Our Staff

Lead Pastor- Michael Pence

Michael has served as the Lead Pastor here since August of 2020. He has served churches in Tennessee since 2002. Michael grew up in Mt. Juliet, TN, attended Austin Peay (Elementary Education) and Southern Methodist (Seminary). Michael and his wife, Samantha, married in 1996 and they have two daughters, Emma Grace and Mary Campbell. Michael‘s passions for ministry center around empowering and encouraging ALL people to follow Jesus together, living and loving like He did, and joining together in the building of God’s Kingdom.

Phone: 901-476-9694

Email: mpence@covingtonfumc.com

Associate Pastor of Worship & Teaching Ministries – Carole Mathis

Carole earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1983 from Union University in Jackson, TN.She has served as a worship leader and pianist in churches in our county and has recently retired from the Tipton County School system where she has been an instructor in vocal music, general music, and visual arts education for 34 years. Carole and her husband Wade reside in Covington, and they have 2 children, Drew (Nora) Mathis and Amy (Mark) Shrum, and 4 grandchildren, Ruthie and Cole Mathis and Turner and Nellie Shrum.

Email :cmathis725@gmail.com

Children’s Ministry Director – Sarah Smith

Sarah joined the staff of First United Methodist Covington in March 2018. As the Children’s Ministry Coordinator, Sarah works to create curriculum for children (Prek3 to Grade 5) that teaches biblical literacy and encourages spiritual growth. She facilitates a schedule of volunteers for Children’s Church, Sunday School, Wednesday evening activities, as well as special children’s ministry events throughout the year. Sarah strives to ignite a love of God and a love of people in our children, so they become disciples and change our world!Sarah is also a long-time and avid supporter of Girl Scouts Heart of the South, the Bread of Life Food Pantry, and local PTO and PTA groups.  She has helped to recruit, motivate, and facilitate girls to become go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders in our community. She has also volunteered at and coordinated dozens of events, from fundraiser kickoffs to color runs to concession sales and school dances. Sarah has been married to her husband Robert since 2009. They have two children, RJ and Alanna, and numerous pets ranging from dogs to chickens to hamsters. When she’s not on the go, Sarah loves to lounge around her oversized swimming pool.

Phone: 901-476-9694

Email: sarahsmith@covingtonfumc.com

Youth Director- Andrew Davis

For a guy without a southern accent, Andrew Davis is as “Tennessean” as it comes.  He grew up in Middle Tennessee, went to college in East Tennessee, and now works as a Youth Director in West Tennessee.  Andrew graduated Milligan College in 2010 with a degree in Bible with a concentration in Youth Ministry and before moving to Covington, lived most of his life in the Nashville area. Andrew is convinced that the best way to share Jesus with others is by Loving them and he is passionate about leading a life that is a relational ministry.  He is over the student ministry at First United Methodist and leads the programming, trips, and special events for the 6ththrough 12th grade students in the congregation. For fun, Andrew is very much into standup comedy, superhero movies, coffee shops, and trying new things.  He loves almost every CW TV series, his favorite comedian is Jim Gaffigan, and his favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 4:23.  He is not an animal person, hates desserts that include any kind of fruit, and has no sense of smell.  Seriously!  Ask him about it…

Phone:  901-476-9694, ext. 23 Email:  ajdavis915@gmail.com

Office Manager- Sandy Burgess

Sandy is the Office Manager. Her major responsibilities include overseeing the finances of the church, payroll, accounts payable and maintaining membership records.  She enjoys volunteering with the youth group and Bread of Life Food Pantry.  Sandy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. She has three grown children; a son and two daughters.

Phone: 476-9694, ext. 14

Email: sburgess@covingtonfumc.com

Communications Director- Laine Olesen

Laine is the Communications Director. She oversees weekly bulletins, bi-monthly newsletters, website development, and other marketing materials. Laine received her Master’s Degree in Community Development & Action from Vanderbilt University. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Eric, and their daughter, Rhodes.

Email: laine.olesen@gmail.com

Hospitality Care Director- Kendy Erwin

Kendy is our Director of Hospitality Care, joining the staff in October, 2013. Kendy oversees hospitality for persons coming home from hospital, therapy, or transition times, and makes special visits to new church guests. Kendy also oversees volunteer teams who seek to find their place in this ministry. Kendy is a lifelong resident of Covington. She and her husband Skip, sons Cody and Gil, and parents Ken and Judy are members of First UMC.

Email: kerwin1962@att.net

Music Director- Bonnie Wright

Dr. Bonnie Wright joined our staff in November of 2012. Previously, she has worked as children and youth musical director, bell choir director, church pianist, interim choir director and 3rd grade Sunday School teacher off and on for 20 years. She is married to James Barry Wright and has two grown children Preston and David Wright. Barry and Bonnie have always lived, worked and raised children in the beautiful town of Covington, TN and enjoy camping, hiking and fishing in their spare time. Bonnie graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and a Master’s Degree in Education from Bethel College in McKenzie, TN. She received her Education Specialists and Doctorate Degree from Union University in Jackson, TN. Bonnie states that she is honored and humbled to be a part of the marvelous Christian staff of First United Methodist Church in Covington.Phone:

Email: bwright@tipton-county.com

Organist- Justin Hanson

Justin is a longtime Covington resident. A graduate of Tipton Rosemark and Christian Brothers University, he is well-known in the Covington community for his musical talent.  He was formerly the morning traffic reporter with WMC Channel 5 in Memphis and is currently the Mayor of Covington. Justin previously served as organist at Somerville First UMC and at First Presbyterian in Covington.

Maintenance- Kenny Summers

Kenny began working at FUMC in May of 2008 after working 41 years at Kellogg’s.  Kenny is in charge of the day to day maintenance of the facilities and has been a tremendous asset to the church. Kenny graduated from Messick High School and raised his three children in Collierville.  His wife, Debbie, passed away in 1993 from cancer.  He is married to Kay (Dickey) Summers, a retired school teacher.  Together they have 10 grandchildren.  They live in Holly Grove and attend Holly Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Kenny plays golf weekly and is an avid sports fan of UT Vols and the St. Louis Cardinals.