Lead Pastor

Markus Wegenast

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I was born in the Black Forest area of South Germany and grew up in the Black Forest city of Freudenstadt .  I loved being active in the community and my Methodist home church, participating and leading in ministries such as the brass band, the youth group and the young adult choir. I experienced a call into full time ministry in my late teens.

After graduating from college and a year of mandatory federal social service I entered my pastoral education. I served as pastoral intern for one year in four congregations in the Stuttgart, Germany area and then transitioned into the seminary years at the Theological school of the United Methodist Church in Reutlingen, Germany.

I was active in various congregations of the Reutlingen area and served as a seminary intern in an inner city church of Berlin, Germany. In 2001, I went to embark on an abroad adventure and enrolled at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois for one year. This is where I met my wife Carrie. I moved to the United States in 2004, when I got married. We both started serving churches in Wisconsin in 2004.

So far I have served part time at the Johnson Creek UMC and as solo pastor at the Waterloo UMC.  I was ordained in 2008 and have served as a senior pastor of Community UMC in Waterford from 2010-2014. In the summer of 2014 my wife Carrie, my son Hans and I moved to Appleton and I started my time as the new senior pastor here at First UMC.  Since then our second son, Owen, has been born and is enriching our family beyond measure.

I feel privileged for my family to experience the hospitable warmth of First Church and invite you to come and find it for yourself.


Pastor of Discipleship

Liz Whitford

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I have lived in Southern Wisconsin all my life (Janesville, Shullsburg, Platteville), and am a proud Wisconsinite.  As a pastor’s kid, I was always a part of the leadership within the church, and enjoyed leading the church contemporary band, playing basic organ for traditional worship, being a leader in Youth Group, and coordinating Vacation Bible School.

Upon graduation from High School, I went to the University of Wisconsin – Platteville for Music Education (Instrumental, Vocal, and General), and in my first semester accepted my call into Pastoral Ministry.  I condensed my major to Music Non-Teaching in Piano, and began pastoring at Whig United Methodist Church.  After graduating with my bachelor’s I attended the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary while serving Whig UMC and was the Associate Pastor for Platteville UMC, specializing in Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, and Campus Ministry.  I graduated with my Master of Divinity this past May.

I am so excited to be at Appleton:First, and look forward to continuing ministry with you!

Pastor Liz Whitford

Visitation Pastor

Dave Farina

I am a retired pastor, serving as the Pastor of Visitation here at First UMC.  I served the Geenville, Evansville, Baraboo and Reidsburg United Methodist churches. I enjoy visiting our shut-ins and hospitalized members.  I also enjoy golf and my three grandchildren

Interim Director of Music Ministries

Perry "PJ" Uhazie

Michigan-born conductor and baritone PJ Uhazie has had the privilege of performing opera, oratorio, musical theater, and choral music throughout the Midwest.

As a conductor and music educator, PJ is grateful to have led ensembles to success on both the concert and theatrical stage. As a public school teacher, Uhazie’s ensembles have received awards for both their arts advocacy and musical excellence, including the 2020 national gold medal for community engagement through Music for All’s Arts in Advocacy program and perfect scores at state festivals. In 2020, PJ was also awarded “Best Musical Direction of a Musical” through the Wisconsin Jerry Awards for Mukwonago High School’s production of Hello Dolly! PJ’s ensembles were also thankful to have performed the 2019 American premier of Howard Skempton’s “Alice is One.”

PJ currently teaches at Mukwonago High School where he teaches 4 curricular choirs, a show choir, individual voice lessons, and 3 extra-curricular ensembles. PJ is taking on a new role as our Interim Director of Music Ministries. His face is familiar as he has worked here at First Church since 2014, as the Director of Bass Clef, a music intern, and most recently the Interim Assistant to the Director of Music Ministries.

PJ graduated magna cum laude from Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music in 2017 where he received his undergraduate degree in music education and a minor in Vocal Pedagogy. In 2018, the university chose Uhazie as the recipient for the Pi Kappa Lambda award for excellence in music education.

When not working with musicians, PJ likes to camp, hike, make his own cold brew coffee, spend time with his family and friends, listen to true crime podcasts, and volunteer for his community. He is grateful to be able to give back to his FUMC family and serve them in this time of transition.

Interim Director of Music Ministries

Jack Murphy

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Jack Murphy is an active performer and educator originally from the Fox Valley area.
Familiar with the musical life at FUMC, Jack has worked as a Lawrence choral intern since the spring of 2018. As a tenor, he regularly sings for Sunday worship and performed in the Jubliate Deo masterwork and 2018 Festival of Carols. He also has worked with the Sanctuary Choir, Sonshine Singers and Bass Clef. Jack is currently a senior at Lawrence University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. He maintains an active performance schedule as well, having participated in several LU opera and musical productions, including The Marriage of Figaro, Mass, Little Shop of Horrors, and Pippin. As a full-time gigging musician, Jack can be found playing with several bands in the community, including Vic Ferrari and Murphy’s Law, the latter of which he performs in with his two younger brothers. Jack recently had the opportunity to study abroad in Vienna, Austria in the fall of 2019 where he studied German and voice. During his time in Vienna, he participated in two concerts, performing selected works by J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. His skills as a director and educator also led him to directing a full-scale drive-in musical revue concert at St. Mary Central High School in Neenah, WI, an event that brought community members together through music amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He also worked for Heid Music’s Rock University summer camp, working with middle- and high-schoolers in rock bands to write original music, prepare covers of wellknown songs and learn more about the music business.
Outside of his busy musical life, Jack enjoys biking, hiking, and reading. He immensely looks forward to stepping into this new role at First United Methodist Church!

