About our church
Future of the United Methodist Church
As The United Methodist Church waits for the next gathering of the global denomination in 2024 (the General Conference session), many are curious about what may happen. Leaders from our Michigan Conference are committed to providing resources to help all congregations understand who we are as United Methodist Christians, navigate this time of discernment and to provide care and support for pastors, congregations, and individuals. Please note that Chelsea First intends to remain with The United Methodist Church.
The Administrative Council of Chelsea First is planning for conversations about these matters in the new year; please watch the church website and Path Finder for more information. Two people in our congregation have been delegates to General Conferences in the past and can provide additional information as well: Diane Brown and Pastor Joy.
Please check out these links below for information:
The Administrative Council is the congregation’s primary decision-making body. Meetings are open to all and are held on the second Thursdays of the month, as needed, in the evening. Please check with the church office to confirm the date, time, and place.
Members of the Administrative Council for 2022
Mike Vanderspool, Chair
Karen Woollams, Member-at-Large
Brenda Jo Beck, Finance Chair and Church Treasurer
Susan Wellman, Staff-Parish Relations Chair
Heather Hay, Member-at-Large
Nolan Peterson, Member-at-Large
Jim Alford III, Member-at-Large
Charles Schmunk, Member-at-Large
Dana Schmunk, Trustees chairperson
Janet Martin-Conners, Member-at-Large
Joy Barrett, Senior Pastor
Rodney Gasaway, Ordained Deacon, and Director of Missions and Outreach
Our church history
Over a century and a half of Christian dedication in the heart of Chelsea
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Chelsea was organized in 1853 and was served by traveling clergy from Ann Arbor. By 1859, the congregation had built a church on the current Park Street site. The first minister who served the church on a regular basis was B.I. Ives. Just after the Civil War, in 1866, a parsonage was constructed next to the church. The congregation grew to more than 50 members during this time.
In January, 1899, the wooden church building burned to the ground. The church was rebuilt as the current stone structure in thirteen months. The dedication of the stone edifice was in February, 1900, with the dedication sermon preached by Rev. I.B. Ives, who had led the congregation in 1859.
As the community of Chelsea grew and flourished, so did our congregation. By 1939, membership had grown to more than 300 persons. World War II was a huge disruption in the lives of the people of Chelsea and of the church. After the war, the congregation continued to grow. By the late 1950’s, the congregation numbered more than 500 and had clearly outgrown the stone church built in 1899. The solution was the current Educational Wing, begun in 1959 and dedicated in 1963.
During 1982, our congregation focused on the future ministry of the church. A decision was made to remain committed to the present site and serve as a vital witness in the downtown Chelsea community. In 1992, construction began on the main entrance, elevator, coatroom and restrooms. The growth and energy of the congregation gave momentum for the building of the Shairer Wing, including Grams Hall. Those facilities were opened in 1996.
In 2014 the Restore – Renew – Reach Out Campaign was started to gain pledges from the congregation to perform extensive remodel and repairs to our aging Sanctuary. And thanks to the generosity of members, these repairs were completed in 2015.
Now, in the 21st Century, Chelsea First United Methodist Church has a growing ministry of music, missional outreach, and spiritual growth opportunities for all ages. We have great hope as we look to the future!
I am so grateful to serve as the pastor at Chelsea First. The Christ-like love and faithfulness of the people in this congregation continue to shape me as a person and a church leader. My husband, Rob Long, and I moved here in 2004; it is a joy and privilege to be part of this congregation and community. We enjoy walks in the woods, gardening, cooking, friends and family, and just being together.
The “great commandment” to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is central for me as a Christ-follower.
I was called into full time ministry 17 years ago. First as a missioner in inner city Detroit and now as ordained clergy serving two congregations. I love most aspects of professional ministry but my area of specialty is community engagement, missions, and outreach. I thrive on meeting individuals from all walks of life, listening to their stories, and sharing my own.
I am married with two adult sons and love camping, hiking, riding my motorcycle, and spending time with friends and family.
