Senior Pastor 

Rev. John Fleming

Here are some things you might be interested in knowing about me. I grew up in Jackson, Tennessee with an older brother and sister, David and Emily. I graduated from Jackson Central-Merry High School and went on to Lambuth University (now the University of Memphis, Lambuth Campus). It was there that I met my future wife. We got married in 1993 and have two girls, Annie Grace and Julie. I attended seminary at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. I am brand new to First United Methodist Church, Paragould, having served previously in churches in Camden, Little Rock, and Sheridan, Arkansas. 

You might like to know that I am an avid Atlanta Braves baseball fan, but can cheer for the Cardinals if the two teams are not playing each other. 

I started working for the church when I was 16, but felt the call as early as my fifth year of life. I have a passion to help people grow spiritually through Bible studies, small group studies, and worship. I am very excited to be the Senior Pastor of this grand church, whose rich history amazes me. I also am a people person and want to know all of the sheep in this flock.

If you are looking for a church home, our church wants to be that place. Feel free to contact us in any way or to follow us on our website, on Facebook, and our other media outlets.

Thanks for stopping by our website. We hope to see you in person real soon.


Associate Pastor 

Rev. Pat Bodenhamer  




Minister to Youth

Kaylee Pillow

I was born in Poplar Bluff Missouri but moved to Jonesboro at the age of 5. I graduated from Nettleton High School in Jonesboro. I went on to college at Arkansas State University and received a Bachelors in Radiologic Sciences with concentration in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. While at Arkansas State I was involved with the Wesley Foundation where I would meet my future husband, Alan. We were married at First United Methodist Church Paragould in December of 2014. We have a 2-year-old dachshund mix named Lady.

 Some of my interests include watching Netflix, dance, and cheering on the Miami Dolphins with Alan. I love all things Disney. I also enjoy spending time outdoors or on the beach when I get the chance.

The ministry vision that God has placed on my heart is to respond to the social and spiritual needs of the youth within our church and community. I believe that we can provide programs, activities and events that will lead them to build a strong foundation of faith. This will enable them to express and share their faith through their own actions and words. I hope that through encouragement, love and compassion we can achieve these goals.

I am so excited to work with the youth at FUMC Paragould!


Media/Communications/Video/Children's Music 

Karole Risker


I originally come from Dearborn, Missouri (which is where my Northern "accent" comes from), a small town halfway between St. Joe and Kansas City where I grew up with five sisters, one of them a twin. I have a daughter, Hannah, 18, who graduated from Crowley's Ridge Academy with honors, and who is wonderful. We have a dog, Lucy, that is half lab, half crazy (just kidding) and a calico cat originally named Callie that we brought in "just for a minute" when we found her out shivering in our flower bed.

My interests include running, reading, writing, community theatre, and music. Hannah and I like to run 5K's together and do community shows together. We live in a century old house near downtown. 

I love what I do here, which includes writing, photography, music, and video, and feel fortunate to work at such a fine church and with such wonderful people.

I have a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. My undergraduate degree is in communications with an emphasis in photojournalism from Arkansas State University. I most recently come from MOR Media where I was the managing editor at Premiere Magazine, a post I held for four years. Before that I was the Executive Director of the Endowment Foundation of Greene County for five years. I own my own children's photography business, Pitter Patter Photography, that began in 2006. I have been a member of FUMC for over 7 years.


Children's Director 

Wendy McDaniel 


I am originally from St. Louis MO. but have been in Arkansas since 1988. I attended Arkansas State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2000. My hobbies include; anything outdoors, running and reading. I have been a member of FUMC since 2004 and on staff since 2012.  I am married and have 5 children.

I love Children’s Ministry. What a great opportunity we have at FUMC to introduce the love of Christ in all we do. A child’s first understanding of Godly love is modeled though his parents and family and reinforced by his church family.  

My vision is to introduce our children to the world in which they live. What a Missionary is, a third world country, poverty, the persecuted church and how we can be a source of hope, joy and compassion to our neighbors in Paragould and throughout the world.

I’d like for our children to connect with a missionary or church in a place that looks nothing like home. It’s been my experience that exposure to diverse global needs paints a picture of what real suffering is. Once that has been identified you can begin to make changes in your own community. A Missionary can help build connections and relationships with people our kids never dreamed they’d ever meet.

We then use what is learned from places around the world to identify local needs. What are the similarities between our vastly different cultures? How will the things we’ve learned shape our definitions of need, hunger and poverty…? What is it to help someone?

I want our children to know that church is to be enjoyed. We want to take seriously the prayers we pray, the commitments we make and more than anything in this world to prioritize our lives to be like Christ.


Director of Music Ministries

Brian Pearson


I am currently the Junior High Band Director/High School Assistant at Greene County Tech schools. I live in Paragould with my wonderful wife Andrea, who sings with the praise team. We have a 7-year-old son named Riley,  5-year old, Evan, and daughter Piper, 2. 

Originally from suburban Chicago, I moved to Conway, AR at age 13. I graduated from Conway High School in 1998, and remained in Conway to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Central Arkansas in 2002. Before going into band directing, I took a year to work at Sigler Music Center in Little Rock as a salesman/guitar area supervisor/band and orchestral instrument consultant/piano mover. I accepted my first band director job at Rivercrest High School in Wilson, AR. It was in my third year here I met, fell in love with, and became engaged to Andrea. I went on to accept the Piggott job, and Andrea accepted a job in Brookland…leading to a move to Paragould.

I have been surrounded by the arts from a very young age. I  sang and played in school and church groups since preschool. While my major instrument is tuba, I have never lost interest in an instrument I've picked up…maybe with the exception of piano. On the rare occasion free time presents itself, I enjoy simply spending time with his family, participating in community theater, or reading that occasional good book I can find.

 Church Administrator

Denise Chipman

I was born and raised in southeast Iowa.  I am a middle child having one older brother, one older sister, and two younger brothers.  I have been married to Larry for 40+ years and we have 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Before settling in Paragould in 1995 we lived in Indianola, IA, Marceline, MO, Harrisburg, PA and Charlotte, NC. 

I began working at FUMC Paragould in 1996 and have been blessed by working as secretary in three Methodist churches.  Indianola, Marceline, and Paragould.  A total of 25+ years.  

I love my job and the people of the church.  I like to travel, love music, enjoy sewing, but current activities are work and grandkids. 



Iona Stone

I have been at FUMC for 28 years. I appreciate the people here, which is probably why I have stayed for so long.



Evan Gardner

Evan is a recent Crowley's Ridge Academy graduate and current finance major at ASU. 


Nursery Workers







Bernard Raley