First United Methodist Church Leadership
First United Methodist Church is blessed to have a leadership team that is truly dedicated to Christ and accomplishing His will.
Pastor Stephen was appointed to serve as our Senior Pastor on July 1, 2017. Prior to that, he served on the staff of the Florida United Methodist Children's Home and was the pastor of churches in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral.
Pastor Stephen was born and raised in the United Methodist Church. His father was a pastor in the Florida Conference. Stephen served on the leadership team at the Warren Willis Youth Camp for eight summers. That experience not only strengthened his faith, but it cultivated and nourished his calling into ordained ministry.
Pastor Stephen believes that the mission of the church is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. The church should act in such a way that people get a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God is like.
He earned his BA from Florida South College and a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology.
Pastor Stephen has been happily married since 1988 to his wife, Jill. They have two adult children: James and Emma.
Pastor Dennis was hired as Associate Pastor in 2014 after retirement where he served as Senior Pastor for sixteen years at the Thonotosassa United Methodist Church.
Pastor Dennis has a BA in Psychology from the University of South Florida and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years in the United States Air Force. He served on the District Leadership Council for fifteen years representing small church ministries and four years as chairperson of the committee for small church ministries for the Florida Conference.
Pastor believes the purpose of the Church is the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19.
Pastor Dennis is married to Virginia (Ginny) Roebuck and they have five adult children and eight grandchildren.
Director of Music Ministries
James Cornelius began as the Director of Music Ministries in April 2017. He also teaches music at Poinciana Academy of Fine Arts where he teaches general music and is also the director of chorus, ukulele choir, and steel drum ensembles since 2015.
James was born and raised in the First United Methodist Church of Plant City. During his college years, he left to be the Director of Youth Ministries at Cork UMC and to study music. In 2017 just after starting at the church, James underwent severe medical issues that strengthened his beliefs.
Along with teaching and directing the church music ministries, James has also taught at Florida Southern College’s band camp for four years and performed with the Sarasota Opera. He earned both his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance and Master of Education from Florida Southern College.
Cynthia began in July 2016 as Administrative Assistant when she was approached by the church and asked if she would be interested in applying when there was a need to fill the position. Born and raised in Plant City she lived away most of her adult life, including many years in Italy, until family circumstances brought her back. The challenges of finding a job with a foreign work resume, amongst other circumstances, were overwhelming when an unexpected phone call from the search committee changed that. She believes that God orchestrated everything and her faith has been renewed, as well as deepened and strengthened.
First Church has been her church since 2014 when she was looking for a denomination that incorporated and encompassed Christian beliefs from a Southern Baptist upbringing and certain principals learned from living for many years in a predominately Catholic culture. She strongly believes in the United Methodist Wesleyan tradition because of its deep Christian commitment to local and global mission outreach and embracement of people from all walks of life.
Church Activities and Outreach
Jennifer Kramer was the Administrative Assistant at First United Methodist Church of Lakeland and the assistant to the Pastor at Cork United Methodist Church. At Cork, she had many responsibilities including leading the contemporary worship, family ministries, and communication, in addition to administrative tasks.
Jennifer was raised in the Catholic Church but became a United Methodist in 2012. John Wesley's strong emphasis on discipleship spoke to her heart. She loves our denomination and is currently in the process of becoming a certified Local Pastor.
Jennifer lives in Lakeland with her husband, Joshua, her 14-year-old daughter and 6 year old son. They also share their home with Harley (Best Dog Ever!) and Chloe, the cat who rules the house.
If raising a family, preparing to become a Local Pastor, and working at First Church wasn't enough, she's also attending USF with the goal of obtaining her master's degree in environmental engineering.