Director of Children's Ministry
I have an undergraduate and professional degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology. I have lived with my husband and triplet boys in Chelsea since 2014.
My life is constantly being transformed by seeing the world through a child’s eyes. I have learned that you don’t have to bring God to children. Children already experience God. All children need is an environment that nurtures their spirituality.
Director of Youth Ministries
I love spending time in the stillness with God. I am awed by the love of Jesus Christ. The moments I experience the Holy Spirit leave me reeling.
I’m so deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend time with teenagers whose parents convey to them a greater sense of identity, purpose, and belonging in Jesus Christ.
They are the doubters, the dreamers, and the seekers; and I have never experienced greater wonder, joy, awe, and laughter than spending time in their midst.
“Youth ministry is about holding a young person’s deepest identity until they are able to see it too. We hold on to the knowledge that these young people are the beloved of God, that the gifts they have enrich the world, and that their presence is cause for celebration. We hold this understanding of young people until they can see it, until they believe it, until they can live from it grounded in God’s love.” ~Mark Yaconelli
I have been on staff at Chelsea First since March of 2005. I enjoy the challenges and experiences of my job and feel very blessed to be a welcoming presence in the office. I have three grown children that I am extremely proud of and have two grandchildren. I love the outdoors, spending time on our boat, riding with my husband on our motorcycle, and spending time with family and friends.
I am pleased to be a part of the mission of Chelsea First United Methodist Church. My wife and I moved to Chelsea a little more than two years ago and we have grown to know and love this church. I have been involved in church leadershp, mostly in the Presyterian Church, since I was a teenager. I grew up in a small community similar to Chelsea in upstate New York but, I have lived my adult life in Michigan. My wife and I each have two adult children. I love to read, to sing, and to find ways to work towards a more just world. I look forward to serving this church to the best of my abilities.
Chelsea First UMC is not only my place of employment but it has also been my church home since 2016. I strive to ensure a safe and comfortable place to worship for all. I have lived in Chelsea with my husband, Robert, since 2001. We have two adult children: a daughter and her husband who live here in Chelsea and a son who lives in Jackson.
In my spare time I love to attend Detroit Tigers and Red Wing games and watch the tv show “Survivor”. Someday I hope to be a contestant on the show. I also have a passion for volunteering, connecting with others and learning new things.
Director of Music Ministry
I began serving as the Director of Music Ministries in November 2021 after previous music ministry leadership in variously sized churches for over 30 years, in Illinois, Michigan and Florida. I have many talents and am a versatile musician, conversant with classical, gospel, new Christian music and everything in-between. In addition to local church choral and instrumental music ensembles, I have organized and directed mass choirs, orchestras, and music theater events.
I earned two BAchelor of Art degrees: a BA in Christian Education-Church Music from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL (emphases in vocal music and organ) and a BA in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL (emphases in musical theater and organ). I completed my graduate work in Choral Conducting at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.
I have two adult children: a daughter and her family who live in Holt, MI and a son in Ann Arbor. In my leisure time I enjoy cooking and baking, attending musical theater performances and concerts, watching the BRAVO Television network, as well as travel.
My goal and mission are to implement exciting and meaningful music along with other elements of the arts into the life of the church to elevate corporate and private times of worship.
I am happy to be part of this thriving congregation and church!
I had been a secretary for Simpson UMC for over 20 years before moving to Grass Lake with my husband, Jeff. We moved to be closer to our three kids and their families. Once we established ourselves at Chelsea First, I found a place I knew I belonged to. I have always loved working with computers and technology. If Graphic Arts were a “thing” when I was in school, I would have pursued that course of study.
I love the people at Chelsea First and look forward to helping promote its programs, services, and the people.
Our church culture
Chelsea First is a Christ-centered congregation with a positive, open, and engaging spirit. We are a church for everyone, at all seasons of life. Chelsea First brings a grounded, engaged, and supportive approach to Christian worship while working passionately toward making a positive impact in our community.
The church building is open during regular office hours and
Monday - Wednesday 8-4 pm
Thursday- Friday 8-3 pm