Pastor: Joseph O'Donnell
Pr. O’Donnell served as the Vicar of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Durham, North Carolina from 2015-2016, Interim Pastor of Adams and Argyle Lutheran Churches of Argyle Wisconsin, 2016-2017, and Senior Pastor of St, Paul Lutheran Church of Dixon, Illinois, 2017-2022 before accepting the call to serve alongside the people First English and Heart Prairie Lutheran Churches here in Whitewater. He received a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 2016, after seventeen years working in business and finance, during which he was certified in the Prepare/Enrich Marriage Counseling system (based on Bowen Family Systems Theory).
Through his ministry he has enjoyed the support of his family. Married to wife Rebecca in 2004, they have two children – Jay and Sam.
Rev. Joseph O’Donnell received his BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Classical Humanities (Greek emphasis), Hebrew & Semitic Studies, Religious Studies, Middle Easter Studies (Islam emphasis), and Jewish Studies. During undergrad, he served for three years, including a fellowship, in the Interfaith Student Forum of the Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions and participated in the Tel-Hesi archeological dig in Israel.
Office Manager: Tammy Hedrick
Tammy was born in East Troy, Wisconsin and grew up, not only in Wisconsin, but also North Dakota, Wyoming, and Michigan. She has been a resident of Fort Atkinson since 1994, where she resides on a hobby farm with her husband, 2 sons, and a small herd of sheep. Tammy has a professional background in the legal field, education, and retail management. She grew up in the Lutheran church and is a member of Trinity English Lutheran Church in Fort Atkinson. Tammy feels blessed to serve the First English congregation and share her Christian faith.
Director of Music: Dr. Sarah Read Gehrenbeck
Sarah is our Music Director and Organist, and is happy to worship with us on a weekly basis! She hails from a variety of places; Maine, Chicago, Dallas, and Boston. She met my husband while rehearsing a Cantata by J.S. Bach (Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4). God has blessed them with two boys.
She teaches piano and organ lessons privately, in Whitewater, in addition to her duties at FELC. Her area of study includes early American shape-note hymnody, and the organ music it has inspired. Her degrees include a Bachelor of Music (piano) from Boston University, a M.M. (organ) from Indiana University, with concentrations in church music and historical performance and a PhD in Music Organ performance. She loves being able to share all sorts of music at FELC, and is thankful for your support as we all grow together, in Christ. Soli Deo Gloria- all for the glory of God!
Praise Band Director: Jay Craggs
Jay has a passion for music. As a guitarist, composer, and tech consultant Jay has performed across North America. He has worked with others passionate about music including Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Buddy Rich, Kansas, Phil Collen, Rich Little, and Night Ranger. He’s assisted the tours of Rush, Prince, David Bowie, Lou Reed and others. His engineering skills were recognized n the 2010 International Emmy Award winning “The World According to Ion B" for HBO Romania.
Jay has a passion for teaching. He has nationally presented many clinics, performances, and lectures. and has developed curriculum and taught courses for Columbia College Chicago, Madison Media Institute, and UW-Whitewater. Jay's received a Bachelor of Music Education (UW-Whitewater), and a Masters Degree in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management (Columbia College Chicago).
Jay also enjoys time with family. He and his wife Jan live walking distance to 1st English where they were married 27 years ago. Both enjoy time outside together- usually with animals - and work on campus at UW-Whitewater.
Technology Support Coordinator: Mike Inloes
Financial Secretary: Tricia Borchardt
Tricia was hired as the Financial Secretary for FELC in 2019 after volunteering in the church office for several months. She moved to Whitewater from Madison in 1990 after building their home just outside of town. Her family joined FELC as members within months of relocating. She and Bruce have been married for 39 years and have three grown children as well as a daughter and son-in-laws and five grandchildren, ages 7(2), 5, and 2(2), including one set of twins.
When not at work, Tricia enjoys gardening, being creative and paddling around the lake with the grandkids and family. She is also an animal lover who has fostered dogs and has two rescued dogs, Baxter and Poncho.
Prior to joining the staff at FELC, Tricia worked at UW-W for 19 years, retiring from her position an Computer Science in 2018. She was very proud to help the department grow from a program within the Math Department to a department of its own (which also housed a Master’s Degree program).
Tricia enjoys her work at FELC and considers it an honor and a privilege to serve the members of the congregation.