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 Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL. 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
Pastor 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 Pastor 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.
Pastor 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"
Administrator: Mark Emannuelson
Mark was born and raised in Burnsville, Minnesota, just south of the Twin Cities. He graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul with a Communications degree and has had a wide variety of occupational opportunities. Those opportunities range from drafting in an engineering firm to electrical contracting to church administration to Environment of Care Director at a skilled nursing facility and now back to church administration. Mark is married to his wife, Diane, and together they have 4 grown boys, 2 daughter-in-law’s and 6 grandchildren. Mark enjoys the outdoors, woodworking, yardwork and gardening. Mark’s favorite verse is Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
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.
Digital and Social Media Coordinator: Yanan Melo
Yanan is a missionary’s kid from the Philippines who desires to serve God through the creative arts. He is an artist by nature, strongly influenced by cinema and music. He hopes to be able to use creativity and artistry in the advancement of God’s amazing gospel at First Church, in Lansing, and other surrounding communities. He enjoys spending a lot of his free time with reading the Bible, coffee, and folk music. The Bible verse that is most influential to him is Psalm 18:28, “My God turns my darkness into light." Yanan’s hobbies include songwriting, listening to live music, collecting vinyl, watching movies, screenwriting, reading, and has discovered a newfound love for baseball (go, Cubs!).