Youth Staff & Leaders

Frank Newburn - Director of Youth Ministries

2015_Youth_DirectorI truly believe I have the best job in the world- working with and developing the youth of Wesley UMC. My wife Sara and I were married in September of 2007 and have 2 sons - Christian Samuel - who was born on September 11, 2009, and Jensen Matthew- who was born on February 8, 2012. On December 6, 2014 we added our daughter, Kalyn Maria to our family.  I am originally from Wheaton, a suburb of Chicago, and moved here in 2006 to take the position of Director of Youth Ministries. I attended Wheaton College and triple majored in Biblical & Theological Studies, Christian Education, and Psychology and also have a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology. I have been involved in youth ministry for 28 years working with both Jr. and Sr. High students both nationally and internationally. I have a passion for discipleship, mentoring, leadership, and missions and have seen firsthand the amazing things students can do when they are encouraged, mentored, and allowed to lead. I also love all kinds of sports, cooking, and traveling and have already been to 28 foreign countries in my life. I feel my calling in life is to work with students and that God continues to use my background, education, and spiritual gifts to impact His children. My family and I have been tremendously blessed by our time here at Wesley and love the people of this church body.

Stacy Ash - Assistant Director of Youth Ministries

youth-directors-2I grew up in Southern Illinois and Austin, Texas. My parents were from Bloomington, and I attended Wesley frequently as a visitor as a child when we would visit family. I finished high school at Bloomington HS, and was part of the youth group here at Wesley as a teenager. My husband Randy and I were married here at Wesley and all three of our children (Ryan, Jeffrey and Alexandra) were baptized here. We moved for short periods of time to upstate New York and a Chicago suburb, but have always returned to Bloomington, and consider Wesley our church home no matter where we are.

I attended Illinois State University with a focus in Psychology. I have been involved in youth ministry for 27 years. I began volunteering in the youth program as a Sunday school teacher at age 18. I stepped in as the interim youth director in November of 2002. I have been full time here at Wesley in the youth program since March of 2003.

My heart is passionate to reach students for Christ, to help them develop their own faith and spiritual life response, and to walk beside them during their teen years. Watching students question, ponder, wrestle with and grow to understand what it means to be a Christian – and helping them however I can during that process – is one of the most rewarding things I can imagine.

Small Group "Surge" Youth Leaders

11th/12th Grade Boys - Frank Newburn and Matt Sherrill
11th/12th Grade Girls - Sara Newburn, Lindsey Sherrill, and Tammy Houtzel
9th/10th Grade Boys - Tony Merritt and Jake Rolfs
9th/10th Grade Girls - Darcy Bogle, Lynne Morrison, and Stephanie Peterson
8th Grade - Stacy Ash, Alex Lee, and Elise Minichiello
6th/7th Grade Boys - Josh Houtzel and Bryan Siverly
6th/7th Grade Girls -Michelle Jones and Liz Tomera
Additional Subs/Chaperones - Marc Hinrichs, Beth Sennett, Brian Armstrong, Mason Nelson, and Larry Lowery

Youth Leaders

Lynne Morrison

lynn_morrison1. I got involved with Surge because I wanted to reconnect with the youth and I was inspired by my son, Shane McGann's work with LeaderTreks. I watched him evolve in Surge from a participant to a leader, and then onto obtaining a degree in Christian Education and Youth Ministry. I want to be able to give of myself and hopefully impact students' lives in a positive way. 

2. The Power of the Surge ministry keeps me coming back. Seeing the relationship the youth build with each other, the adult leaders, and especially with Christ. How could you not want to continue to see that?

3. Surge reaches out to all those involved with it.  It not only has great positive impact on the students, but we as adults are amazed and changed in new ways as well. 

Sara Newburn

sara_newburn1. I got involved with Surge when Frank was hired as the Youth Director at Wesley.

2. I keep coming back to Surge because of the incredible students I get to know every year.

3. I love how Surge helps students know God and share Him in their relationships with each and their friends at school.

Tammy Houtzel

tammy_houtzel1. My daughter was getting involved and so I thought it would be great to volunteer.

2. I feel I have grown myself by being involved. I love being with the kids and watching them grow.

3. The kids love it. There is a great outreach for the youth.

Lindsey Sherrill

lindsey_sherrill1. To continue growing in my faith while leading these students in their faith journey.

2. Watching the kids grow into amazing young men and women of Christ.

3. These kids are on fire for Christ!

Jake Rolfs

2015_Jake_Rolfs1. I started coming to Surge in 8th grade while I went through Confirmation.

2. After I finished high school I decided to stick around as an adult leader to continue being a positive influence for the kids. It also continues to help me grow towards God and grow in leadership skills.

