Rev. Park Hunter, Pastor
Pastor Park Hunter was appointed to Onalaska UMC in July 2015. His passion is building the Kingdom of God by connecting people with Jesus Christ and with each other. Pastor Park finds that the United Methodist Church, with its emphasis on love and grace, is a “big tent” where people of many theological perspectives can find common ground. He enjoys preaching and teaching, music, and missions.
Pastor Park formerly served at Mosinee UMC in Wisconsin, the New Hope & Purley UMC charge in North Carolina, and Williams Chapel in Indiana. He received his MDiv from Duke Divinity School in 2010, where he earned a university-wide prize for his historical research on the early Methodist Church. Before being called into ministry, Park owned a computer consulting business.
Park and Anna-Lisa have been married since 1995. Their son Cameron attends UW-Stout, and their daughter Anna studies Chinese at Wellesley College in Boston, Massachusetts. Their youngest son Erick is a student at Central High School in La Crosse. The Hunters enjoy reading, watching movies, walking, biking, and camping. Park likes to play chess (look for mparkh on GameKnot), and is currently restoring a 1948 Crosley automobile.
Paul Bratsch, Director of Christian Discipleship
Paul began serving as DCD in August 2015. While experienced in a wide variety of positions and church traditions, Paul’s passion has always been seeing people of all ages deeply transformed by the love of God. At OUMC, his focus is accomplishing this through small groups, youth programs, and missions.
Previously, Paul has served as Associate Pastor at Great River Vineyard Church in La Crosse, and Pastor of Community Life at Denver Community Church in Denver, CO. He holds an MDiv from Denver Seminary and a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Paul, his wife Jessica, and their three children, Silas, Maggie, and Micah, can often be found hiking, camping, catching frogs, and eating too much pizza. Paul also enjoys trail running, music, and Lake Superior.
Jessica Gobel, Director of Children’s Ministry
Jessica Gobel’s ministry at OUMC began several years ago as a volunteer for Vacation Bible School and Children’s Ministry. This evolved into the position of Director of Children’s Ministry and she officially joined the OUMC staff in June of 2012. Jessica plans and oversees programming for ages preschool through fifth grade. This includes Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and a children’s chimes choir. She enjoys getting to know the families as well as the many volunteers that make up Children’s Ministry. Jessica is also one of the Lay Members to Annual Conference. She and her husband, Matt, and their children, Katelin, Amy, and John have been part of OUMC since 2003.
Deb Cowan, Office Assistant
Deb Cowan joined OUMC in 2014. She is the smiling face you see in our office, and the helpful person you hear on the phone. She enjoys facilitating the ministry of the church, encouraging our volunteers, and handing out candy to polite children who stop by the office. Deb and her husband John live in Onalaska.
Rev. Bruce Bartel, Pastor Emeritus
Rev. Bruce Bartel has served as Pastor Emeritus at OUMC since 2009. He served as Senior Pastor at OUMC from 1994 until his retirement in June, 2005. As pastor emeritus, Bruce preaches once a month and offers his gift of teaching. He and his wife, Kathy, have three adult children and enjoy their role as grandparents.
Cory Groves, Music Director
Cory Groves has been the Chancel Choir Director at OUMC since August, 2000. He also helps organize the Praise Worship Teams and plays with them. Cory designs and directs the annual Cantata concert, which is a highlight of the Advent/Christmas season. He retired in 2013 from his work as the Onalaska Middle School band director, but is still a substitute teacher and teaches music lessons. Cory and his wife, Lynn, have two adult children and two grandchildren.
Sandy Koster, Accompanist
Sandy Koster has been the organist and musical accompanist at OUMC since 2003 and substituted in the same position for three years prior. Sandy plays piano with the Praise I worship team and sings with the Olde Tyme Religion group. She plays for many special worship services in addition to weddings and funerals. Sandy has been a chemistry professor at UW-La Crosse since 1986. She and her husband, David, have three adult children.
Kimberly Gatica, Bell Choir Director
Kimberly Gatica conducts the NoteWorthy Bell Choir. Kimberly grew up at OUMC and shared her passion for music with the congregation by performing solos, participating in Chancel Choir and directing the children’s choir. After graduating from Onalaska High School (OHS), Kimberly went on to study Music Therapy at UW-Eau Claire. After 20 years away from home, Kimberly and her two daughters moved back to Onalaska. Daniela is a student at Iowa State and Katarina is a senior at OHS. Kimberly’s love of music and the sense of community at OUMC led her to the decision to become the Noteworthy Director in 2017.