Rev Russ Tompkins - Senior Pastor
Russell W. Tompkins holds a Master of Education degree in Speech Education from Kearney State College in Kearney, Nebraska and has taught at both the high school and college level in the area of communications, ethics, political science, and philosophy. Russ has also received a Master of Divinity in Theology degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri and has been a full time pastor at churches for over 17 years. Russ has held many positions of leadership as a United Methodist minister of the Nebraska Annual Conference. Personally, Russ has been married for more than thirty years to Connie who is a music teacher in the Westside Public school district. Russ and Connie have two grown sons and three schnauzer dogs. Russ is an Eagle Boy Scout and is supportive of youth programs such as Scouting, baseball, and coaching boy’s basketball. Russ has an undergraduate degree in Speech and Theater and has directed several plays and musicals both at school and for Community Theater. He also coached several speech and debate teams at forensic contests. Russ’ interests include music (guitar and singing), reading, and traveling with his wife.To contact Pastor Russ, please send an email to
Dr. Wayne Reynolds - Associate Pastor
Dr. Wayne began his ministerial journey in 1977 at the Gorham United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois where his father was also the pastor. Not only is he a "PK" (Preacher's Kid) but a fifth generation United Methodist minister. As a PK, he's lived in St. Charles, Missouri, Lincoln, Nebraska, Wichita, Kansas, and Chicago, Illinois. His travels continued as he journeyed south to attend the Gammon/ITC Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia where he graduated in 1981 with his Masters of Divinity degree. His first assignment after seminary was in Portland, Oregon in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where he served for six years. He's also been a School District Counselor, teacher, Adjunct professor, coach and police chaplain. His Doctor of Ministry degree is from the Carolina University of Theology in Manassas, Virginia. St. James is Dr. Wayne's thirteenth church. During his thirty-five years of ministry he has also had the distinction of pastoring a Baptist and Missouri Synod Lutheran church. With a strong ecumenical background, he has chaired and served on numerous boards and committees throughout his ministry. Pastor Wayne enjoys going to movies, golf, board games, reading and writing. He has been a runner for 47 years and twenty thousand miles later has decided to retire from active Track & Field competition as a sprinter. He still manages to get in some light running and maintain a disciplined fitness program between Sundays. Dr. Wayne has three adult children, Wayne II who is married to Nicole Rausch and twin daughters Norma and Normesha. In case you want some chocolate, just stop by his office any day and come right on in, the doors always open.To contact Doctor Wayne, please send an email to
Michele Hike - Director of Christian Education
Michele Hike grew up in the Ak-sar-ben area of Omaha. In 1998, she became a member of our church when she married Jason who grew up at St. James. Her involvement with the children's ministry began as an Assistant to the Director of Vacation Bible School which she has done since 2006. Michele then began substitute teaching and eventually co-teaching Sunday School classes. Starting in the summer of 2010, she will begin her position as the Director of Vacation Bible School which has her very excited. Michele loves working with and meeting new people. She is always looking for something new to enrich her life and the lives of others. Michele enjoys crossword puzzles, scrapbooking, photography, and has been a hairstylist since 1996. Jason and Michele live in Papillion with their three young, energetic children.
Laura Petry - Director of Music
Laura L. Petry earned her Master of Music degree in Performance from DePaul University in Chicago and her Bachelor of Music degree from DePauw University in Greencastle Indiana. She has been directing church choirs for over 20 years while also teaching Kindermusik to young children and maintaining a private music studio for Flute, Voice and Piano. Her family came to Bellevue in 1997 when her husband Michael was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base. They retired from the Air Force in early 2000 and are enjoying staying put in wonderful Bellevue! In addition to serving as Director of Music at St. James, Laura directs the Bellevue Festival Choir which participates in the International Church music Festival every few years. Her passion is using music to enrich people’s faith experiences and their lives. Laura’s hobbies include swimming, reading, antiquing, and spending time at her parent’s lake home in the Ozarks. She has also spent the last 20 years using her Mary Kay business to enrich people’s lives and share her faith. Laura and Michael have two wonderful children.
Johnna Poarch - Childcare Director
Johnna Poarch grew up in Morganton, N.C. She met her husband, Eddie, in high school and they were married in March 1985. Johnna and Eddie have two children, Brittani and Jonathan. Johnna worked from 1983-1985 in Morganton at Western Carolina Center in the Family, Infant and Preschool Program. While at the Western Carolina Center, Johnna worked with handicapped and non-handicapped children and their families. She also worked as a VISTA volunteer, Classroom Aide, Research Assistant, Preschool Manager, and an Educational Developmental Aide. In May 1985, her husband was stationed with the Air Force in Avellino, Italy at Mt. Vergine. While stationed in Italy, Johnna worked as an Education Aide at Avellino Elementary School with the American students. She assisted the classroom teachers with K-6th graders in Language, Handwriting, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Recess, and Library. Johnna also helped organize in the Media Center Library. In 1988, the Poarch’s moved to Bellevue, NE. Johnna worked at KinderCare from March 1988-August 1989 with toddlers and 2 year olds. In August 1989, she began working at Bergan Mercy Child Development Center. Johnna worked with toddlers for nine years, Pre-K for eleven years and preschool for one year. Johnna has a diploma in Child Day Care from International Correspondence School in Scranton, PA, a certificate through The Carousel Corporation Child Care Education Programs for Child Care Program and Teacher Development. She has been required to have at least twelve hours yearly of Child Care in-service. Johnna is certified in First Aid and CPR.
Abbey Jackson - Youth Coordinator
Abbey Jackson began employment with Saint James United Methodist Church in December of 2002. Originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Abbey arrived in Omaha to attend Creighton University in 1999. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Journalism, Abbey's professional background ranges from non-profit development to youth ministry.
Abbey married Jason is September 2007. Together they reside in Omaha and enjoy traveling, playing board games and spending time with their dog, Babs.
Wendy Bevilacqua - Office Manager
I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX and I'm a huge Texas A & M and San Antonio Spurs fan. My family and I moved to Nebraska in November 2005 from Maryland. We became members of St. James in 2007 and attend services at the St. James West location with our children. In August of 2008, I became the Office Manager and treasure every day that I am given to work with such wonderful people. I am also very excited to see the amazing things God has in store for St. James and the Bellevue community.To contact Wendy, please send an email to