At The Sanctuary, we are helping everyday people become passionate followers of Jesus Christ. Our church body is made up of an amazing group of people. They each have individual talents and gifts they contribute each week to serve each other and those who visit our church.
We are led by a dedicated team of staff, directors and elders who love the Lord and want to help others grow in their walk with Christ. We asked the staff and directors to answer two to four questions to help you get to know them a little bit better. Check out their photos below, read their quotes, and come meet them on Sunday!
Ronn Smith – Lead Pastor
Pastor Ronn has been the senior pastor at The Sanctuary since the church began in September 2000. Ronn graduated from Wheaton College as a business major. He worked in the business world several years before earning his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Ronn and his wife, Michele, have three awesome kids.
Favorite hobbies: spending time with my wife and my kids, playing basketball, hitting a little white ball a long way and the outdoors.
Favorite place I have traveled: Israel. Walking where Jesus walked and experiencing His presence on the Mount of Olives was something I will never forget.
Contact Ronn: .
Ben Wangler – Associate Pastor
Ben joined the staff of The Sanctuary in the fall of 2009 after completing his Masters program at Moody Bible Institute. He and his wife, Holly, have been leading the Senior High Ministry (Crossfire) at The Sanctuary since 2008.
Ben and Holly are the parents of an active little boy.
Favorite hobbies: golfing, softball, football, fishing, hunting and boating.
Favorite place I have traveled: Galena, Ill. I loved the beautiful scenery and golf courses
Favorite food: Homemade Rival Soup (German Dish)
Favorite day of the week: Monday! Everything is a little more laid back on Monday. Tuesdays through Sundays are crazy for pastors!
Contact Ben: .
Amy Hoff – Office Manager
Amy joined The Sanctuary staff in August 2011 as the Office Manager.
A Naperville native, Amy has previously worked as an assistant office manager at a medical equipment supplier, and has held various other administrative jobs.
Amy enjoys singing and can usually be found with some sort of music playing. Don’t let the high heels and fancy shoes fool you: Amy enjoys camping as well as 4-wheeling with her siblings and cousins at their family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin.
Jeremiah Higgins – Creative Arts Director
Jeremiah has been the Creative Arts Director since September of 2010.
Jeremiah always knew he would be doing music in some capacity even since he was a child. After reaching that goal at a young age, he still felt the longing for a bigger impact than just living the life a musician.
Jeremiah was trained as a worship leader at Community Christian Church in Naperville in 2004, and hired to work at many churches to help as a musician/worship leader, which opened his eyes to the disconnect between the arts community and the church. Through his years at CCC, Jeremiah said he has been ingrained with the idea of generational leadership and the constant pursuit of reproduction and discipleship. It is said that through spiritual growth our earthly reward is service. The Sanctuary has allowed me to be that reproducing leader and continue to impact the arts community, as well.
Favorite hobbies: Jeremiah enjoys golfing, watching movies, writing, recording, producing music and spending time with his 6-year-old daughter, Vivian.
Favorite place to travel: San Francisco has to be one of the coolest cities in the world. It has a great arts community and amazing weather, not to mention great diversity. Considering how far from God the city is, that is a mission field I would love to impact someday.
Contact Jeremiah: .
Emily Neal – Communications Director
Emily has been on staff at The Sanctuary since June, 2010. She has 10 years of professional experience in the newspaper industry as a reporter, editor, online editor and bureau chief. For the past nine years, she has balanced her life as a stay-at-home mom with an at-home business.
Emily received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of Illinois and her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from University of Illinois at Springfield. She also helped start the women’s ministry at The Sanctuary.
Emily and her husband, Kent, have four creative and energetic children — two boys and two girls.
Favorite hobbies: When I’m not hanging out with my kids or husband, I love to write my blog, ride my bike, go for walks and listen to music.
Favorite place to travel: I love to travel! Some of my favorite trips have included going on safari in Zambia, Africa; riding mountain bikes in Moab, Utah; sitting on the beach in Rio deJaneiro; and enjoying the view in the Smoky Mountains.
Contact Emily: .
Cheryl Lynn Cain – Justice and Compassion Ministry Director
Cheryl Lynn had been trying to get to Africa for about 10 years until she finally realized that in many ways, God had already brought the nations here. With this realization came a freedom to use her gifts in the place she was, serving as a host family for newly arrived refugee families as well as coordinating an annual fair trade bazaar to benefit artisans in developing countries.
She is excited to bring these experiences to The Sanctuary as well as stretch us to ask ourselves, “what’s my passion for compassion?”
She loves cooking ethnic foods, debating almost any topic and exploring world music (right now she’s in a Bollywood phase). She is on this adventure with her husband Grant and their three adorable children, two boys and a girl.
Favorite place to travel: I love traveling around the world (18 countries so far!). But my favorite vacation as of late has actually been to Vermont and upstate New York.
Favorite food: I love a good taco. I also can’t say no to a mean bread pudding. Add a spiced rum sauce to it and we’re friends for life!
Contact Cheryl Lynn: .
Our staff is held accountable by our elders: