Rev. Jen Tyler
Senior Pastor

I have had the privilege of being the Senior Pastor of First Church since July 2020. Before coming to Watertown I served churches in Wahpeton, ND and Clark and Garden City, SD.

For me, the joy of ministry is rooted in my love of missions, heart for people, and passion for understanding and engaging contextual ministry. As the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, I do that by overseeing the spiritual care and growth of our congregation and community. Specifically, that means I get to work alongside and support all of our other staff, serve as the primary speaker in worship, work with our Leadership Team to set and implement our congregation’s vision, and help our congregation be good stewards of all of our resources including time, talent, and finances. While I grew up in southeast South Dakota in a large family (I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers), my work and studies have also taken me all over the world. I have a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL), an MBA from Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell, SD), and a BA in Sociology from Simpson College (Indianola, IA). Prior to ordination, I also served as a United Methodist missionary in South Africa and Washington, DC. I live in Watertown with my dog Shaggy who loves to join me on long walks, adventurous hikes, or a day out snow shoeing. When I’m not busy in the local church or cuddling with my dog, I also love sharing stories over cups of (good, strong!) coffee, traveling, or riding my bike.
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Rev. Bryce Blank
Associate Pastor

I am excited and honored to have served as the Associate Pastor at First Church since July of 2022. This is my first appointment out of seminary, but I have previously served in a variety of ministry settings which most recently included serving as a Youth Pastor/Intern at Christ UMC in Farmers Branch, TX. I also interned at South Canyon Lutheran Church in my hometown of Rapid City, SD, and the UMC churches in Plankinton and White Lake, SD. In the summer of 2019, I served as the chaplain at Lake Poinsett Summer Camp.

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Rev. Elmer Brinkman
On Call Pastor
Pearl Geffre
Office Manager

Hello, I’ve had the privilege of being the Office Manager here at First Church since 2012.  My job is never dull as there is always something new and interesting that needs to be done or questions that need to be answered.  And, if I don’t know the answer, I’m happy to go on a quest till I find it for you.

My husband, Marty and I have 2 wonderful kids and 3 awesome grandchildren. They all keep us hopping and on the go with school and sports activities and family game nights. When I’m not hanging with the kiddos I love to read, quilt or paint. But my favorite past time is when we go out to the Black Hills and can hike in the beauty of God’s creation!
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Lucas Severson
Director of Worship & Discipleship

Hi, I’m Lucas Severson. I am the Director of Worship and Discipleship at FirstChurch. I began serving with the church as a staff member since 2018. Prior to that, I served as a worship director in Brookings SD for the better part of a decade. I have also had the pleasure of being part of a church plant in Indiana.

I enjoy creating experiences that engage people and welcome all. To help the Gospel be heard by as many different people as possible, I utilize my upbringing and blend it well with technology. My church history and experience span from small-town South Dakota Lutheran church to large, modern Wesleyan church. I believe this blend helps me stay grounded as well as look toward the future of what a church community can be. My hope is that people can recognize that worship isn’t “only-this” or “never-that;” that worship isn’t just a “Sunday” thing, but a lifestyle. I grew up in northeast South Dakota on a farm, and although I have 8 siblings, most were graduated and out of the house before I was born. I grew up with a love for music as my parents were in a country cover band together for many years. My love of music and art lends itself to a plethora of pastimes. I spend time singing and playing guitar, video games, and I get hooked on good storytelling in movies. I also enjoy big visuals in movies and tv shows and spend time researching details about “how they filmed that,” or share “did you know…” type movie facts. I met my wife Bethany in college, and we bonded over scary movies and pizza. We got married in 2009, and we have 3 daughters. We’re always on-the-go, but always make time for singing, jokes, and the occasional jump-scare. Most of my free time is spent getting the girls to all their activities and sometimes just sitting with them and doing nothing. I really enjoy being a dad, but I’m also glad when Bethany suggests a “girls night” to give me a break from so many girls.
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Steve Lindner
Custodian
Blair Titze
Music Director, Choir Director, Organist
Renae Mack
Bell Choir Director

Hello!  My name is Renae Mack.  I am the Bell Choir Director at First Church and have been making music with my “Ding-a-lings” since 1986! Music is a great way to praise, worship, express one’s faith and communicate with God.  It seems to be a perfect fit for me to direct Bells;  to draw myself and others closer to Christ.

While growing up, I participated in a variety of musical groups; eventually making the cello and teaching strings my forte. In 2008, I retired from 33 years of teaching elementary strings and directing the High School orchestra in Watertown. My husband, Gary, and I enjoy traveling. Each year we try to experience a new location in the U.S. or foreign country. We cheer the SDSU Jackrabbits in football and basketball. In the summertime, I tend my garden and flowers, go for daily walks, ride bike, and buzz around in my little red convertible (The Red Pepper). Cooking, entertaining, quilting, water aerobics and playing cello for church or in a string quartet for weddings, are other favorite to dos.
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Lesa Dahl
Organist
Heidi Steffensen
Nursery Coordinator

Hi! I’m Heidi Steffensen. I am one of the Nursery Care Coordinators here at First Church. My role in this position is to schedule nursery caregivers to spend time with our young children (ages 4 and younger) during church services and Wednesday night activities.

My love for young children led me to be a primary teacher for 32 years. Teaching brought me complete joy as I watched young children discover the joy of learning. It was amazing how each year the children became “my own”. My husband, Tim, was also an educator so it was a joy to share the profession together. After we retired from education, Tim and I purchased a home on Lake Kampeska. While our dream was to always live by a lake, it was actually our daughters, Sabrina Valsvig and Lauren Olerud, who enticed us to make the move to Watertown. We enjoy spending time with the girls’ families but especially the five grandchildren that they’ve given us. We are also able to spend time with our son, Andrew, and his family who live in Canton, SD. His children keep us busy traveling to their school activities as well as watching Andrew coach. Andrew is also a teacher so his family is able to spend more time in the summer at the lake with us. For Tim and I family is everything. We are so thankful for the blessed family God has given us.
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Jeanne Paulson
Nursery Coordinator
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