United Methodist Church of Libertyville

UMCL Staff


  • Steve Williams - Senior Pastor
  • Jamie Hanna Williams - Senior Pastor
  • Ben Hallett - Youth Pastor
  • Jim Grace - Directory of Music
  • Jeff Brown - Director of Adult Choir & Contemporary Service
  • Joyce Bedell - New Member/Welcome Ministries Coordinator
  • Blair Brockman - Director of Children's Choirs
  • Ruth Ross - Business/Operations Manager
  • Karla Bolkema - Office Secretary
  • Amanda Seibert - Director of Children's and Family Ministries
  • Sarah Mitchell - Assistant Youth Pastor
  • Valerie Baker - Communications Secretary
Steve Williams - Senior Pastor

Steve Williams

Senior Pastor

Pastor Steve Williams has been on staff since summer 2011. Born in Canton, Pennsylvania, he received his bachelor of arts from Clarion University (Clarion, Pennsylvania), his master of divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Massachusetts), and his doctor of ministry from Chicago’s North Park University Seminary.

He is enthusiastic about UMCL’s lay leadership and, as he looks ahead, he hopes that our church will be “the place for youth to be on a Friday night.”

Pastor Steve says that the best advice he’s ever received was, “When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard, and when you pray, pray hard.” True to these wise words, he pursues his interests with gusto. When not working at church, you might find him riding his 1984 Honda Goldwing motorcycle (he calls it living on a wing and a prayer), reading on his Kindle, taking long walks in remote woods, or watching college football.

The place he most enjoys visiting is Grand Teton National Park, the majesty of which has inspired him to dream of being a ranger there.
847-362-2112 ext. 228
Jamie Hanna Williams - Senior Pastor

Jamie Hanna Williams

Senior Pastor

Pastor Jamie Hanna Williams has been on staff at UMCL since summer 2011. Transplanted to the Midwest in her youth , Pastor Jamie began life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned a bachelor of science from Butler University in Indianapolis.

Knowing from a young age that she wanted to serve the Lord, she went on to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where she was awarded her master of divinity, and the Chicago Theological Seminary, where she earned her doctor of ministry degree.

Asked whom she admires most, she replies Martin Luther King, Jr., “for his courage, vision, and faith.” And her dream job? Any that allows her to be “creative while working with people to make the world a better place.” Pastor

Jamie is excited about UMCL because of the people, saying, “They have so much to offer the world in the spirit of Christ.”

Watch out for Pastor Jamie as she rides her bike—fast—around town; that’s one of her favorite pastimes. She also enjoys traveling, creating artistically, seeing live theater, walking in the woods, and playing with children.

You might also find her at Wrigley Field, cheering on the Cubs because, by her own admission, she’s an eternal optimist. Pastor Jamie’s optimism extends to UMCL, which she sees as “moving with energy, joy, and excitement in new ways of ministry and service.”
847-362-2112 ext. 224
Ben Hallett - Youth Pastor

Ben Hallett

Youth Pastor

Youth Pastor Ben Hallett has been on staff since 2011 and he calls his job at UMCL “a pretty sweet gig.” He grew up outside of Indianapolis and attended Purdue University, where he studied sociology and psychology. Happy to be living outside Chicago, Ben says that the people at UMCL “will love you so hard…if you allow yourself, you actually feel like part of a family here.” When he considers what lies ahead for the church, he says he anticipates that the leadership and congregation will “orient ourselves better around loving all and loving God,” becoming better able to “engage different people in a variety of ways and meet the needs of the community.”

When not working for the church, Ben engages in “a plethora of activities”; he reports that he loves “bicycling, playing tennis and Frisbee (of any sort), folk music, drinking coffee of the Caribou variety, making new friends, playing board games (anything themed with zombies, ninjas, cowboys, or mobsters, or medieval, or strategy), dancing, walking, watching basketball…most anything if my friends are doing it with me.” He’s often heard singing and strumming his guitar, whether it’s in one of the services or for the children’s Sunday school.

