Staff

  brian

Brian Goke

Senior Pastor

A native of Minnesota, Pastor Brian is a graduate of St. Olaf College (1991, BA), Fuller Seminary (1998, MA), and Luther Seminary (2007, Master of Divinity). After serving as a missionary in Thailand and Cameroon (1990s), he served in youth ministry at Gethsemane Lutheran in Hopkins, MN (1998-2001) and Prince of Peace Lutheran in Burnsville, MN (2001-2007). Before arriving at St. John’s in August 2012, Brian served as an Associate Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Atlanta, GA (2007-2012). He has been happily married for 23 years to Cindy, an elementary school teacher. They have four children, Mikelah, Logan, Quentin, and Zoe. They also share their home with three dogs, two birds, one cat, a leopard gecko, and about a dozen fish (depending on the day).

(309) 827-6121 ext. 203

 
  christine

Christine McNeal

Associate Pastor

Pastor Christine grew up on a farm in northern Illinois that helped develop her love of nature. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bradley University and spent more than 20 years as a journalist, the last as deputy managing editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also studied visual communications at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and media/communications at the University of Missouri’s School of Communications. She earned a master’s of divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2012. Pastor Christine began her first call to parish later that year as St. John’s associate pastor for member care and connections, focusing on small group ministries, pastoral care and visitation, and senior ministries. Christine is “mom” to a pug named Payton, proof of her passion for the Chicago Bears. In her free time she enjoys reading, movies, travel, theater, and other arts. She’s also a lifelong Disney fan and collector.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 251

 
  julia

Julia Rademacher

Associate Pastor

Pastor Julia Rademacher is the associate pastor for Family Ministries and Missions at St. John’s. Pastor Julia joined the pastoral staff in August 2013 and has loved getting to know the members of St. John’s and seeing the Holy Spirit move among this community. Julia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1999 and completed her Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in May 2003. Her first call was to St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Urbana, Illinois, as the Associate Pastor for Youth, Family, and Faith Formation where she served for 8-1/2 years. Julia is married to Brad, and they have two children, Abbey and Caleb. Julia was born in Minnesota and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. She shamelessly cheers for her Minnesota Vikings—despite the fact her husband and in-laws all cheer for the Bears. Julia loves God’s people—especially young people—and cherishes her call as a pastor. She loves to serve God’s people and this amazing world God has made. She loves to be silly and creative and secretly wishes (ok, not so secretly) she was a Broadway star.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 208

 
  myron

Myron Adams

Facilities

(309) 827-6121 ext. 229

 
  shari

Shari Buckellew

Executive Director of Business Operations

Shari became the Executive Director of Business Operations in 2014 after careers in Accounting and as Founder and Executive Director of the Children’s Discovery Museum. She has an accounting degree from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA from Illinois State University. Shari enjoys singing in the Community of Joy band, serving on the boards of community organizations, and spending time with family and friends. She is married to Mark Buckellew and has two adult children, Scott and Jessica Spaniol.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 205

 
  doris

Doris Burke

Communications Associate

Doris graduated from Michigan State University in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in Advertising. She received her master's degree in Communications from Illinois State University. She started with St. John’s as a volunteer in the Nursery, then became a childcare attendant, and then Nursery Director, a position she held for three years. Doris enjoyed building lasting relationship with St. John’s youngest members and their families. She is now a Communications Associate and prepares the worship bulletins, a position she really enjoys. Doris is married to Adam and they have two daughters, Makena and Cecilia. They all love St. John's because of the Joy Zone and Vacation Bible Schools programs.

