Pastor Jeff Knoll grew up in Littleton, Colorado, and attended Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, earning his bachelor's in Industrial Science and Tech Ed. He pastored a new church in Cheyenne, WY, for five years, and then returned to Ft Collins with his young and growing family. He spent the next four years working in the custom home building industry before moving with his wife, Liz, and their six children to Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA, where he earned his MDiv. He immediately accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church as associate pastor, and two years later was installed as senior pastor, a position he has served in since 2006.
Introducing Pastor John Hobbins
My name is Pastor John Hobbins. I was baptized by a military chaplain at Fort Lewis in the state of Washington; my father at the time was in the Army. My godparents prayed for me daily as long as they were alive. I rest assured in the knowledge that God’s salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ was gifted to me then. Indeed, God’s gift preceded my birth and baptism. As Scripture teaches, “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5).
The oldest of five children, my family attended a United Methodist Church in Madison as I was growing up. Early on, I felt a strong call on my life, and a call to ministry, but I did my best to keep that call at arm’s length. While a teenager, I went to a charter school and was able to learn Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. While a college student, I lead Bible studies on campus and in the adult education program of a local church.
One summer while in college, I had a fabulous redhead for a girlfriend, and she imparted a deep love to me for a land and culture of which I otherwise knew little. That land is Italy. She dumped me by the end of the summer (I deserved it), but the experience led me to consider doing a graduate degree in Italy. Thanks to a mentor (Prof. Menahem Mansoor of the UW-Madison, his memory be for a blessing), I was given the opportunity to study with Jesuits in the Eternal City. I took it. While a student at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, I felt a renewed call to ministry.
I attended and graduated from the Waldensian Theological Seminary in Rome, where I also taught Hebrew. I was ordained in the Waldensian Church. The Waldensians pre-date the Reformation, and anticipated the Reformation on some points, as Luther recognized. In seminary I met a fifth generation Italian Methodist named Paola Benecchi. We have been married for almost thirty years. She, too, is a pastor, and our ministry in the name of Christ has been intertwined since our time together as students in seminary. We served as pastors in churches northwest of Venice and in Sicily, and we have served in Wisconsin in various places across the state. We have three children, Giovanni, Elisabetta, and Anna.
I.am thankful to be given the opportunity to serve Zion and to dedicate time and energy into developing ministries and programs for children, youth, and families. I am grateful for the church family of Zion. I have been welcomed with open arms. Those who know me are well aware that I am deeply committed to the community of Oshkosh.
I am committed to the church family that worships at Zion. It is a joy for me to worship with you on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning. It is a joy for me to worship every Sunday afternoon surrounded by prayer and praise not only in English, but in Arabic and Dinka. I am committed to the families and individuals in the Oshkosh area who look to me for spiritual direction. It is the most amazing thing to hear the voice of one who says, “Feed my sheep,” and watch what happens next, over and over again, one person and one family at a time..
400 N Sawyer St, Oshkosh, WI 54902