Mike Cahill - Lead Minister
Mike considers himself a midwestern man. While being born in the Northwest, his roots are in the Midwest. He spent much of his younger years in the Omaha, Nebraska area before moving to Colorado as a pre-teen.
From some of the earliest days Mike’s life was inundated with experiences with the local church. When he was a teenager, the loudest and most rambunctious of the lot, he was asked to bring the message on “youth Sunday” (probably because he was the loudest and most rambunctious). This experience led to questions about ministry and vocation, and in the fall of 1997 Mike committed to attend Nebraska Christian College so he could fine-tune God’s leading in his life.
While at Nebraska Christian College he met JoLynn, the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on AND, on August 1, 1998 Mike got to marry the love of his life. Mike and JoLynn have two spunky, fun, and energetic children, Lydia and Simon. Their family enjoys traveling the countryside, visiting with good friends, and having people in their home. While his family has moved from Nebraska to Illinois Mike still commits to cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Minnesota Vikings, and Minnesota Twins.
Mike’s journey in ministry has been one of tremendous friendships, learning, and growth. While still in college Mike and JoLynn worked alongside a small country church in Ewing, Ne. When college ended, they looked across the river into Iowa for a ministry in Onawa, Iowa before eventually landing in Central Illinois in the town of Rushville. In Rushville for better than eight years, Mike and JoLynn gained meaningful friendships and experiences that will last a lifetime. After graduating Lincoln Christian University with a Master of Divinity degree in 2007, he was approached about an opening at his alma-mater in 2011. For the better part of ten years Mike had the honor and privilege of teaching the next generation of ministers. In those ten years he had the chance to finish another Masters degree from LCU and receive a doctorate from Biola University. Unfortunately, in the Spring of 2020, Nebraska Christian College closed its doors, opening up new ministry opportunities for he and his family.
As the Lord would have it, Mike and his family now find themselves back in Central Illinois ready to see what new friendships, learning, and growth God brings their way. Mike is excited about the opportunity to walk with people who want to be a passionate community of disciple makers.
Charlie Welke - Interim Student Minister
Charlie was born just south of Chicago and raised in the southwest suburbs near Joliet. After graduating from high school, he came down to Bloomington-Normal to attend Illinois Wesleyan University. He went into IWU with a desire to play football and study on a pre-med track. He had an immature faith and a loose commitment to living in the ways of Jesus.
While in college Charlie underwent a pretty radical transformation and became more devoted to my identity in Christ. This experience led him right into vocational ministry – first as a campus missionary and then as a youth pastor at Eastview Christian Church.
In his time on campus, Charlie met Leslie and they were married in 2009. For a couple of years Leslie served as a teacher in District 87 while he was serving ECC as a youth pastor. When Charlie moved from high school over into college ministry, Leslie began staying at home while they ended up having all four of their kids in a 5-year span.
At Eastview, Charlie was able to serve as a youth pastor, college pastor, young adult pastor and Campus Pastor for the Bloomington Campus. He loves to communicate the gospel and to see people come to faith in Christ. He also loves helping people deepen their relationship with God while serving people in our local and global contexts.
Samuel Green - Minister of Modern Worship & Spiritual Formation
A distant relative of the “King of Popcorn” Orville Redenbacher, Samuel was born and raised in Rochester, Illinois to two amazing parents, one a pastor and the other a die-hard Hoosiers fan. Fortunately, he has inherited a passion for both of these life-changing arenas: ministry and Hoosiers’ basketball. Growing up in a Christ-centered family as a pastor’s kid eventually led to Samuel falling in love with Jesus for himself and landed him at Lincoln Christian University for his college days, a place where he was able to grow and begin to discover a calling in the area of discipleship and spiritual formation.
Along the way, Samuel has become a self-proclaimed theology nerd and enjoys playing his guitar, diving into a good book, and taking a relaxing Sunday afternoon nap. Some of his other foundational passions include a fondness for color-coordination and an affinity for online thesauruses.
Samuel has been serving and leading at FCC since the spring of 2012. It was here at the church where he first met his absolutely incredible wife, Mykenzie. They now live in Clinton and enjoy watching Hoosiers’ basketball (Samuel) and MSU Spartan football (Kenzie), spending time with their families, going on walks, and listening to podcasts together.
Working primarily in the areas of spiritual formation and worship, Samuel desires more than anything that God’s people would grow to live and love out of a whole-life orientation of worship and surrender to Jesus Christ, his Kingdom, and his Way.
Cassandra Benton - Minister of Children
Cassandra grew up in Clinton and has attended FCC since she was a toddler. She loved participating in many of the children's and student ministry events offered as she grew up. Of course, the best and brightest memories from her youth at FCC are the faithful people who taught, mentored, and challenged her to grow in her faith.
Cassandra was baptized into Christ in junior high and became a children's ministry volunteer shortly after. She has served in various ministries over the years, often with children or junior high students. Cassandra has found the relationships formed, study required to teach, and accountability of being a volunteer while a student and young adult encouraged her to lean into a deeper and more committed relationship with Jesus. When given the chance, Cassandra now seeks to empower junior high & high school students and young adults as volunteers within FCC. She loves empowering the next generation to grab ahold of their personal faith, serve within their giftedness, and share Jesus with others.