 
  franc

Fran Crownhart

Coordinator of Contributions

Fran joined the staff in September of 2003. She and her husband, Paul, have been members since 1974. Fran is a graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Business Education. She enjoys being part of the St. John’s Handbell Choir, prayer shawl ministry, and participating in worship as an assisting minister, lector, and usher.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 206

 
  melissa

Melissa Drobnak

Guest Experiences Coordinator

Melissa began serving on staff in May 2015. She has a B.A. in Speech Communication from EIU and a M.A. in Christian Education and M.A. in Counseling from Lincoln Christian University. Melissa has worked as an Addictions Counselor, Associate Campus Minister, Christian Education Director. One of her favorite parts of the St. John’s family is seeing how much people truly care for one another and how committed they are to serving. It’s a blessing to see people come together for service and truly bond as friends. Her brother is an attorney, her mom is a retired music teacher, and her dad is a retired math teacher. Melissa enjoys walking or running in the park enjoying God’s creation, ballroom dancing, and painting.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 205

 
  gudrun

Gudrun Dunt

Coordinator of Member Care

Gudrun joined St. John’s staff in 2008 after serving at a local Methodist congregation for a number of years. She considers it a great privilege to serve the Body of Christ and especially this congregation. She and her husband Scott are parents of two adult children and two beautiful granddaughters. In her free time she enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and spending time in her garden.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 214

 
  EdE

Ed Embree

Facilities

(309) 827-6121 ext. 229

 
  norma

Norma Fagerland

Director of Communications

Norma has been Director of Communications at St. John’s since 2013 and member of St. John’s since 2006. Norma and her family fell in love with St. John’s because of the contemporary worship and wonderful children's and youth programs. Norma is married to Kirk, who helps her with video projects around the church. They have two children, Matthew and Emma, and a crazy dog, Sami. Norma enjoys running with family members, friends, or alone, but always with Sami! She also enjoys traveling, home improvement and decorating, gardening, cooking, music, and photography.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 226

 
  laura

Laura Freyman

Director of Children's Ministries

Laura began work as the Director of Children’s Ministries in July 2015. A graduate of the University of Illinois and a longtime member of St. John’s, Laura worked at the Children’s Discovery Museum and Western Avenue Community Center before joining the church staff. She brings to the position a commitment to fun and faith-building, knowing that the two go hand in hand in Children’s Ministries. Laura loves being a part of St. John’s friendly faith community and attending worship with her husband, Michael, and two children, Graydon and Margaret.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 225

 
  rob

Rob Gieraltowski

Director of Junior High Ministries

Rob came to St. John’s in 1993 as a youth ministry intern and quickly transitioned to full-time work handling a variety of duties including computers, publications, and more. In December of 1997 he was promoted to Director of Family Ministries, overseeing programs and events for birth through 12th grade. Today Rob thoroughly enjoys a more focused career of engaging junior highers in connecting with God and each other. As a junior higher in the 1980s, you might find him watching the Goonies or listening to new-wave one-hit-wonders (maybe even all while running). Rob also currently serves as a volunteer on the Board of Directors for Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, Illinois, where each year he takes 6-8th graders to wonder and wander in God’s creation.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 223

 
  lisah

Lisa Heyungs

Finance Associate

Lisa started working as the Kitchen Coordinator in July 2003, and in June 2015 became a full-time staff person by adding Finance Administrative Assistant to the kitchen duties. Lisa had worked with Unit 5 School District for the previous 10 years as an Administrative Assistant. Lisa has two adult sons, Beau and Brady.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 231

 
  wendy

Wendy Iverson

Director of Noah's Ark Preschool

Wendy began working at St. John’s as a co-teacher at Noah’s Ark Preschool in September 2000. The following school year she began leading the preschool as the Director and a lead three-year-old teacher. She enjoys using her degree in Early Childhood and Special Education to encourage parents and engage children. Wendy has two children, Lizzie and Elijah. She is married to Kip Iverson, who helps with many tasks around the preschool. The caring members of St. John’s have lifted her up in so many ways over the years, and her faith journey has been guided and strengthened through their love and support.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 241 or (309) 828-1974

