Mary Penninga

Director of Youth Ministries

Mary Penninga is excited to be the new Director of Youth Ministries, as of February 2017.  Mary grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and majored in Sociology and Environmental Studies at Calvin College.


She is deeply grateful and amazed to have discovered the United Church of Christ, which included the little church down the road from her house that is Mt Vernon Zwingli UCC.

Mary attends the WI Conference UCC Lay Academy Program and has completed two years of study in Faith Formation.  She is currently in Lay Leadership Skills, and she hopes to complete Lay Ministry Skills next year.  Mary started and continues to run the Fair Trade Coffee Project and Food Pantry Garden Beds at our church.  She loves participating in Adult Sunday School discussions and loves how this church supports and challenges her heart and mind as she moves along her spiritual journey.

Mary lives and homeschools with her husband, Gary, and two children, on a small farm four miles south of Mt Vernon.

Julie von Eschen

Piano and Organ

Julianne von Eschen has been an organist and pianist in churches since age 13.  She started playing organ and piano here in 1984.  Julie played alternately with Winnie Losenegger until Winnie retired.  Julie has been playing full time now for more than 3 years. 


Julie's instrument of choice is piano, and she feels very privileged to be playing on our new piano.  She has a lot of love for this church and a passion to work hard and do her best for this church.  Julie also enjoys teaching piano, and has done so since the early 1980's.

Julie is married to Jim von Eschen. Her first husband, who passed, was Gordon Staplemann.  Together, Julie and Gordon had three sons, Adam, Jacob, and Luke. She is very proud of all three.