Church Staff


Rev. Phil Blackwell

Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler
Lead Pastor

Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler is the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church. He grew up North of Boston, and was a church pastor in New England for 22 years. Before coming to Madison, he served in many capacities during his 16 years at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He is an avid reader, with a collection that rivals many academic department libraries, as well as an accomplished cook. Mark declares he is a "Patriotic Red Sox Fan" (sigh), but at least he is NOT a Bears devotee. For Rev. Dr. Mark Fowler's complete curriculum vitae, click here.

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Tina Lang

Rev. Tina Lang
Senior Associate Pastor

Rev. Tina Lang is one of the clergy members at First Church. As the Associate Pastor, she is responsible for the educational ministries of the church. She also coordinates and plans the weekly worship services. Tina loves music. She's passionate about social issues. And she practices what she preaches - whether it’s here at First Church, or in Baraboo, where she lives.


Rev. Breanna Illéné

Rev. Breanna Illéné
Associate Pastor of Intergenerational Ministries

Rev. Breanna Illéné is our Assisting Pastor for Young Adult Ministries. Breanna focuses on connecting with the many young adults who call First Church their church home as well growing this vibrant ministry. Breanna loves to cook and eat (especially international foods), and reading, and social media and lots of outdoor activities. (Although she does admit having enough time is an issue.)

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Ministry Staff 

Karen Andro

Karen Andro
Director of Hope's Home Ministries

Karen Andro, Director of Hope's Home Ministries, is enthusiastic about reaching out to downtown Madison. She serves in a variety of leadership roles in the community as well as our church, putting her heart and soul into serving our homeless neighbors through our Hope's Home Food Pantry, healthful meal programs, overflow emergency shelter and community outreach. Karen manages our Loaves & Fishes Kitchen, bringing together food service training to provide job readiness skills where church members and friends serve in community.

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Karen Andro

Kathy Carpenter
Coordinator of Congregational Engagement

Kathy Carpenter is the Coordinator of Congregational Engagement. In this capacity Kathy will be working to involve folks into all aspects of the church. She's been living in McFarland for nine years, retiring after a 40-year career as a reading specialist in Colorado. (She still misses the mountains.) She engages with fellow church members in other ways, too: cooking, eating out, concert-going, baking, eating out....there's a pattern here! She loves gardening and camping and cooking. And playing with her "fur-babies" Derby and Teddy.

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Ross Cowing

Ross Cowing
Director of Music and the Arts

Ross Cowing is our Director of Music and the Arts. He is our Organist. He conducts the choir. And he works with all the outside music and theater groups who use our building. If you have ever been here on a Sunday morning at around 10 a.m. and heard applause from within the Sanctuary, you’ve just heard how much the congregation appreciates one of Ross’ talents – making beautiful music on First Church’s magnificent pipe organ (3400+ pipes!).

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Mary Staff Photo 2013

Laurie Peterson
Children’s Ministries Assistant

Laurie Peterson is redefining her role here at First Church. She has been a volunteer Sunday school teacher for 13 years, and she now adds the staff role of Children's Ministries Assistant. She does such routine things as shifting classrooms and checking supplies and such energizing activities as Vacation Bible School and Children’s Church. Working with little children is her passion. Laurie started attending here in 1992. For both Laurie and her family, First Church has been home. She says it's alive...energetic. And she loves the anticipation and acceptance she sees on the faces of the children.

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Jim Staff Photo 2013

Jim Ostrander
Coordinator of Senior Ministries

Jim Ostrander is the Coordinator of Senior Ministries for First Church. He has a history of involvement at the church, having served (and continuing to serve) as Head Usher. As Coordinator, he maintains the connections to our homebound friends and brings them the joy, caring and conversation others of us are able to share onsite. He also fosters seniors' interaction via social opportunities such as "Spouses Now Alone" and quarterly socials.

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Ministry Support Staff 

Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson 
Facilities Supervisor

Dennis Anderson is our Facilities Supervisor. He normally works during the week, arriving early, but you’ll often see him here on weekends, too – at weddings, concerts, and community events – lending his helpful hand. (He’s a devoted Packers’ and Brewers’ fan, if you’re looking for a conversation starter.) If you need to reach Dennis, you should call the church office (during office hours).


Sarah Flanagan

Sarah Flanagan
Director of Finance and Building Operations

Sarah Flanagan is a Certified Public Accountant with a professional background in nonprofit accounting, financial management, investments and auditing. A graduate of Drake University School of Business, Sarah has a wide range of interests and involvement in the Madison community. Besides being an avid singer/musician and runner, she keeps the church’s finance office and every day operations humming with efficiency and good humor.

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Alison Long

Brooke Seeliger
Coordinator of Reception and Security

Brooke Seeliger joined the staff in November of 2017 as the Coordinator of Reception and Security.  She manages the Welcome Center which is the first point of contact for all visitors to the church. Brooke first became involved with FUMC as a volunteer and fell in love with the community and social justice mission of the church. She is a Madison native and has lived downtown for several decades. Next time you are visiting the church, stop by and say hello!



Glendale Stewart
IT Specialist

Glendale Stewart is the IT Specialist here at First Church. He loves to fix things, and he keeps very busy fixing the various computers for staff. He has three degrees (Computer System Administration, Electronics and Computer Networking) that help him do just that. A Mississippi native, he came to Wisconsin, where the summers are MUCH cooler! (We won't mention the winters; they're MUCH cooler, too!) He appreciates both the easy-going staff at the church and the coffee that make his job easier. 


Max & Laura Wendt Max & Laura Wendt

Max & Laura Wendt
Digital Arts Specialists

Max & Laura Wendt, Digital Arts Specialists, are a team in more ways than one. They design and create the visual images we all enjoy during worship. They generally work "off site." They are parents of two young daughters who are also very creative and energetic!

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Corey Whitmore
Audio Video Specialist

Corey Whitmore is our Audio Video Specialist, and he is one busy guy! He enjoys the challenge that Sunday mornings provide. (Apparently no two Sundays or the audio requirements are the same.) When not here, he might be caring for his two young sons or serving on one of the three volunteer boards of which he's a member. He actively promotes music, community arts and songwriting in the Madison area. Oh. And he coaches high school basketball in the winter.


Ev Woolpert
Assistant to the Pastors

As an assistant to Mark, Tina, and Breanna, Ev maintains their formal schedules and appointments. She also maintains the many membership records at the church: Attendance, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths and Membership. Luckily for other church staff, one of her passions is chocolate! and she shares it liberally.