Meet Our Team
Rev. Michael W. Fender, Directing Pastor
Graduating in 1986 from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia with a Master of Divinity, Pastor Mike has served the United Methodist Church in many roles. He has been an Elder with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference since 1987 and continues his ministry today as the Directing Pastor here at First United Methodist Church. Pastor Mike and his wife, Beth Gallegly Fender have three mostly grown children who are 23, 19 and 17.
Rev. Miley Palmer, Pastor of Visitation
Pastor Miley has been married to his wife, Janet for 58 years (so far), and together they have four children. He was first appointed to the ministry in 1955 and since has served some appointments in Central and Southern Illinois, retiring from full-time ministry at Decatur Grace in 1998. Following retirement, he has served as a full-time hospital chaplain, on the staff of two Presbyterian churches, several interim pastorates, and as a Development Associate for Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He has served as Minister of Visitation at Decatur First since 2008. Volunteer service includes being on the Board of Trustees of McKendree University the Conference Board of Church and Society, and several community activities. He has been a member of the Decatur Commission on Human Relations and has served as its chairperson.
Rev. Beth Fender, Deacon
Pastor Beth has been ordained as a United Methodist deacon since 2011 and serves full-time as the Coordinator of Discipleship and New Streams for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church. Here at First UMC, her focus is on discipleship. Beth grew up in Carbondale, Illinois, and her interests include public education, prison ministry, spiritual formation, and helping people discover and live into God’s call. She shares three mostly grown children with Pastor Mike.
Ministry Program Directors
Jennifer Horton-Motter, Director of Children and Family Ministries
Jennifer Horton-Motter grew up in Decatur attending the First United Methodist Church with her parents, Bill & Lana Horton. She married Chris Motter in 2002 after having received a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Illinois State University. She began her career teaching Kindergarten in Racine, Wisconsin. Jennifer and Chris have three children who are ages 13, 10 and 2. Outside of work she volunteers at her children’s schools and their Cub Scout Pack and loves stamping, paper-crafting, reading and feeding her Pinterest addiction.
Kyle Shaughnessy, Director of Youth and Young Adults Ministries
2013 was an eventful year for Kyle – he graduated from Olivet Nazarene University out of Bourbonnais, Illinois with a degree in Christian Education, and he and Nicole started their life together as husband and wife. Before coming to First United Methodist Church in 2014, Kyle worked as a Youth leader for a church in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Kyle and Nicole just welcomed their first child into their lives in October. Welcome, Averie!
Dr. Hadi Gibbons, Director of Music
Dr. Hadi Gibbons began her tenure as Director of Music at First United Methodist in the summer of 2002. She holds degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN; Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO; and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. Dr. Gibbons, Hadi, began her teaching career in Colorado Springs, CO teaching Jr. High Vocal Music. While working on her Master’s Degree she served churches in Ft. Collins, CO. In 1985 she moved with her family to Decatur, IL, to teach voice and other music classes at Millikin University and for 25 years served as the Coordinator for the Voice Department.
In addition to providing music for weekly worship services, the groups at FUMC have distinguished themselves providing music for an ordination service at Annual Conference in Peoria, IL. They also sing for an Installation Service for the Bishop of the local district and participate in fundraising events for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Mental Health Society of Macon County.
Dr. Bruce Gibbons, Organist
Dr. Bruce Gibbons has been organist at First United Methodist in Decatur since 1996. Before joining us, he was an organist for the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Decatur. He holds degrees in Music Education and Piano Performance from Colorado State University, and a Doctorate in Piano Performance from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. Dr. Gibbons taught Junior High Vocal Music in Fort Collins, CO for eight years and was organist at First United Methodist Church in Fort Collins for 15 years. While in Colorado, he played for the closing service of the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1968, uniting the Methodist Church with the EUB. For 32 years, Dr. Gibbons taught piano and organ, assisted with both opera and musical productions and classes, and accompanied numerous faculty and student recitals at Millikin University. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the bassoon with the Decatur Municipal Band.
Barbi Gardiner, Administrative Secretary/Graphic Design
Krista Smith, Receptionist
Nysa Leggions, Financial Secretary
Building and Grounds
Joanne Forrest, Building & Grounds Coordinator
Jim & Susie Pope, Janitorial Staff
Judy McCleery, Parish Nurse
On-Site Assistance Program and Ministry
Rev. Shane Hartman, Director of MAX and Warm Neighbors, Cool Friends