The 2023 Annual Meeting has been scheduled for Sunday, February 5th, at 12:15 pm in the auditorium.
This meeting is where we vote on the budget, approve new members of church leadership, welcome new members of the church, and more.
We will be offering an online option at efree.org/meet for those members who cannot attend in-person, though we encourage in-person attendance if possible.
Please remember that while anyone who attends First Free is welcome at the meeting, only members may vote.
To view the 2022-23 Financial Reports, click here.
I was raised in a Bible believing, church attending (every time the doors were open), religious, family but
I did not adopt my parents’ faith as my own until college. While attending Greenville University, I was
confronted with my lack of a personal belief and relationship with God and I accepted the grace of God
shown through the death of Jesus on the cross; repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus as my personal savior.
Accepting Jesus personally began my journey of faith and growth that continues through today. It would be nice if that journey was a straight path of drawing nearer to God, but my personal experience is that this journey takes many twists and turns. It has included times of deep Bible study and prayer. Times of growth through church attendance (yes, still almost every time the doors are open) and participation in various groups and ministries. Times of having my faith rocked. Times of walking closely with God. And, yes, times that John encapsulates as being distracted by the things of this world (I John 2:16). For the last forty years, my journey has been closely tied to First Free Church in St. Louis where I have had the opportunity to grow and serve God in many, many different roles. Today, I serve primarily in Kid Connection, MOPS, and Global Outreach.
By the grace of God, I will continue growing ever closer to him.
My name is Don Carpenter. My wife, Julie, and I have been members here at First Free since August of 2013. Our adult children are Christians, but they were grown before we were led here to First Free.
Both Julie and I were fortunate to grow up with parents that love the Lord. I grew up in a Lutheran home and accepted and asked Jesus Christ into my heart and life at the age of 13. Julie committed her life to Christ about the same time. Her faith background was in the Southern Baptist denomination. When we met and decided to marry, we both felt it was important that our family worship together. So, in 1986, I joined her church. Both of our children grew up there and we remained active members for the next 25 years.
You can imagine that after 25 years anywhere, deep friendships and relationships are formed. Julie’s family also attended that church. So, when Julie and I felt the Lord was calling us to move on, to step out in faith, to grow – we questioned whether we were hearing him accurately. We were serving in various leadership positions and felt called to those. God gave us clarity by closing certain doors and providing solid replacements in other positions. God is good.
So late in 2011 we started visiting other area churches. I think people usually have a plan when they leave a church. We were just led to go. So go we did, church after church we visited. When we visited First Free, it felt like we were home. To be diligent in the certainty of God’s will, we continued to visit a few more churches but always came back to First Free. After much prayer, we joined in 2013.
I have always had a strong connection to the men’s ministry. I took a leadership role in 2014. That is the same year we joined a small group here. I love how First Free encourages us to not only worship, but to serve and be connected to fellow believers. I still serve in the men’s ministry and have recently accepted the role as Greeter Team Coordinator. It is a bit humorous that in our previous church Julie and I were usually called to serve together, but here she is called to the Preschool Ministry, and we usually end up coming in separate cars.
I am a St. Louis University graduate and spent 37 years growing a family business called Automatic Ice Systems (AIS). AIS is an engineering and design firm for the industrial ice industry. I retired in 2018. A deacon, by definition, means servant. Now that I am retired, I would like to use my time and talents to serve the Lord and His kingdom here at my church, First Free.
I was raised in the Catholic Church and Catholic school up to the 8th grade and probably attended mass at least 3 times a week. The Gospel was rote on my mind but not in my heart, resulting in no relationship with God and being bound for hell. While memorizing scripture through a bible study, the word became alive in me and at age 18 I began a wonderful relationship with our Lord Jesus.
My wife Kari of 26 yrs, our three children, and I have been blessed by various ministries within First Free. I have served in Celebrate Recovery small groups, parking ministry, small churches, and small groups, plus various small volunteer operations of programmed ministries for adults and children alike here at First Free. Currently, I serve as co-lead of a small group on Sunday evenings and as an operations officer on Sunday mornings.
