Meet our pastor

We are excited to be coming to First UMC Algona!  Here is a bit of background:

Russ:  Born in Wisconsin, lived some early years near Washington DC where I acquired my love for history, but calls Northfield MN my hometown.  My folks owned a main street clothing store growing up.  I gave my life to Christ during High School and immediately sensed a call to vocational ministry.  My undergraduate degree is from Crown College, my Master of Divinity is from Asbury Theological Seminary, and I earned my Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  The first part of my pastoral career was with a different denomination.  I planted a congregation in Madison, WI and pastored a church in Redwood Falls, MN.  I also did quite a bit of adjunct college teaching including some short-term work at a Bible College in Zambia.  I  have been a Licensed Local Pastor with the United Methodist Church since 2009.  I am in the process of transferring my membership from Minnesota to the Iowa Annual Conference.  My ministry passions include teaching God’s Word, finding innovative ways to reach out to the community, and working with youth.  I like to “major on the majors and minor on the minors.”  God’s grace is amazing!   Janelle and I will celebrate our twelfth anniversary in June.  I have two grown children.  You will catch that we try to head to Sioux Center as often as possible to see our two grandkids, Lila (7) and Sam (4).  

 Janelle:  Grew up on a dairy farm near Little Falls, MN.  Janelle attended Oak Hills Christian College where she majored in Biblical Studies & Youth Ministry.  After college she served as a youth pastor for four years.  Janelle went back to college (Northwestern, St. Paul, MN) to pursue English Language Arts Education.  She also earned a Master of Arts in English from Fort Hays State University.   Janelle has taught high school English for nearly twenty years.  She has been sensing a call to vocational ministry for many years.  For the past three years she has served as Russ’s preaching assistant in the State Line Parish. 

Janelle came to the conclusion that it was time to make the transition from ministry as a teacher to ministry as a pastor.  She is in process of becoming a Licensed Local Pastor in the Iowa Annual Conference and the plan is for her to follow Russ as the new Pastor of the StateLine Parish (Buffalo Center IA; Elmore MN; Thompson IA; Vernon Center MN.)

Besides our primary pastoral work, we hope to serve our UMC connection by helping train Lay Servants / Lay Speakers.  We have a heart for congregations and communities that are no longer able to support a traditional pastor.  

 Russ and Janelle have two cats, Ike and Mayme, aka “the Eisenhowers”.

We look forward to getting to know you!











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