Our Staff


Rev. Matthew Nelson – Lead Minister

Matt’s ministry mantra is “Connect, Grow, Serve.” More broadly expressed, his passion is to help people connect with God and one another, grow in their faith, and serve the world.  As an incarnational minister and coach, Matt seeks to develop and grow Disciples of Jesus who change the World.
Matt and his wife, Anne, have two children, Caleb and Sarah.  Matt’s hobbies include watching University of Georgia football, Duke basketball, playing golf (as often as possible) and being involved in the community.
Matt grew up in Augusta, Georgia, and graduated from Georgia Southern University (BS, Construction Management).  After college, Matt began worshipping at a United Methodist Church and was drawn to the church’s doctrine, theology, and practice.  From there he felt a call to ordained ministry.  While attending Duke Divinity School, Matt served as a youth minister (Davis Street UMC, Burlington, NC) and later as a student pastor (City Road UMC, Henderson, NC). 
Since graduating from Duke Divinity (M.Div), Matt has served Aldersgate UMC (Associate, Augusta, 2004-2006), Asbury UMC (Pastor in Charge, Augusta, 2006-2010), Inman Park UMC (Pastor in Charge, Atlanta, 2010-2015), and Peachtree Road UMC (Associate, Atlanta, 2015-2017).  His current conference responsibilities include Atlanta Roswell District Committee of Ministry, Coach for the North Georgia “Next Faithful Steps Initiative,” Georgia Pastors School Board Treasurer, and leader for Provisional Ministers through the three year residency to ordination.


Laura Dickerson – Assistant Minister

Hickory Flat UMC welcomes to our staff Laura Dickerson as our new Assistant Minister as of July 1, 2019.  She is following God’s call upon her life to serve as a licensed local pastor.  While serving at HFUMC in various capacities, she will complete her Licensing School this Fall and then move into a full time status in the new year.  She is a much-needed gift as she will help us with pastoral care, the prayer & healing ministry, and Discipleship.  Please welcome Laura and find ways to connect with her. 

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. Even though her experience began with older children, Nichole believes that God has been preparing her for this role and she is very excited about her new journey as a minister to children.

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.”


Email: Melanie Williams

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.

Terry Chism – Interim Non-Traditional Worship Leader

Terry grew up in Marietta and graduated from Marietta High School. He later earned a degree in computer science from Kennesaw State College. He has been married to Sari Chism for 32 years.  He has 3 kids, Joseph (26), Jordan (23) and Jessica (12).  Today, he is the Chief Information Officer of nCourt and Government Brands.
Terry grew up in a Baptist home, sang in the church choir, and played in the church orchestra.  In High School, he dropped his classical piano lessons, grew out his hair, and against his father’s better judgement, started playing and recording with rock bands.  After traveling on the road for a few years and taking a long hiatus, Terry felt drawn back into the church and began focusing his career on praise and worship.  At Noonday Baptist, he performed in the praise band for over six years and led the congregation as the worship leader for over 4 years.  He was responsible for all aspects of music and drama until he decided to step away to focus on his professional business career. 
Today, Terry works to maintain balance between his music career, business career, and his family life. He continues to lead worship and perform with various bands as a keyboardist and vocalist. 

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 UMC 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: Lorey Lovaas

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!

Shena Wilmarth – Finance Administrator

Shena Wilmarth was born in Pickens County and currently resides in Ball Ground, Georgia. Shena is married to Eric Wilmarth and they are the parents to Erica, Makayla and Jared. She accepted the Lord at the age of 9 and she and her family enjoy giving back in the community. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting. She has professional experience  as a governmental, church, business auditor and tax return preparer. She likes to travel, cook and attend her children’s sporting activities.

Holly Bogatay – Office Administrator

Holly was born and raised in Woodstock, GA. She currently resides in Holly Springs with her two girls, Alexandria (11) and Savannah (8). Holly graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Management. After a couple of years working in professional sports she decided to join the military. She spent ten years in the U.S. Coast Guard and the last few years with the U.S. Navy Reserves as a Yeoman. She brings plenty of administrative experience with her. Some of Holly’s hobbies include photography, traveling, and watching her girls dance and cheer.