MEet Our Team

  • Rev. Dr. Roger Ross

    Lead Pastor

    Originally from Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served Jesus as our lead pastor since August 2007. His two great passions in life are connecting spiritual explorers with Jesus Christ and forming life-changing churches that transform the world. He has served churches in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. As a church planter, he has also been involved in two new church starts. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they have been blessed with two awesome kids, Zach, who attends the University of Illinois, and Jane, who attends Olivet Nazarene University. Roger loves spending time with family, learning, and traveling in different cultures. He also has a weakness for golf. 

    Follow Roger on Facebook here or Twitter @_rogerross.

    Email Roger.

  • Rev. Mike Whitaker

    Associate Pastor

    Mike grew up in the tiny little town of Neoga, IL, graduated from the University of Illinois, and then spent 7 years in Colorado. In addition to normal pastoral duties, Mike specifically oversees the Small Group Ministry, and has a passion for sharing the love of God with others and helping Christians deepen their faith. "I love my family, music, sports, anything outdoors, and pie...yes, lots of pie."

    Follow Mike on Facebook here or Twitter @Reverend_Otis.

    Email Mike.

  • Rev. Nicole Cox

    Associate Pastor

    Born and raised in Effingham, IL, Nicole went on to graduate from Illinois Wesleyan University and then completed seminary at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Her deepest passion for ministry lies in helping people realize that Jesus loves them more than they could imagine and that, because of that love, we are called to change the world. Nicole is married to Steve, who is a musician and audio engineer by trade. They have two of the cutest kids ever – Aubrey and Corbin. Nicole loves music, books, tv, movies, and she has a small obsession with the Beatles (so much so that she convinced Steve to go to Liverpool as part of their honeymoon).

    Follow Nicole on Facebook here or on Twitter @RevNicoleCox.

    Email Nicole.

  • Lana Salomonson

    Executive Director

    Lana grew up in the Soybean Capital of the world - Decatur, Illinois - but has lived in Springfield for the past 25 years. As the Executive Director of Springfield First, she oversees the facility and church campus, personnel, and the budget. Lana is married to Scott, has "the best son in the world," and an awesome dog named Max. She is also passionate about this church, God, and all things having to do with water! Lana enjoys swimming, traveling, swimming, watching the Cubs win (occasionally), swimming, and playing with her dog. (Did we mention that she loves swimming?!)

    Email Lana.

  • Brennan Pappas

    Director of Technical Arts

    Brennan is a Springfield native and has attended this church for the past eight years, the last three of which he served in various positions on our team. He has a passion for connecting people to God through the tech booth and in worship. Brennan loves being around family and friends in all atmospheres. He enjoys bowling, paintball, biking, running, baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Green Bay Packers.

    Email Brennan.

  • Carli Burton

    Director of Adult Education and Senior Ministries

    From Lincoln, IL, Carli aims to motivate Christian growth in others and to help all generations of our church feel cared for and loved. Her goal is also to shift our basic assumptions about aging, realizing that it involves heightened opportunity for spiritual development. "I love my job, word games, and family time."

    Email Carli.

  • Chantel Corrie

    Director of Connections

    Chantel is from the small town of Broadlands, IL. She graduated from Illinois State University and moved to Springfield with her husband Brian and daughters Kerrigan, Makenna, and Miranda in July of 2011. As the Director of Connections, she works with the hospitality team to greet new guests and help them assimilate to Springfield First. Chantel also works to get current attendees involved in group life. Her passion lies in education and serving the least and lost. She enjoys experiencing new people, places, things, and, especially, food! She also loves any activity involving the water.

    Email Chantel.

  • Chase Carlisle

    Director of Worship Arts

    Chase is originally from the South but has since lived in several different parts of the country. He graduated with a degree in music from Truman State University and has been serving in music ministry ever since! Before living in Springfield, Chase served at a church in Memphis, TN (the Birthplace of Rock and Roll!!). As the Director of Worship Arts, he oversees many of the elements that go into each weekend service. He oversees the Technical Arts ministry and is involved with the pastoral and creative planning teams. He has a passion for unity in the church and a vision to support a growing culture of worship in the local church. He is married to Elyssa :) and, holding to his southern ties, they are the proud owners of two healthy Bloodhound pups (Jasper and Tillie).

    Follow Chase on Facebook here or on Twitter @chaseacarlisle.

    Email Chase.

  • Elyssa Carlisle

    Children's and Youth Choir Director

    Elyssa has lived in central Illinois her whole life and has been in Springfield for 11 1/2 years. She serves Springfield First as the Children's & Youth Choir Director, the Youth Handbell Choir Director, and a smattering of other jobs. "My passions lie in loving people & showing my youth how much God is crazy for them! My vision is for them to use their God-given gifts to better His kingdom, to experience His Presence in such a way that worship becomes daily and His truth becomes reality." She loves people, kids, chocolate, coffee, seeing youth praise Jesus, missions overseas, and the Director of Worship Arts (yeah, she and Chase are married).

