Rev. Joe Johnson

Rev. Joseph A. Johnson, Pastor

I was born in rural Indiana.  I was baptized and confirmed in my local United Methodist Church.  I enjoyed participating in many activities: vacation Bible school, United Methodist Youth Fellowship and helping my grandmother make coleslaw for the annual bazaar.

After graduating from high school, I attended Indiana and Purdue Universities.  Purdue University granted me a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.  I felt called to explore ordained ministry and enrolled at The Iliff School of Theology.  This world overwhelmed me, so I worked as process engineer for Delco Electronics in Kokomo, IN.  You can’t hide from God, not even behind an electroplater in central Indiana.  Jonah couldn’t do nor could I.

With the support of family, friends and the church, I returned to Iliff and completed my studies.  Bishop C. Joseph Sprague ordained me in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference.  My ministry has privileged me with the opportunity to serve UM churches in Dixon, Chicago and now Elmhurst.

When I am not serving the good people of Elmhurst, you may find me at a band rehearsal at Elmhurst College, conducting a breeding bird survey, monitoring plants, cooking or canning something.

Pax tecum.  +

Phone:(630) 834-2440, Ext. 101

Liz McDonald

Liz McDonald, Church Administrator

Phone:(630) 834-2440, Ext. 100

I grew up in Springfield, Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign with a degree in Liberal Arts. I was among the 0.014% of the student body who majored in Japanese.  I studied in Japan, living with a host family, during my junior year. 

My then-new husband and I moved to Chicago in 1989 and I began working as a bilingual secretary at a Japanese bank. From there I transitioned into the field of international trade finance and enjoyed a rewarding career in product management. Several mergers later, I took some time off for parental leave. During my hiatus I made the decision to pursue a career in professional office administration, and have found a great place to work in this wonderful church.  

I have two daughters who are school-aged and we enjoy living in Elmhurst and taking advantage of all that the community offers. Prior to Elmhurst we lived in the charming Galewood neighborhood on the west side of Chicago.  We enjoy nature, natural sciences, fossil hunting, our pet lizards and cats, music, scouts, and reading.

I’m continually inspired by the good work done here at First United Methodist, the amount of dedication and faith that moves the congregation forward, and their conscious commitment to “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors”.


Ruth Zervas

Ruth Zervas, Director of Christian Education

Phone:(630) 834-2440, Ext. 102

Biography: I grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended Ingleside Methodist Church during my childhood and teenage years.  The church was small but active, and gave me a sense of the importance of being nurtured by a church family.  I have a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology and a minor in religion from Illinois Wesleyan University, and a Master’s Degree in elementary education from Pennsylvania State University.  I worked for two years for the Department of Children and Family Services in Chicago and for ten years teaching 3rd and 4th grade in three different school districts in the northern suburbs before leaving the school system to raise my two children.  I have served as the Christian Education Director at First UMC since 1994.

Interests/Pets/Hobbies: I love to read, especially mysteries and fantasy fiction.  I  love dogs and presently enjoy the energetic company of my 5-year-old Labrador/pointer mix Zoe. I am also a sports fan and in particular a long-suffering but ever hopeful Chicago Cubs fan.

Persons who influenced my life: Certainly one of them would be the Methodist pastor of my teen years, who encouraged me to examine my faith to make it relevant to my spiritual journey.  My late husband Nick was the anchor of my life as we partnered together in our 33-year marriage and as we raised our daughter and son, Mary Jo and Jim.

What I like about my job: The opportunity to work closely with all of the people in this wonderful church family, from small children to adults, in planning and implementing our educational ministries continues to be a joyful challenge for me.


Doug Peters, Director of Music

I was born and raised in Little Silver, New Jersey and moved to the Chicago area in 2011. Before arriving at FUMC, I was the music director and choir master at Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland while pursuing bachelor’s degrees in music education and voice performance at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, as well as the music director at English Congregational United Church of Christ in Big Rock.

In addition to leading music here at First Church, I am currently a regular member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and also sing with the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Music Festival, and the St. Charles Singers. I have performed as a young artist and soloist with the Sarasota Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Baltimore Opera, and am a frequent soloist with the St. Charles Singers.

Aside from loving all different types of music, I am an avid hockey and New York Islanders fan. I live with my beautiful girlfriend Kayla in Logan Square, and we have an awesome 3 year old boxer/poodle named Lucy who has the energy of a toddler who drinks coffee.

The best part about being music director at FUMC is being allowed to share the beautiful sacred music of the greatest composers with my choirs and the congregation. Being the director instead of a singer gives me the opportunity to share my musical ideas and inspirations, which I hope brings an even deeper spiritual connection to the parish.


Lisa Rogers

Lisa Rogers, Director of Youth Ministry

Phone:(630) 834-2440, Ext. 103

Biography: I grew up in nearby Downers Grove and attended Downers Grove South High School. I married my high school sweetheart at the First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois and a Masters Degree in Music Education from Concordia University. I taught elementary and middle school band for eight years before the birth of my oldest daughter, Becca. I then became a stay at home mom and truly love being home to raise both of my daughters, Becca and Emma. I took the Director of Youth Ministries position at First Church in the Winter of 2007 and have been enjoying it very much.

Interests/Pets/Hobbies: My favorite hobby is music and I play the clarinet and bass clarinet when I get the chance. I play volleyball on a co-rec volleyball team with my husband Jim and other friends. Our whole family loves to play with our cats Frisky and Tigger.  My husband and both daughters love to sing and are all members of the Spirito! Singers organization, but since singing is not my forte, I support my singers by serving on the board of directors for Spirito! Singers.  In my spare time, I enjoy scrapbooking, working out and listening to music.

The person who influenced me most in my life:
I had several teachers in my life who influenced me and encouraged me to work harder to achieve my goals. More recently my children, husband and First Church have all influenced me and made me strive to be a better person.

What I like most about my job: What’s not to like? I am surrounded by amazing young people who bring wonderful ideas and enthusiasm to everything they do. We play games, go shopping, eat, share ideas, do mission work, eat, go skiing, share fellowship, pray, oh, and did I mention, eat. Our First Church youth are invigorating to be around and I feel blessed to have such a great job.

Mike Capra, Custodial Services

Phone:(630) 834-2440

Jennifer Jordan, Financial Services

Phone:(630) 834-2440