our Team

Rev. Dr. Dave Benson

Lead Minister

Dave was appointed lead Pastor of Hickory Flat in July of 2021 after serving in several other UMC churches across North Georgia. He 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 has a passion for building community and helping people discover, develop and live out their ministry in the local church.

He lives in Holly Springs with his wife Theresa, his mother-in-law Esther and a small cat named Zoe.

Dave has many hobbies and interests, including videography and digital art, playing mandolin in a bluegrass band, and traveling with Theresa.

The Bensons have two grown children. A son Chris, a chef and restaurateur who lives with his wife, Emily, in Asheville, NC, and a daughter Anna, a nurse who lives with her husband, Alex, in Buckhead.

Email Dave Benson

nick y .jpg
Nick Yother

Executive Pastor

Nick is a born and raised Georgia boy who is blessed daily by his lovely wife Rachel and two creative and fun daughters Olivia and Finleigh. Nick graduated from Reinhardt University and has worked in professional ministry for 13 years. Nick has always been a fan of sports and his favorite teams include the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, 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.”

Email Nick Yother

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.

Email Nichole Hall

nick b.jpg
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 and working as a freelance artist for national news organizations and live events.


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.


Email Nick Bowker

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.

Email Melanie Williams

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.

Email John Johnson

connie klements.jpg
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.

Email Connie Klements

Lorey Lovaas

Preschool Director

Lorey has been director at Hickory Flat since 2018, and spent the previous 17 years teaching at Methodist preschools in Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.  She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and has always felt drawn to the strong programs and loving environments that Methodist preschool programs provide.  She and her husband, Daryl,  have 2 adult children, Maddy and Jay, and a cattle farm in Arkansas to keep them busy in their spare time.  Lorey feels blessed to be able to serve this church and her community and spend her days with her favorite people-children!

Email Lorey Lovaas

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.

Email Steve Simmons