Director of Children's Ministries

Christine Ladewig

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There is an old saying “If you love what you do then you never work a day in your life”. That is exactly how I feel about the Children’s Ministry here at First Church.   There is nothing more rewarding than introducing children to Jesus and watching them as they grow in their faith.

I grew up in Waterbury, CT and moved to Appleton in 1999. I studied to be a paralegal and received my Associates Degree in Paralegal from Lakeshore Technical College.  I currently am working towards an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education at Fox Valley Technical College.

My husband Norm and I have been blessed to raise 7 children, Kurt, Mathew, Merisa, Nicole, Joseph, Paul and Robert. We also love to spend time with our 7 grandchildren, Bree, Mason, Weston, Madison, Kovee, Marcel, and Mila.  I love to travel, crochet, knit, and I make really awesome paper beads!

I started at First Church in 2009 as a teacher in the LOGOS program.  I then started teaching Sunday School and knew that this is where I loved to be.  I was the Decorating Director for VBS from 2010-2012.   I began Kidz Konnection on Wednesday nights in 2013, and am passionate about the messages of being faithful, trusting in God, and serving.  After job sharing with the previous Christian Ed Director, I was presented with the opportunity to become the new program director. I happily accepted in May of 2013.   My vision for this ministry is simply to make Christian Disciples by teaching children and adults to walk faithfully and genuinely in Jesus Christ’s footsteps.  The first way to do that is to bring families closer together into a Christ centered relationship.  We offer many opportunities for all families to come together to achieve this.  Family fun nights, volunteering in your children’s classrooms, and Vacation Bible School are just a few of the ways. 

I welcome all questions, comments, and suggestions about our program. Feel free to contact me at, or (920) 734-2677. Why not stop by my office for a visit!  I’d love to hear from you.


Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

Brian Stahl

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I am a Youth Ministry Veteran.  I have served God in five congregations in Wisconsin and Michigan over the past 18 years. I am currently in my sixth year serving this congregation as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and graduated in 1998 from the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Parkside with a BA in English.  I recieved my formal Youth Ministry training in 2000 from Tentmakers.

I married my best friend, Sue in 2001, we have three beautiful children, Benjamin, Samuel, and Alison.

I am a passionate fan of the Denver Broncos, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons, Calgary Flames, Michigan State Spartans, and Colorado Buffaloes.

I love to attend concerts! I have seen more than 150, including seeing the Dave Matthews Band 42 times and U2 12 times.

I love mission trips!  I have been on 25 and have been blessed to lead 23.

My vision for Youth and Young Adult Ministries for this congregation is that our Youth and Young Adults would know that they are loved and that God desperately wants to be in relationship.  Our Mission Statement is as follows: We exist to Equip Youth & Young Adults with the tools and experiences so that they may live ever yday as authentic followers of Jesus Christ.  My number one goal is the building of a community where the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ is shared, and everyone is loved and appreciated for the unique person God has created. I strive to offer God-honoring opportunities for Youth & Young Adults to develop a critical thought process on questions of faith, gain an understanding of how to live their faith every day, and serve their community and the world.

My job often presents me opportunities that make what I do extremely important to the growth and spiritual development of our
Youth and Young Adults.  On the other hand, the role of a parent far supersedes my ability to impact their lives. 

Parents are the compass by which their children walk. With that said, I deeply desire for parents to be involved in our ministry.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity and the privilege of ministering to your sons and daughters.


Brian Stahl

Capital Campaign Manager

Tom Weinfurter

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My college studies were primarily in the area of Accounting, and Finance.  My previous positions included working at manufacturing locations, with facilities throughout the country, as the Plant Contoller (Accountant).  I worked closely with the plant operations personnel, and the general ledger accounting staff. My duties included, justifying the purchase of new equipment, repair and replacement of manufacturing equipment for multiple plant opertions.   I supervised individuals responsible for the general journal entries related to the operations, and was responsible for the yearly manfuacturing budgets, salaried payroll, federal, state, and sales taxes.  Responsible for product inventory, product costs, and product, and customer profitability.  Supervised Hourly Payroll, Industrial Engineering, and Cost Accounting area, for multi-plant operations, throughout the country.

I served three years in the US Army.  I met my wife Terry while I was stationed at Fort Carson, CO.  We have two boys Mark, who is married to Liz, they have a daughter Autumn, they live in St Paul MN.,  Jason, who is married to Melissa, they have a daughter Elsa, they live in Madison WI.