3. I think Surge does a great job of building up leaders and sending them off into new opportunities to lead. The kids are challenged to not only think about problems but act on their thoughts as well.

Matt Sherrill

matt_sherrill1. I grew up in a youth ministry that played an extremely vital role in my faith, and I felt God calling me to do the same for others.

2. The relationships with the students and seeing them grow keeps me coming week in and week out.

3. The role it plays in providing a safe, fun place to students to grow in their faith through a community.

Josh Houtzel

2015_Josh_Houtzel1. I was asked by the youth directors to help out and my kids were getting involved with Surge.

2.The students and learning more about God and how He works through these students.

3. It helps guide people through life and how to take the right path.

Brian Armstrong

brian_armstrong1. Stan Irvin came to Tues AM Men's Group & made a very passionate plea for men to help out with Surge. After praying through the excuses to not help out, I went to Frank to volunteer.

2. There are many reasons! I love the relationships that I have formed with other adults & with the youth. Both are constant & consistent sources of strength & accountability that keep me grounded in my faith. I also love to stay in touch with youth turned young adults, to see them grow & mature.

3. Youth are the future leaders of the Church. If I can in some small way help them to get involved & stay involved in the Church, what a great investment of my time!

Bryan Siverly

bryan_siverly1. Frank gave me an offer I couldn't refuse.

2. I love these kids and my fellow leaders. Bringing the Gospel to young people is fun, too!

3. Unlike other youth groups I've been involved with over the years, I'm impressed with the strong faith base and youth leadership.

Michelle Jones

michelle_jones1. Six years ago I was lead to get involved with Surge as I watched my daughter and other Wesley youth being moved and growing so strong in their faith.

2. Sharing a small part of these student's lives grows my faith each and every day.

3. Being a part of this ministry provides rewards unlike any I've yet to experience in my life.

Elise Minichiello

Elise_Minichelo1. As a student, I got involved 5 years ago when a friend brought my sister and me to Surge one Wednesday night. After I graduated I felt led to get involved as a small group leader.

2. The sense of community at Surge and the chance to grow my faith keep me coming back. Even in the beginning when I didn't know anyone in Surge, there was still a sense of welcoming and community that   made me love coming. Also, the chances Surge presents to help others grow and strengthen their faith and relationship with God.

3. Getting to see the youth rise as leaders and mature in their faith and hearing them share how they have seen God working in their lives.

Darcy Bogle

darcy_bogle1. I went on a mission trip and fell in love with Wesley Teens. My friend, Barb, asked if I’d want to help with her 8th grade Sunday school class. When I heard that I didn’t have to be morally perfect or even a good teacher but the only requirements were to love God and enjoy young people, I decided to give it a try for a year or two.  Ten years plus later, I’m still not perfect or a good teacher but I still delightfully meet the requirements.

2. I am constantly inspired by the faith of the teens, and that helps my own faith grow. They also crack me up. This is true of both the youth and the adults that are involved in Surge. Besides faith, laughter is key to my survival.

3. Lives are changed by God through it. It gives us something bigger than ourselves to be a part of.

Tony Merritt

tony_merritt1. Several reasons initially led to my involvement. I wanted to become more involved with the community at Wesley and was led to Surge as a good opportunity for this to occur. I also have had a long-term desire to be involved with youth in some way (whether clinically or voluntary) and to be used in some way to impact this age group as they grow and mature.

2. Developing relationships with the youth and youth leaders. Ultimately, we all get to share and invest in each others’ spiritual journey with Christ. Plus the age group keeps me more focused on a more fun and a light-hearted mindset than I would otherwise 🙂

3. Things seem to flow as the youth are focused on ensuring each person is welcomed and accepted. Although this can be challenging for any age group, I enjoy witnessing the level of acceptance that is found at Surge.

Liz Tomera

Liz_Tomers1.We had a kid invested in the program and two more who will come through.  I saw how much fun the kids were having and jumped at the chance to help.

2. The kids are awesome!

3. The easy acceptance that the kids and adults have of each other.

Larry Lowery

larry_lowery1. I've been helping with the Youth ministry for 21yrs so I'm excited when we get new people involved!

2. I just can't see me not helping in some way in this very important MINISTRY!

3. To experience the gift of being a part of a young person’s life.

Beth Sennett

beth_sennett1. I initially got involved because I heard a 'still small voice' nudging and calling me to give my time to the Youth Program. I felt God's Spirit was already working there and I believe we need to go where the Spirit is already working in order to keep the momentum moving for His purposes.

2. I absolutely love the students. I love getting to know them. I love watching their faith grow. I think it's important for them to have additional adults in their lives who care about them.

3. I like that Surge is for the most part student run. I think this gives the group an interesting twist and allows some of the students the opportunity to be leaders in the church.