Rev. James Preston, Lead Pastor



Rev. James Preston is the lead pastor of Kingswood United Methodist Church. Prior to serving at Kingswood, Rev. Preston served six years as the Chicago Northwestern District Superintendent. Rev. Preston has served churches and ministries in Rockford, Chicago, Oklahoma, and Texas. A native Texan, Preston attended Texas Tech University and then Perkins School of Theology in Dallas where he graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1990.  Rev. Preston is committed to reaching new people for Jesus Christ, seeking God’s justice in the world, and proclaiming a message of full inclusion within and outside the church. James loves gardening, music, theater, travel, hospitality, world foods, conversation, the Cubs, and time with friends and family.




Rev. Luke Pepper, Deacon of Youth Ministries


Rev. Luke Pepper is a native of the Northwest Suburbs, having grown up in Schaumburg and Palatine areas. He attended American University in Washington, D.C. where he earned a B.S. in Political Science with a minor in education studies. Deacon Luke holds a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Christian Education from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. He is currently enrolled part-time at National Louis University working on his Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education. He is passionate about guiding people in growing spiritually while helping them to discern and live out their calling in the world. At Kingswood UMC, Deacon Luke facilitates the confirmation program and youth ministries. Deacon Luke’s student teaching placement is in the special education department at Aptakisic Jr. High in Buffalo Grove.  In his spare time, Deacon Luke enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling, following politics and government both at the national and global level, fine dining, and collecting penguin paraphernalia.



Rev. Josh Lee, Assistant Pastor


Rev. Josh Lee serves as the Assistant Pastor overseeing Adult Formation, Communications, Seasoned Seniors Ministry and Pastoral Care. He most recently worked at Urban Village Church in Chicago and is currently attending Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He has also served in many other flavors of the church. Growing up in Elgin, IL, he served as an Associate Pastor at an Assemblies of God Church, Youth Pastor at an American Baptist Church, and then, after obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in Pastoral Studies from the Moody Bible Institute, he served as the Senior Pastor of an Independent Christian Church in Madisonville, KY. In Josh’s youth, he knew he wanted to be a Pastor at age 13. This inspired him to start a youth ministry in his middle school that grew to well over a hundred students. Josh enjoys Netflix, canoeing, dancing and spending quality time with people he cares about.




Elizabeth Hicks

Elizabeth Hicks, Church Administrator


Elizabeth is the Church Administrator at Kingswood. She is responsible for the office and church building. She volunteered in the office for years at Kingswood until becoming part of the staff. She and her husband have been members of Kingswood since 2006. Her organizational skills keep the church running smoothly!








Anita Tasher, Finance Coordinator



Anita is the Finance/Communications Coordinator at Kingswood. She is responsible for managing the finances of the church and compiles and prepares the Sunday bulletin. Her attention to all the details is greatly appreciated.









Barb Symonds, Minister of Children & Family


Barb is the Minister of Children and Family Life and the Director of the Parent’s Day Out Program. She has been on staff since 1997, and started the Parent’s Day Out program in 2002. Her job includes Sunday School, Children’s events as well as other children’s programs in addition to Parent’s Day Out. She is a member of Kingswood and has attended church here since 1988. She is married and has two adult children, one of whom is married and lives in Colorado, and the other son lives at home and plans to move to California due to a job transfer. Barb enjoys working with children because “they keep you young”!






Carianne Short, Coordinator of Connecting & Welcoming


Carianne is the Coordinator of Connecting & Welcoming. She has the privilege of overseeing Kingswood 101, connecting new members, welcome, community life, hospitality/greeters, etc. She is a life long Methodist.  She moved to the area from Kansas with her husband.  She has two adult children and one very sweet English Bulldog.  Carianne loves to meet new people and help them connect their gifts and talents to the church.







Sherri Brubeck, Minister of Serving & Creative Arts

Sherri Brubeck, Coordinator of  Creative Arts & Senior High Missions


Sheri is the the Coordinator of Creative Arts and Senior High Missions. After attending Children’s Ministries University in 1992 she caught “puppet fever” and founded the Glory Fingers Team in 1994. Sheri’s first priority is to the youth behind the stage, because only when their hearts are focused on the Lord can their ministry be effective. Providing a safe, creative, fun environment nurtures freedom of expression, deepening of their faith, and team building skills.