I enjoy working at the church as the Finance & Property Manager. I have served on the Board of Trustees as a member and chairperson numerous times during my time as a member of First United Methodist Church.

Property and Finance Manager

Lynn Halley

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I am excited at the opportunity to serve the church as the Finance Manager!

Growing up in the small rural community of Oostburg, WI started my journey with God.  From there I attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and have a degree in Business Administration.  I met my husband, Cliff Halley, at UWO and we have been blessed with 2 wonderful daughters, Kristina who is a Physician’s Assistant in Naperville, IL and Erica who is a Special Ed Teacher in Milwaukee.

My husband and I also own the Valpak franchise – that blue envelope of coupons you get in your mailbox each month!   In my free time I like to run, play soccer, read and travel – and I love the Green Bay Packers!

I have been a member here at FUMC since 1992.  During that time I have taught Sunday School, baked many cakes, served at the Emergency Shelter and Warming Shelter, and been part of the counting team.  I presently volunteer to sell Scrip.

Stop by and see me if you have any questions related to finance or your giving!

Administrative Assistant

Amy Concepcion

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Most of my adult life I have worked in healthcare; most recently working nights at the hospital in New London.  I, as well as my family, felt a definite change was needed and called upon God to guide me to a more suitable job.  With God’s guidance leading me to my home church, I couldn’t be happier!  I enjoy working with everyone who has made, and continues to make First Church my second home.

My husband, José, and I have 4 sons, Cody, José, Gabriel and Emanuel.  We were married here at First Church and all of our boys were baptized here, as was I.  We are so blessed to be part of such an amazing church family. I spend most of my ‘free time’ running my boys to practices and cheering them on in baseball, track, football and wrestling.  I also enjoy camping and just spending time with family/friends.

Please stop by the church office if you have any questions, concerns or just want to visit; I would love to chat!


Principal Organist

Kathy Orth

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I am extremely honored to be the principal organist at First United Methodist Church - since Dec. 1, 2007. I love the music program but especially the wonderful pipe organ. Prior to this I was the organist (11 years) at Memorial Presbyterian Church. I have played and studied organ since 9th grade. I began playing piano at age 4. My piano accompanying in the area has included the Appleton Boy Choir, Badger Girls Choir, State Honors Middle School Chorus, musicals at Appleton East and North High Schools, student and faculty recitals at Lawrence University, church choir, McDowell Chorus, Chaminade Chorus, and the Fox Valley Symphony. I also play alto sax, oboe, guitar, dulcimer, handbells, autoharp, and native American flute. I am teaching myself to play ukulele and balalaika.


I graduated with honors from Lawrence University's Conservatory in music education (vocal/general music major), and earned my master's degree in curriculum with a fine arts emphasis from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA). For 35 years I was a vocal/general music specialist, and have taught all grades (kindergarten through high school) including Illinois, Texas, Kiel, Hartland, and Appleton. The last 20 years I taught in Appleton, and I am now retired. I am a music adjudicator (40+ years) for Wisconsin district and state solo-ensemble festivals (39 years) and have directed and accompanied many school musicals, numerous concerts, 2 swing choirs, a church and handbell choir, a 300-voice combined 6th grade choir in Texas, and directed the Lawrence Alumni Choir for Reunion. I have studied organ with Cal Moely, Miriam Duncan, Naomi Rowley, Kathryn Handford, and Bruce Bengston.


I volunteer at the Community Clothes Closet, the Fox Cities PAC, and am a member of the prayer shawl ministry at church. My husband, Larry, was a band instructor, most recently at TCCES (Twin Cities Catholic Education System) in Neenah and Menasha. He is also retired. We have two sons - Bryan in Orlando, Fl, who is a pilot with United Airlines, and Darin who lives in Kaukauna and is learning to be a financial planner (married to Melissa, an RN at St. Paul’s Hospice).


Things I like to do - knit, quilt, read, bike, golf, shop, travel



Norma Anderson

Grace Director

Cindy Trudell

Wesley Handbells Director

Danny Schierl

I am absolutely thrilled to direct the Wesley Handbell Choir here at FUMC!

I was born and raised in Neenah and have enjoyed living in various parts of the Fox Valley. I am currently working on my undergraduate degree as a Music Education major and German minor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. My love for handbells was cultivated through my experience playing with the UW-Oshkosh Handbell Choir. I have been playing handbells for five years with various groups and have enjoyed playing in large and small handbell ensembles, as well as solo work.

I primarily play trombone and am a “jazzer” at heart. I also study piano independently and play a wide spectrum of genres. When I'm not studying music or German, I spend my time outdoors, in my garden, and on the water.







Part-time Custodian

Doug Herge

Part-time Custodian

Tom Martens

  October 2020  
Upcoming Events




Women's Renewal Group
4:45 PM to 5:45 PM
Women of the Word
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM


Tuesday Book Study
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
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