Staff Bios

Jean Arkwright

Financial Administrative Assistant
602-840-8360, ext. 139

EMAIL JEAN

Jean has been an active member of the congregation for more than 17 years and joined the PVUMC staff in August of 2010. She works closely with the Church Administrator and has responsibilities that include stewardship, accounts payable and serving as back-up to the receptionist. Prior to PVUMC, Jean worked for 10 years in the finance department at Campbell Soup Company in Camden, NJ. Jean is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a BS in Accounting and a minor in Flute Performance.

Jo Ann Call

Bookkeeper
Church: 602-840-8360, ext. 128

Jo Ann worked as Office Manager/Financial Secretary for the Cross in the Desert Church for 12 years prior to joining the staff at PVUMC as Financial Administrative Assistant in 2003. In 2011, she retired. In July 2014, she was rehired as part-time bookkeeper for PVUMC. She is glad to be back among her co-workers and friends. Jo Ann has an Associate Degree in accounting with 35 years working in the accounting and office management fields.

 

Dr. Andria Fennig

Worship Accompanist/Director of Contemporary Worship Arts

EMAIL ANDRIA

Andria received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University in 2002. She has previously taught on the faculties of the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Paradise Valley Community College. Dr. Fennig has a wide and all-encompassing piano performance background including solo performance, collaborative artistry, chamber music, and pit orchestra work for touring Broadway shows and entertainer acts (Wicked, Color Purple, West Side Story, Jackie Evancho, Il Divo, and Three Irish Tenors). An advocate for new music performance, she has performed with the Albuquerque-based LINKS Ensemble, Phoenix-based Crossing 32nd Street Ensemble, and the Arizona State University-based New American Piano Music Ensemble.  Dr. Fennig founded and served as both the musician and management representative for the successful flute, cello, and piano trio Paradisa!, which performed several chamber concerts throughout the Southwest United States, including the annually celebrated Red Rocks Music Festival in Sedona, AZ, and the Abiquiu Music Festival in Abiquiu, NM. As well as working part-time at PVUMC, leading the band at the IGNITE service and serving as accompanist, she is on staff as a pianist/accompanist/coach at Grand Canyon University and teaches a large body of private piano students in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

 

Melissa Fought

Receptionist/Administrative Assistant
602-840-8360, ext. 110

EMAIL MELISSA

Melissa started working at PVUMC in 2007 as a Children’s Ministry Summer Intern.  After the internship concluded, Melissa periodically filled in as receptionist until December 2010 when her role as a receptionist and administrative assistant became permanent. In addition to handling all incoming calls and greeting visitors to the church office, Melissa provides administrative support to the church staff and maintains the church database. Prior to working at PVUMC and taking time to be a stay-at-home mom, Melissa worked at Bank One for 11 years in the Loan Collections Department as an Assistant Vice President managing the Customer Service, Internal Audit and Clerical Support Units.

Sam Henderson

5th-7th Grade Coordinator/Squad 57 (Part-time)
480-773-4009 (cell)

EMAIL SAM

Sam joined PVUMC in January 2016 under Christopher Wurpts, the Youth Ministries Director, to create and grow a Middle School Program. The program is called Squad 57, and includes students from 5th to 7th grade. Before coming to work at PVUMC, Sam had worked and traveled in Asia and Africa. While overseas, his adventures included teaching English, owning a youth hostel, and partnering with local and international organizations to help women and children receive an education.

Gretchen Holt

Caring Ministries Coordinator (Part-time)
602-840-8360, ext.132

EMAIL GRETCHEN

Gretchen has a BA in Personnel Administration from the University of Kansas, and has more than 25 years of experience in the human resources field. She has worked with Caring Ministries since May 2009.

Denise Mahrle

Cashier (Part-time)
602-840-8360, ext. 145

EMAIL DENISE

Denise began working at PVUMC as our part-time cashier in the summer of 1999. Denise also manages the Columbarium and fingerprinting for staff, and she assists the Accounts Payable clerk as well as with the Stewardship campaign. Previously, she worked in the banking industry and in legal offices.

Shari Paris

Mini Singers Director (Part-time)

EMAIL SHARI

Shari L. Paris is an Early Childhood Music Specialist and is currently the Mini-Singers Director at PVUMC.  Shari brings the Children’s Message to the 11 am service and has been an active member of the congregation for more than 20 years. She has a full and thriving Suzuki Violin Studio, and is also the Music and Movement teacher in Preschools located throughout the Valley. In addition to teaching, Shari is a clinician and has presented Early Childhood Music demonstrations in state, regional and national settings.

Betty Price

Administrative Assistant to the Senior Pastor
602-840-8360, ext. 129

EMAIL BETTY

Betty Price relocated to Arizona from the Chicago area in January, 2010, leaving her job as Director of Administration at Kingswood UMC in Buffalo Grove, IL, and her church home at Glenview (IL) UMC. During her 15 years at Glenview UMC, she was lay leader, lay delegate to annual conference, chair of the worship committee, chair of the invitation team, a member of the spiritual growth committee, UMW, and the choir. Since becoming a member of PVUMC in January, 2010, she has chaired the Welcome Team, she sings in the Chancel Choir, and has served on the Strategic Planning and Pathways task forces. In April, 2010, she began working at Tempe First UMC for then Senior Pastor Dave Summers. She continued to work there after he became senior pastor here at PVUMC, and joined our staff in August, 2014, when Betty Cochran retired, again working as Pastor Dave’s administrative assistant.