Ben’s reading list matches his activities list: long and varied. Favorite subjects include philosophy, creativity, and religion (naturally). When it comes to technology, he zeroes in on Google, saying the company “pretty much rocks most of everything now.”

Possessing a keen mind, a natural curiosity, a vivid imagination, and the dream of becoming a writer or a touring musician, Ben relates well to the youth he serves. When asked whom he admires, he answers frankly, “Anyone who is able to contentedly live simply and free of want.” And though his interests are varied, he understands the importance of doing a job well; he said the best advice he ever received was “Stop doing so many things and focus your energies on a few things and do them well.”
847-362-2112 ext. 226
Jim Grace - Directory of Music

Jim Grace

Directory of Music

Jim Grace is more than Director of Music at UMCL; he is an institution. Our church has been blessed with his music ministry for more than 50 years. When asked about his dream job, he says he has it.

Jim was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and later pursued all his degrees in Illinois. He received a B.A. in music education from Millikin University (Decatur), a master of music from Northwestern (Evanston), and a master of education administration from Roosevelt University (Chicago).

When not practicing in the sanctuary or attending meetings at the church, Jim enjoys spending time with his family. His favorite place to visit is Door County, Wisconsin. The best advice he’s ever received? Keep doing what you are doing well.
847-362-2112 ext. 230
Jeff Brown - Director of Adult Choir & Contemporary Service

Jeff Brown

Director of Adult Choir & Contemporary Service

Jeff Brown, who has been on staff at UMCL since 2000, holds the dual role of Adult Choir Director and Director of Contemporary Worship. A native Texan, he was born in Dallas, grew up in Longview, and attended the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, where he earned his bachelor of music degree in 1993 and his master of music degree two years later. In 2002, Jeff completed his doctoral degree of musical arts from Michigan State University.

When he’s not working at Libertyville High School, where he is Director of Choirs, and the church, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and children, following sports, watching television, going to the movies, listening to music, and cooking. His favorite (and most relied-upon!) gadget is his iPhone.

Asked whom he admires most, Jeff replies that is his wife, Eryn, “because of her work ethic, her gentle spirit and her attention to detail.”

When asked about his dream job, his answer is conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Until then, we at UMCL get to enjoy Jeff’s musical gifts and he is excited about our church’s future.
Joyce Bedell - New Member/Welcome Ministries Coordinator

Joyce Bedell

New Member/Welcome Ministries Coordinator

Joyce Bedell has been a member of United Methodist Church of Libertyville since she moved here from Virginia in 1999.

Joyce serves as the church’s New Member/Welcome Ministries Coordinator, a position she’s held since 2010, calling it her dream job. She enjoys connecting with new church members and welcoming them to the UMCL family. She gets excited about the wonderful programs and the “thriving worship services that offer something for everyone.”

In her spare time, Joyce likes to read, travel, and hang out with family and friends. She loves spending family time at Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada, boating and sitting on the dock of the bay. When back in Virginia, she likes to hike along the trails of the Shenandoah Valley.

Joyce most admires her husband, Woody Bedell, for his intelligence, attitude and positive outlook on life.
847-362-2112 ext. 229
Blair Brockman - Director of Children's Choirs

Blair Brockman

Director of Children's Choirs

Children’s Choirs Director Blair Brockman has been a member of UMCL since 2001. A native Texan, she received her bachelor of music degree from Stephen F. Austin State University before heading to the Midwest, where she earned her master of music from Northwestern University in nearby Evanston.

Blair fondly remembers the choir director from her childhood church, Nita Hurley, who inspired her to sing and always encouraged her. Now she pays that forward by enthusiastically working every week with the children of UMCL. She says that the kids in the choirs are “amazing and bring so much joy to the life of our church.”

When not at church, Blair enjoys watching her own children participate in sports, eating out, reading (a recent book was Cheer by Kate Torgovnick), and visiting Texas. She says the best advice she’s ever received was that if the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making a change, it’s time to make a change.
Ruth Ross - Business/Operations Manager

Ruth Ross

Business/Operations Manager

Serving as Business/Operations Manager, Ruth Ross joined our Church in 1996 and has been a part of the UMCL Staff for the past eight years. Born in the small town of Geneseo, Illinois, she graduated from Illinois State University, and took graduate classes in nonprofit management from North Park University and Church Business Administration from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Ruth sees UMCL’s focus on updating and refining its vision for the future. She says, “I love this church; it’s truly home.” She appreciates working here, where she hopes she’s making a difference.

