Below you can find information about our staff and some key lay leaders.
Along with all the people of First UMC, we are committed to helping you
know Christ, grow in Christ, serve Christ and share Christ.
Pastor - Rev. Christopher Eshelman
Pastor Christopher is a “second career” pastor, working several years in small businesses before discerning a call to ministry. He has been under appointment in the Great Plains Conference since 2007. He earned an M.Div. at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri in 2011 and was Ordained an Elder in Full Connection in 2013. Before being appointed to Fort Scott in July of 2021, he served at Pretty Prairie and Murdock UMCs, both just south of Hutchinson, KS, for 4 years. Prior to that he served as an Associate Pastor in larger churches in Wichita, with a couple years in Campus Ministry at his alma mater, Wichita State mixed in.
He has been married to Robin (please insert your own Winnie-the-Pooh joke here) for 30 years as of March 2022. They met as undergrads at Wichita State, where he earned a B.A. in Sociology and she earned two degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She teaches Kindergarten in Iola. They have two grown sons who are both currently at Dordt University in Iowa.Pastor Christopher says: “My journey to this point has been long and winding as I was baptized Lutheran, raised and confirmed Episcopalian, did a serious Roman Catholic catechism then spent some time really wandering in the wilderness, before finding my home in the UMC and Wesleyan theology. My faith is rooted in the 1st chapter of John, Philippians 2, Colossians 1 and Luke 15, but my journey has been deeply shaped by my encounter with traditions outside Christianity, even as I've rarely strayed far from its banks. I welcome this intersection where our paths meet. As you’re interested, I’d love to share more about that, and more importantly, hear about your own faith journey.”
Secretary - Zandra Hood
Zandra joined our staff in February 2022, after serving in a similar role for Trinity Lutheran, where she is a member, for 15 years. We welcome her to First UMC. Zandra’s first job was at a donut shop (remember Floyd’s?). She was born in Wisconsin, has lived in Wyoming and has been in Fort Scott for about 65 years. She has 2 daughters, 4 grandsons and 2 great grandkids. Her favorite hobby is reading. She's normally in the office Monday - Thursday mornings 9am to Noon (or 10am to 1pm during the summer).
Choir Director / Organist - Patricia Harry
Pat Harry is a retired music educator and Kansas Music Hall of Fame member. For the majority of her career she was Choral Music Instructor at Fort Scott High School and Fort Scott Middle School. She has a Bachelor of Music Education from Pittsburg State University, and advanced work in Music Education at Wichita State University. Pat was a piano major, voice minor.
She has played the organ and piano and directed the Chancel Choir at Fort Scott First United Methodist Church since 1989, and prior to that was active in the music program at First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Kansas, and Mount Hope, Kansas United Methodist Church. Currently she maintains a private piano studio in her home. Pat is married to husband, Steve, has two children and five grandchildren. Her passion in life remains providing music for church and community events and teaching children to understand and love music.
A favorite Scripture of Pat’s is, unsurprisingly, from Psalm 100: "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.”
Nursery Coordinator - Sara Schnichels
Sara is a teacher with Head Start during the week and joined our staff in June of 2022. Each week she makes sure we have a welcoming, fun and safe child care option for families attending Sunday worship.
Lay Leader / Finance Chairperson - Ron Wood
I was born and raised in Fort Scott. I spent time with the U S Postal Service and in the military. I taught accounting and served in administrative roles in the Kelce College of Business at PSU for 20 years, retiring in 2000. I’ve taught Faith Builders Sunday School class for 30 years or so. Barbara and I have been active members at FUMC for over 50 years. We will celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary in April 2022. Our children live in Wichita, Missouri, and southern California.
Mission Committee Chairperson - Don Tucker
When my wife and I moved here from Arizona, I immediately signed up for the church's major mission project - the ASP (Appalachian Service Project). It was a wonderful experience. I then became chair of the Mission Committee and organized a team to go to Joplin to help with tornado recovery there. We also send a team to Camp Chippewa each spring to get it ready for summer camp. Locally, we work with other churches and community service organizations to repair homes, build wheelchair ramps, and provide needed supplies and services for indigent and elderly. First United Methodist Church is committed to respond to mission needs nationally and locally.
UMW Social Action Chairperson - Jean Tucker
Proverbs 3:5 and 6 is my go to Scripture. I pray it often. I am Social Action chairperson of the United Methodist Women, a choir member and was coordinator of the Wednesday Feeding Families in His Name free weekly meal for 10.5 years before retiring from that role in December 2021. My husband and I moved here in September of 2007 to help our son and daughter-in-law with triplet granddaughters and young grandson. We have been active members of First UMC since our first Sunday here.
Staff Parish Relations Chairperson - Susan Carnes
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Sunday School and Mission Leader - Tom Braker
The Braker family, has been members of the church since 1980, when first
moving to Fort Scott. During that time he has assisted in several youth
centered rolls in the church. He has taught High School and Middle
School Sunday School for more than 20 years and has been a youth leader.
Tom is currently leading an adult Sunday School class. He helped organize
the first Appalachia Service Project Mission trip in 2000 and has been
a team leader for that project ever since. Tom helped with
the organization of the Wednesday night meal program Feeding Families
in His Name and regularly helps provide meals to those coming
through the line.
Tom is married to his wife, Marlene, and they have two daughters.
Erica Potter lives in Olathe and Emily Allshouse lives in Libertyville, IL.
Both are married. Emily has two children.
Tom said, “I do not know that I have a favorite Bible verse, but one I have shared
frequently with people going through a rough stretch is
Isaiah 46: 4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he. I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Church and Community Engagement Coordinator - To be determined!
We are planning to add a position to our staff this Fall - looking for a seminary student or someone with similar skills and life experience to focus on growing our connections with young families and community groups.