Our Staff


Pastor Sarah


Pastor Sarah Hong is originally from South Korea and moved to the U.S. to pursue her doctoral degree in Philosophy and Education. Then God had a better plan to lead her into a ministry. Pastor Sarah schooled at Korea University, Montclair State Univ., Princeton Theological Seminary and Candle School of Theology, Emory University. She was ordained in Northern Illinois Conference in 2010. Prior to her ordination, she served various congregations in Bronx, NY, Atlanta, GA and Dixon, IL. Before coming to Minooka UMC in May of 2015, Pastor Sarah served at New Lenox UMC. Pastor Sarah is married to Rev. Caleb Hong and they have two teenage daughters. Pastor Sarah is passionate for bringing people to Jesus Christ and sharing the good news in engaging, creative, relevant and fun ways to younger generation. She likes to travel, watch movies and musicals with her family.


Patti Kelly

Administrative Assistant


Patti grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She studied Early Childhood Education at Prairie State Community College and Illinois State University. She retired from teaching in 2015 after heading her own Christian Preschool in Joliet for 16 years and teaching at KLA Schools of Plainfield for 2 years. God was so good how He led Patti to Minooka UMC! She had desired to work in a Christian environment again to serve the people of God and….here she is. In Patti’s free time, she enjoys time with her husband of 25 years and her two adult children. Photography, crafting and selling Lularoe allows her creative side to shine. Patti is humbled by how God has used her during her life to touch others…what a wonderful journey it has been so far.


kellenKellen Walker

Youth Director


Kellen grew up in Channahon, IL. He studied Business Management & Marketing at Carthage College. He’s worked for a fortune 500 company, owned his own business, and is now in real estate. His path to Minooka Methodist is one that only he can tell you. He gives all of the credit to God and let’s God use him as he see’s fit. His passion focuses on the youth and equipping them with the lessons and knowledge to live a meaningful God filled life. He lacks no energy or fun to do that. In his free time, he loves to be with his family traveling, coaching, or just hanging out in the yard. Kellen is humbled with how God has decided to use him to communicate and teach others at Minooka United Methodist.


valValerie Gunderson

Nursery Caregiver

Val grew up in Tinley Park. She has a juris doctorate degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Val is an Assistant State’s Attorney in Kankakee County and has been for 12 years, since graduating from law school. She is married and has three children. Val was married at MUMC and all three children have been baptized there. Being a part of the MUMC family is something that brings her great joy. She doesn’t recall how long she has been in the nursery. Time sure does fly by.




laverneLaVerne Spencer


LaVerne was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois. Graduated from JJC and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. He worked at Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Johnson & Johnson in Chicago; co-owned and operated LaSpen Engineering with my father; and became owner-operator of Spencer’s Jewelry in 1977. LaVerne’s daughter purchased the store the store in 2004. He continues to work there part-time, as needed.

LaVerne’s hobby is open-wheel auto racing. I am co-owner of a local club and own and maintain a midget race car.

He has two children, a son and a daughter, and two grandchildren. LaVerne’s wife has two daughters (one deceased), four grandchildren, one great-grandson, two step-granddaughters and two step great-grandchildren.

When the opening for custodian became available LaVerne felt this was something he could do. Being retired, he is available as needed. His wife volunteers and helps him with the tasks.