Lead Pastor Andy Payton is from Loogootee, IN. His father served at the Loogootee United Methodist Church for 22 years and his mother taught elementary education. Andy is a third generation United Methodist Pastor following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather; his brother is also an ordained minister. At the age of 20, Andy began to seek a deeper relationship with God, began attending worship again, and even began serving within the local church. "During this time, my church family saw something in me that I couldn't see within myself. Namely, they saw that God was calling me to become a pastor. Eventually, after running from this call, I came to accept it," Andy explains. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in Communications. He then went on to seminary at Christian Theological in Indianapolis graduating with a Master of Divinity degree. Andy, his wife Leslie, and their three daughters have been at Methodist Temple for four years.
If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with your extra time?
I enjoy jogging and cooking on my Weber Grill.
What skill would you like to master?
If I could master one skill, it would be the art of grilling.
What are some small things that make your day better?
One thing I always look forward to is time spent with my daughters. They are truly the greatest gift God has given me.
Associate Pastor JillAnn Knonenborg grew up in Bloomington, IN. Her parents were graduate students when she was born, and the family loved Bloomington so much that they never left. JillAnn has an older brother, Zach, who works in campaign politics and currently lives in Iowa. Her younger brother, Luc (pronounced Luke) is also her godson. "It's not really fair to call him my little brother because he's thirteen years old and already 5'3"(much taller than my own 4'11")", she jokes. JillAnn did not decide to become a pastor- she was called to become one by God. Her plan was to pursue a degree in writing or musical theatre; however, God continued to pull her back to the church through small acts: a comment from a trusted friend, an unexpected volunteer opportunity, etc. She graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary Washington, D.C. with a Master of Divinity. "I loved Wesley! The professors challenged me to think about God in new ways and to see the church as a prophetic, life-changing agent in the world." JillAnn, her husband Matt, and their cat Caligula (Latin for 'little boots') recently moved to Evansville, IN and are excited to start their lives here at Methodist Temple.
What movie title best describes your life?
I’m a pastor now, so I’m supposed to say Saved, right?
What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?
Once when I was at Disney World (a lot of my stories start that way), we were at a show where they sang and danced to all the songs from Tarzan. My older brother and I were randomly chosen to be “King and Queen of the Jungle” for the day, so we got special seats with free snacks, and we met all the performers afterward.
What is special about the place you grew up?
Bloomington is amazing. Until I was eight years old, my family lived in a student apartment, which was a wonderful way to grow up. We were the only European-American Protestants in the whole building. Our neighbors were Saudi Muslims, Chinese Buddhists, Mexican Catholics, Hungarian Jews, and Mormons from Pennsylvania. It felt like one big family in one big house. I would have dinner with one family and then sleep over with another, and my parents never had to worry about me. What a blessing.
If you could convince everyone in the world to do one thing at one point in time, what would that thing be?
Everyone should fast at some point in their lives, if their doctor says it’s okay. A lot of us have fasted before or after a medical procedure, but very few Christians fast as a spiritual practice. It’s a powerful experience. For me, fasting reminds me both how much less I actually need than what I think I do, and yet it also shows me how fragile I am. I feel closer to God when I fast.
What small gesture from a stranger made a big impact on you?
So many strangers have blessed me over the years, so I’ll talk about the most recent. On one of our last days in DC, Matt and I went to say goodbye to the Lincoln Memorial. As we were walking, we were blocked by a festival that was fenced off. It turned out to be a huge barbeque competition. Matt LOVES barbeque, but you needed a ticket to get in. Another couple saw us staring longingly through the fence. They said they had bought too many tickets, and we were welcome to take two. Matt and I offered to pay for them, but they insisted we should have them for free. Their random act of kindness made the whole evening special.