Mickey Price

Church Administrator
602-840-8360, ext. 113

EMAIL MICKEY

Mickey, our Church Administrator, has a Bachelor of Business in Accountancy and Information Science from Western Illinois University, as well as an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He joined the PVUMC staff in August of 2002, bringing with him 25 years of accounting and management experience. He oversees day-to-day operations of the administrative staff and our church property, and works closely with the Trustees and Finance ministry teams.

Kathy Ratliff

Childcare Coordinator (Part-time)
602-840-8360, ext. 134

EMAIL KATHY

Kathy has served as Childcare Coordinator for approximately 14 years at PVUMC.  She has been a member here for 17 years and, in the past, has worked in Methodist Church nurseries in Florida and as a preschool aide. Her vocation was as an x-ray technologist and she worked in a Children’s Hospital. She is mother to eight grown children.

Jack Sarrett

Preventive Maintenance Coordinator (Part-time)
602-840-8360, ext. 146

EMAIL JACK

Jack began working on the PVUMC staff in August, 2013. He is responsible for coordinating all outside vendor maintenance/repair activities; monitoring custodial and porter staff; monitoring landscape and custodial contracted vendors, and making repairs to property building and grounds. Jack has a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems degree from the University of Phoenix. Previous experience includes handyman business owner, maintenance supervisor at Tempe First UMC, senior systems analyst at ASU, the Director of Information Systems at Tempe Elementary School District, and various other supervisory and technical positions leading up to the directorship, for a total of more than 26 years with the District.

Pam Selthun

Communications Director
602-840-8360, ext. 122

EMAIL PAM

Pam joined the PVUMC staff in March, 2012, and handles the day-to-day operations of both the internal and external communications of the church. Her responsibilities include the weekly Looking Ahead and Paradise E-News, the bimonthly newsletter, the web site and social media channels. She is also staff liaison for the Marketing and Communications Ministry Team. Pam has worked in the area of communications and education since graduating from Valparaiso University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. For 10 years, she served as Director of Publications for Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. She received her MA in English Linguistics from Arizona State University in 1997.

Rev. Brenda Smith

Director of Children’s Ministry and Young Adult Ministry
602-840-8360, ext. 141

EMAIL BRENDA

Brenda joined the PVUMC staff in 2012. She is employed part-time as the Director of Children Ministry for ages 3 years to 6th Grade, and part-time as the Young Adult Ministry Coordinator. She has a Master’s in Children and Family Ministry from Bethel University Seminary in St. Paul, and has served in this ministry for over 15 years and in several churches. She has also worked with Young Adults for about five years, and launched two Young Adult ministry programs. On June 20, 2015, Brenda was commissioned as part of the Annual Conference at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa. Commissioning makes Brenda a provisional member of the Desert Southwest Conference with the title of Reverend. The two-year commissioning period is a time of learning and preparation with an assigned peer group who guide and advise Brenda. Ordination follows in 2017. Brenda has a Master of Arts in children and family ministry from Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, and she completed her UMC Basic Graduate Theological Studies for Deacon from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in May 2014.

Ashley Snavley

Music & Arts Ministries Director/Organist
602-840-8360, ext. 138

EMAIL ASHLEY

In December of 2014, Ashley graduated from Arizona State University with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from ASU, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ashley was appointed the Director of Music and Arts Ministries at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in 2015 after serving as organist and assistant director. Prior to working at PVUMC, Ashley held a position at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Paradise Valley, where she served as interim choirmaster and organist as well as the youth and children’s music associate and handbell director.

Mindy Sobraske

Preschool Director
602-840-8265

EMAIL MINDY

Known as “Teacher Mindy,” Mindy is director of the Paradise Valley United Methodist Church Preschool. She has taught at the school since 1986 and has also taught parenting classes through various community organizations. Mindy holds a B.A. in Education and Special Education and has done graduate work toward a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, including work in Family Studies and Child Development. Since 1978, Mindy has been certified by the Arizona State Department of Education in Elementary and Special Education. Since 1992, she has been a validator for the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs and National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Thomas (Tommy) Strawser

Assistant Music Director & Youth Choir Director

EMAIL TOMMY

A native of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Tommy has been a resident artist for Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, College Light Opera Company in Massachusetts, and Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Before coming out west, Tommy performed in operas, musicals, and choirs throughout the Philadelphia area, most recently with the Philadelphia Singers. Here in Arizona, Tommy is a member of the Grammy-award winning Phoenix Chorale, and has been involved with productions at Childsplay, Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Opera Outreach, Nearly Naked Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre, and ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre and School of Theatre and Film. Thomas holds a Master of Music in Opera/Musical Theatre Performance from ASU and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from West Chester University of PA.

Lori Wiggs

Godly Play Instructor (Part-time) 

After many years in the municipal Parks and Recreation Field, Lori retired to be home with her new family. She began teaching Sunday School in her daughter’s class, and eventually found the Godly Play classroom. She received training in the Godly Play Curriculum in 2004 and became a Godly Play Certified Instructor. Around the same time she also become a member of the PVUMC Preschool Staff as “Coach” Wiggs, the Motor Perception Instructor. She teaches an after school Godly Play class on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as the Sunday Morning class.

Christopher Wurpts

Youth Ministries Director
602-840-8360, ext. 147

EMAIL CHRISTOPHER

Christopher joined PVUMC as our Youth Ministries Director in August, 2013. He works with the whole church to instill sustaining, long-lasting faith in the young people of the church. Previously, he served as youth director at the Church of the Master in Mesa, where he grew their youth program and launched a community youth center. He was awarded a BA in religion and visual art from Northwestern College, Orange City, IA, and has more than nine years of experience in leading youth ministry programs.

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