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Our Staff - In Alphabetical Order
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Rev. Lowell Black
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What I do at FUMC:  I work with staff and laity to recognize the spiritual journey we are all on, helping others to make goals for growing in relationship with the lord, and upon realization of the tremendous love God has for us, loving and serving others out of that love. Education: BS in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University MA in Spiritual Formation and Evangelism from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary   Family Information: Wife of 33+ years, Jodie and daughter Sarah. Jodie is an R.N. for Porter County Primary Care and Sarah teaches Special Education at Kyle Elementary School in Portage. I have 2 brothers and a sister all who live in other states.   Year I came to FUMC: 2001   Hobbies: Amateur radio, fishing, music, watching hockey & football, reading.   Favorite Band: Elton John, Fernando Ortega, Sarah Groves,    Town where I was born: Elgin, IL
 
 
Organist
Jim Crisman
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What I do at FUMC: I play Organ and Piano for Sunday morning worship.  I also rehearse with the Choir, play for weddings and memorial services.  I also give Organ Concerts for the church and community.    Education: Bachelor of Music from Valparaiso University Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Valparaiso University   Year I came to FUMC:  1981 (Baptized here in 1957)   Hobbies: Cooking Plants   Favorite Band: The Chicago Symphony   Town where I was born:  Valparaiso, IN   
 
 
Director of Children's Ministries
Karyn Custer-Jankowski
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As Children’s Ministry Director I have the joy of planning and executing any and all programs relating to children, including weekly Sunday School lessons, Children’s Moment presentations, and Nursery activities, along with four BIG annual events; “Vacation Bible School”, Reverse Easter Egg Hunt”, “Fall Family Festival”, and “Breakfast With St. Nicholas”, our fundraiser for “The Caring Place”. My responsibilities are many and varied and that makes my work here FUN! In fact, I cannot even call it work as I am sure God called me to this place and this position. I feel so blessed that I am able to bring God’s Word and His unconditional love to children! Personally, I have been happily married to David since 1995 who has been a member here all his life! I have four daughters; Lindsay, Mandy, Kimberly, and Kathryn, who are the great joys of my life. I was blessed to become “Nana” to Tillie in 2016, (thank you Mandy and Phil), and I thank God for her AND technology which enables me to see her regularly as she is in California! Which brings me to my favorite thing - besides family – TRAVEL!!! I feel there will be MANY trips to California in the next years but I look so forward to visiting other parts of our country and the world. I enjoy exercise (I facilitate an exercise group here at FUMC on Tuesday and Thursday nights, 6:15 – JOIN US!!), singing (I am a member of Hosanna!, our adult choir and our ‘Women’s Chorus”), sewing, and communing with nature by gardening and mowing in the warmer weather. I am a passionate environmentalist, vegetarian, and movie-goer as well. I’d like to welcome everyone to our church family with open arms!
 
 
Director of Maintenance
Dan Davis
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As Director of Maintenance, I oversee all of the facility's physical operations and improvements for all of our properties. I manage the day-to-day functions, not only to bring the highest level of operational excellence, but also to ensure the stewardship efficiency of our maintenance resources. After graduating Valparaiso High School in 1984, I went on to study Economics and Business Administration through the United States Navy's Advanced Education Centers, graduating in 1988. God has truly blessed me with a remarkably wonderful blended family. My magnificent wife and I share seven amazing, and very energetic children. We are also blessed with four adorable grandchildren, two of which are twins! My first attendance here at Valpo FUMC was in 1977 when I was just a boy. My grandmother, great aunt, aunt and uncle, and all of my cousins attended here, as well. I grew up in this church. My employment commenced here in 2015. I truly enjoy reading, attending sporting events, auctions, coin and book collecting, along with live music and theater. I enjoy all kinds of music, from Classical to Classic Rock. My favorite bands are Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons Project and Led Zeppelin. My favorite solo performers would be David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Todd Rundgren, David Bowie, Robin Trower and Joe Satriani. My favorite movies? This one is tough…I do like movies quite a lot, and I have a wide range of cinematic interest. I would have to say some of my favorite movies are Christmas Vacation, The Green Mile, The Godfather Trilogy, The Bucket List, The Dead Zone, The Breakfast Club, The Notebook, Stand By Me, Miracle, Back to the Future Trilogy and The Shawshank Redemption, to list a few. The town where I was born is Gary, Indiana.
 
