Charlottesville First United Methodist Church Clergy & Staff



Rev. Alex Joyner

Lead Pastor

Alex Joyner became the lead pastor of First Church on July 1, 2021 - but it’s not his first tenure in the Charlottesville area. A native of nearby Orange, Virginia, Alex graduated from the University of Virginia (twice!) and served as the United Methodist campus minister at UVA for seven years. Rev. Joyner has held ministry assignments from Texas to England and has experience in rural, urban, and university settings. He is a teacher and author, with several works published through Abingdon Press, including Hard Times Come Again No More: Suffering and Hope. Alex is married to Suzanne and they have two adult children. His hobbies include running and kayaking. Contact Rev. Joyner

Program & Ministry Staff

Carolyn McGee

Spiritual Life and Worship Arts Director

Carolyn is not originally from Charlottesville, but she got here as fast as she could! She has been a part of Charlottesville First United Methodist Church since 1988 and serves as our Spiritual Life Coordinator through facilitating opportunities for the church family to experience and grow in their own relationships with Jesus Christ and foster an environment of fellowship and spiritual development that engages the congregation in living out a Christian lifestyle. Carolyn is also the lead of our Worship Arts Ministry, which includes the artist exhibitions in the gallery, dramas, and leading our choirs. With a B.M. in Music Therapy and another in Music Education, Carolyn spent 33 years in education before becoming an owner and proprietor of The Inn at 400 West High (although The Inn property was sold in 2021). She is married to Gary and has two grown sons and a sweet daughter-in-law. Be sure to watch her face light up when you ask her about her grandchildren, Willow and Gillispie! Contact Carolyn

Kevin White

Music Director

Kevin serves as the Charlottesville First UMC Music Director. Kevin's background in music is highly varied beginning with a classical piano education from the Eastman School of Music. After moving to Charlottesville over 40 years ago, he spent 32 years teaching public school music, cover band work playing all styles of music, music theater at UVA, and many years serving in music ministries .

Kevin enjoys small boat sailing each summer on Cape Cod. Kevin's wife Carol is an avid health club attendee after retiring from the nursing profession. Together, they enjoy cycling on their e-bikes, volunteering with Meals On Wheels, and enjoying their black lab puppy “Mabel”! 

Kevin's son Luke is living in Richmond and works for Sanctuary Rescue of Midlothian. His stepdaughter Samantha is employed by CRAFT Media as a graphic designer in Washington, D.C. Contact Kevin

Lara Upton

Children's and Youth Ministry Director

Lara Upton certainly is not new to CFUMC, as she has been an active and creative participant for years! She grew up Mennonite on a farm in Maryland, and REALLY enjoys hymn sings. She remembers fondly loving church camp in Pennsylvania, and the songs she learned there still stay close to her heart. 

Lara has always enjoyed teaching Sunday school and volunteering in the nursery at the Mennonite Church. She has volunteered as Nurture Team Leader for several terms at both the Mennonite Church and CFUMC. She has previously volunteered for and chaperoned youth retreats.

As you get to know Lara, you will find that she loves the beach, camping, and generally just spending time outdoors! She will be happy to play a board game with you or suggest a good book for reading. Many of us have been the lucky recipient of one of her handcrafted note cards. She feels that is one way God calls on her – to be an encourager of kindness. 

Lara wants us all to know that she is open to ideas for ways to connect with children and youth and ways to support caregivers. Contact Lara


Administrative & Office Staff

Photo coming soon!

Liz McWilliams

Church Administrator

Liz McWilliams recently moved to the Charlottesville area from Alexandria, VA and is serving as our Administrative Assistant. She was born and raised in New Jersey but moved to Virginia in 2013 to become an Elementary Teacher after graduating from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. After 10 wonderful years of teaching, she is excited about joining the Charlottesville First UMC team. 

Liz and her husband, David, live in Zion Crossroads with their son, Mason. Their second son, Hudson, will be making his arrival at the end of June 2024!  She is most at home near the water and has her sailing and boating license. Along with their yellow lab, Tigger, Liz and her family have enjoyed exploring the hiking trails in Shenandoah and traveling as much as they can. They are working towards their goal of going to all the Major League Baseball Stadiums. She is excited to build new relationships here in Charlottesville and to support the staff and the church.

Contact Liz

Keith Davis

Facilities Manager

Professionally, Keith has 26 years of directing engineering and maintenance teams, with an emphasis in HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and a strong belief in preventative maintenance. 

Personally, Keith has a passion for farming. He is building a small, self-sustaining mini farm at his home in Earlysville. He has a dairy cow named Daisy along with her best friend, Roscoe the donkey, 3 goats that are not yet named, and 14 hens. He has been a volunteer coach at the Boys & Girls Club for the last 8 years, and he loves anything to do with arts and crafts. 

Keith absolutely loves CFUMC. The building is beautiful, and he looks forward to caring for it. He feels blessed to be here! Contact Keith

Photo coming soon!

Erica Gregory

Communications Director

Erica Gregory has over 14 years of communication and marketing experience. She owns her own business locally and has found a passion in helping businesses build their digital presence.

Erica lives in the area with her husband, David and their two children, Finn and Reese. The Gregorys have a dog named Juneau and four chickens. In her spare time, Erica enjoys spending time with her family, going for long runs, listening to Taylor Swift and cheering on the Buffalo Bills.

 Contact Erica


First United Methodist Preschool

Kristen Breslin

Preschool Director

Kristen Breslin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Longwood University and has nine years of experience serving as a classroom teacher at various grade levels, as well as in special education. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Breslin started a cheer program at the Regents School of Charlottesville for girls in grades 1-6, and also started one at a school in Florida through Impact Cheer, a national Christian cheerleading organization. During the 2019 season, she led her squad to a second place finish in nationals. Kristen has also served as leader of a MOPS group in Charlottesville, an international student host coordinator for a school in Williamsburg, and was a production manager for a family magazine in Kennesaw, Georgia. In her spare time, Mrs. Breslin helps run Relevant Foundations Educational Services, a tutoring and consulting firm, with her husband Dave. In addition, Mrs. Breslin loves being a mom to her two kids and a wife to Dave. Together, the Breslins love spending time outdoors, traveling, watching movies, and they love all sports, especially Alabama Crimson Tide football. Kristen is extremely excited about leading the talented faculty and wonderful families at FUMP! Contact Kristen



Rev. Dr. Harry Kennon

Pastor Emeritus

Harry, his wife Gale, and their two sons became lay members of CFUMC in 1970. Harry entered the pastoral ministry in 1982, after a 15 year business career. He served the rural Greene Charge while attending seminary and returned to CFUMC as Associate Pastor from 1985-88. Subsequently, Harry served churches in Richmond, Chesterfield, and Norfolk before being appointed to CFUMC as Senior Pastor in 2003. Upon his retirement in 2009, he was given the title Pastor Emeritus and continues to be active in various ministries. Harry and Gale are the proud grandparents of four. They both love to travel and are avid “sports nuts”, especially UVA baseball. Harry also enjoys riding the motorcycle he bought when he retired. Contact Harry


Church Leadership


In the United Methodist Church, the Church Council provides, plans, and implements a program of nurture, outreach, witness, and other resources in the local church. It also provides for the administration of its organization and temporal life. The Church Council envisions, plans, implements, and annually evaluates the mission and ministry of the church and essentially functions as the administrative agency of the charge conference.

If you have any questions about the Church Council, please contact Lisa Hanrahan, Church Council Chair.


Church Council Minutes: 



Full Leadership Roster - 2023