Pastoral Staff


Pastor Michael Paulson

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Coordinating Pastor

Pastor Michael Paulson and his wife Rose have been serving God together within the UMC for nearly 14 years.  He currently serves as Lead Pastor at Lincoln First UMC where his family (including three children) has been serving for 7 of those years. Gabriel is 14 and loves chess and scholastic bowl; Elijah is 9 and loves reading and archery; Grace is 6 and enjoys dancing, art, writing, and illustrating. Rose has passion for prayer and art and reaching and serving children and adults with special needs.

Michael’s passion is helping people come to understand the incredible love God has for them individually, to experience the transformation of their lives as they grow deeper in that relationship with Jesus, and then learn to share that love with others in authentic, lifegiving ways. He brings strategic leadership skills and has a passion for coaching, developing leaders, and helping groups and churches to discern God’s vision for them and how to carry it out.

They all are looking forward to getting to know and become part of the Morton UMC family.

Pastor Gabe Wanck

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Associate Pastor

My wife, Sarah, and I are both United Methodist Pastors here in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and have been serving here for the last eleven years. These last 2 years, I have been serving as the Associate Pastor at East Peoria FUMC and Sarah as the Associate Pastor at Crossroads UMC. Prior to coming to the Peoria area we lived and served in the Spoon River District for 9 years. Churches we have served include: Geneseo First UMC 06-07, Victoria & Maxey Chapel 07-11, Fairview Center 08-15, and Galesburg FUMC 11-15.

Sarah and I both come from UM Clergy families. I was raised in Northeast Pennsylvania as the only son of two UM Pastors. I attended Houghton College and earned my BA in Outdoor Recreation and Camp Administration in 1998. After a couple years working with at-risk youth in state, church, and camp settings, I enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary. While there I met my wonderful wife Sarah, who is from Southern Illinois. We both graduated in the summer of 2003 with our Masters in Youth Ministry and were married in the Seminary Chapel that August. Two weeks later we began our ministry journey together as we ventured south to Montgomery, Alabama and served in ministry at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. We served there leading the youth, college, and young adult ministries until we moved back north in the spring of 2006. We connected to Geneseo First UMC as Sarah took a position as the Youth and Family Minister and I became a Pastor’s husband. While we were there, God was working on our spirits and challenging us to trust him more.

We both felt the Holy Spirit calling us to pastoral ministry and in the summer of 2007 we took our first pastoral appointment at Victoria and Maxey Chapel UMC’s, just east of Galesburg. We served there in ministry together until the next summer when I accepted a full time appointment to Fairview Center UMC, south of Monmouth, Illinois in 2008.

In the summer of 2011, while Sarah was being reappointed to Galesburg FUMC, we welcomed our precious son into our family. Hudson will be six this summer, and is the light and joy of our lives. Hudson loves life and staying active. He has a healthy imagination and loves to play sports, tell jokes, color and eat cookies!

Over the last 9 years we have coupled ministry and family growth with academics and returned to school to earn our Masters of Divinity Degree from Asbury Theological Seminary. Sarah graduated May 2016 and I  graduated May 2017.

We love spending time enjoying the small things. Sarah loves being in the kitchen, knitting, and reading and I love being outside working with my hands. You are sure to find us around town checking out the best local restaurants, catching a movie or enjoying time at the park. I also love to play – running, tennis, racquetball, golf, eating pie, riding my Harley and riding bikes with my son are just a few of my favorites!