our Team

Rev. Dr. Dave Benson

Lead Minister

Dave was pastor of Holly Springs while a student at Candler School of Theology. After graduation, Dave served 6 1/2 years as the Senior Associate Pastor at Roswell United Methodist. After 6 1/2 years at Kingswood in Dunwoody, they returned to the area where Dave served as lead pastor of Birmingham UMC in Milton from 2008-2014. Most recently the Benson’s were at Conyers First United Methodist 2014-2021.

Dave is a 1996 graduate of Candler School of Theology where he received the John Owen Smith Preaching Award for his class. In 2006, Dave completed his Doctor of Ministry at the United Methodist seminary at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Dave is a musician and has played for years with Herzen Andone who is a former pastor of Hickory Flat. Dave and Theresa enjoy travel and have two grown children.

Their son Chris is a chef who lives in Asheville, NC and his daughter Anna lives with her husband Alex in Buckhead. Anna is a nursing student at Mercer.

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Nichole Hall

Minister to Children

Born and raised in North Carolina, Nichole graduated from Gardner-Webb University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics Education. She taught public high school for nine years before transitioning into Product Management for a K-5 mathematics program. Nichole and her husband, Patrick, now reside in Canton with their two girls, Riley and Amelia.

Since relocating to Georgia, Nichole has been a stay at home mom as well as an Assistant Preschool Teacher at HFUMC for three years. She was also very active at their previous church with VBS, Sunday School, and MOPS. God has led her to this new path in her life and is grateful to be able to work with so many wonderful families.

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Nick Yother

Minister to Youth

Nick is a born and raised Georgia boy who has been in youth ministry for 12 years.  He is the youngest of two children and is thankful for his family’s support to pursue his calling. Nick has always been a fan of sports and his favorite teams include the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Falcons, and Atlanta Hawks. One of the reasons Nick has always loved sports is because he has always loved being a part of a team and watching everyone use their gifts for the greater good of the team. This is the same passion that drives Nick’s ministry as he wants to help people understand that a successful team beats with one heart.  With Christ as the heartbeat, we were all created to be on this team and use our gifts to further His kingdom. Nick’s favorite bible verse is Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, then who can be against us.”

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Melanie Williams

Traditional Worship Leader

Melanie is a native Atlantan. She graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Music degree with an emphasis in Music Education and from Lee University with a Master of Church Music degree. Melanie taught music for elementary and middle school students in Cobb County for 14 years. In those 14 years she led many performance groups in formal concerts as well as musicals. She is the Traditional Worship Leader at Hickory Flat Church and leads the Adult Choir and handbell group. Melanie is also on staff at Reinhardt University as a collaborative accompanist in the School of Music. Melanie accepted Jesus as her Savior when she was six years old. Through years of great Bible teaching and growth in the Lord, she has Jesus in the center of her life now and forever. She and her husband Kenny live in Canton. They have three children and seven grandchildren along with Bhindi, their pup.

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John Johnson

Modern Worship Leader

As a future graduate of Reinhardt University, I aim to help everyone and spread the message of God those in need. From worshipping to helping out with youth, I strive to give my all to inspire young and old to come together and share Gods word to the world.

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Connie Klements

Nursery Coordinator

Connie is married to Scott and they have two daughters, Margaret and Lydia. Connie and her family have worshipped and served at Hickory Flat Church since 2003. Connie began her service as Nursery Coordinator as a volunteer. After months of outstanding volunteer service, she was invited to join our staff in 2006. Connie holds a graduate degree from Georgia State University in Community Counseling and thoroughly enjoys working with children and families.

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Lorey Lovaas

Preschool Director

Lorey and her husband, Daryl, have 2 children:  Maddy, a graduate of The University of Arkansas, and Jay, a current student there.  Lorey has her degree in Early Childhood Education and has been teaching for 17 years.  She has been a Pre K teacher at Hickory Flat for the past 6 years. Moving frequently over the past 20 years, Lorey has always sought out Methodist Preschools because of their strong programs and loving environments.  She feels blessed to be able to serve this church and this community and spend her days with her favorite people- children!

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steve simmons

Facilities Custodian

Having owned his own residential and commercial repair business in Decatur, GA for many years, Steve is no stranger to building and property maintenance. His background has also complemented his many church leadership positions including Trustees Chair.

Steve knows he was led to Hickory Flat Church as his forever church home in this life’s season. He is blessed daily to make our church building function at its very best and help members prepare for the awesome ministries events always happening here.

When Steve is not taking care of his church home, he is busy taking care of the Canton home he shares with his wife, Shelley, and their poodle, Teddy.

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Nick Bowker

Production Ministries and Communications

Nick was born, raised, and currently resides in Canton, GA. Nick was raised at Hickory Flat Church. He graduated from Creekview High School. He has years of broadcast experience under his belt from working with local television studios in the North Georgia area, filming and directing high school sports for live broadcast.


Nick is honored to be able to Serve the Lord in helping Hickory Flat Church start and grow a Production Team. His Hobbies include: Film, Photography and hanging out with friends in his spare time.


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martha graves

Church Administrator

Martha grew up in Southern California, moved to Nashville, TN in the late 90’s and then relocated to the Atlanta area in 2009.

Martha started working with the United Methodist organizations in 2002 in Nashville as Executive Assistant to the CEO at McKendree Village Retirement Community and at the Tennessee Conference office for the President of the Foundation. In Atlanta, Martha has held positions as Office Administrator/Finance Assistant at the Atlanta Emory District Office and Northside UMC.

Martha and her husband Byron have 10 grandchildren and 5 daughters. Martha and Byron enjoy the outdoors, working out, cooking together and spending time with the grandkids. She feels truly blessed as God has directed her career path over the years to serve His people and the church family.

Email Martha Graves