 
Director of Adult & Youth Choirs
Christopher Ebert
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What I do here: I am the Director of Adult and Youth Choirs here at Valpo FUMC. Are you singing with us? If you answered “no,” why not? Education: I earned my Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Music Education from Indiana State University (1999), Masters of Music in Choral/Orchestral Conducting in 2001 (also at ISU). I am currently working on my Doctorate of Sacred Music from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishiwaka, IN. When I am not directing church choirs, I may be playing in symphony orchestras or helping my father on the family farm. I have served as Director of Music for two Presbyterian Churches in the past and am very excited to be with Valpo FUMC! Before making my way to Valparaiso in 2007, I served in the United States Army Military Police Corps, serving in the US, Germany and Iraq. Family: I have lots. I come from a large family (I am number 2 of 5). Where I am from: I grew up in Lake Village, IN (Newton County). However I have lived in Terre Haute and Lowell longer than any other place. I have also lived in Kitzingen, Germany; Mosul, Iraq; Lebanon, TN; and Fort Campbell, KY. Hobbies: I love to draw, paint, and garden, drive the John Deere, raising livestock, antique farm equipment, and collect musical instruments. I also like anything Star Wars and cannot live without my Diet Dr. Pepper. Favorite quote: “Life is a banquet and most people are starving to death!” Professional memberships: American Choral Directors Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Choristers Guild, Hymn Society of North America, Great Britain and Ireland.
 
 
Executive Assistant
Lani Fisher
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What I do at FUMC:  I assist the pastors as needed and am the contact person for scheduling appointments with the Senior Pastor, as well as scheduling baptisms and weddings. I also handle anything to do with membership, whether joining or leaving the church, and maintaining the member log. I maintain attendance information and compile and send out the prayer list each week. All of us in the office work together to help the congregation, as well as community members, who call or come in the information or assistance.   Education:   BA, Valparaiso University; Master of Social Work, University of Illinois-Chicago; Post-Baccalaureate Elementary Education Certificate-University of Phoenix.   Family Information:  Married to Greg since 1994.  We have 3 children:  Caroline, Christopher and Collin.   Year I came to FUMC:  Began attending in 2005; on staff in 2008.   Hobbies:  Running, reading, traveling and gardening.   Favorite Band(s):  U2, Indigo Girls, Springsteen and Taylor Swift Favorite Movies: Wizard of Oz, Sixteen Candles, Vacation & Christmas Vacation and almost anything Disney.   Town where I was born:  Fairfield, CA but I grew up in Beach Park, IL.  
 
 
Custodian
Bruce Gold
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What I do at FUMC: I am in charge of all cleaning of facilities and making sure things are ready for events.  I do a lot of behind the scenes work like setting up chairs and tables for the many needs our church has on a weekly basis.  I also serve as a volunteer in the sound booth.    Education: VHS Grad and several semesters at Valparaiso University   Family Information: Wife-Machelle-Reference Librarian at Valpo Library Daughter-Amber-Personal care at O.E. Son-Jonathan-Sophomore at Indiana University   Year I came to FUMC: 1999   Hobbies: Photography, Music, and Worrying   Favorite Band: The Beatles   Town where I was born: Valparaiso, IN   
 
 
Director of Communications
Pamela Gonzalez
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What I do at FUMC: As Communications Director, I am responsible for promoting all activities happening here at Valpo FUMC. I do this through writing, graphic arts, the website, weekly bulletins, weekly eNews newsletter, our official Facebook page and promotional slides played between Sunday worship services and in the church hallways. I also create brochures, posters, bulletin inserts, flyers, booklets, signs and newspaper ads. Education: 2001 - Diploma in Web Development & Business Programming. I am also a classically trained pianist.  Family: My husband, Bernardo, and I were married in 2007 and we each have three adult children. We also have large number of grandchildren. Year I came to FUMC: I was hired from outside the church in April of 2012. Hobbies: I am a member of several writing groups and enjoy writing fiction and non-fiction in my spare time. I enjoy playing the piano, spinning wool and other fibers on one of my spinning wheels, weaving, knitting, gardening, digital scrapbooking, video games and quilting. I also have an Etsy shop where I sell digital graphics of my own design. Favorite Movies: I enjoy anything Harry Potter, Star Wars or Star Treck. Favorites include Gladiator, Shawshank Redemption, RED, and Patriot. Town where I was born: Evanston, Illinois  
 
 
Director of Preschool
Judy Kittridge
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What I do at FUMC: I am the Preschool Director and one of the teachers for Our Littlest Angels Preschool, a ministry of the church. Education:    This is my second career! I have a B.S. degree in Accounting and a M.B.A., Master of Science in Business Administration. I worked in corporate finance for 14 years before leaving the workforce to stay home after my first child was born. When my youngest entered Kindergarten it was time to reenter the workforce and I helped start the preschool here at the church in 1999. I was a teacher's aide for 2 years before taking on the Director and Teacher role. I then decided to return to college and get an associate degree in early childhood education along with a CDA, Child Development Associate certification.   Family:    I am married to Rob and we have two adult sons.   Year I came to FUMC:  Rob and I have been members of this church since 1996 when we moved to Valparaiso. I am an active member in the United Methodist Women's Susannah Circle. Hobbies:  I love to read and enjoy taking daily walks with Rob. I also enjoy working outside in my yard. Favorite Music: Classic Rock . Bob Seger, Meat Loaf, Journey, David Bowie are some favorites.  Favorite Movies: I like romantic comedies. I refuse to watch anything scary! Town where I was born:  I was born in Valparaiso but raised in Chesterton.
 
