Senior Pastor

Kirk Johnston

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A. Kirk Johnston is founding and Senior Pastor of The Lighthouse Church in Paola, Kansas. He was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and has degrees from Kenyon College (BA) and Princeton Seminary (M.Div.). He began his ministry in Paola in 1992.

Kirk was active in the New Wineskins movement that ultimately helped more than 100 churches join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) a missional and reformed denomination.  He helped to form the Great Plains Presbytery and serves its executive team.  He is Chaplain to the Miami County Sheriff’s Department and Jail and serves as Chair to the Board of The Elizabeth Layton Center – a multi-county Mental Health Services provider.

In 2018, Kirk published the Children’s adventure book “Onslo”.

He is married to Laurie Johnston (Pastor Hillsdale Presbyterian) and they have three adult children and 4 grandchildren.  Kirk’s passion is preaching and teaching from God’s Word and leading worship. He enjoys being a husband and father, writing, songwriting and music, as well as playing Frisbee and basketball.

Executive Pastor

Brad Buescher

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Name: Brad Buescher

Title: Executive Pastor

Responsibilities: Resource Ministries; Outreach; Small Groups; Manage Staff

At Lighthouse since: June 1, 2007

Education: Shawnee Mission West High School – 1979
University of Missouri – Kansas City – 1985
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA – 1992

Brief Bio: I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas with two brothers and a single mother raising her three sons. Although a good kid, my heart was rather empty and hurt from the sting of my parents’ divorce. During my junior year in high school I was invited to go on a snow skiing trip with Young Life. It was there that I first learned of the deep love of Jesus for us and the joy of the grace of God. So quite early in my new relationship with God I felt the call to love all His people through sharing the Gospel and serving in some capacity. Colonial Presbyterian Church (Kansas City) blessed me in numerous ways, mainly by discipling me in the ways of Jesus, and introducing me to the love of my life – my wife, Michele. So after working as a youth director at Colonial, Michele and I moved to Pasadena, California so that I could attend Fuller Seminary. My first pastorate was in Frankfort, Indiana, where we were blessed with three children: our two sons, Brady and Luke, and our daughter, Anastasia, whom we adopted from Russia. After working several years at Covenant Chapel in Leawood, Kansas, I was hired here at Lighthouse, where I have now been employed since 2007.

Favorite Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life; Gladiator; The Outlaw Josey Wales; Die Hard

Favorite Books: The Chronicles of Narnia, mystery novels, Dallas Willard books

Favorite Music: U2, Bruce Springsteen, New Country

Favorite Quote: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. –Jim Elliot

Binge Watch: Stranger Things; This is Us

Goals: Develop Leaders who will drive the movement; Lead non-Christians to faith in Jesus Christ; Disciple men; Help plant a Church in Macedonia

Activities: Cycling (both Road & Mountain) & Hiking, especially climbing 14ers (mountains in Colorado higher than 14,000 feet) with family & friends – summits as of summer 2019: Huron, Quandary, Massive, Bierstadt; walking and doing yoga sculpt with my wife.

Director Youth Ministry

Eli Wedde

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Eli Wedde is the Youth Director here at Lighthouse Church. He has been in ministry here since 2011.  He enjoys teaching and spending time with students in groups or a one-on-one setting, as well as mission trips and outreach events.

Eli is married to Kendra, and they have two young children, Ezra and Joanna.

Eli's vision is for students to recognize what God is doing all around them and to set high expecations for what a follower of Christ looks like. He expects students to take on the work of minstry and learn how to really rely on God by prayer, fasting, and pursuing God in their words and actions.

Director of Children's Ministry

Josh Simons

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Josh began working as Children’s Ministry Director for Lighthouse in May of 2019. He currently lives in Paola with his wife, Heather, and two daughters, Ruth and Rose. Josh grew up in Paola, earned his education degree from Emporia State University, and began teaching middle school math in the Shawnee Mission School District for 12 years while living in Olathe. He obtained a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from KU and received theological training by completing the Lay Leadership Training Institute of the Kansas District-LCMS. He returned to Paola in 2013 to work as the Director of Discipleship at First Lutheran Church for four years. Josh now works as a Special Education teacher at Lakemary Center in Paola and has obtained a second master’s degree in Special Education. His passion for teaching children about Jesus has brought him to part time ministry as Children’s Ministry Director at Lighthouse.

