Pastors

Brian Jacobson

Pastor

Brian Jacobson and family

 

Fun fact: I'm a twin, born in the twin cities, during the year of the bicentennial. Not surprisingly, perhaps, I've always loved $2 bills.

I grew up in quite a few different places and have moved approximately 23 times as a result. Part of the reason for that is that my folks were missionaries, first in the Ivory Coast (West Africa) where I spent a few years as a kid, and then for a year in Paris, France. Despite all that moving, however, including stints in Southern California and Seattle, WA, I'm still mostly Missourian when it comes down to it (though I'm told that my years here in Wisconsin are starting to rub off on some of my vowels). I can certainly see the impact of Wisconsin in my love of cheese, but then, I've never been a beer drinker so l can't ever truly be "from" here.

My parents divorced when I was 12 and I pretty quickly decided that if the God they purported to serve couldn't keep them together, then I wasn't all that interested in Him either. I spent a couple teenage years living into a caricature of the rebellious, drug-addled, prodigal son, until my dad died suddenly and I was confronted with the depth of my need for a real relationship with the Living God. I graduated high school in 1994, got saved in 1995, and started college in 1996.

I got my undergrad in Religious Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO in 2000. While I was on campus I was very involved with an Assemblies of God campus ministry called Chi Alpha (XA) and I still owe that group a significant debt of gratitude for teaching me about discipleship, the power of prayer, and walking with Jesus. My master's degree, which is rather pretentiously called a "Master of Divinity", is from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. (2003).

In 2004 I became the College Ministries Director at a large Presbyterian Church (First and Calvary in Springfield, MO) and it was there that I first came to realize that despite my great affection for the Assemblies of God, I well and truly belonged in the Reformed theological tradition and in a Presbyterian church. And so it was that after 6 years in college ministry at that church I moved into ordained ministry and in August of 2010 became the pastor here at FPO.

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Courtney since June 10, 2000 and after years of hoping and praying and walking through the heartache of infertility, God brought our son Theo into our lives through the gift of adoption in September of 2010. 

I enjoy sports, movies, video games, hunting, knives, camping, fire, bacon, wood-carving, reading about wizards, orcs, culture, and theology, spending time with my family and friends, and, honestly, being the pastor of this church.

My favorite color is  orange. My favorite band is Pink Floyd. My middle name is Maurice. I eat my steak rare.

Michelle Gross

Associate Pastor of Families

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I’m a hometown girl, but it’s been 15 years since I lived in Oostburg. When I graduated from OHS in 2007 I thought I was never coming back, but as many say, Oostburg has a gravitational pull and here I am glad to be back in my hometown. I’m especially grateful to be serving as the Associate Pastor of Families here at FPO where I get to help coordinate the children and youth ministries and connect with the wonderful families of our church to help fulfill the “til all are disciples” part of our mission as a church. 

It’s a long story of what brought me to this church and this position, but it’s one I believe God has written. I grew up as a daughter of First Reformed Church here in Oostburg. I experienced a traumatic falling accident and broke my back the summer before starting my freshman year of high school, which caused me to ask God all kinds of questions and pushed me to seek him through a very difficult time. God showed up as he always does and I joyfully participated in three area youth groups during my high school years. I like to call those my “youth group junkie” days, but I grew so much in my faith and it was very formative for my call to ministry. I studied Spanish at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa with the intention of becoming a missionary someday. While I will always have a missionary heart, the path that God led me on looks a bit different than what I pictured for myself, however, I always believed God has me right where I need to be. I met my husband, Josh, at the Gibbsville Transformers college group. He wooed me by writing old fashioned letters, we fell in love and later got married in July of 2012. 

After college I went straight to Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan where I earned my M.Div and did a dual track program with Master of Social Work at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with the goal of being better equipped to provide pastoral counseling to the many hurting and broken people in the church. After seminary we came back to Wisconsin where I served at First Reformed Church in Sheboygan Falls as the Youth Ministry Coordinator for a couple of years. I felt a sense of God calling me to college ministry and was ordained in the RCA to serve in campus ministry at UW-Oshkosh and Josh began his work as a teacher at a local Christian school. In 2020 I took on a side gig as a chaplain at Winnebago Mental Health Institute and suddenly found myself a health care worker at the height of the pandemic, which later became my primary job. It was rewarding helping people search for God when they found themselves at rock-bottom. 

This season was also personally challenging for Josh and I as we struggled with infertility for a few years and two pregnancy losses, but God graciously gave us our beautiful daughter, Lydia, who was born at the end of 2021. During this time I also felt a sense of call to return to a discipleship focused ministry, which is when God led me to FPO and I am so grateful to be here! Josh is also excited to be teaching at Sheboygan Christian School. We are glad to be closer to our family here in Oostburg as well. 

I’m a big fan of coffee and I’m already becoming a regular at Kups. We have an overzealous golden retriever, Ruby, and three rabbits named Honey Bunny, Peter, and Carlita. I enjoy reading books that help me grow as a pastor and a person and watching all kinds of movies. I like long walks on the beach, kayaking, biking, and hiking in the woods when there aren’t mosquitos or ticks. I love traveling and keeping up with my Spanish skills. My favorite food is “tacos al pastor” (…shepherd tacos?), not because I’m a pastor, but because they are simply excelente.