Rev. Mary Nelson is a lifelong “UCCer” with a wealth of experience in various settings across the United Church of Christ. Before coming to Missouri Mid-South, she served seven years as a Regional Minister (ACM) in the Connecticut/Southern New England Conference. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, she earned her Bachelor of Arts at Grinnell College, and her Master of Divinity at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Mary works remotely from Holyoke, Mass. and her home base in the St. Louis area.
Rev. Damien Lake has served three churches as a settled pastor, two congregations as an interim minister, and worked with churches as a coach, helping them through the search and call process, as well as working with new church starts. He has helped churches revitalize their ministry in the local community and remains committed to helping churches grow, rethink church, and continue to focus on the “Still Speaking Voice of God.” Damien has a strong dedication to serving God and the Church and a deep faith that is always growing and expanding in new directions. He believes in the importance of answering the call of God to stand up for social justice, help those who are hurting, and “Be The Church.”
Kathie Rainey joined the staff in March 2018 as part-time Office Manager. With her expertise, the role has grown since then and she is now Operations Manager, responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Conference office. Her normal work schedule is Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each week.
Julie Darnold Atkins joined the staff in January 2021 as part-time Communications Specialist responsible for managing the eCourier, website, and other communication efforts of the Conference. Before coming to Missouri Mid-South, Julie worked at Bethesda Health Group Foundation and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. She has a communications background and is a member of St. Paul’s UCC, Oakville (St. Louis), Mo.
Coming on board in May 2022, Kevin Zimmer is excited to be the Site Manager for Camp MoVal, especially since it’s where he began attending family camp at age three. He grew up to become a counselor, staff member, ropes course instructor, and family camp director. Kevin also met his wife Katie at Camp MoVal many years ago. They have three children: Michael, Laura, and Georgia, all who also enjoy helping around camp. Kevin loves to hike, ride bikes with his kids, paddle-board, canoe, and do basically anything outdoors. He has two dogs, Charlotte and River.
Joining the staff in February 2023, Jay Wiesner also is part-time pastor at Zion UCC, Troy, Mo. and a Member in Discernment with the Eastern Association. Jay earned a Master of Divinity from Eden Seminary in 2019. His work in Youth Ministry began in 2011. As a former high school history and government teacher with nine years of educator experience, Jay has a Bachelor of Arts in history from Grinnell College and a Master of Arts in education from Lindenwood University. He also has been a special education para-educator, camp counselor, substitute teacher, and football coach. Jay and his wife have two daughters, Kathleen and Julia. He loves books, games of all types, music, and movies.
Glenn Svetnicka is an executive leader with more than 35 years of experience in both for-profit and nonprofit business. As an Eagle Scout and life-long family camper, Glenn transferred his passion into a 20-plus-year Outdoor Ministry profession. He served as President of the UCC Outdoor Ministry Association, and was a founding member of Outdoor Ministries Connection, a consortium of mainline denominational camp and retreat associations. He loves camp, knows the business, and thrives on helping others grow. Glenn understands the importance of a clear mission and his approach to developing teams, improving sites, growing programs, and raising funds is relational. He joined the staff in May 2023 after arriving in October 2022 to serve temporarily as Acting Executive Director at Shannondale. In his current role, he serves both Shannondale and Camp MoVal.
Tiffany Svetnicka’s heart for ministry and drive for excellence has grown into a true passion for supporting the missions of camps, retreat centers, and other nonprofit organizations. During the span of her career, Tiffany has developed robust skills in marketing and relationship-driven development, including supporting boards, sites, and teams with clear communication vehicles. She joined the staff part-time in May 2023 after arriving in October 2022 to serve temporarily as part-time Acting Office Manager at Shannondale. In her current role, she serves both Shannondale and Camp MoVal.
The Missouri Mid-South Conference Board of Directors is responsible for governance and oversight of the Conference as a whole. They set the vision and priorities for the Conference’s mission, which Conference staff and volunteer leaders from across Missouri, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tenn. then put into action.
Conference delegates voted in 2021 to adopt a new set of bylaws, making the Board slightly smaller than it had been historically, but increasing the diversity of its members. In addition to changing the makeup of the Board, the bylaws establish a new governing structure built on Core Ministry Teams – one team for each ministry – comprised of Board members and a representative elected directly by each Association.
The Board of Directors meets via Zoom every other month, usually the fourth Saturday. Board members serve three-year terms with a staggered rotation so new members join every year as other members’ terms expire.