jamesJames T. Watson
Senior Pastor | james@stpaulonline.org

James has led a meandering life. He was born in the Midwest, and grew up in Europe, but has also served as a Pastor in the Pacific Northwest and in the Rocky Mountain Region prior to coming to St. Paul in 2013. He has studied church history extensively, ending up at the Institute for the History of the Reformation at the University of Geneva, but admits that he actually spends most of his life wrestling with the future, in order to lead the church of the present time into becoming a more relevant, engaged, authentic and vital spiritual community that lives with passionate compassion.

He once took time off from ministry to study Culinary Arts, and worked as an Executive Chef in Seattle for a while. That experience in the hospitality sector deepened his understanding of the church as needing to be a truly open and welcoming community, as well as leading him into savoring and embracing more deeply the diverse flavors of life.

James is also an avid fly fisherman, and through that experience has come to learn patience, persistence, and living with ambiguity, never knowing quite when or if the trout will take the fly. He has also come to see stepping into the water and fly fishing as a rich metaphor for understanding spirituality as being immersed in and carried by an irresistible divine flow far greater than oneself.


 

merylMerlyn Lawrence
Associate Pastor | merlyn@stpaulonline.org

Pastor Merlyn has served the United Church of Christ in a variety of capacities at local, association, national and international levels. She served for two years as the Moderator of the UCC’s 26th General Synod and presided over the 26th General Synod/ UCC’s 50th anniversary in Hartford, Conn., in June 2007. Prior to that, she worked for 37 years as a social worker. Merlyn was actively involved in the anti-violence movement in South Africa and in the U.S., organizing communities against apartheid, sexual assault, domestic violence and all forms of violence and oppression. For the past 30 years she has coordinated counseling programs for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She earned a Master of Social Science degree from the University of Cape Town. In May 2013, Pastor Merlyn, of Wheaton, Ill., received her Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. Prior to coming here she served as associate pastor at the United Protestant Church of Grayslake, Ill., a Methodist and UCC church.


 

garyhGary Humphrey
Director of Music Ministries | gary@stpaulonline.org

Gary Humphrey, our Director of Music Ministries, has been involved in music since the age of 9, when he began taking piano lessons so that he might accompany his father, who was a wonderful singer. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in music business, he began his church music career singing in choir and playing the organ at St. John UCC in Collinsville, Ill., his home church. From there he spent time at St. John UCC in St. Louis and Immanuel UCC in Edgemont, Ill., as choir director/organist. In 2004 he became the Music Director at Friedens UCC in St. Charles, Mo., where he directed two bell choirs and one vocal choir. As director of music, he was instrumental in the creation and design of a second, contemporary worship service. He formed a praise band, planned the services, played in and conducted the band. He also is the founder and executive director of the Collinsville Chorale, a 70 voice auditioned community choral group which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Gary resides in Collinsville with his wife Brenda. They have four children and one grandchild.

Music Staff:  Sandy Hamby, Linda Mueller, Betty Rockford, Bob Rockford, Joe Kurtz


 

Jillian Mayer | jill@stpaulonline.org
Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries

The path to St. Paul UCC in Waterloo was a roundabout one for Jillian Mayer. Dissatisfied with her Baptist upbringing in west-central Illinois, it was when Jill came to Waterloo, Illinois with her then boyfriend (now husband), Andy Mayer, that she found her first true spiritual home, St. Paul’s.

Andy and Jill met when a friend of Jill’s from high school brought him up to the University of Illinois for a weekend visit from Eastern Illinois University, his alma mater. Numerous phone calls led to weekend visits which led to an engagement and a move to southern Illinois after Jill graduate from UIUC with a BS in Psychology and Integrative Biology. Upon graduation, Jill began her postgraduate work at Southern Illinois University. She received her MA in 2010 and PhD in 2015 from SIUC in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Throughout her postgraduate career, Jill was blessed with numerous teaching opportunities that made her realize her passion and talent for working with both children and adults.

