Leigh Brown, Lead Pastor
I have served for six years as pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, St Anthony, in the Northeast Minneapolis area. Prior to this I served at United Methodist churches in Anoka and St Paul, Minnesota. I received a BBA in 1986 from the University of Iowa and a Master of Divinity in 2005 from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. I am an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
Before entering ministry in 2005 I worked for 12 years in nonprofit development for organizations including St. Olaf College, the Hazelden Foundation, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Grinnell College, and prior to that for six years in corporate marketing at the HON Company. I also worked to establish a neighborhood food pantry; served as an advocate for human rights, interfaith relations and affordable housing; and served as a board member, crisis counselor, and support group facilitator for organizations assisting domestic violence victims.
My greatest passions are bringing Christ’s church into the community through word, service and social justice, and encouraging others to deepen their relationship with God through spiritual practice. I am committed to the connectional church and to Christ’s message of inclusivity, serving in Minnesota on the Commission on Religion and Race, the Reconciling Ministry Team, and as chair of the Twin Cities District Superintending Committee. I am also committed to building interfaith relations, and in 2013 received a Building Bridges award from the Islamic Resource Group of Minnesota.
I am single and live with two rather hefty cats, Eli and Larry. Originally from Cedar Rapids, I have family in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City and Centerville, and looks forward to seeing more of them. I enjoy good conversation, art, music, laughter and spending time with friends.
Larry Tener, Director of Choirs
Vitals: Birthday: July 10 History: Raised on a family farm, which is a century farm near Riverside Iowa. I still live on the homestead and in the same house I was raised in. What do you love most about working for CUMC? Helping people to minister through music and worship. Who is the most influential person in your life? My wife and my children. What inspires you? I am inspired by the deep need to help others reach their potential. Life Long Goal: To make a difference for the better in the world. Little Known Fact About Me: Favorites: Playing ping pong. Going on walks under a clear night when the stars are out. Eating a good steak.
Kirk Harder, Maintenance
Vitals: Birthday: November 4 History: Lived on a farm until age 8. Grew up in Benton County. What do you love most about working for CUMC? The chance to help others and take care of a beautiful new building. Who is the most influential person in your life? My grandma. What inspires you? Seeing people smile. Making peoples lives easier. Any Hidden Talents? I love to cook Life Long Goal: To give more than I receive and to make a difference in peoples life’s Little Known Fact About Me: I refuse to eat rice. Favorites: My children/ spending time doing about anything with them. Hanging out with the youth. Redoing homes. The smell of fresh cut grass.
Karen Drake – Director, Office Administration
Karen Drake joined the CUMC staff as Director of Office Administration in September of 2012. A native Iowan, she returned here following the death of her husband, who was a Pastor who had been serving a community church in Queens, New York. Karen retired from nursing after nearly 40 years, working as a staff nurse in Critical Care and ER, and as a clinical educator for Medicare. She has a daughter who lives in LouisvilleKentucky, and a son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Harper. She spends much of her free time following Harper’s exploits. She is an avid reader and crossword puzzle worker. She plays the piano and enjoys singing when the opportunity presents itself. Karen believes that the church office serves as the nerve center of the church and she works hard to keep all the synapses connected and firing through efficient operations oversight She is always looking for new and better ways to improve internal and external communications. She strives to be a welcoming presence to all she meets.
Debbie Carter, Office Assistant
Vitals: Born and raised in Iowa City, married with 3 daughters and 3 beautiful grandchildren! Lived in North Liberty most of my married life History: Raised in a small Baptist Church in Iowa City; transferred to 1st United Methodist Church when I married at age 18. My parents and grandparents live(d) in Iowa City. What do you love most about working for CUMC? Amazing, friendly, caring congregation and staff! I was hired at CUMC in July 1984 and worked part time in the office for over 7 years and then left to get a full time job. I came back 12 years later in the fall of 2003. I just can’t stay away! Who is the most influential people in your life? My husband and children What inspires you? A project that needs my organizational skills. Any Hidden Talents? Sewing: I have 3 daughters and for their weddings I’ve made a total of 1 wedding dress, 8 bridesmaid’s dresses, 2 flower girl dresses, and 1 ring bearer’s vest. Life Long Goal: To stay close to and enjoy my family! Little Known Fact About Me: Graduated from City High in Iowa City with my husband! Favorites: Reading Camping Walking on a beach Spending time with family Junk Food: chocolate! Childhood Memory: Living in S.T. Morrison Park (when it was a farm)!
