FRANKLIN CHURCH – Meet our Pastor
When I tell people I am the pastor of the Franklin Community Church, most have no clue where the church is located. When I ask them if they know where the Franklin Cider Mill is, most say yes. I tell them to just go south on Franklin Road about a quarter of a mile and we are on the right. Our historical Church building sits behind the village green.
Franklin Community Church has been a part of the Village of Franklin for over 175 years. Known mostly for its warm hospitality and outstanding music, Franklin Community Church prides itself in our commitment to mission and Christian growth.
“United Methodist in Affiliation, Ecumenical in Spirit” is our mantra. For me that means that no matter where your faith journey has taken you, you will be welcomed. All are invited to come join us, as together we nurture our relationship with God and with one another.
Just as it is worth the trip to visit the Franklin Cider Mill in the Fall, so too is it worth the effort to come join us at Franklin Community Church all year round.
Rev. David Huseltine
Meet Our Friendly Church Staff
Franklin Church is blessed with an excellent staff who are committed to supporting our congregation in the wonderful, interesting and unique faith journey to which we are called.
MARIA CIMARELLI – Music Director
What are your responsibilities at FCC? As Director of Music at Franklin Church I am in charge of planning music for the weekly Sunday services and other worship services. I play the organ and conduct the adult Chancel Choir during services. I also direct the Adult Handbell Ensemble, the Youth Handbell Ensemble and the Casual Sunday singers. I coordinate special guest musicians for concerts and services. Twice a year I plan a special music event – usually a sacred cantata. In addition I organize the music library and attend to the maintenance of the pianos, organ and handbells. During the summer I direct the music portion of our Vacation Bible School. Finally, I write a monthly article for the Franklin Friend.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? My hope for the future of Franklin Community Church is twofold. I hope that our wonderful congregation continues to grow together in fellowship, appreciating the special warmth and love that is unique to a small church. Also, I hope that, as we embrace who we are – others from the greater community will want to become a part of this special and welcoming congregation!
What is a random fact about you? I have three grown sons, who are the lights of my life, and two funny cats who make me laugh every day.
Why were you drawn to this job? I was drawn to Franklin Church first by the charisma and intelligence of former pastor, Dr. Dick Cheatham. I have stayed for many years because the subsequent pastors and staff members have been wonderful to work with and the congregation has always treated me with the utmost respect and love.
ALTHEA SIMPSON – Director of Discipleship
Greetings! I am Dr. Althea Lynn Simpson, the new Director of Discipleship. While I know that our time together and our work is just beginning, I am thrilled to be here. I feel privileged and blessed to join in ministry with the Franklin Community family to support both children and adults in living as disciples of Christ. As we begin our time together, I would like you to know a little about me. I have a gospel driven desire to serve God and God’s people. I believe that every moment is a teachable one in which we can learn something new about God’s love. A native Detroiter, I am proud to call the city ─home. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the Syracuse University College of Law and Ecumenical Theological Seminary (“ETS”), earning both a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from that institution. My home church is Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, where I have been a member for more than 30 years. Shiloh was an incredible training ground. There, I acquired invaluable education ministry experience, serving as a Sunday school teacher and assistant superintendent, as well as the director of the church’s community Vacation Bible School program. I have been worshipping at Immanuel United Methodist Church in Eastpointe, where I previously served as the Christian Education Consultant. Christian Education is my ministry calling. In fact, I have been involved in teaching and training children, youth and adults for more than 35 years. I am a firm believer in the power and necessity of education. As a licensed attorney and minister, I utilize my diverse educational background to develop curriculum, materials and workshops for religious and community service organizations. Additionally, I serve as a legal instructor for law enforcement officers and recruits. Serving my community is important to me. I serve as a workshop facilitator and course instructor for many religious and community service organizations throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area. I am honored to serve as the Board Chair for MOTIVITY Enterprises, a faith based, youth affirming, non-profit organization, on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Christian Council: DetroitWindsor and as a state and national officer for Church Women United. The Detroit Tigers are my team! So, in my spare time, I enjoy all things Tigers, sports, reading, old movies, shopping, spending time with family and friends not always in that order!
KIM GREIDANUS – Youth Coordinator
MARK VONDRAK – Soloist
How long have you worked here? I’ve worked at FCC for approximately 16 years.
What are your responsibilities at FCC? I am a soloist and member of the choir. I also provide assistance to our music director, Maria Cimarelli.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? I hope that we are able to continue to provide a true spiritual home for our congregation.
What is a random fact about you? I own a small collection of old sheet music; specifically sheet music printed by the Jerome Remick Co of Detroit (& New York) in the early part of the 20th century, circa 1900 – 1930.
Why were you drawn to this job? I was drawn to FCC not only because of the fine music program, but also the warmth and kindness of the entire congregation.
LORIE CARSWELL – Membership Secretary
What are your responsibilities at FCC? Membership Secretary.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? We grow stronger and bigger.
What is a random fact about you? I love travelling. (I go to Harbor Springs, Minnesota, and Arizona-my daughters live there).
Why were you drawn to this job? My husband had a stroke in 1984 and I had to go to work and was contacted by Dr. Sam Stout (the minister at the time). God closed a window, but opened a door.
MARY KERCHINSKI – Office Administrator
What are your responsibilities at FCC? I prepare, edit, copy, and distribute the monthly newsletter and the weekly Church bulletin. I am the primary contact for the Church and assist members in daily and situation-based needs.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? My hope for the Church is that they continue to thrive and grow.
KARL HEISS – Financial Secretary
What are your responsibilities at FCC? I handle all funds in general operations and all the financial receipts, revenues, and expenditures for the Church.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? My desire is that the members and others who come through these doors will come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
What is a random fact about you? I feel I am skilled with speaking and listening to others, when people come into the Church and are in distress I love to pray with them. I am striving for servant leadership.
Why were you drawn to this job? I was looking for work and was referred here by someone who did not come here. I didn’t actually know it was a Methodist Church until I saw the window out front and the fact that it was a UMC ended up being one of the biggest draws for me. Here, I had an opportunity to do the work that I was in school for, but I was also able to work for a higher purpose and serve God, not man.
BILL PRAZUCH – Custodian
How long have you worked here? Since 2005.
What are your responsibilities at FCC? First, I open up the building every morning. Through the day I clean up the floors and each of the classrooms and office rooms, then, empty the garbage. I also take care of maintenance issues when an incident occurs or something needs to be done.
What is your hope for the future of Franklin Community Church? I really just hope for more activities in the church because organizations and activities keep the church energized. I hope for more membership and I hope we are able to foster growth.
What is a random fact about you? I am an outdoorsman. I love camping, hunting, and fishing. My family has a house up north in Everett and we go canoeing down Muskegon River. In addition, I have a passion and am involved in Ham Radio. This is amateur radio where I use my antennas and radio station in my basement to make radio contacts with users worldwide. We use both Morse code and the microphone to communicate. We can simply speak or respond to calls for help. Therefore, it is both a hobby and a public service.
Why were you drawn to this job? I was working at Lowe’s and I had many hours of work that I didn’t care for. I had to work on the weekends and I wanted to spend more time with my Grandchildren. My friend who worked with me at Lowe’s informed me that the man who had this job before me was leaving. So I came in for an interview and the job materialized.