Rev. Thom Shafer has served as senior pastor at Cypress Lake UMC since 2013. The child of missionaries, he spent part of his childhood in Cuba and Uruguay. He earned his undergraduate degree from Florida Southern College and his masters from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He has served at churches in South Miami, Temple Terrace, Coral Gables, and was the District Superintendent of the Jacksonville district. In 2011 he returned to his alma mater as Florida Southern College’s Associate Vice President for Advancement. Pastor Thom has served on the boards of numerous church and community organizations, including his current tenure on the Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees. You may not know that he played the drums in a jazz band and rigged stage lighting for rock and roll shows before answering his call to ministry. He and his wife Karen have two adult children, Amanda (son-in-law Fredy Rodriguez) and Daniel, all of whom are educational professionals.
The Reverend Robert S. Bledsoe
Pastor Robert Bledsoe is a native of Ocala who earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Florida Southern College. He continued onto Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC where he earned his Masters of Divinity. Prior to his appointment to Cypress Lake in July 2017, he interned at churches of all different sizes in Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina. Robert also worked as a chaplain in the oncology unit at Duke Hospital as well as an intern at World Relief Durham, a refugee resettlement agency. James, the half-brother of Jesus, stands out as one of his favorite Biblical characters because of his wisdom, strength, and discernment. Robert loves to golf, barbecue, play tennis, and fish, and he is passionate about the Duke Blue Devils and the Florida Gators. He and his wife Jessica (a Florida Southern graduate now serving as a clinical therapist) are “parents” to a Wheaton Terrier/Poodle mix named George.
Pastor Joe Wingard leads worship at the 9:30 contemporary service, and is also our pastor for congregational care. He and his team visit people in the hospital and those who can no longer attend worship; he’s also the lead staff member for our Stephen Ministry. If you’re looking for a good meal, Joe is an excellent person to ask for a recommendation. (The staff at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop know him particularly well!) In his free time, he enjoys fishing and cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Joe earned his bachelor’s degree from Troy State University and his master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Gayle have three sons, Sterling, Chase, and Vaughn, and a daughter-in-law, Anna.
When Bronwyn Bedient first attended Cypress Lake UMC in 1982, worship was held in the Fellowship Hall. She spent a lot of time here over the next 12 years, until college and work took her to North Carolina, China, and Washington DC. When she returned to CLUMC with her own family in 2010, many things had changed, but not the wonderful intergenerational connections she remembered. She joined the church staff in 2014, and began her current role as Director of Communications in 2016. Bronwyn loves connecting people to God, to one another, and to the programs that will help them grow in faith—and using technology to make all that happen. In her spare time, she enjoys music (especially ringing in the handbell choir) and catching up on sci-fi movies on Netflix. She has two wonderful daughters, Gwen and Maisie Wallace.
Karen Shafer has taught music at all levels from preschool to university. The daughter of a music educator and church musician, she has performed in opera productions, in temples for High Holy Days, in recitals, and with symphony orchestras in Texas and in Florida. She earned her bachelor’s in music education from Stetson University, and masters degrees in Vocal Performance and in Sacred Music from Southern Methodist University. Rahab is her favorite character from the Bible because of how much she risked by hiding the Israelite spies. In her free time, she enjoy reading, exercising, and watching HGTV or movies (especially anything with Meryl Streep). She enjoys the opportunity to spend time with her son Daniel, daughter Amanda, and son-in-law Fredy.
Bob Fredrick has served as the organist at CLUMC since September 2014. Bob is a talented multi-instrumentalist—he sometimes plays recorder in worship—but he prefers to stay out of the spotlight. He moved to southwest Florida from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area after retiring from his “day job,” but he remains a Detroit Tigers fan. His favorite movies include The Godfather and A Streetcar Named Desire, and if calories didn’t count, he’d drink more vanilla malts. You may not know that he loves wildlife— catching sight of turtles sunning or sand hill cranes by the roadside can make his day!
Samantha Didio assumed the position of Director of Children’s Ministry in June, 2018. She joined the Cypress Lake staff in 2014 as a teacher in our Playday program for toddlers, and has helped run our Sunday and Wednesday kids’ programs over the last several years. She cites Moses as the biblical character she admires most, because he was a patient, dedicated, faithful leader. She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Appalachian State University, and has work experience in other educational settings. Samantha loves reading, boating, the beach, and being involved in her kids’ activities and sports. She and her husband Jimmy have two children, James and Gemma.
Christina Shelbourne began working with the children of Cypress Lake UMC in 2013. As the Assistant Director of Children’s Ministries, she oversees the nursery and works directly with our littlest children in the playday program. She is a native of New Jersey and still roots for the NY Yankees. She has run a number of 5ks and half marathons (the Disney races are among her favorites). She is married to her middle school sweetheart, and they have four children in grades 10, 8, 5 and 3: Luke, Ryan, Chloe, and Reese. Understandably, a lot of her time is spent getting her children to baseball games and cheerleading practices, but she prefers to spend time with them on the boat or at the beach!
Amanda Blacketer grew up in this church and has served as our director of youth ministry for the last two years. Amanda has been the English department chair at Dunbar High School but started a new teaching position at Fort Myers High School in fall 2018. An avid FSU fan, she admits to having an addiction to Outback Steakhouse and a passion for her saltwater tank aquarium. Amanda relates to the apostle Peter because he is also “kind of a loudmouth” who questions a lot, and ends up putting his foot in his mouth, but ultimately loves and follows Jesus unconditionally.
