Rev. Julie Kline
Rev. Matt Weiler
Pastor of Community Formation
Minister of Music
Director of Business Administration
Ruth LaMachia came to Kalamazoo First in September 2012 from Perrow Church in Cross Lanes, West Virginia where she also served as their Church Business Administrator. Before that, she spent 25 years as an administrator and manager in the insurance industry in Connecticut and West Virginia. She is originally from the Chicago area and her father, a former minister, is from Port Huron so she spent much time growing up visiting family in Michigan. Ruth lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Bill and their two dogs. She has two adult children, Elizabeth and Justin, and a granddaughter, Imogen.
Director of Children & Families Ministries
Director of Congregational Care
He attended Central Michigan University where he was active in the Wesley Foundation. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, Thom moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend Candler School of Theology (Emory University) where he enjoyed interning as a hospital chaplain and exploring the theology of disability. In addition to his studies, Thom served in music ministries as praise band director, guitarist, and gospel choir member.
Thom joined Kalamazoo First United Methodist Church in 2014 after returned home. Since 2016 Thom has served in a variety of roles including office assistant, security staff, pastoral care volunteer, tech troubleshooter, and facilitator of the satellite worship services at the Fountains, Heritage Community, and Friendship Village.
In his spare time, Thom enjoys working on computers, playing guitar, photo and video editing, hanging out with his cat sidekick Maggie and serving as a member of the Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.
Vickee’s mother gave her children the gift of music and the gift of valuing education. In recent years, Vickee has been in the Chancel Choir and the hand bell choir. As a part of her interest in education and mission outreach, Vickee worked for a year in 2016 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at an international Methodist school. For her, the highlight of the job there was working with three year olds. On the weekends, she was the teen supervisor in the boarding school. On Saturdays, they would take the students all over the island which gave Vickee a chance to see different natural areas and cultural sights.
Although she has worked in different volunteer and paid capacities at the church, including going on ASP trips with the youth, Vickee currently is the church’s lead custodian. Off the job, she enjoys the outdoors, especially kayaking. She has four children and many grandchildren.
Youth and Young Adult Resident
Mandakini joined our staff the end of August 2021 after previously working at Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes. She and her husband Jason live in Kalamazoo with their cat, Moomer. Mandakini is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she got her undergrad in Advertising. She is currently in the master’s program at Western Michigan University to become a licensed therapist, specializing in trauma. Along with this she is interning at CTAC (Children’s Trauma Assessment Center). In her free time Mandakini enjoys playing music, writing, reading and knowing people on deeper levels.
According to Austen, because the building is so large, it has taken time to get acquainted with the layout. He now feels he understands the hows and whys of the church building and that helps him prioritize the tasks he needs to do.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his young daughter. He also likes fishing, working on his car and relaxing with friends.
Not long ago, Sara and her partner moved to Baltimore, Maryland. If you’ve spotted her during Coffeehouse worship, you will have seen the Brewer’s Hill skyline and the Patapsco River. Sara has also been working on some freelance editing projects, most recently for the Michigan Region of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. She’s in a vocational discernment process with her local church. In her free time, Sara does yoga and enjoys walking along the beautiful Baltimore harbor. She considers it a privilege to work with the talented volunteers at First Church, even from a distance.
Administrative Partner in Ministry
Bethany joined our staff in 2020 to share the story of FUMC Kalamazoo and all the wonderful ways our congregation works together to help the community. She grew up near Hickory Corners and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting from Western Michigan University. She has worked in arts marketing and health care marketing and, in recent years, has spent a lot of time on digital marketing and social media. In her spare time, she loves to read, watch movies and go for neighborhood walks with her family. She’s proud to call Kalamazoo home with her husband, two children and their Boston Terriers, Otis and Elmer.
When Bernie is not at church, he enjoys spending his time gardening, cooking and restoring old houses. Bernie lives in a Victorian house in Kalamazoo with Teaberry the Cat.
Security and Parish Nurse
Because her father was a United Methodist pastor, Robin grew up in West Michigan churches, moving roughly every four years. She’d always wanted to be a nurse, and in 1985, she started a nursing program at Kalamazoo’s Nazareth College, graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
During her years at Nazareth, she made several close friends and began to be interested in spiritual development. Because of this, Robin was sometimes asked to pray with patients or their families in the cancer unit where she worked. As time passed, she realized she also had a special interest in treating dementia patients.
Robin began visiting First Church in 2001 and immediately decided to join the Companions in Christ program because of its focus on spiritual formation. The program’s emphasis on prayer fit well with Robin’s priorities. In her work at First Church’s security desk, she often prays with people who come to the church looking for help.
The role of parish nurse was appealing to her since it combined nursing and spirituality. In 2006 the church made it possible for Robin to attend a parish nurse program at Nazareth College. She received her certification that summer and began the volunteer position of parish nurse for First Church.
Since joining the church in 2002, Robin has worked in the office and also as a security person for First Care. She aims to be a spiritual presence in every setting, whether welcoming the young children who come to the day care program or helping people who phone the church.
Lead Audio-Video Technician
He was instrumental in the church’s transition to livestream worship during the Covid pandemic. Both the congregation and staff are grateful for Casey’s talent and skill in making meaningful online worship possible.