Meanwhile, Andy and Jill built a family in Sparta and, now, in Waterloo, Illinois. They have three beautiful daughters: Arabella, Juliana, and Madeline. Arabella and Juliana are energetic twin kindergartners who love attending Martha’s Kitchen and Sunday School. Madeline is a pint-sized toddler who makes up for her lack in stature by her incessant chattering. You may see her Sunday mornings making a beeline for her favorite place at St. Paul’s – the nursery and it’s great supply of books.

In her spare time (yes, there is a little of that), Jill enjoys reading, crafting, and baking. A homebody at heart, there are few things she enjoys more than curling up in a rocking chair with a really captivating book or engrossing film.

 


 

lindaLinda Mueller
Office Administrator | linda@stpaulonline.org

Linda has been a member of St. Paul UCC since 1996 and has been the Administration Coordinator since 2002. In addition to working in the church office, Linda is one of the church organists/pianists and plays in the morning handbell choir, harp ensemble, orchestra and occasionally the contemporary band (youth and adult). In her spare time Linda enjoys spending time at the lake and time with her family.


 

angie-mertzAngie Mertz
Office Coordinator | angie@stpaulonline.org

Angie is a lifelong resident of Waterloo. Outside the office, Angie is a REALTOR and a military spouse. Angie and her husband have 3 daughters, 2 dogs, 6 cats, 1 granddog and 2 grandcats. Angie enjoys rescuing animals, camping, floating, spending time outdoors and going to the beach.


 

sarahkSarah Karban
Child’s World Director / Teacher | childsworld@stpaulonline.org

Hello, my name is Sarah Karban and I am the Director and Pre-K teacher here at Child’s World Preschool. Before teaching here, I had taught Kindergarten at Valmeyer Elementary School, was a substitute teacher at Zahnow & Rogers Elementary Schools, and was a three year old teacher at the Columbia Lighthouse Learning Center. At an early age, I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a teacher is hard work, but an enjoyable career because I get to inspire and transform young minds that anything they do is possible and worth doing.
I am a member here at St. Paul United Church of Christ, Waterloo, where I have volunteered some of my time. I had taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, been a helper in the S.P.A.C.E. program (St. Paul’s Awesome Christian Education), a greeter, and a communion server.

I grew up in Waterloo and went to the Waterloo schools (Once a Bulldog, Always a Bulldog!). But before I attended the “big schools”, I went here – to Child’s World Preschool – many years ago, too! Now, I live in Paderborn with my husband, Michael, and our daughter, Anne. Michael is employed at Harrisonville Telephone Company as a Technical Services Specialist.

When I’m not teaching or planning awesome things for us to do here at preschool, I enjoy reading, cooking/baking, gardening, crafting, shopping, dining-out, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy watching and attending St. Louis Cardinals baseball games, watching Green Bay Packers football games, and the occasional St. Louis Blues hockey games. One of my favorite subjects to learn/talk about is history – modern history, to be specific, which is anything from the Gilded Age through the 20th Century to today. I also like to volunteer and am a member of these community groups – Waterloo Lions Club, Waterloo FFA Alumni, Monroe County 4-H Alumni, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution – Whiteside Chapter, and the Monroe County Fair Association.


 

scrookSteve Crook
Facilities and Technical Coordinator | steve@stpaulonline.org

Steve grew up in Waterloo and is a life-long member at St PaulUCC. He worked in the field of professional photography for many years before switching gears and starting his own home repair and improvement business, while also working part time as a funeral director assistant. Steve enjoyed time as a scout leader and baseball coach when his son was growing up. He has also served on various committees in the church, eventually becoming Consistory President in 2005 before being called to join the staff in 2007. He and his wife Patty enjoy warm afternoons in their Jeep seeing the sights while traveling the back-roads of Monroe County. They have a son Colton, who works in video production in Kansas City.

Facilities Staff:  Mark Blevins, Lori Weltig, Dean Hirsch