Our Epworth Chaplain Melody Johnson was born at Epworth and has been a part of the Epworth family her entire life. Her grandparents, her Aunt and Uncle and her parents had cottages at Epworth for their lifetimes. Her brother and sister also have an Epworth cottage, as do Melody and her family. Epworth is truly home for her. Raised in the Midwest she journeyed south to Duke University and Duke Divinity school and was ordained as a United Methodist Minister in 1974. Her ministry has included serving local churches, teaching in colleges, serving as a Pastoral Counselor and for the past 15 years directing Pastoral Care for Communities of Elders in the Grand Rapids area.
Her passion has always been for those attending church at Epworth to recognize the heritage – that “recreation” has a spiritual as well as physical meaning – that we all come to Epworth not only to vacation but to keep in touch with our roots and recharge our batteries.
Becoming the Epworth Chaplain has brought Melody full circle in her life work, and like many of us, she is passionate about this place that is “home.”
She and her husband Rev. Phil Johnson are currently helping to raise a new generation of Epworthians – their grandchildren – at WahWinGa Cottage.
Heather DeVries, Coordinator
Heather DeVries began working at the Epworth Church Association in the summer of 2015 and has been assisting the Epworth Church Board, volunteers and the Epworth Assembly to develop quality programming, strengthen the stewardship of our historic structures, build regional partnerships and ensure excellent financial administration.
Heather is a Michigan native and attended Grand Valley State University earning her bachelor’s degree in History and Eastern Michigan University completing her master’s degree in Historic Preservation and Urban Planning. Before joining the Epworth Church Association she worked for Grand Valley State University and the City of Scottville, Michigan.
She brings 10 years of public programming, 7 of those years in non-profit management, to the Epworth Church Association and is looking forward to the upcoming 2019 season.
Megan McCain, Director of Activities
Megan McCain’s family has owned Comfort Kit Cottage for over 100 years and she has been visiting Epworth her entire life. She has been involved with the Activities Program in many capacities, as a Pixie Leader, Girls Club Leader and a Peewee Leader.
Megan has bachelors degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Arkansas and is completing two Masters degrees; one in Spanish from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and one in Teaching from the University of Central Arkansas. She was a graduate assistant while attending graduate school until she accepted a full-time teaching position 7 years ago.
Currently, Megan is a Middle School Spanish teacher at the Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas and is the Junior High Pom Sponsor, assisting the cheerleaders and dancers at all sporting events.
Sheri Saksa, Director of Teens
As Director of Teens Activities Sheri Saksa has been able to mentor the youth at Epworth for 29 years. Sheri graduated from Wichita State University in Elementary Education in 1974 and married Larry Saksa, a West Point graduate in Engineering, in 1975. She has four children and four grand children and is retired from Education. Sheri resides in Wichita, Kansas during the off season.
A special note regarding Larry Saksa:
LarrySaksa, our beloved Activities Director, passed away November 19, 2016.
We honored Larry’s memory during the 2017 season and will continue to do so through his youth fellowship event Pizza with Larry. His impact on generations of Epworthians is long lasting.
Jaime Lynn Petrie, Pianist
Jaime Lynn Petrie has been playing piano since she was 4 years old, taking lessons from her aunt, throughout her formative years. She graduated from Shelby High School in 2007, having been very involved in music. She attended St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame for a year, before moving home to spend time with family. She has since built her career from the ground up, working for many area schools, including Shelby, Hart, Ludington, Oakridge, Western Michigan Christian, and Manistee High Schools, as well as West Shore Community College and Central Park Players. She now works as the full-time accompanist & secretary for Mona Shores High School’s Choir Program.
Jaime married her best friend, James Petrie and they have one child. Jaime loves performing at Epworth and is looking forward to her fourth summer at the Epworth Church Association in 2019.
Greg Kjolhede, Audio/Visual
Greg Kjolhede will be joining us in 2019 for his 23nd year at Epworth as Audio/Visual Technician. He very involved in the performing arts communities in Ludington and surrounding areas. Greg has assisted with performances at West Shore Community College, the Ramsdell Theatre, the Ludington Area Center for the Arts and various other community productions.