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Susan JuengerChurch Administrative Assistant
Julie Daab is married to Jeff; they have two children, Hanna and Levi. Julie teaches the third grade in the New Athens school district.
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Steve JacksonPraise Band Director
St. John is fortunate to have several people on call to play our pipe organ for traditional worship at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Of that group, Paul Bickel, with twenty years experience playing at St. John’s, has the most musical seniority. Paul is also the accompanist for the Quarterly Choir. When “Common Lot” came on the scene about five years ago, Paul expanded his duties to play piano for that group as well. Besides being an amazing pianist and organist, Paul is the retired director of the Freeburg school district’s grade school band program.
When not keeping worship humming alone in tune and in good time, Paul operates a large farming operation. He also recently obtained his pilot’s license. He’s married to Bonnie, and they have two sons, Alex and Zach. Paul (and the rest of his family) also enjoys spending free weekends at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Tiffany RiesDirector, New Beginnings Daycare
Tom Drake was hired as the St. John custodian in 2002. He’s responsible for the everyday cleaning and maintenance tasks, a tough job in a place that sees as much traffic as St. John’s does during the week. Tom is married to Amy (the church hand bell choir director). They have two children, Jordan and Julia. Tom’s full time job is that of a prison guard at Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois. His hobbies include sleeping (he never gets enough, working two jobs!), yard work, listening to and performing music, and enjoying life with his family.
Tom DrakeJanitorial Services
Dr. Robert Koch, the pastor at St. John’s, was born in Columbia, Illinois and educated in the public school system there. After graduating in 1974, he attended McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, where he received his Bachelor’s degree, double majoring in English and Religion. Bob received a full tuition scholarship and teaching assistantship at Northwestern University, where he majored in the History and Literature of Religions, focusing on comparative studies in Theravada Buddhism and Christianity. After completing his Master’s degree at Northwestern, Bob attended Garrett Evangelical Seminary, earning his Master of Theological Studies degree.
While at his first yoked parish of Zion (New Design) and St. John (Fults) in the Illinois South Conference of the United Church, Bob completed his doctoral dissertation and was awarded a Ph.D. from Northwestern in 1988.
Bob has been the pastor at St. John’s since 1989. Under his leadership, our congregation has grown both in overall membership and attendance. Bob helped initiate televised worship services to the New Athens Home for Aged, brought our congregation into the Family Care Ministry, and brought student pastors from Eden Seminary into our family of faith. He was instrumental in the founding of New Beginnings Daycare, and worked hard to introduce contemporary worship to our congregation.
Bob has been active in the community life of New Athens as well, chairing the local Parents’ Club for many years, founding and chairing our school district’s After Prom event, organizing community wide dances for Junior High age young people, and chairing CESNA (Church Emergency Services of New Athens).
While at St. John’s, Bob also encouraged the construction of a new addition, and most recently worked with the Church Council as well as a special committee to redecorate our sanctuary and carry out a host of other building improvement projects.
Asked about his philosophy of ministry, Bob said: “I remember a professor at Northwestern who said all of our education as graduate students was useless if we couldn’t explain our studies to a kindergartener. The same applies to me at St. John’s. I’m worthless as a pastor if I can’t share the good news of Jesus Christ in ways people can understand. Jesus reached out using everyday language and met people where they lived. We Christians today have to do the same.