Who we are

Located at the corner of 4th Street in Byers Avenue, First Church has been serving Christ and the Joplin community for generations.  We are a unique blend of old and new, traditional and modern, with a common love for Jesus and for you!  No matter where you've come from or where you are in your Christian walk, we have worship, study, fellowship, and service opportunities for you.  We'd love to have you as part of our church family.


Scroll down to meet our ministry staff.  Better yet, come join us for a visit and meet us in person!

Rev. Bob Howard

Senior PASTOR

The Reverend Bob and Kolleen Howard welcome you to First Church and would like to personally invite you to join us for worship!


Bob graduated from St. Paul School of Theology in 1987 and was ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church in 1989.  He received the Arlon O. Ebright Award from St. Paul School of Theology at graduation for Promise in Pastoral Ministry.  Bob is a member of the Academy for Spiritual Formation.  He received the Denman Award for Evangelism from the Southwest District while serving in Noel, Missouri.


Missouri is their home and, over the past forty years, Bob and Kolleen have served United Methodist congregations in Lincoln, Osceola, Noel, Forsyth, Platte City, Lebanon, and Wheaton before coming to First Church in 2016.


Bob and Kolleen have been Married for more than 45 years and have four children, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild.


Email pastor Bob at pastor@firstunitedjoplin.com.

Other ministry staff


  • Barry Sanborn

    Director of Youth Ministries

  • Heather walker-shepherd

    Director of Children's Ministries

  • Evan Belk

    College Ministries

  • Larry Sanborn

    Director of Music Ministries

  • Gloria Sanborn

    Organist/Music Minister

  • Dustin Carey

    Worship Leader

  • Glenda Austin

    Pianist