 
Visitation Pastor
Rev Deborah Miller
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What i do at FUMC: Visitation of homebound, people in the hospital and hospice. I am available for emergencies and communion and coordinate with the Senior Pastor all visits and funeral requests. Pastoral support in whatever way the Senior Pastor requests. Education: BS in nursing and MDIV. Family Information: Husband deceased, four sons living in Washington D.C., Denver, Hawaii, and Buffalo, NY. Year I came to FUMC: 2017 Hobbies: Gardening, swimming, knitting and reading. Town where I was born: Buffalo, New York.
 
 
Senior Pastor
Rev. Kevin Miller
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What I do at Valpo FUMC: I am the primary preacher, servant, and visionary of the church. Education: A.S. in Business Administration from University of Indianapolis, 1981; B.S. in Marketing/Advertising from Indiana University, 1984; M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2003. Family Information: One wife - Liz. Married for 34 years. Daughter Laura lives in Bloomington, Indiana; daughter Shannan lives in Indianapolis; son Nathan lives in Valparaiso and is a student at Ivy Tech. Two dogs and one guinea pig at home. Year I came to Valpo FUMC: 2017. Hobbies: Practically any activity involving water including fishing (with Andy); walking the dogs and riding my motorcycle (it's awesome!). Town where I was born: Decatur, Indiana.
 
 
Director of Connections
Heather Novak
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As the Director of Connections at FUMC, I help people get connected to God, each other and our FUMC church through Gel Groups, classes and volunteer opportunities! I have a BS in Business Administration which I took my time earning at Indiana Tech and Indiana University. I am the amused mother of two young children, Libby and Portia. God gave me my own Prince Charming in the form of my husband, John Novak. I have been attending FUMC off and on for four years, and we became church members in 2013. I enjoy geocaching, yoga, crochet, cooking ethnic food, blogging and speaking to audiences about living their days well. My favorite music includes David Crowder, Casting Crowns, Tori Amos, Dave Mathews, and Madonna. Favorite movies include The Usual Suspects, Moulin Rouge, Hitch and The Sound of Music. I was born in South Bend, Indiana and have lived previously in Chicago and Denver, Colorado.
 
 
A/V Tech
Jeffrey A Schultz
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What I do at FUMC: I manage the sound equipment in the A/V booth, operate microphones, keep a schedule of volunteers for the A/V booth, and prepare worship slides. Education: High School-Morgan Twp. 2004. College-Purdue University with a B.A. in Communications, 2008. I also have a certificate in Media Design from Sessions College, 2011. Year I came to FUMC: I've been attending all my life, starting in 1985. I went through confirmation in 1998 and started as A/V Tech in June of 2014. Hobbies: Writing for the Chesterton Tribune Newspaper, acting in local theater and working as a 4-H volunteer. Favorite Music: Classic rock from the 70's and Rock 'n Roll of any era. Favorite Movies: It's a Wonderful Life, Ocean's Eleven and Alfred Hitchcock films. Town where I was born: Valparaiso, IN.
 
 
Business Administrator
Kate Shifflett
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What I do:  I am the Business Administrator and thus my tasks vary greatly from overseeing the finances and facilities to personnel and the church office. If ever you have a question, I'd be happy to help answer it. While things can be very hectic behind the scenes here at FUMC, I ultimately love what I do and truly feel God has blessed me with this opportunity.    Education:  B.S. Degree in Communications from the School of Business at Indiana State University.    Family: Married to Shaun since 1999 and have 3 boys. I like to joke that I live in a Fraternity house, but without the paid maid and the kitchen help! I grew up in the Munster and Schererville areas of Indiana and upon graduation moved and worked in Washington, DC. from 1994 until one month after Sept. 11, 2001. Moved back home to be near family and brought my husband and his son back with me. Then we welcomed 2 more boys to the mix and we've been here ever since. God is Good!    Year I came to FUMC: August of 2003 as the Volunteer Coordinator. In 2005 I became the Assistant to the Pastors and in 2006 I became the Business Administrator.    Hobbies: Unfortunately I don't have a lot of my own hobbies. I have taken up all of my sons' activities as my own -- scouts, basketball, baseball, etc.! If this can be considered a hobby...I like to mow the grass!    Favorite Band/Movie: I honestly don't think I have a "favorite" band, but my favorite movie (if that counts) is Eddie and the Cruisers.    Town where I was born: Elmhurst, IL   
 
 
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