Josh believes the essential truths of God’s Word are the greatest gifts we can give our children. He desires that each child knows God’s love through the kindness and dedication of caring volunteers. Josh’s goals for Lighthouse Children’s Ministry are that children and families feel welcome, parents feel supported, volunteers willingly serve the gospel, and that children hear the good news about salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection each time we gather.

Nursery Supervisor

Kristal Sparks

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I was born and have lived in Kansas my entire life. I was raised in the church until our family stopped attending when I was in junior high. I always knew something big was missing in my life after that. I was extremely blessed God gave me a teammate and friend in high school who was a pastor's daughter. I started attending church regularly and grew to know that void had been filled with a renewed personal faith in God. I went on to attend Sterling College, a Christian college where I found my future husband. I earned a degree in Elementary Education and student taught kindergarten. Oliver and I got married and moved to Miami County and our first home in 2005. We were blessed to become members of this church and have our first child in 2007. We now have 4 children: Brady, Leah, Faith and Mason. I was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years until our youngest went off to kindergarten. The following year I began teaching preschool at Sonshine Preschool in Paola, which I adore! I have a huge passion for teaching and introducing our church’s youngest members to the Lord. Thank you for trusting our church nursery with your precious children. They bring such joy to us!

Office Administrator

Tracey Hecker

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Tracey Hecker is Office Administrator for Lighthouse Church.   Her primary duties are finances and publications.  She has been with Lighthouse since it began in November 2007 as a member as well as an employee. 

She is married to Allen Hecker and has two adult children, Caleb and Jacquee.  She has lived in Miami County her entire life.  She attended school in Louisburg, KS and graduated from Ottawa University with a B.A. in Business Administration.

Her hobbies include scrapbooking, singing, reading and enjoying time with her family.

Member & Community Care Coordinator

Rebecca Sutton

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Rebecca has worked in Church Ministry for 40 years and is confident that is exactly where God has called her to serve. Rebecca is Member & Community Care Coordinator.


Rebecca and her husband Ron have 3 adult children and are very proud of their 3 grandchildren.


Rebecca enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends and watching sports of all kinds.

Assistant Office Administrator

Erin Capettini

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Erin Capettini joined the Lighthouse Church staff in June 2019 after 26 years of being an elementary teacher.  She has been with this church family since it began in 2007 serving in many capacities such as Usher, Deacon, Elder, FPU Assistant Coordinator, Children Ministries, and Youth Ministries.  

Erin is passionate about serving her church family ministries and helping to guide others in using their spiritual gifts to better the kingdom of God.

Erin and her husband of 27 years, Chris, have lived in Paola for 22 years.  They are parents to two adult children, PJ and Julia, and two dogs.

Director of Special Projects

Tricia Sinclair

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My name is Tricia Sinclair and I have the privilege of serving in our church through special projects. I love sharing my passion for the Lord through events such as our annual Living Nativity. I help with various other projects as well and am grateful for all of the volunteers who I serve with to help to make our programs fun, exciting and meaningful.

I have lived in Miami County for 23 years and am married to my wonderful husband of 25 years, Jared Sinclair. We are the parents of four children, Camren, Katie, Cael and Keagan.


Bill Koelsch

Our Elders

Teaching Elders

Senior Pastor - Kirk Johnston

Executive Pastor - Brad Buescher

Ruling Elders

Jim Adams

Allen Baldridge

Roberta Briley

Kim Bruza

Brad Buescher

Tammy Dowd

Chris Dyer

Maria Heid

Jill Holcomb

Kirk Johnston

Mike Majors

Tresha Miller

Keith Robinson

Jared Sinclair

Benjamin Sparks

Jonathan Sterk

Elizabeth Sweeney-Reeder

Our Deacons

Merilee Baughman

Joslin Beyer

Janell Bouse

Troy Bruza

Tauna Connell

Sydney Dulgarian

Susan Eppler

Edie Hewitt

Susan Hime

Darla Jenkins

Haley McDougal

Dino Motta

Janet Rhea

Terry Robinson

Crystal Schultz

Shelly Thomas

Christine Thomas-Hursey

Brian Walters

Lisa Weidman