Lead Pastor

Markus Wegenast

  Send Email

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.

Deacon for Christian Formation

Rev. Tim Navis

  Send Email

Greetings my name is Tim Navis and I am the Deacon for Christian Formation.  I am excited to join the wonderful ministry of First Church. Here is a little about me:

I grew up in a rural farming community in Sheboygan County, a village named Hingham.  As a child I took a great interest in church music, specifically piano and organ.  Following graduating from Oostburg High School, I attended Silver Lake College in Manitowoc Wisconsin, double majoring in music with an organ emphasis, and theology. During my time at Silver Lake I also married my wife Leslie.  

Following graduation from Silver Lake, Leslie and I wanted to move south so we headed to Virginia.  I served Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Virginia.  While serving this church I would come back to Wisconsin every June to work on my Masters in Church Music from Concordia in Mequon, with an emphasis in organ performance.  I graduated from this program in 2013.  In 2016, I began to feel a call to ordained ministry and entered the candidacy process of the United Methodist Church.  I discerned a call to a specialized ministry as a Deacon.  I received my seminary degree from Duke Divinity School, graduating in 2019.  I finished my last step towards ordination in May. 

My wife and I have four kids, two of which we adopted out of foster care.  We have been foster parents for many years, fostering over ten kids.  This has been one of the ministries we are passionate about.  

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.

Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

Brian Stahl

  Send Email

I have served God in five congregations in Wisconsin and Michigan over the past 23 years. I am currently in my 12th 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 University of Wisconsin-Parkside with a BA in English.  I received 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 175, including seeing the Dave Matthews Band 43 times and U2 12 times.

I love mission trips!  I have served on 37 and have been blessed to lead 28 at First Church.

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 create a space where Youth are welcomed, loved and accepted. We offer opportunities where Youth are equipped with tools and experiences so that they may serve others and grow in their relationship with 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.


Director of Children & Family Ministries

Christine Murphy

  Send Email  •  (920)734-2677

Hello! My name is Christine Murphy and I am the Director of Children and Family Ministries. I’m excited to be part of both the incredibly personable and engaging congregation at First United Methodist Church as well as the exceptional staff. 
Just a little about me: My family and I moved to Appleton from Northern Wisconsin where we lived for three years. Prior to that, we lived in Green Lake where I was the Children’s Education Coordinator for Federated Church of Green Lake. My husband works for a food, supply and equipment distributor and our daughter is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I have a wealth of experience working with the public and from an educational perspective, I have a BA in Human Resources and an MBA in Business Administration. Above all, Children are my passion!
Please know that I take my role to heart and feel both honored and privileged to have been chosen to work with you and your children to create engaging programs that incorporate Faith, Fun and Fellowship.


Property and Finance Manager

Lynn Halley

  Send Email

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!

Office Manager

Amy Concepcion

  Send Email  •  (920)734-2677

Most of my adult life I 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.

I am a mom to all boys, and enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love cooking family meals, going on walks, and winter- I love snow!   

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

Office Assistant

Denise Anderson

  Send Email

Principal Organist

Kathy Orth

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 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, and I play alto sax in the Neenah Community Band. 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 who is a pilot with United Airlines, and Darin who is a Financial Advisor; both live in Orlando, FL.

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


Norma Anderson

Director for Music Ministries

Matthew Harden

  Send Email  •  (920)734-2677

Matthew Harden is the Director for Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church Appleton.

He is the founder and artistic director of the adult chamber ensemble Madrigali et al., which is the fourth choral ensemble he has built over his career. His collegiate teaching experience includes being Director of Choral Activities at three different universities, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, The University of South Dakota and East Carolina University. In addition, he has served as Music Minister at several churches over the years. Matthew has also had the opportunity to work for the production company MidAmerica Productions, and the tour company KI Concerts, LLC.

Dr. Harden earned his doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Choral Music Education) from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, his master’s degree from Portland State University, and two bachelor’s degrees (Performance and Education) from Southern Oregon State College. His studies and degrees are in the areas of conducting, organ performance, music education, and vocal performance. He has studied conducting with Bruce Browne, Eph Ehly, Eric Ericson, Gary Hill, and Charles Robinson, and in master-class settings he has worked with Harold Decker, Eric Ericson, Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Muray Sidlin, and Dale Warland. Conducting experience has included works with band, choir and orchestra, including conducting baroque works with choir and orchestra from the keyboard. Matthew has taught private voice lessons since 1983 and worked with several singers to rehabilitate their injured voices. Many of his conducting students have gone on to complete advanced degrees and currently are successful conductors around the country.

Matthew began his conducting career at age 12 when he convinced twenty-six of his friends to form a concert band so he could conduct. In Jr. High and High School his band directors gave him the opportunity to rehearse the band, form a brass ensemble and conduct an occasional selection in concert. This continued into college where at the College of Southern Idaho he was given the chance to rehearse and conduct the band, play in the Magic Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Band. It was here that he first began to study voice as well. Leaving CSI he was set to pursue orchestra conducting, but due to a serious car accident turned his career to teaching. Matthew first position after completing his degrees at SOSC was as the Band and Choir Director at Warrenton-Hammond School District. In addition, he played in the North Coast Symphonic Band and North Coast Big Band during his time in the North Coast region of Oregon.

He founded the North Coast Chorale, now celebrating its thirty-first year of existence. Dr. Bruce Browne had a profound effect on his change of career to choral music, as he stressed as a choral conductor you will also have the opportunity to conduct works with choir and orchestra. During his time in Portland he was assistant conductor and tenor section leader for the Portland Symphonic Choir, Artistic Director for the Early Music ensemble “Sine Nomine,” and taught in various other Oregon schools for twelve years.

He has conducted choirs on tour in the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Russia and The Netherlands, and festival choirs in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and most recently the professional choir Polifonia in Lithuania. An active member of the ACDA, Chorus America, NCCO, and IFCM, he served as President of the Nebraska Choral Directors’ Association from 2011-2013.

Matthew is married to Shellie, is very proud of his three children, Tim, Noelle and CJ, and enjoys spending time with his grandson Berry.

Wesley Handbells Director

Danny Schierl

I am thrilled to have been the director of the Wesley Handbell Choir since 2016!

I was born and raised in Neenah. I graduated from UW-Oshkosh with a Bachelor's in Music Education, General and Instrumental K-12. My experience includes instructing General Music and Band in elementary schools and high school bands. My love for handbells was cultivated through my experience playing with the UW-Oshkosh Handbell Choir. I have been playing handbells for over a decade with various groups, in large and small ensembles, as well as solo performances. 

I primarily play trombone and piano and voice secondarily. I have a special place in my heart for studying, listening to, and singing German Lieder. It's no surprise one of my favorite composers is Schubert. Others include Palestrina, Machaut, Dowland, Glass...and so many more! My other independent studies include musicology of both secular and sacred Western music.

I am a performing member of Big Band Reunion and Wisconsin Symphonic Winds, and I gig around as opportunities arise. I dabble in composing/arranging, sometimes with a more modern and/or abstract twist to them. Compositions include trombone, piano, voice, orchestra, handbell ensemble, and smaller various ensembles.

When I am not being a music nerd, I enjoy reading, cooking, writing poems and novels, kayaking, and playing with my siamese cat, Cicero or "Momo." 

Grace Director

Cindy Trudell

Audio & Visual Technician

Chris Lading

  Send Email

Part-time Custodian

Doug Herge

Part-time Custodian

Tom Martens