Rev. Dr. Lara Blackwood Pickrel -- Senior Minister


I began serving FCC on January 2, 2014 and served our church for three and a half years as Associate Minister.  In July of 2017 the Board of our congregation approved my transition to Senior Minister. It is both a privilege and honor to serve God with you in this capacity.

I was born in Huntsville, Alabama, but grew up all over the country (and in Germany for a bit) because of my dad’s career in the US Army. Ultimately, we landed in El Paso, TX, which is where I attended high school and where my dad retired from the military. After graduating from J.M Hanks High School (Go Knights!), I attended Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) in Fort Worth, TX, where I majored in Religious Studies. After college, I attended seminary at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX and Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK.  In May of 2019 I completed my Doctor of Ministry degree at PTS. 

It’s such a blessing to serve in Smithville, and I’m excited about the ways we can step out in faith together. Before serving in Smithville, I served for 4.5 years as the Minister for Youth and Young Adults at Hillside Christian Church in Kansas City, MO. I've also served as Minister to Youth at First Christian Church in Fayetteville, AR, as the Regional Youth Minister for the Great River Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as Associate Minister at First Christian Church in Abilene, TX, and as Area Youth Minister for the Trinity Brazos Area in Fort Worth, TX. All told, I have served Disciples congregations and regions for more than 19 years. My first love in ministry is the work we do for and with young people, and I believe that youth ministry, young adult ministry and family ministry are central to our call to make disciples who serve God and strive for justice in the world. I am also passionate about preaching, writing (curriculum, articles and books), intergenerational ministry, mission, and creative worship. 

My hobbies include yarncraft (knitting and crochet), writing, reading science fiction or fantasy literature, walking, listening to music, taking in an occasional movie, and spending time with my family. My husband, Chuck, is also a Disciples pastor who serves as Minister to Youth at Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe, KS. We currently have two “fur children”: a West Highland White Terrier named Shelby, and a black lab named Faith. In September of 2017 we adopted our daughter, Violet, at the ripe age of two days old.  She is the joy of our lives!


Steven Cornwell is a Kansas native who was homeschooled through high school, during which time he acquired a love of classical music through reading German art song books while herding his family's goats. He attended Fort Hays State University and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's in music theory and composition. While there, he served for five years as the choir director of First Baptist Church in Hays, KS and performed in the Fort Hays concert choir, fort hays singers, symphonic winds, wind ensemble, marching band, as well as the Fort Hays operas and musicals. He has studied voice, piano, clarinet, bassoon, and recorder, and will now be teaching himself how to play the church organ. His musical interests include classical voice, barbershop, musical theater, and a smattering of popular styles (electro swing has been a recent favorite). He is a member of Central Standard, a barbershop chorus that consistently places in the top 4 at the barbershop harmony society international chorus contests, and the Ancora Chorale, a classical choir based in Independence. Non-musical interests include pretty much anything nerdy (video games, card games, tabletop games, anime, break dancing, you name it). He's excited to join the staff at the church.

Susan Wills -- Office Manager

Susan joined our staff in May of 2017.  She is the kind and gracious person on the other end of the line when you call our church office, and she takes joy in meeting (and helping!) new people.  Susan's job is juggler-in-chief: she manages our worship schedule, serving schedule, newsletter, and a variety of other communications that keep the church running smoothly.  


    Rader (and his son, Max), faithfully care for the church building each week, cleaning and maintaining the facility so that it is always ready for worship, meetings, meals, service, and community groups.


    Greg works diligently to make sure our church finances are handled efficiently and ethically.  He oversees a team of counters and works with our finance service, Miller Management, to manage our church finances so that we are well-equipped and well-positioned to engage in vital ministry throughout our community.