Carol Clem has been active in our church since 2005, and has served as the Administrative Assistant since 2015. You see her at the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings, and she’s often the first person you’ll speak to if you call the church. In her volunteer capacity, she has served as the church’s membership secretary, and facilitated Disciple and other Bible studies. An Indiana transplant, Carol loves the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Chicago Cubs. She is thankful for having traveled to the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, to have the awesome opportunity to walk where Jesus walked. Ruth is her favorite character in the Bible, because of her loyalty to Naomi. Carol loves being a part of a church with children; kids of our staff members love to drop in and say hi to her, and when our Bright Beginnings preschool has snowcone days, you can find her in line for her treat along with the kids!
Donna Brady has been a member of CLUMC for 25 years, and has served on the staff as Finance Secretary since 2006. Over the years, she has volunteered in a number of areas, including leading children’s choir and chimes; she is also the team leader for our upcoming mission trip to El Salvador. Donna is a longtime member of the handbell choir, but you may not know that she also plays the organ—she has even played at the United Nations Building! Her favorite biblical character is Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus; unlike Martha, Mary spent time with Jesus and knew that she had to let some of the little things go to focus on what is important. Donna enjoys cooking and baking, and cheering on the Dallas Cowboys and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Cyndy Cook joined the CLUMC staff in May 2017. As the church administrator, she oversees many of the day-to-day operations of the church and its physical facilities. She was most recently a program manager in Human Services in Lee County government. You may not know that she completed the Fort Myers Citizen Fire and Police Academies for fun! The story of The Good Samaritan is her favorite story from the Bible, because it’s a story we can all aspire to. Starbucks mocha lattes and lunch at India Palace are some of her favorite treats. A native of Iowa, she earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Florida Gulf Coast University. Cyndy enjoys working on projects around the house and biking with her nine-year-old daughter, Emily.
Rejean Germain joined the Cypress Lake staff in 2014, and handles our video and multimedia production work, including producing our Sunday online worship. Reggie also runs his own production firm, High Fidelity Studios, specializing in corporate training videos, medical videos, and broadcast commercials. He has worked in the music industry as a songwriter, Artist Manager, and Talent Recruiter; several of his songs were published on Nashville’s Music Row! He lived in Canada for part of his childhood, but his French has gotten rusty now that he doesn’t use it. Reggie will be glad to engage you in a spirited conversation about the Pittsburgh Penguins or Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back is his favorite movie ever). He and his wife Donna live in Cape Coral.
Brent Saitta has been on staff at CLUMC since 2012. He has a broad array of technical skills, and coordinates lighting, sound, and graphics for all worship services. During the week, he is also a financial center manager with Fifth Third Bank. Brent is an FSU fan who enjoys playing guitar, filming for YouTube (he has two feature film credits), and playing around with new technology. David is his favorite Biblical character because he’s an underdog that succeeds because he doesn’t give up! Brent and his wife Rose have an adult son, Cody.
Tom Sholtis joined the CLUMC staff in February 2016, and now serves as the Facilities Superintendent. He cares for the physical facilities all week long, coordinating with outside vendors as well as doing repairs and maintenance around the church himself. His work in the Lee County School System prepared him for working with our Bright Beginnings preschool—little people make all sorts of interesting messes! He loves the NY Giants and patriotic movies, and he’s passionate about good food, and loves to grill and smoke on the weekends for his family. His wife Erin grew up in this church, and they are now raising their children Morgan, Jackson, and Thomas here.
- Glenn Pittard Chair, Church Council
- Mary Ann Holt Lay Leader
- Beth Zimmerman and Kristen Savage, Board Chairs, Bright Beginnings Early School
- Carolyn Morrissette Children’s Home Representative
- Rob and Kathy Ochenrider Concert Series
- Joan Ball Congregational Care
- Richard Sakornbut Disaster Coordinator
- Gene Teeter Endowment
- Bob Andrews Finance
- Sue Becker Higher Education (Scholarship)
- Rick Burris Historian
- Vacant Hospitality
- Luc Carriere Master Planning
- Carol Clem Membership Secretary
- To be confirmed Missions
- Deb and Tim Ross Local Outreach
- Julie Riching, Ann Sell, Carrie Pierce-Myers Spiritual Leadership Inc.
- Sharon Luther Staff-Parish Relations
- Brenda and Bob Hascall Stephen Ministry
- Jim Luther Treasurer
- Andy Holt Trustees
- Esther Dick United Methodist Women
- Molly Gill Recording Secretary
Church Council Members-At-Large
- Sharon Dill
- Vicki Hanselman
- Gary Trippe
- Roland Palmer
- Gerald Simmerman
- Susie Ulbrich
- Judy Carlson
- Janet McVay
- Chris Riching
- Julie Riching
- Debbie Van Horn
- John Van Horn
- Angie Zavoico
- Peter Boigeol
- Eric Eason
- Melissa Eason
- Molly Gill
- Zach Gill
- Alex Glamyan
- Alan Hawthorne
- Tyler Horn
- Kayla Lisa
- Beth Martz
- Jill Palmer
- Yancey Palmer
- Melissa Winter