Pastor Russ grew up in Waterloo, IA. He attended Wartburg College in Waverly where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. He served congregations in Nebraska and Wisconsin for 25 years before returning to Iowa as our senior pastor in August of 2017. Pastor Russ and his wife, Susan, are delighted to be back in Iowa and part of the Charles City community.
Linda Hughes is our Business Manager at St. John. Linda sings in Trinity Choir has served on the finance board, and is involved with many of the ministries at St. John. Linda has two grown children and four grandchildren.
Kathy and her family have been long time members of St. John Lutheran Church. She joined the staff as Parish Secretary in 2007. She’s the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone when you call in and she knows what’s happening at St. John. If you have a question about the church – Kathy knows. Kathy is active with the St. John book club.
Laurie D. Heidebrink
Youth and Family Ministries Coordinator
Laurie is St. John’s Youth and Family Coordinator. She leads the efforts of the Parish Education Board, Family Board and Youth Board to provide such things as Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, family programming and youth programming. She is involved in the After-School Program and works closely with Pastor Russ to coordinate the confirmation program here at St. John. She has served as President of the congregation, along with teaching Sunday School and confirmation classes. Laurie is a 1996 graduate of Iowa State University and she and her husband, Greg, have three children, Emma, Joseph and Quinn
Working in a church is a calling from God; and for John Swiggum this is a call his family has been receiving for generations. John’s father and grandfather were both Lutheran Church pastors. John joined the staff of St. John in 2012, and was familiar with the church long before that as a parishioner. John has served on church council. He is the father to two grown daughters, and grandfather to one.
Custodian / Kitchen
Julie keeps the church in order and clean and is also a helping hand Wednesday evenings in the kitchen. Ready with a smile and a conversation Julie is at church early in the morning and late at night making sure the building is ready for the next day. Julie is a longtime member of St. John and is employed in the Charles City school district as an aide.
Director of Music
Melanie Johanningmeier is our director of Music. She is the primary organist, director of choirs, and coordinates special music. She also accompanies on request. She says she’s very pleased to be able to offer her talents at St. John. When not making music at St. John, Melanie is a music teacher in the Nashua-Plainfield School District.
Preschool Director, St. John Christian Preschool
Whittney Franke is our director/lead teacher. Whittney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Reading from Luther College and an endorsement in Early Childhood Education from Buena Vista University. Whittney is a member of St. John Lutheran Church. Whittney is married to Brandon Franke, a police officer in Charles City.
Assistant teacher, St. John Christian Preschool
Carleen Laue is our assistant teacher. Carleen and her husband Mike have two children, Hana and Joshua. They are members of St. John Lutheran Church.
Shirley & Dave Ripley
Shirley and Dave Ripley are most often found in the St. John kitchen. They prepare the meals for Wednesday Night Suppers and help coordinate funeral meals and special events at St. John that utilize the kitchen. If you have questions about the kitchen at St. John these are the people you turn to for the right answers.