Our staff is devoted to carrying out the mission of helping others in the name of Christ. Contact one of our pastors or staff members with questions about First Church


Pastor Lisa Kruse-Safford

Lead Pastor

Lisa began following Jesus while in college. After graduation from NIU with a degree in Finance in 1990, she became a young adult missionary called a US-2.Read MoreShe served two years at Wilson Inn, a boarding house for women in crisis, in Richmond, VA.  Then, upon hearing her call to pastoral ministry, she began seminary at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC in 1992.  There she not only gained her Masters of Divinity, but met and married her husband, Geoffrey.  Lisa has served in a variety of locations as a United Methodist pastor: Centenary UMC in Jarratt, Virginia for 5 years; Community UMC in LaMoille, IL for 5 years; Poplar Grove UMC in Poplar Grove, IL for 6 years; Cornerstone UMC in Elgin, IL for 3 years; as the Rockford District Superintendent for 6 years; and at First Church in Crystal Lake since 2019.  She has two young-adult daughters: Moriah and Miriam –her heroes in life.  Lisa, Moriah and Miriam grieve the passing of Geoffrey in 2020. A few fun facts about Lisa:  she can still turn a line of cartwheels from her cheerleading days; she loves to bake pie; and she shares her life and home with Mika (a border collie mix), Leo (a Great Dane) and Emma (a gray tabby cat).


Katrina Jackson

Director of Worship

Katrina has been on First Church staff since 2000. She started as the Director of Traditional Worship and in 2011, became the Director of Worship.Read MoreHer responsibilities have continued to expand over the course of her ministry and she is now the Director of Connectional Ministries as well as Worship. Along with leading and overseeing worship, she oversees our guest connections, hospitality, and tech ministries. Katrina graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy from Eastern Illinois University and went on to do her Master’s in the same field. She has had a passion, calling, and involvement in and for ministry most of her life and she feels incredibly blessed to be able to use her gifts and talents for God’s Kingdom. Her hobbies include her family, reading, outdoor activities, and video games.

Tyler Hughes

Director of Young Adult Ministries & Ignite Service Worship Leader

Tyler has been on First Church staff since 2015 leading in the areas of adult ministry, small groups, worship, and communications. Read MoreHe graduated from Lincoln Christian University with a bachelor’s in Preaching Ministry and has been serving faithfully in the church since 2003. He has a particular passion for teaching and communication and you’ll find him involved in a wide variety of ministry and leadership area of First Church.

Karen Klaus

Director of Spiritual Development and Family Ministries

Karen joined the First Church staff in October of 2015 as the Director for Spiritual Development and Family Ministry.Read MoreKaren leads Kids First, our children’s ministry, supervises the First Church Preschool and coordinates family ministry initiatives including Vacation Bible School, Buddy Break (a respite care for families with special needs) and several outreach events to families in our community. Karen is passionate about helping next generations connect with our great big God who loves us! Karen comes to us from her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio (via Great Falls, Montana), where she earned degrees in Early Childhood Education and Family Psychology from Notre Dame College. Karen is a proud mom to her adult daughter, Kelsey, who lives and works in Mukwonago, WI at a Christian Camp. Karen enjoys ministry seminars and conferences to keep practices current and fresh in her areas of leadership. She also has a great love of music; she studied vocal performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Karen sings in church on occasion and with Voices in Harmony, a premiere community choir.

Isaac Mahler

Director of Youth Ministry

Isaac feels privileged to be the Director of Youth Ministry at First Church.Read MoreProfessionally, he has worked in youth ministry at churches of all shapes and sizes for most of his adult life and has found a home within the Methodist denomination. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University and completed his MDIV degree from Evangelical Seminary in 2020. On a personal level, Isaac loves spending time with his wife, Megan, and his three kids, Dawson, Nolan and Lindleigh. His favorite thing to do is to take his family out on their little boat to surf and have fun. He credits growing up in Hawaii and San Diego for his love of the water and his laid-back personality.

Bill Muilkens

Director of Congregational Care

Bill hails from New Jersey, where he graduated college with a Computer Science degree and began his career with Motorola. Read MoreThat brought him to IL, where he eventually retired from Motorola. While pursuing development of his own company, Bill was called to ministry. He graduated from seminary in 2004 and served as Pastor of Ringwood and Greenwood Methodist churches before moving on to become a Chaplain with the Centegra Hospital system as well as volunteering as Chaplain with the Woodstock Fire Rescue District. Bill and his wife, Tara, have been members of our church for quite some time and Bill was thrilled to become our Director of Congregational Care in May of 2021. A fun fact about Bill is that he became an Eagle Scout at age 14!

Jeanna Francis

Office Manager

Jeanna and her family have been attending First Church since 2015 and she has been the Office Manager since May 2021.Read MoreJeanna is the third generation of her family to grow up in Crystal Lake. She then graduated from Northern Illinois University (where she met her husband) with a degree in Human Resources. Jeanna worked in Human Resources for ten years before being a stay-at-home mom for many years. During her stay-at-home years, she enjoyed volunteering at our church in various capacities. In her spare time, Jeanna likes learning about local history.

Melissa Wolf

Hospitality Coordinator

Melissa is our Hospitality Coordinator. She has been happily married for 29 years and has five beautiful children and a precious granddaughter. Read MoreShe and her husband have been members at First Church for over 30 years. All of their children were baptized, confirmed and attended preschool here. Melissa was so happy to join the staff team in 2019, where she is able to share her love of hospitality with her church. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her family in their motorhome or just relaxing at home with a movie or a good book.

Hailey Veath

Finance Manager

Our Finance Manager, Hailey, grew up in Cary and went to Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake. Read MoreThere, she was very involved in music, theater, and business. In 2015, she graduated and moved down to Muncie, Indiana to attend Ball State University (Go Cardinals!). She received her bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Risk Management/Insurance and stuck around to finish her master’s degree in 2020. After graduating, Hailey moved back home to Cary and began the process of finding a job that would allow her to use her talents and invest herself in a place where she could learn and grow. Hailey reports that First Church continues to exceed her expectations. She most enjoys the sense of community and family here. When not working, Hailey loves to shop at secondhand stores. She might be a numbers person, but she’s also a fashion-ista.

David Bristol

Audio/Visual Technician.

Mary Pedersen

Preschool Director

Kelly Miller

Sunday Nursery Supervisor

Rich Kness


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