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 15 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!


Rev. Dr. Rick will serve our congregation as Sabbatical Minister while Rev. Dr. Lara is on Sabbatical (July 15-October 15, 2019).

A native of the Greater Kansas City Area and former part-time interim associate minister for the Christian Church of Greater Kansas City (1984-85), Rick has served congregations in Indiana, Nebraska, and Kansas, at Shawnee Park (now Shawnee Community) Christian Church in Shawnee.   


Rick received his B.A. degree at Phillips University, M.Div. at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and D. Min. at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.  He was ordained in 1973 at his home congregation:  Overland Park Christian Church.


Rick and his wife René have been married for 48 years. René is also an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is presently serving as Interim Senior Minister at St. Andrew Christian Church in Olathe.  They served as co-ministers from 1984-2011, and 2014-15.  Since November 2011, Rick has served as intentional interim minister at churches in South Dakota, Arizona, and Oregon.


René and Rick have 2 children:  Erica Hanlon, a licensed psychotherapist, who lives in Denver, where she works in mental health with Aetna Insurance.  She and husband Brendan Hanlon have 3 children:  twins Finnegan and Cassidy (9) and Bridget (7).  René’s and Rick’s son Peter Rodgers Jensen holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from Mizzou, and teaches full-time at the University of Alabama—Tuscaloosa.


Rick’s hobbies include reading, hiking, following the Chiefs and Royals, and cross-country bicycling. He has cycled all the lower 48 states and loves to share stories about his rides.   

Jason Bell -- Music Coordinator


Jason Bell joined our staff in August of 2017.  He originally hails from Nashville, Tennessee but came to us from Memphis, where he served as a church musician in a variety of settings while also teaching music and playing piano for numerous theatrical productions. Jason is a formally trained pianist, organist, and cellist who leads our congregation in a wide array of musical styles.  He's also a fun loving spirit who brings joy and laughter to meetings, meals, and other church functions.



Adam G. Singleton began studying classical piano at the age of 11. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. He holds two Bachelor of Music degrees: Organ Performance and Historical Performance in Early Music (Juilliard), and two Master of Music degrees: Organ Performance and Sacred Music (Yale). His repertoire encompasses literature from the Medieval period to the works of present-day composers. 

Whilst an undergraduate student, he received a one-year music scholarship to study sacred music, organ, and choral conducting at Sarum College in Wiltshire, England where he also served as Organ Scholar at Salisbury Cathedral. During his graduate studies, he received another one-year music scholarship to study abroad. Aside from England, he also studied (as well as having performed) in France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Russia. Additionally, Adam was privileged to perform in organ master-classes for Mme. Marie-Claire Alain, Mssr. Daniel Roth, Ton Koopman, John Scott, Dame Gillian Weir, and Anothy Newman to name a few. He was the First-Prize Winner of the Young African American Artists Competition in 2003, and the First Prize Winner in Organ Improvisation 2009. 

Adam is also a composer, and his compositions for organ are published by Zimbel Press/Subito Music Corporation. Adam works full-time in the voicing department at The Reuter Organ Company in Lawrence, Kansas where he resides with his fiancé, Sara. 

Previous positions include Organist and Director of Music at St. Sylvester Church (R.C.) in Medford, NY, Organist and Director of Music at Holy Child Jesus Parish (R.C.) in Richmond Hill, NY, Organist and Choirmaster at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, NY, Organist and Director of Music at St. Vincent de Paul Church (R.C.) in Elmont, NY, Organist and Choirmaster at Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica, NY, Organist and Director of Music at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Little Neck, NY, Assistant Organist and Children's Choir Director at St. John's Lutheran Church in The Bronx, NY, Assisting Organist at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, NYC, and Assisting Organist at The Cathedral of Saint Patrick in NYC.  


Member of the American Guild of Organists

Member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians

Member of the National Association of Anglican Church Musicians

Member of the National Associations of Pastoral Musicians

Member of the Organ Historical Society

Artistic Director of the St. Mark's Concert Series, New York City, New York

Member of American Mensa, Ltd. (as of 2014, January)    

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.