The staff at First Church is called to serve us as we honor God by becoming and making fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We hope you'll enjoy reading a little bit about them here. Please feel free to stop in the office to say "hello!" and introduce yourself.
Lead Pastor: Pastor Ben Kappers
Pastor Ben has been pastor here since June of 2013. He is married to Melanie, and they have four children: Caleb, Grace, Anna, and Andrew. Pastor Ben graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS in 2011 and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree from Ligonier Academy in Sanford, Florida. Pastor Ben and Melanie enjoy playing games and having people in their home. Pastor Ben also enjoys watching the Cubs, keeping up on current events, and playing fantasy football. Pastor Ben's desire is that the Lord would use him to impart to Christ's church a deeper love for and obedience to God through his ministry.
Associate Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship: Pastor Ernesto Fernandez
Ernesto was born in Cuba and his family emigrated from there to the US in 1970 on one of the last of the Freedom Flights, which provided for a legal exit from Cuba after the Revolution. Ernesto (BA in Biblical Studies from Toccoa Falls College, MA in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary) served nine years as a Church Planting Pastor for an Hispanic PCA congregation and also has been an Interim Assistant Pastor of Care before coming to First Church. He is one of very few ordained Hispanic-American pastors serving in the PCA. He enjoys bird watching, kayaking, and hiking with his family.
Awara (whose heart thrills at the call, "Further up and further in!") and Ernesto have been married since 1989 and have two biological daughters, (Kathryn b. 1993 & Amanda Joy b. 1996) and two sons (Benjamin b. 1999 & Cristian b. 2004) whom they adopted from Peru in 2010. Kathryn and her husband Trent blessed them with their first grandchild, Judah, in May 2016.
Ernesto says, "I had the privilege of growing up with a foot in two worlds, and I am keenly aware of the shoulders on which I stand. It is due to the work of Presbyterian Missionaries sent to Cuba, who led my great-grandmother to the Lord, that my family was first introduced to Christ. We are a multi-cultural family unit reflecting the changing demographics here in the US, and, I believe, a picture of the future American church and the kingdom of God! My family came to the US seeking freedom and opportunity as the American Dream offers, and found, not only this, but also citizenship in a greater Kingdom. It is entrance to this Kingdom that I wish to proclaim. 'For me, to live is Christ . . .' Phil 1:21"
Facilities Manager: Ken Wojnarowski
Ken hails from the south suburbs of Chicago, and has a heart for church ministry. He is a jack of all trades, and has spent a lot of time in many different professions, which have all prepared him for his current role as Facilities Manager. He spent the last six years working for Camp Manitoqua and Retreat Center in Frankfort, IL. He did a variety of jobs there, including Outdoor Education Facilitating, Maintenance and upkeep of grounds, Spiritual Development for Summer Programming, and Guest Services. He has a fervent love for the Bible and enjoys particularly the era of David and the Kings that follow David (found in 1 Samuel through 2 Chronicles). Ken enjoys playing Pinochle, hiking, woodworking, losing to Pastor Ben in fantasy football, having Nerf wars, discussing how awesome King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23) was, and teaching others who Jesus is and the wonders that are contained inside the Bible. He is excited to be working for First Church (PCA) and serving our many ministry opportunities.
Director of Music: Cheryl Cassity
Cheryl is a real treat for everyone at First Church, members and visitors alike. She not only assists in worship by playing the organ and piano, but also facilitates our choirs, praise teams, and special music.
Care Pastor: Pastor Jake Dykstra
Pastor Jake Dykstra has been a minister in Christ's church for many years, and he is a real blessing to us here at First Church. He serves the Lord here by visiting the sick, hospitalized, and shut-in with his wonderful wife, Bernice.
Pastoral Intern: Pablo Martinez
Pablo is currently a student at Mid America Reformed Seminary preparing for ministry in the Presbyterian Church in America. He and his wife Sarah live in Dyer and they have two children, Ellena and Benjamin. Pablo is originally from Chile and will be serving at First Church in a variety of ways as we seek to honor God by becoming and making fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Pablo enjoys travelling and enjoying different people and cultures, woodworking and carpentry, and music, particularly heavy metal.
Pastoral Intern: Glem Melo
Glem was converted from drug addiction and worked as a Computer Engineer in Manila, Washington DC, and the Silicon Valley. In 1998, he moved back to the Philippines and married Aymi, a college-mate and 700 Club Asia employee. For 17 years, with missionary co-laborers, he planted and pastored a church, taught more than 500 pastors, trained more than 100 missionaries, formed 2 church planting teams targeting Muslims, and facilitated the deployment of more than 30 missionaries all over Asia. Today, he leads and nurtures 3 church plants in different regions and trains 3 formerly-Pentecostal congregations.
Glem is under the care and an intern of the Potomac Presbytery while in the M.Div. program at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. He hopes that, after his studies, he will be sent out by presbytery as a missionary to the Philippines and work with a team to (1) plant a faithful Presbyterian church in Manila, (2) establish a denomination, and (3) train and send missionaries to plant more churches all over the Philippines and among Muslims in Asia and beyond.