Marilyn Van Roekel, Organist
Marilyn Van Roekel joined the CUMC staff in August, 2013, bringing a lifetime of music making in the church. Marilyn grew up in a rural IowaMethodistChurch and was immersed in songs of faith from a very young age. During her college years at SimpsonCollege in Indianola, Iowa, she studied pipe organ along with her accountng degree. Her second degree is in music therapy from the University of Iowa. Through the years, Marilyn has participated and directed music in a variety of Protestant churches in Iowa, Washington, Missouri and Arizona. Family ties brought her “back home” to Iowa from Arizona in 2010. She resides in Coralville with her spouse, Jeff. Marilyn’s goal as organist is to enhance, support, strengthen and deepen your worship experience. She enjoys sharing in the life of this faith community.
Jared Long – Director, Family Ministry
I was raised and ordained in the Church of the Brethren, went to an Evangelical Congregational Seminary, and have served in Brethren, Community, and Methodist churches – more important to me than denominational distinctions is a foundation of discipleship built upon Jesus Christ. My passion in ministry is helping people to connect with God, following that passion I have helped to lead outdoor, youth, National Park, family, and adventure ministries. At Coralville United Methodist Church I work with the spiritual formation of the youth and their families and assist in a variety of places where pastoral support is needed.
John Boller – Director, Contemporary Worship/Director, Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry
John has been working as Executive Director of the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry since August 2012. While John is deeply committed to his work in providing vital services to those in need, he remains unable to shake the “music bug.” Born to a very musical family, John was encouraged to pursue his musical interests at an early age. While still in high school, John became the Worship Director for his parents’ church in Cedar Rapids, where he had the privilege of leading a team of 15-25 musicians for nearly 8 years. This team led the congregation in a time of praise and worship every Sunday, offering a variety of musical styles and arrangements, from hymns to blues to homegrown originals. John values simplicity over complexity, and relationships over musical excellence. He is honored and excited to embark on this new journey as Contemporary Worship Director at CUMC.
Amy Sutton – Director, Children’s Ministry
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6 As the Director of Children’s Ministry, my commitment is to make sure that the children of our congregation are provided lessons and activities that teach them about God and also to be surrounded by adults who care for them. I have experience in both Sunday school and vacation bible school. My undergraduate studies were in the area of elementary education and my graduate studies were in the area of special education. I have a total of sixteen years experience teaching at the elementary level. I have worked with all ages and ability levels. I look forward to serving in this position and working with the Children’s Ministry Team.
Stacy McElliott – Director, Grace Garden Preschool & Child Care
My name is Stacy McElliott and I am the Director of Grace Garden Preschool & Child Care. I am married to a wonderful man and could not have taken this position without his support. We have a beautiful little girl, who keeps up laughing and active. I graduated in 2006 from WartburgCollege in Waverly, IA with a BA in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. After graduation, I worked as a lead teacher in a preschool. A few years ago, I decided to expand my horizons and take on the preschool environment as a whole instead of just one classroom. I have been very blessed to have the opportunity to help to build the program at Grace Garden from the ground up. My favorite thing about preschool are those “light bulb” moments when a child learns something for the first time and their face lights up. There’s no better feeling. I am so blessed to be a part of the family at CUMC!
Jennifer Filter – Director of Adult Ministry
Hello, my name is Jennifer Filter. I accepted Christ into my heart and life as a young teenager, and have been seeking the Lord ever since. I desire to know God in all of His fullness, and find that God reveals Himself in many ways. I am very interested in learning about and exploring various spiritual paths that enable one to connect with our Triune God, and which allow God to dig deep within one’s self for the sake of transformation in Christ. I love my family deeply, and find that my roles as wife and mother are avenues for discipleship. My husband and daughter are the joys of my life, and I try to not let doing dishes or laundry be more important than nurturing our relationships. (Although being slightly OCD makes that difficult at times!) I enjoy the gift of study, and have obtained two theological degrees that have deepened my understanding of the Christian faith, church, and ministry. I love to learn, and my dream job is to be a professional student! I am blessed to have worked in local church ministry for most of my adult life, including seven years in serving a church as pastor. I am sure that I have learned more from the people in the congregation, than they have from me. I am an Iowa native, and have lived in the Cedar Rapids area for most of my life. I love to downhill ski, exercise, paint with acrylics, and play piano. Enough about me, I am very excited to learn more about the congregation at CUMC, and explore how to grow as disciples of Christ together!