Cassandra was asked to join staff in 2015 as Minister of Children and Christian Education. Cassandra has a passion for discipleship and spiritual growth. She believes the family is the most effective discipling relationship children have and desires to come alongside families as they disciple their children. Cassandra loves to empower, equip, and encourage people of all ages as they grow in their relationship with God.
Cassandra met her husband, Matt, at Little Galilee while in high school. They were married at FCC in 1996. They have three children: Claire (& John) Shobe, Olivia Benton, and Laura Benton.
Allison Hitchings - Minister of Community Care and Connection
Allison is a life-long Central Illinois resident. She grew up in Saybrook Illinois and was a member of Saybrook Christian Church. Allison was baptized into Christ in Junior High and has continued her relationship with Jesus for her entire life. In her late-twenties, life circumstances were such that Jesus became real to her in a much different way. An unexpected move forced her to fully place her trust in God's plan for her future. That particular milestone brought Bret and Allison to Clinton in 2008.
Allison and Bret began attending First Christian Church their first weekend in Clinton and have been here ever since. Prior to becoming a staff member, she served in various areas of ministry as a children's Bible school teacher and an instrumentalist and vocalist for the worship team.
She was approached in the spring of 2015 to come on staff as a part-time Children's Minister working with elementary school students. For five years, Allison worked with Cassandra to serve the children and families of FCC. Allison began a new role in Summer 2020 as Minister of Care and Connection. She is leading the congregational Care Team as well as leading Sunday morning Welcome Team ministries.
Allison is so grateful for the relationships she has formed with people at First Christian Church over the years. She is passionate about serving the body of believers at FCC as well as providing support for struggling and hurting people in challenging seasons of their lives.
Dinelle Frankland - Director Worship and Choirs
Dinelle is from the great southern Illinois town of Albion. She grew up attending Little Prairie Christian Church, where her 4th great grandfather had served as the first preacher in the 1820’s. A great supporter of Bible College education, the church was instrumental in sending her to LCC to study music.
In 1979, she accepted a call to teach music at Dallas Christian College. During her years there she accumulated great experiences, awesome friends and a diehard appreciation for the Dallas Cowboys.
In 1993 she transitioned to Ozark Christian College, where she continued to teach music and lead choirs. In 2001, she happened into a fortuitous visit on the campus of Lincoln Christian Seminary that led to being called to offer a Master’s Degree in Worship. She moved to Lincoln in 2003 and still resides there. She also teaches at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. All total, Dinelle has taught 42 years in Christian Higher Education. Fun fact: Mike Cahill took one of her classes!
A shift in responsibilities at LCU left her available for an additional ministry when First Christian called last summer. The need for a choir director and worship leader was a God given fit for her desires and gifts at the time. Working with the fabulous staff and interim ministers has been a source of encouragement and fulfillment. Dinelle is excited to see what the future brings for FCC, especially when choir is able to gather again!
Dinelle has a sister who is a retired school teacher in Salem, Illinois. Her brother lives in Indianapolis, and his four children have been a great delight to spoil as any good aunt does. They are all grown now, so perhaps great nieces and nephews are in the future.
Mandi Ries - Ministry Administrative Assistant
God started working in Mandi's life at the age of 3 when family friend, Karen Rice, brought her to FCC with her on a Sunday morning and she loved it so much that she continued coming every Sunday. Mandi was actively involved in the life of the church and in October of 1997, Mandi gave her life to Jesus. Even though her love for Jesus was always deep, it is in recent years that she has really started to understand what it means to chase after Jesus. God has continually been faithful to show Mandi little doors of obedience that she can walk through using the gifts God has blessed her with and now she has a passion in helping others realize they have little doors too!
Mandi has lived in Clinton most of her life and loves calling it home! Mandi (a die-hard Cubs fan) has been married to her best friend, Brett (a die-hard Cardinals fan) for 11 years. Even though they can’t agree on a baseball team, they love hanging out, watching movies, and most importantly, laughing together. They have two very energetic twin boys, Keegan & Kason, who keep them up to speed on all things Star Wars, Minecraft, and sports. Mandi considers herself a “foodie” and absolutely loves trying new restaurants, cuisines, and recipes. If you ever need a restaurant recommendation, she has got you covered!
Mandi has loved being a part of the FCC staff since 2015. Mandi has filled several roles in her part-time position over the last 5 years, but her favorite role continues to coming alongside the rest of our ministry staff to help serve and love those in our church family and in our community!
Here at First Christian Church we are staff led in our day-to-day and weekly operations and ministries but we have an amazing team of elders who shepherd, protect, and oversee the congregation, staff, and mission, vision, and direction of our church.
We are not a part of a denomination and our local congregation is led by these Elders.
We are not a part of a denomination and our local congregation is led by these Elders.
Jim Taylor (Chairman)
Gage Lyons (Vice Chairman)
Dick Koritz (Secretary)