 
  carolyn

Carolyn Kern

Facilities

(309) 827-6121 ext. 229

 
  lisal

Lisa Landstrom

Children's Choir Director

 
  TaraP

Tara Pendleton

Nursery Coordinator

(309) 826-0577

 
  jeffp

Jeff Pitzer

Director of Worship Arts

A native of Bloomington, Jeff pursued his passion for music at Indiana University earning two degrees, Commercial Music Business and Audio Technology. Jeff then spent the next twenty-two years working in the music industry in Nashville as audio engineer and music producer. He built up a credit list that includes artists such as Elton John, the Backstreet Boys, Amy Grant, Kathy Lee Gifford, Gladys Knight, and many others. His engineering work has been heard on Grammy and Dove award nominated albums. Jeff moved back to Bloomington and started working at St. Johns in 2015. He strives to use his experience and expertise to guide the worship teams to do their very best for the Glory of God. Jeff is married to Denise, and the couple has a daughter, Emersyn.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 249

 
  Jackie

Jackie Remmers

Handbell Choir Director

Jackie was hired as the director of the St. John’s Bell Choir in fall 1981. This was the beginning of the bell choir at St. John’s! A committee was formed, and after interviewing bell manufacturers, Malmark Bells were chosen and three octaves purchased. Jackie graduated from the University of Michigan with a Special Education degree. She taught 30 years in the public school system before retiring in 2001. During that time she directed several children’s choirs, including the Crusader Choir at St. John’s. Jackie’s family moved to Bloomington in 1980, when her husband, Norm, was called as Senior Pastor of St. John’s. Her three children were involved in choirs and youth group at St. John’s and have grown to be good stewards of their faith in their own churches. She feels that through the years St. John’s has been a spiritually nourishing home for her family and many others because of its ministries and outreach into the community and vision to share its gifts with others in the world.

(309) 662-1751

 
  fredr

Fred Render

Facilities Manager

Fred started working at St. John's in July of 2014 after a long career at The Pantagraph working in the pressroom as the Pressroom Manager. A lifelong Bloomington resident, Fred attended Illinois Wesleyan University. He has been a member of St. John's eighteen years and is inspired by the wonderful people and staff. Fred is Married to Janet (Skillrud). They have six children and eight grandchildren.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 229

 
  Michael

Michael Schneider

St. John's Choir Director

Michael joined St. John's as the Choir Director in fall 2016. He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in Music Education in 2010. Michael taught in Washington, Illinois, for two years after college while building a private voice and piano studio. He now operates Schneider Music Studio full time and sees 70+ students each week. Michael is married to his high school sweetheart, Michelle, and the couple has a daughter, Emersyn. Michael is thrilled to be part of the thriving St. John's congregation and looks forward to expanding the adult choir program.

(217) 737-1586

 
  steve

Steve Terry

Director of Senior High Ministries

Steve grew up with seven brothers and sisters in an active Irish Catholic family. He received an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy at Illinois State University by way of St. Meinrad Seminary and Gonzaga University in Florence, Italy. He also has a Masters of Theology from St. John’s Seminary/School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota. Steve has held youth ministry positions in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Steve's wife, Stacy, is the owner and head teacher of Stacy’s Dance Factory. They have two adult sons, Connor and Christopher, and three active dogs. Steve feels blessed to be working with the youth and families of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

(309) 827-6121 ext. 215

 
  vernv

Vern Veal

Business Office Volunteer; ELCA Church Council Member

Vern grew up on a Nebraska farm. While in Nebraska, he met his wife, Laura, and they married in 1961 after joining her Lutheran Church. Graduating from University of Nebraska in 1961 with a business degree and military service at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, he joined State Farm in Greeley, CO. They transferred to Bloomington and joined St. John’s in 1968. Retiring in 2004, Vern began volunteering three-quarter time in SJLC business office. This plus synodical and churchwide experience led to election to the fifty member ELCA Churchwide Council in 2014. He has participated in several churchwide assemblies. Vern’s hobbies are CPCU, SCORE, traveling, Cornhuskers, grandson, Brady, and enjoying life! His son, Eric, is Assistant Director at Bloomington Parks and Recreation and his wife, Tina, works at the University of Illinois.