Tom & Dawn Karis, Food Pantry Coordinators


Tom and Dawn serve as the Coordinators of the Kingswood Food Pantry located in our Manna House mission center.  After working with the Food Pantry mission for many years, Tom and Dawn have taken on the role of Food Pantry Coordinators. They live in Kildeer and have been members of Kingswood Church for 36 years. They both enjoy mission work and have attended several adult work camps. Tom is also Treasurer of the United Methodist Men. Dawn is the Director of the Allelus, the Women’s choir, and is also a member of the Pay It Forward and Stewardship Committees. Outside of church Tom, who is retired, enjoys teaching their puppy new skills while Dawn still works as a preschool music teacher. Together, they spend time focusing on the joy of grandparenting. For more information about the Food Pantry you can email Tom and Dawn.



Blake Maley, Youth and Thrift Shop Ministry Intern


Blake is serving as the Youth and Thrift Shop Ministry Intern this summer. He attends Washington University in St. Louis and is a rising sophomore. His major is undecided. He has attended Kingswood since his youth. Previously, he assisted with the confirmation program and interned in the church office. He has participated in multiple mission trips and is excited to have a role in the upcoming trips this summer. Blake enjoys playing volleyball and hiking.







Randy Lawrence, Director of Music Ministry

Randy Lawrence, Director of Music Ministry


Randy is Director of Music Ministry, including directing the Chancel Choir, Adult Handbell Choir, King’s Men ensemble, Children’s Praise and Cherub Choir. He has been a staff choir director for more that 12 years, serving congregations in Buffalo Grove and Woodstock, IL. He has participated in church music ministry for over 20 years, including vocal music, handbells, instrumental music, arranging and as an accompanist. Randy has a Bachelor of Music from Wheaton College Conservatory, as well as graduate education from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary. He is also a Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church, providing worship leadership and preaching for churches in the Northern Illinois Conference.




Jim Koppenhaver, Contemporary Music Worship Leader

Jim is the Contemporary Music Worship Leader for Kingswood (9AM services) and the Director of the Praise Band.  He has been a member of Kingswood for over 25 years and met his wife, Valerie, at Kingswood.  They were married at Kingswood, their two boys were baptized and went through Confirmation at Kingswood so you could say that there’s considerable Kingswood in the family blood.  Jim works in the Information Services industry by day and on nights and weekends runs a start-up company providing information and insights to the golf industry.  In his spare time, he’s a recreational runner, piano player and (not as much as he used to) golfer.  He lives in Buffalo Grove, just across Dundee Road from the church.






Kevin Wong, Organist



Kevin is the Organist and accompanist at Kingswood. Kevin comes to us after serving in many churches in the Chicagoland area. He grew up in the Western suburbs, and studied piano as a child at Wheaton College, received his Bachelor in Piano Performance from Elmhurst College, and his Master’s in Performance from Roosevelt University. Kevin has studied with many outstanding keyboard performers, including organ with David Christiansen while at Elmhurst. Kevin teaches at the DePaul University Community Music Division.




Dawn Karis, Director of Allelus, Women’s Choir



Dawn sang with the Allelus for many years before now serving as the Director of this wonderful group of women singers. Outside of church, she has many opportunities to get involved in music; as a Preschool Music Teacher and as a member of the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band. At Kingswood, she and her husband, Tom, are the Food Pantry Coordinators and also enjoy attending adult work camps. Additionally, Dawn is a member of the Pay It Forward and Stewardship Committees.






Anton Obrecht, Coordinator of Media Arts

Anton is the Coordinator of Media Arts at Kingswood. He is responsible for creating slides for our Sunday morning worship services, operating the sound board and overseeing a team of people who can assist with enhancing the technical arts of our worship experiences at Kingswood.








Tim Sroka, Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator

Tim Sroka, Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator



Tim coordinates the facility maintenance for the church properties. Tim has attended Kingswood with his wife Susan for 36 years along with their children, Neil (Detroit, MI) and Victoria (London, England). Tim interacts monthly with the Board of Trustees to keep our physical facility in the best possible shape. Tim has taught Sunday School and Confirmation, was a Boy Scout Leader for 15 years, loves to cook and bake, and is an avid reader