Support Staff

Dr. Nathan Birkholz, Organist, Downtown Site Music Director (        Nathan Birkholz holds degrees in piano performance from Northern Illinois University (B.M.), Indiana University (M.M.), and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (D.M.A.), with minor fields of study in conducting, French, and musicology. He studied organ with the late Frank Rippl of Appleton. He sang in the Appleton Boychoir as a child, an experience which defined much of his early musical training. He has served as pianist at St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Urbana, Illinois, and played for mid-week worship services at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Before coming to First English, he was organist and pianist at Zion Lutheran Church of Appleton. He has served on the keyboard faculty of Ripon College and currently works as a staff pianist in the voice area at Lawrence University of Appleton. 



Dianne Droster, Caring Ministries Coordinator (
Dianne graduated from Lawrence University and received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College.  She trained as a Stephen minister with FELC’s initial class, attended Lay Ministry school, and has enjoyed her church adventures with God’s children of all ages, from the young to the young at heart. She is now enrolled in seminary. In her role as Caring Ministries Coordinator, she oversees our Stephen Ministry program, shares with the pastors in visiting the hospitalized and homebound, and looks for opportunities to expand the congregation’s caring ministries. 


AJ Frea, Fellowship Coordinator (
AJ has been a member of FELC for nearly five years. He is presently employed in the hospitality industry and works and resides in Green Bay. Music, kayacking, gardening and outdoor activities are a few of his hobbies. FV symphony, PAC shows and of course GREEN BAY PACKERS are always priorities. He is currently on the board of The Arthur Krempin School of Music & Arts. Says AJ: "God has given each of us a unique gift, and mine is assisting people, serving the Lord, and taking time to breathe and enjoy everything in this beautiful world."


Jeanne Gronholm, Administrative Assistant and Life Group Ministry Coordinator (
Jeanne and her husband, Mike, relocated to the Fox Valley area for Mike’s new job in November 2010 after 24 years in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Before moving to Wisconsin, Jeanne was a church administrator for Maple Grove Lutheran Church.  She worked part-time for First English at the Downtown site until February 2015 when she left for a full-time position in customer service. Upon rejoining the First English staff full time in April 2018, her duties are Administrative Assistant at the Downtown Site and Life Group Coordinator.

Kathy Hoffman, Manager of Echoes, a Christian Thrift Store (
Kathy has been the manager of Echoes since 2005. She and her family have been church members since 1991. Her main duties involve both managing and growing this mission opportunity.
Kristy Howard, Office/Worship Support and Accounts Payable (         Kristy grew up in Appleton and was baptized and confirmed at Prince of Peace. Kristy holds a degree in Human Resource Management from UW-Whitewater and a Master’s in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee as well as a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While working in Milwaukee, Kristy met her husband, Shannon, originally from Kansas. They have two daughters and have been members of First English since January 2000. Prior to joining the FELC staff, Kristy worked in corporate Human Resources as well as for a software development company supporting and training on employee benefits related products. Kristy has been working for First English since May of 2008. In addition to greeting guests visiting or calling the office, Kristy is responsible for producing the weekly worship bulletins, posting member donations and processing invoices.        
Meri Hujet, Communications Coordinator (
Meri and her husband Chuck joined First English in 1986.  They have two children.  Meri has worked in this part-time position since 2009.  Her main duties include producing the weekly announcements and monthly newsletter, as well as updating the FELC website.

Karen Kneisler, Welcome Host (                                                             Karen and her husband, Merle, joined FELC in 2017 and they have been excited to become active in the life of the congregation.  They live in Seymour, are Luther College grads and have two children, Dan and Katie. Karen’s main duties are to welcome and connect with those who wish to join FELC, and to schedule and coordinate New Member classes.


Bruce Koestner, Wednesday Worship Music Leader (
Bruce is originally from the Chicago area and received a music degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He has been the music director for Christus Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Greenville for about 25 years and is happy to be a part of the First English Wednesday evening worship services.  Bruce also teaches piano students at Heid Music in addition to performing at other venues in the Fox Valley area.    


Kathy Larson, Discipleship Coordinator (
Kathy and her husband Gary have been members at FELC since Sept. of 1988. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Retiring from Thrivent Financial after 25 years, Kathy felt a strong calling to serve others and was thankful for an opportunity to join the FELC staff as a Discipleship Coordinator. Her main responsibilities include working together with the Discipleship Pastor and the Congregational Life Ministry Team to foster the discovery of one’s personal call and empower people to live out that call in their personal lives, our congregation, our community and the world.  Kathy is also responsible for managing the FELC Wedding Ministry.  


Rodney McComb, North Site Music Leader (
Rodney's start in serving the church with music goes back to his middle school years where he started singing in his church's adult choir. Rodney has a passion for encouraging youth (and adults) to discover God's musical gifts and use them in service to the Church. He went to school at both Waldorf and Wartburg Colleges where he received a Bachelor's in Music Therapy and Music Education. Since college, he has played and sang in a number of worship bands and youth retreat bands over the years. Rodney enjoys learning new instruments and is excited when he can use them in worship. Lastly, he has a hobby of discovering classical composers that have written music for the Lutheran church and likes to explore music in early Lutheran worship.

Kirsten Owens, Faith Formation Coordinator (
Kirsten and her husband Dave live in Appleton with their two children and are First English members.  Kirsten was confirmed at First English and has been a member for close to thirty years.  In the past, she has volunteered in various capacities at First English. Her duties in this role include curriculum and program development, and organizational support for the Confirmation program.

Heidi Schreiner, Youth and Summer Ministry Coordinator (               Heidi is from Appleton and grew up attending FELC. Heidi's role incorporates two positions, that of Youth Coordinator and Summer Ministry Coordinator. In her Youth Coordinator position, she facilitates programs and trips for high school students. In her Summer Ministry Coordinator position she supervises and supports the Summer Interns and their ministries.  Heidi has stepped into the role in 2013 after three years as a FELC Summer Intern and graduating from St. Thomas University with a degree in Community Health Education.


Brenda Smongeski, Church Administrator (
Brenda has been attending First English since September 2001 upon moving to the Fox Valley with her children Kate and Bill. With over 20 years of experience in the mutual fund industry and banking, Brenda assumed the role of Church Administrator and has been on staff at First English since 2002. As a member of the Lead Staff, her primary responsibilities include overseeing the administration of the church’s finances and properties, along with personnel and office management. Being the staff liaison for the Finance Committee, Brenda also serves on the Endowment, Property Oversight, Personnel, Arts & Environment, and Stewardship committees, and Intern Enrichment Ministry Team.