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.
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