The Senior Staff team members are servant-leaders who oversee the day-to-day operations of the many ministries of First Free.
Bill Jones, Senior Pastor, started his ministry work as a church planter in Cincinnati, OH, where he served for three years. In 1988 he and his wife, Carol, along with their two children, moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, where Bill served as senior pastor for seventeen years. Bill began as senior pastor at First Free on December 1, 2005. His passion is seeing people come to faith, grow in faith, and then help others to do the same. He holds a Master of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has also served on the boards of both the EFCA and Trinity International University.
John Richardson, Pastor of Congregational Care, served as a pastor to churches in Illinois and Missouri for seventeen years before becoming a mediator and pastoral counselor at Live at Peace Ministries in St. Louis. While working at Live at Peace for five years, John also served as a pastor in Owensville, MO on a part-time basis. He started attending First Free in 2008 and joined the staff in 2011 to offer counseling and oversee our Care Ministries, including Celebrate Recovery, Visitation Ministry, Pre-Marital Mentoring, and Counseling. John has a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Fort Wayne Bible College. He is a Certified Christian Conciliator with the Institute of Christian Conciliation and serves on the board of directors for the Association of Missouri Mediators.
Rick Burke, Pastor of Outreach Ministries, served with Cru (Campus Crusade) for nine years before leaving in 1983. He then worked for his family business for nine years and was president of the company for the last five of those years. In 1993 he returned to full-time ministry to serve with EFC Missions, including eight years as Central Europe Director and five years as the Europe Leader for ReachGlobal. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Life Science from Missouri State University and is ordained with the EFCA. Rick joined the staff of First Free in October of 2009, where he loves to see people grow in faith and engage others who are seeking God. He oversees First Free’s global, national, and local outreach ministries, as well as mentoring those involved in church planting and other disciple-making efforts.
Julio Serra-Jones, Interim Business Manager, holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Alabama and a Ministry and Leadership degree from Missouri Baptist University. He has 40 years of experience in the engineering and construction business, including 35 years with a major multi-national corporation where he developed and managed several departments, served as a project manager, and was an instructor and team leader. Before joining the staff of First Free, he served as a Bible teacher, substitute preacher, BSF leader, and took part in more than 20 short-term mission teams. In addition to his current role as Business Manager, Julio oversees the Sunday Adult Connection Classes, Women’s Ministry, and Men’s Ministry.