Paul Risler, Senior Pastor
I have served as the senior pastor of Central for over 20 years. It’s been an amazing and exciting journey watching Central grow and change — yet I believe our best years are still ahead of us. There is no place I’d rather be and no people I’d rather be with than this community called Central. Beyond Central, I am the architect of the West Ohio Intern Program, have served on the Conference Board of Ministry, and serve as a coach and mentor for several pastors throughout the conference. I’m an adjunct instructor of preaching through United Theological Seminary’s Course of Study and am currently working on my doctoral degree in Preaching and Church Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary.
When not doing the pastor thing, I love hanging out with my wife and daughter, reading, and doing photography. I also love to travel, laugh, and enjoy long walks on the beach at sunset. And world peace. In addition to our daughter, Lydia, we have two other “kids;” McGee, age 9 and Callie, 5. They have 4 legs; big, cold, wet noses; and are very furry (they are very embarrassed about this, so we don’t talk about it much). Both are Mutts. McGee is “employed” as our home security staff and is currently guarding our front door. Callie is the “emergency back-up dog” and is now off duty, curled up in a ball, clutching her fake bone.
Lauren Fuchs, Associate Pastor
I moved to Athens in the summer of 2017 with my family to serve as the associate pastor here at Central. I grew up in Bryan, Ohio where the rest of my extended family still resides. From there I received my Bachelors in Psychology from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and my Masters from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2014.
My husband is also a pastor, I've been married to Dan since 2015. We welcomed our first son, Gideon, into our family in April of last year and are working hard to make all of these transitions as smooth as possible.
We're excited for the season that God has called us here. In our spare time, we love to watch Netflix, try new restaurants, and spend time with our friends. We're looking forward to takknf advantage of the bike path and biking as a family often.
Andrea Fogt, Director of Administration
I have been attending Central for almost nine years. My family moved to Athens when my husband, Ryan, accepted a faculty position at Ohio University. Ryan and I met at Creighton University, and we love cheering on our Bluejays! When I'm not working, we're having game nights with our girls, Anna & Abigail, I'm reading, or enjoying the outdoors.
As a community member, wife, mother, and young(er) professional, I have a wide array of passions, experiences, and abilities. I’m driven to help people express themselves more powerfully through the written word. If I can serve the church body in any way to better spread the love and mission of Christ, through Central, I will do my best. I joined the Central staff to better represent others while still being more behind-the-scenes.
Natalie Dunckel, Director of Family Ministries
My journey to this position is the result of several leaps of faith and a whole lotta God’s goodness! My husband Kevin and I left behind our “normal” life in Columbus in June 2017 for him to attend graduate school full-time at OU. Just over a month later, we welcomed our first child, Bailey into the world!
Discovering Central through the invitation of a co-worker, the blended-style of worship, casual atmosphere, and friendly faces made it instantly feel like home. We have really grown to love our church family here at Central and the community of Athens.
I was born and raised in Mansfield, OH, and graduated from Youngstown State University with my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, which people usually think is pretty cool, until they find out that I was a trombone major. I spent the last four years teaching music in the Columbus area, but am very excited for this new adventure that God has called me to in ministry.
I have a pretty eclectic list of interests which include traveling, genealogy, comedy, documentaries, cats, memes, collecting stuffed bananas that look like Bob Marley, Go-Go Burrito, Michigan State athletics, The Cleveland Indians, and barbershop harmony.
Barry Oches, Maintenance Coordinator
I came to Athens in 1977 as a transfer student for my last two years of undergraduate study. A year later, through a classmate, I found Central. In 1978 Kate and I were married, and we have been living in Athens and attending Central ever since. Central is my family's community. Our four children grew up here, were dedicated, and then baptized here. Paul Risler officiated all of their weddings. I have served as a volunteer in nearly every capacity at Central over the years, from various leadership committees, to leading small groups, to holding babies in the nursery. Over the years I have been a special education teacher, public school administrator and project manager at Ohio University. I retired from OU in 2014. In 2015 the position of Director of Administration came open at Central. I was intrigued at the idea of joining the staff and serving the church with the skill set I have developed in my professional life, and now I serve as the maintenance coordinator. My personal interests include bicycling, carpentry, and visiting our many grandchildren. I volunteer with developmentally disabled adults, and I am on the board of Athens County Children’s Services.
Debbie McAdoo, Westside Caretaker
Back in the spring of 2008, my daughter (Shannon) and I were looking for a new church home. We were invited to Central by Shannon's Younglife leader, and I've been attending here since that first visit! I love teaching the wee folks (3-6 year olds) in Children's Church on Sunday mornings.
I enjoy being outside - gardening, yard work, walking, etc. When the weather is adverse, I read. I also enjoy spending time investing in little children. They love to hear the Gospel and are so quick to grasp and accept it's truths.
Central Avenue United Methodist Church is located in Athens, OH and seeks to minister to the body of Christ, our local community, and the wider world. This includes Ohio University and the wider Athens Community. We have two locations, one uptown and the other on the westside.
9:30am @ Uptown (29 E Carpenter St.)
11:00am @ Westside (73 Central Ave.)
29 E. Carpenter St.
Athens, OH 45701