    Email Elyssa.

  • Matt Cleveland

    StudentLife Director

    Matt is originally from Vincennes, IN. He attended college in Greenville, IL, and has served in churches in Sandusky and Davison, MI. Matt oversees the StudentLife ministry, grades 6-12, helping teenagers to discover Jesus, develop a foundational relationship with Him, and build them into leaders who can bring others to Christ. He is passionate about guiding and mentoring teens in their walk with Christ, worshipping, and teaching others about Jesus. Matt loves spending time with his family, Hannah, Peter, Gloria, and Philip. He also enjoys watching any movie that has a superhero, lightsaber, or hobbit, along with building and collecting Legos!

    Email Matt.

  • Nancy Angulo

    Director of KidLife Ministry

    Nancy is a New Englander (ask her about candlepin bowling or jimmies and you might notice a slight accent) who has lived in New Hampshire, Maine, New York, California, and now the small town of Girard, IL. As the Director of KidLife, she loves to find fun and creative ways to teach kids about God's Word, connect them to Christ, and empower volunteers to use their gifts. Knowing that childhood is a crucial time in the moral and spiritual development of a person, Nancy is passionate about raising up the next generation to be solid followers of Jesus. "By the time kids reach junior high, I want them to have a great foundation of faith to continue building on throughout their teenage years." Nancy enjoys going on bike rides with her kids, Friday family nights with popcorn and smoothies, family getaways and long trips, watching action-packed movies, Netflix series marathons, reading, board games, bedtime talks and prayers with her children, sci-fi, pizza, and chocolate!

    Email Nancy.

  • Dr. See Tsai Chan

    Associate Director of Music Ministry

    See Tsai is originally from Hong Kong but now teaches music at Blackburn College. When she's not in Carlinville instructing students, she's running our traditional music ministry and directing the choir. She loves making music, coffee :), reading, family time, zumba, and swimming.

    Email See Tsai.

  • Stacy Kuhlmann

    Early Childhood Ministry Coordinator

    Stacy was born and raised in Springfield. She moved to Rochester in 1994 and lives there with her husband and 3 daughters. In her role as Early Childhood Ministry Coordinator, she is responsible for all things related to ministry for ages birth to 5 years. She is passionate about the growth and development of children in this uncertain world. Stacy loves books, games, movies, and animals. She and her family have a dog, 3 cats, fish, a leopard gecko, a chinchilla, and a bunny!

    Email Stacy.

  • Aaron Havard

    Information Technology

    Aaron was born in Springfield and has lived here for his whole life. His job is to take care of all the little "bugs" in the servers and make sure that computers run smoothly for other staff members. He is passionate about helping others grow in the Lord. He also enjoys listening to music, running sound at events, and watching movies. Feel free to stop by and say hello sometime!

    Email Aaron.

  • Dennie Canny

    Facilities Manager

    Dennie grew up in several small communities in Central Illinois. His father was a United Methodist minister in what was the Central Illinois Conference at that time. As the church's facilities manager, he is responsible for seeking quotes on major repairs, overseeing projects, performing minor repairs, and working with volunteer groups within the church. He has a passion for sports, particularly Fighting Illini basketball and football, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Chicago Bears! Dennie loves to travel, golf, cook, and listen to music. More than anything, though, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family - especially his new granddaughters Haddie and Autumn!

    Email Dennie.

  • Jenny Hutcherson

    Administrative Assistant

    Jenny spent 14 years in Georgia before moving to Springfield in 2008. She considers it is an honor to be working behind-the-scenes so that our team can focus more time on their areas of ministry. She loves spending time with her husband Jeff and their three boys - Sam, Ben, and Nathan. Jenny also enjoys quilting, reading, baking, and watching Masterpiece on TV!

    Email Jenny.

  • Sharon Sweeney

    Dr. Ross' Assistant

    Sharon wears her hometown, St Louis, MO, as a badge of honor - home of the Cardinals, The Hill, and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. She moved to Springfield in June of 1995 with her husband and daughters, and started working at Springfield First two months later. Her primary responsibilities are to support the pastors, and keep track of a multitude of lists, calendars, and events for staff and members. She also coordinates weddings, helping brides and grooms have their "perfect" wedding at Springfield First. "Being in the main office and often the first person a guest meets, I like to provide a little 'sunshine' to those I encounter. I believe that a smile or encouraging word is contagious, and I'm passionate about making a difference in a person's day simply by seeing the best in a situation or the best in others." She loves spending time with her husband Jim and their daughters - Shannon (married to Mike) and twins Sydney and Sierra. "Oh, and I love reality shows!"

    Email Sharon.