PASTOR AND STAFF
Anchul Axelrod, Pastor
Eclectic: deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
Eclectic definitively describes Pastor Anchul’s (Pronounced On-chull) decorating sense, life and ministry. Born and raised Jewish, Anchul celebrated his bar mitzvah at thirteen. Even throughout his younger years, music played a leading role in his life. Picking up his first guitar at 6 and piano at 8, his desire to pursue a career in music continued on right through college, as he attended Berklee College of Music where he majored in Music Production and Audio Engineering and minored in composition and arranging.
Following Berklee, Pastor Anchul spent a little over five years touring the world working with such groups as Kiss, Tom Petty, Boston, Tonya Tucker, Meatloaf and even Chubby Checker. But all that was about to change. Read more about Anchul . . .
Kevin Hershberger, Director of Worship Arts
Director of Worship Arts Kevin Hershberger was born and raised in Harrisonville, Missouri where his family was active members of Harrisonville Mennonite Church.
Kevin graduated from Harrisonville High School in 1983 and attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in Music Education. He started taking piano lessons in first grade and was active in bands, choral groups & theatre throughout his education.
Prior to coming to Blue Ridge UMC in 2013, Kevin served as choir director and cantor at Avondale United Methodist in north Kansas City for eleven years. He also works as a certified wine specialist at Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Kansas City.
Kevin sang with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus for over twenty years before joining Musica Vocale, an ensemble of 24 specializing in underperformed choral masterworks directed by Arnold Epley. Read more about Kevin . . .
Connie Turnipseed, Missions Coordinator and Children’s Ministry
Connie was born and raised in Washington, Iowa, as the great great granddaughter of a Methodist circuit rider. She moved to Kansas City in 1981 and retired in February 2018 after 37 years working for an insurance company. She joined The Ridge in 1989 and immediately started teaching in the Sunday School program, the majority of the time at the preschool level, where she could use her early childhood education degree. She is a Volunteer in Corrections at two correctional centers, as well as volunteers repeatedly with Team Smile and Harvesters. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel and enjoys supporting the Chiefs, the Royals and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Donna Teachman, Hospitality Coordinator
Donna was raised in God’s country, Iowa, along with her 5 sisters. Church was a big part of her life growing up as it is now. She likes to spend time with family, read, work outdoors (she is a MO Master Naturalist), listen to Christian music, exercise, and volunteer with various venues including church. Donna lives with husband, Brad, and family dog, Calli. Life is never dull!
Bernadine Bixler, Children’s Ministry
Bernadine (Bernie) Bixler was born and raised in a small town in northeastern Oklahoma. She moved to the Kansas City area in 1965 where she taught children in Kansas City, Kansas and Raytown schools until her retirement in May 2000. She began attending church at The Ridge in 1969 and has worked with children in Sunday School, VBS, Logos, and Parents Day Out. It brings her great joy to meet children she taught or hear from parents about what their children are doing since she last saw them. She has 3 children of her own and feels blessed to have them and their families live close by with 6 grandchildren to love. Other things she enjoys are going to the women’s Bible Study Fellowship classes, reading, working crossword puzzles, visiting with friends and watching the Royals and Chiefs on TV.
Wesley (Wes) Hougland, Part Time Office Assistant and Church Council
Wes was born and raised in Kansas City, the last of 7 children. Been a member of the Ridge since 1980. Joined the Ridge because of Troop 269. Was active as an adult leader for the Troop and District while Brian was a member. Spent my career as a commercial underwiter for various companies for 50 years. Been involved with Square dancing, Bowling, Golf and HOA activities thru the years. Married to Bonnie, have two sons, one granddaughter, one grandson and one great granddaughter. Been to Jamaica, Caribean cruises, Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, plus all over the US enjoyed them all. Enjoy reading, favorite book, the one I am currently reading.
Sue Klotz, Part Time Office Assistant and Altar Attendant
Originally from Michigan and one of four girls Sue has fond memories of her winters with toboggans and ice skating. Because she was the oldest, she was her dad’s “son” learning how to care for cars including all the fluids! She moved to Kansas City with her husband in 1975 where she worked as a nurse until she retired after 41 years. She loves gospel, classical and old style country music and loves to travel. Her love of reading keeps her busy as well as volunteering at The Ridge and she loves supporting her home town favorites the KC Chiefs and Royals whenever she can.
Deborah DeMoss, Church Council and Children’s Ministry
Deborah was raised in Chesterfield, Missouri (when it was more cornfields than houses). One of her favorite childhood memories is spending the night with her Grandma Kennedy. As a teen she worked at Amber Ridge School for developmentally disabled and as an adult she was an administrative assistant in a law firm. She relaxes by reading – and has enjoyed so many books, it’s hard to name a favorite. She appreciates the company of her cat, Holly Jolly Christmas, while listening to Christian music. She loves to travel, camp, ski and go to the beach with family. Her husband Marq and daughter Madison love to cook and she’s happy anything they’ll prepare! Her favorite season is Autumn because she loves the smell, feel and temperature of the air and she loves to go for walks. Deborah is currently feeling a little of the empty nest syndrome!
Sandy McConnell, United Methodist Women (UMW) and Part Time Office Assistant
Sandy has lived in Michigan and Missouri most of her life. She is an active member of United Methodist Women having served as President for eight years and will serve as Secretary beginning in 2019. Sandy also held positions in the Missouri Conference UMW and Church Women United. She participates in the Prayer Shawl Ministry, EVEning Circle, UMW Unit meetings, Mission Team and snack bar food prep for the Kansas City Area Bluegrass Music Club every first Friday. She has been attending the Women’s Bible Study and Issues Group since its inception in 1999 and is part time office assistant one afternoon a week. Sandy enjoys spending time with her son, grandchildren and great grandson.
Charlotte Robinson, Church Historian and Librarian
Charlotte comes from Brookfield, MO and was an only child. Both her parents were active in the Methodist Church, her mother playing piano and being youth director. Her mother was often called on to be at many events. Once her mother invited an outside group to join a group at their church, but it didn’t go over well with some members. It set an example for Charlotte that she’s never forgotten and tried to follow all her life. Charlotte met her husband Dwight at the University of Missouri and they were married in 1957. She taught at Raytown South High School and later became Office Manager at Raytown Family Medical Center. At The Ridge she taught children’s Sunday School for 17 years, and co-taught adult Sunday School for 25 years. She’s been blessed with two wonderful children and a daughter-in-law. She loves to read, watch programs on PBS, visit historical sites and spend time with her four grandchildren.