First UMC of Lake Wales
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Celebrate, Connect, Contribute

Our Pastor

Jeff Kantz was the second child of Asher and Margaret Kantz, born in California, raised through 3rd grade in Albuquerque, and 4th – 7th grades overseas in Kabul Afghanistan. Returning to the US the Kantz family settled in Goleta, California where Jeff completed Jr Hi, High School and college.   With Bachelor’s degrees in zoology and physiological psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, he earned a Masters in Human Anatomy from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and completed course work for a doctorate in Human Genetics.   Responding to a renewed sense of God’s call in his life he left academia and worked for four years as Director of Public Relations with Goodwill Industries before going to seminary. 
      He was raised in the Methodist Church, though during the four years overseas it was simply a community Protestant church. As a college student he taught children’s Christian Education, and was employed as a church custodian. Although he was confirmed in the church at age 14, it was not until he was in a college small group study that he began to truly understand God’s love and acceptance.   During his graduate school years he served his church in various capacities; team member for an emergency weekend shelter, trustee, lay leader, and eventually treasurer. 
      Music has always been part of Jeff’s life; his mother directed a children’s choir (3rd grade through High School) in Albuquerque and while they were overseas. His father was an accomplished pianist and served as church organist for University United Methodist Church when the family settled in Goleta. Jeff was active in performing arts, stage and voice, in High School, and was accepted in both the mixed and men’s select vocal performance groups in college touring with them in Canada and Europe as well as in the U.S.   Two of his three years during seminary he sang with the select Candler Choraliers in weekly chapel services. 
      Following Seminary, when he served as an Assistant Pastor in Duluth, Georgia, (as well as the seminary’s Student Activities Director) he served one year as Associate pastor in Bradenton, then was assigned to be the pastor for Ley Memorial UMC in Key West.   After five years in Key West where he was active in community youth development he was assigned to Edgewater UMC, near New Smyrna Beach, where he led the congregation in development of a Master plan and a phase 1 capital campaign which doubled the facility’s space, debt free in 2 years.   That is where he met and married his wife in 1994. 
     After serving on staff of a church of another denomination for 2 years Jeff returned to the appointment system and was appointed to serve First UMC in Fort Meade.  He only served three years in Fort Meade before he was called to serve the United Methodist Church in Keystone Heights.   After three years of church and community leadership in Keystone, he was appointed in 2006 to serve First United Methodist in Lake Wales. 
     He and his wife Gail claim six grown children (four plus two spouses), and seven wonderful grandchildren.  

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