our Team

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. 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. Since graduating from Duke Divinity (M.Div), Matt has served Aldersgate, Asbury, Inman Park, and Peachtree Road UMCs. 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. 

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rev. Laura Dickerson

Assistant Minister

Laura grew up in UMCs across Florida and upper-state New York, and at age 12, she promised God that she’d follow him anywhere. Years later, a friend described her as having the kind of faith that would follow God off a cliff and then grow wings. Laura is a Part-time Licensed Local Pastor assisting with discipleship, prayer & healing, Bible studies, and pastoral care. She has completed half of the UMC’s Basic Course of Study and Advanced Course of Study through Asbury Theological Seminary and will continue courses part-time. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, summa cum laude, from Kennesaw State University and worked as a Registered Nurse in ICU and Quality Improvement in Home Health in Atlanta, GA and Charleston, SC. After accepting a call to ministry, Laura and her husband, Don, and two sons, Zack and Drew, became full-time missionaries in Kenya through TBS Global (then called The Mission Society for United Methodists) where she learned more than she ever could have taught! Laura is passionate about mentoring others toward the freedom that comes from following Jesus anywhere.

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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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Terry Chism

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. 

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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 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.


Email Nick Bowker

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.

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