. In her current role as Pastoral Seminary Associate, she spends her time providing pastoral care, is staff liaison to the Mission and Outreach Ministry and is thrilled when she has the chance to serve in worship on Sunday mornings.
P R O G R A M D I R E CT O R S:
Jan Fraccaro l Director of Christian Education l Ext. 215 l
Jan and her husband Vic have been members of the church as long as they have lived in Western Springs - 26 years! Their 3 children, aged 29, 26 and 20, have grown up in this church. Jan has served as Christian Education director for 15 years, coordinating the faith formation programs for children, youth and adults. There is never a dull moment as Jan assists with Sunday school lessons, confirmation programs, worship, library acquisitions, preschool administration, and adult offerings. The highlight of her ministry has been working side by side with the members of this church family, both staff and volunteers, feeling the love for God and one another that continues to be so evident. Jan feels blessed to be a part of the 1st Congo family.
Mike Tilden l Director of Youth Ministires l Ext. 232 l
Mike Tilden grew up in Western Springs and attended the junior high and high school youth programs here at First Congo. A graduate of Field Park, McClure and LTHS Mike then spent his undergraduate years at St. Michael’s College in Vermont where he received a BA in History. After many years of volunteering and interim directing the high school youth group he began full time work with the church as the Director of Youth Ministry in August of 2008. His responsibilities here at the church are directing both the high school and junior high youth groups as well as coordinating the confirmation program. He also coaches the boys and girls church league basketball teams. In his spare time Mike loves to golf, play basketball and travel the country.
Amy Faison l Preschool Director l Ext. 219 l
Amy and her husband Bob have two teenage daughters. She and her family joined the church in 2001, shortly after which time Amy assumed the Preschool Director position. As Director, Amy has the privilege of teaching and working with the children and families of this community. In addition to teaching an Almost 3s and a three-year-old class, Amy runs the day-to-day functions of the preschool. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.
M U S I C L E A D E R S H I P:
Ray Klemchuk l Chancel Choir & Spirit Worship Band Director l Ext. 231 l
Caitlin Norton-Rinck l Intern in Music and Communications Specialist l Ext. 231 (Music), Ext. 211 (Communications) l
A recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Caitlin wears two hats here at FCCWS. She divides her time between fixing the computers, schlepping band equipment, and editing the Gatherings. If you're looking for her around the church, she's probably the one with the giant pile of sheet music.
Natalie Ingrisano l Alleluia & Spirit Choir Director l
Natalie received her Bachelor of Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt University with a degree in Voice Performance and a certification in K-12 music education. Her teaching and directing experience includes teaching general music at Northwood Junior High School in Highland Park and directing the band, violin, choir, and general music programs at St. Ladislaus School in Chicago. She has sung with professional ensembles including the Grant Park Symphony Chorus and Chicago Choral Artists, and has recently performed roles in local productions as the soprano soloist for the Bach Magnificat (1st Congo, 2012) and The Christ (2012) by David Van Schouwen. She is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Voice Performance from CCPA, teaches private studio voice lessons at the Latin School of Chicago, and sings with the Chancel Choir here at 1st Congo.
KC Congdon l Tower Chimes & Lord of the Rings Handbell Choir Director l
KC Congdon (Lexington, IL) studied at Moody Bible Institute and received her degree in organ performance from Northern Illinois University. She has been a professional musician since the age of 17. She has made her living exclusively from music since she was 21, and is currently a member of the nationally renowned Agape Ringers, who regularly tour the United States. KC has appeared on WTTW's Artbeat and Good Morning Arizona. She has served as a mentor for Discover Music: Discover Life, a life-skills development project for at-risk inner-city kids. KC also teaches at national, area and state seminars for handbell directors, and serves on the national committee for the Handbell Musicians of America. She currently does new release recordings for Hope Publishing and has released eight CDs with The Agape Ringers.
Lana Wordel l Steel Drum Band Director l
Ms. Wordel holds a bachelor of music degree from Northern Illinois University. She is principal percussionist of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, and also performs with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. She also spent two years touring nationally as a percussionist with the Broadway musical “The Lion King.” Ms. Wordel directs two youth steel bands at First Congregational Church as well as another with students from the Lake Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra. As a steel pan player Ms. Wordel has performed in Taiwan and Trinidad with the Northern Illinois University Steel Band which took second place at the World Steel Band Festival. She can be heard with Pan Go, a Chicago based steel pan ensemble, on their latest cd’s, “For the Day” and “Seconds.“ She plays steel pans made by Trinidadian tuner/composer/arranger Cliff Alexis.
S U P P O R T S T A F F:
Chuck Cavanaugh l Facilities Manager l Ext. 234 l
Chuck and his wife, Janice, reside in nearby La Grange Park. Next August they will celebrate their 40th anniversary.Chuck and Jan grew up in Hillside and Westchester Il. respectively. They met at Strickland's Food Store where he worked as a stock boy and Jan was a checker. They were married and raised four children, ( a boy and three girls). They now have seven grandchildren. Both attended Proviso West High School. Chuck attended Murray State University in Kentucky. He began a career in HVAC in 1969 and started his own business in 1975. Chuck worked in HVAC until 2005 when he started working as Facilities Manager here at the church. He enjoys the challenge (and sometimes it is a challenge) of overseeing the day to day operation of First Congo.Away from work Chuck loves to spend time with his kids and play with his grandkids, cooking is his hobby, (just look at him), and he enjoys Canadian fishing.
Linda Conlin l New Member Coordinator l Ext. 216 l
Linda Conlin and her husband Dean have lived in the western suburbs since 1975, first in Western Springs, now in La Grange. When they needed to move to a larger home and found themselves in La Grange they never considered leaving this wonderful, loving church. All three children, now grown, were involved here in Sunday School, choirs and youth activities which were important parts of their lives. They now have three grandchildren following the family’s footsteps here. Linda has been in her job as Coordinator for Visitors and New Members for over 25 years. Being a part of this church and constantly meeting and welcoming new people to this church family is a blessing, both inspirational and fulfilling.
Meg Heinz l Office Manager l Ext. 210 l
Meg and her husband, Dave, were married in the church almost 23 years ago (by a very young looking new minister, Rich Kirchherr), and she joined the church staff in 2002. Meg has recently moved into the front office where she answers all sorts of inquiries, coordiantes room scheduling, baptisms and a host of other things. In her free time, she loves to read, rearrange furniture, and spend time with family and friends.
Felipe Hernandez | Custodian |
God Bless Felipe for the work he does in keeping our facilities clean and tidy and setting up rooms for the various meetings and other events held here at church.
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