Being part of small groups, extensive bible studies, and fantastic mentorship under older men of faith here at First Free has greatly led to being a happy, faithful, dutiful husband, father, job site foreman, and friend. Sharing my faith with various captive audiences at work has also brought lasting friendships for the last 30 yrs.
I look forward to continuing to serve at First Free in whatever capacity the Lord brings to me.
Born and raised in St. Louis, married my high school sweetheart, Patricia (Trish) in 1981, together we raised 3 sons; Derrick, Clayton (both still in St. L), and Chaz, who now lives in KC. We are excitedly expecting our first grandchild in February.
I have an associate’s degree in construction technology from St. Louis Community College at Meramec, and I am a Carpenter by trade. We started our own construction company in 1986 with the focus on building new homes and renovating existing homes. I have always had a passion for building homes and serving people, so we have been able to build many relationships over the years through our business both with clients, sub-contractors and suppliers.
Through marriage struggles and the challenges of raising our sons in the late 1990s, I was searching for answers to life’s questions. In 1999, the marriage counselor that we were going to at the time challenged me to talk to Mike Andrus, who was the senior pastor of First Free at that time. Mike didn’t know me at all but was willing to talk to me about my problems. As we talked, Mike graciously introduced me to the bible and the God who authored it. Before our first meeting concluded, Mike asked if he could pray for me, and he invited me to come back to church the following Sunday. I did, and I also went to the Billy Graham crusade that year and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have been coming to First Free ever since. I can’t say that my problems went away; however, I am no longer walking through the challenges of life alone on the journey.
Over the last 23 years at First Free, I have had the opportunity to serve in several different ministries; Trish and I were trained in lay counseling and served in marriage rebuilders, I have been able to help build projects on a few mission trips, most recently with the Crisis Response team in Covington Louisiana. I serve as an usher on the connections team, and we are part of a couple’s small group and a men’s group on Wednesday mornings. I did serve as a deacon from 2006 – 2012, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve again.
My husband William and I came to the US to study 30 some years ago. We were invited to attend several
different student bible study fellowships in our earlier years here. We doubted in the beginning, which turned into curiosity later on, and with God’s mercy, we finally came to realize there is a God who created heaven and earth, and us. Jesus is our savior and Lord. Our family was baptized in 1997! Praise the Lord!
William and I were saved through the bible study fellowship along with the many prayers of those who touched our lives during earlier times as students. We are very grateful to them, they were the vessels of God’s love! Since we were saved through student fellowship, we became devoted to the student bible study fellowship.
James 2:17 says, “faith by itself, if it does not have work, is dead.” I was saved because those royal servants of God shared the Gospel and their love with me, they not only had faith in God, but also demonstrated their faith through their works! I know I can always come to the throne of our gracious God and find grace to help me when I need it most. I am humbled that I am able to serve God.
Anne has been married to Wayne for 45 years and they have three married children and 8 grandchildren. Anne has been a member at First Free since 1992 and served in a variety of ways including Women’s Bible Study leader and Bible Study Leadership Trainer, MOPS Mentor Mom, Nursery worker, Greeter, Hospitality, and long-term coffee and donut server! Whenever she has “free” time you can find her in her happy place, her sewing room making quilts.
Beth Tabor is married to Todd Tabor. She is the mother and homeschool teacher of their daughters Avery & Bailey (10 year old twins). She has a background in counseling and worked for many years in Student Development at Biola University before moving to St. Louis and becoming a COO of the Tabor Family. Beth currently serves in leadership for ELC – First Free’s Homeschool Co-Op. She also serves Kid Connection, the Connections class and helps to plan Pinecrest Family Camp. Todd and Beth are involved in TLC and a small group. She is so grateful for First Free and the church family we enjoy.
Becca has been attending First Free for most of her life. She has been involved in multiple ministries over the years. She currently serves in the nursery and co-leads a small group with her husband and another couple. Becca is married to Stephen and enjoys staying home with their four children. She loves First Free and is excited to serve in this role.
David is married to Lianli and along with their two children (Dawson and Angie) they have attended First Free since 2015. He has served in the Connections Ministry as a greeter and as part of the Outreach Advisory Committee, and currently serves at Summit as a food service leader, in addition to leading a neighborhood Bible study group.
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