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.
Beth grew up in Elkhart, Indiana and received her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialty in accounting from Davenport University. She is a current student at Wartburg Seminary in the Master of Arts Diaconal Ministry program and in candidacy to become a Rostered Minister of Word and Service in the ELCA. She is a mother of four children (Sydney, Marah, Finn (Ethan), and Matthew) and a grandma to one terrific grandson. She lives in Dows, IA with her husband, Dan, their two youngest children, three cats and one goofy dog.
Rhonda was born and raised in Charles City and has been a member of St. John for over 20 years. She has 3 wonderful sons who all live in the area. She enjoys riding mules and camping in her free time and also coaches YMCA swimming in the winter. She is employed full time as the City Clerk of Marble Rock.
Toni lives in Charles City. She has 10 grandchildren. Loves Jesus…and crafting, gardening, and riding motorcycles.
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
“I live north of Charles City on my grandparents farm with my wife, Jesi. We have raised 4 children, Kristyn, Kaitlyn, Madi, and Trevor. Our family enjoys camping, fishing and racing together. I’m excited about my future with St. John!
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.
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 and has a daughter, Zuri.
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.
Interim Wednesday Night Supper Coordinator