When Ruth isn’t crunching numbers in the business office and handling facility matters, you’ll find her exercising, knitting, and baking. She enjoys old movies, including musicals—her favorite is Singin’ in the Rain—and traveling to Door County, Wisconsin, or visiting family.

When asked about the persons she most admires, Ruth listens to her heart and names her mother as one of the most influential people in her life.
847-362-2112 ext. 227
Karla Bolkema - Office Secretary

Karla Bolkema

Office Secretary

Karla Bolkema joined United Methodist Church of Libertyville staff in spring 2012 as our lead secretary. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she attended Calvin College. In her clerical role, Karla comes into contact with many people, whom she enthusiastically describes as “using their gifts to serve God in countless ways!” She sees UMCL becoming stronger than ever and “continuing to share God's light and love in our community.” Her positive spirit is reflected in her a favorite quote, from Corrie Ten Boom, “Worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” She goes on to say that she admires the many saints she’s been privileged to know, “friends and family who persevere in life with much grace, faith, joy, and dignity, despite great sorrow, loss, and pain.”

When she’s not at her desk in the church office, Karla enjoys walking, bicycling, listening to music, and reading. She also enjoys spending time with her family.
847-362-2112 ext. 221
Amanda Seibert - Director of Children's and Family Ministries

Amanda Seibert

Director of Children's and Family Ministries

Amanda Seibert joined UMCL staff as Director of Children's and Family Ministries the spring of 2013, in time to capably lead Vacation Bible School in July; Kingdom Rock was a huge success. Amanda had already been part of the congregation, involved in Young Couples Group with her husband as well as in Faith Circle and UMW.

She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and received her B.S. degree in Sports Management from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania; she minored in Spanish and Communications.

In her free time, Amanda enjoys cooking, reading, canning fruit and vegetables from her garden, and walking her dog Riley. Her dream job is princess (she got a taste of that during VBS when she wore a crown and gown) and if she could have any super power it would be teleporting.

Asked whom she admires most, she replied that it's her mom: "She raised a family of four, went back to school for teaching, is in the military, and has completed two tours. She has faced a lot of adversity but she still comes out on top.
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Sarah Mitchell - Assistant Youth Pastor

Sarah Mitchell

Assistant Youth Pastor

Assistant Youth Pastor Sarah Mitchell joined UMCL the summer of 2013, giving her the opportunity to work with outgoing Assistant Youth Pastor Lindsey Junk before her departures and giving the youth of the church a smooth transition to new leadership.

Sarah was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and her favorite vacation destination remains the Mitten and Scarf state, with a preference for the UP.

When she’s not at church, she enjoys writing, reading, and hanging out with her husband, Aaron, and their dog, Lexi. Given the choice of any superpower, she’d pick being omnilingual, the ability to understand and speak any language.

The person she most admires is her grandfather, Earl “Sandy” Hartley; she said he defied the odds and was the most spiritual person she’s known. We’re glad to have Sarah on board.
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Valerie Baker - Communications Secretary

Valerie Baker

Communications Secretary

Valerie Baker joined the UMCL staff as Communications Secretary in April of 2013. She reports that in the course of her work, there are new smiling faces to meet each day.

Valerie is originally from Dry Tavern, Pennsylvania, situated between Pittsburgh and Wheeling, West Virginia. She and her sister were raised by their paternal grandmother, whom Valerie admires for the many sacrifices she made.

A fan of football and NASCAR racing, she also enjoys gardening, reading, cooking/baking, spending time with family, and traveling to exotic destinations (her favorite is Bora Bora).

Valerie took no time at all to become acclimated to her new work environment and duties. In the absence of her desired super power, omnipresence, you can find her in the church office during regular hours; stop in and say hello.
847-362-2112 ext. 222