John Ross ThompsonPastor

John Ross Thompson is a United Methodist pastor who has served churches in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.  He has also directed the program staff in Western Pennsylvania and West Michigan Conferences.  A native of Erie County, Pennsylvania, he is a graduate of Penn State, Drew University Theological School and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  He has been the pastor of rural, suburban, city and campus churches.  He enjoys family gatherings, travel, books and theatre.  He and the Rev. Ellen Brubaker have a blended family of seven children with spouses and partners, 16 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

You can reach John Ross by calling 517.812.9679.




 Joan VanDessel, Director of Music

I’m passionate about worship that connects people to God, builds community, encourages participation, and transforms hearts and minds.  Mixing styles, traditions, and materials gives me energy–I love to be part of designing worship experiences at Genesis that are both organic and transcendent, blending together ancient and modern traditions to create something new.

Favorite worship experience:

  • Exhale (Taizé) Service
  • Stomp Service (percussion-led worship with lots of congregational participation)
  • Communion

Recent reads:

  • “Pastrix” by Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • “The Dangerous Act of Worship” by Mark Labberton
  • “Quiet” by Susan Cain

Current playlist:

  • Sigur Ros
  • All Sons and Daughters
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Shostakovich’s piano works



Jay Kalis, Director of Youth & Children Ministries

Jay comes to Genesis UMC after 17 years of serving as a teacher and consultant in local schools. He is passionate about working with young people and watching them grow and “find themselves.” Jay grew up and was confirmed in the United Methodist Church, and he has served in various teaching and leadership positions in youth and children’s ministries. In the summer of 2014, Jay started seminary study at Earlham School of Religion in the Master of Divinity program.


In the community, Jay serves on the board for 3:11 Youth Housing.  His family lives in the Sparta area and enjoys camping, biking, gardening, and spending time together.

On My Bookshelf

If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus by Philip Gulley

What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Phillip Yancey

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person by Philip Gulley and James Muholland



Georgia Hale

Georgia Hale, Serve Director

Georgia began her ministry in 1999 with serving, leading and translating for Volunteer in Mission teams (VIM).  She is returning home to Michigan and is a provisional deacon.  As a deacon her desire is to build a bridge from the church to the world, and the world to the church.  She is here at Genesis to focus on helping us serve.
 In addition Georgia focus is on the ‘least of these’ or those in our communities that get ignored, thought of last, or not fully engaged in the church.  She especially enjoys hanging around those who the world calls ‘disabled’, but you will often hear her use the term ‘differently-abled’; prefering to focus on what we are able to do not on how the world chooses to label us.

Georgia loves to:

Eat homemade bread, fruit and chocolate, which in turn engages her to exercise by walking, hiking, and an ocassional dance (when no one is looking).
Read – most everything from newspapers to fiction
Laugh – remarkably at almost anything
Pray – with a cup of coffee in my hands


Sue Capps

 Sue Capps, Treasurer / Administrative Assistant

I am so happy God led me to Genesis.  It is such a blessing to work and worship here.

Things I love:

  • Worship at Genesis (especially the STOMP service)
  • Spending time with family
  • Sewing
  • Spring and Fall
  • Dark chocolate


Sheri Dewald, Office Assistant

Experiencing Genesis is like coming into a cool spring rain after hanging out in the desert.  It’s beyond refreshing!  Our community is welcoming, authentic, vulnerable, engaged and loving.


Previously I have worked for Youth Ministry International, World Orphans, several churches and I am currently serving on the board of Pamoja for Africa.  I care deeply about global citizenship and justice.


I’m a bit of a book worm and am inspired by authors like Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri Nouwen, Sara Miles, Richard Rohr, Dorothy Day, Shane Claiborn, Nadia Bolz Weber,  Marcus Borg and the list goes on!  My favorite Rohr read is “Falling Upward.”


Leisure looks like this:
~listening to jazz (especially Gregory Porter)
~ organic gardening with friends
~consignment shopping


Favorite African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far go together.”


Tom Shangle, Facilities Management