Rev. Valerie Austin -- Interim Minister


I am excited to be with Smithville First Christian Church for this designated time of transition, reflection, and visioning for the future. While I moved here from snowy Western New York, I am no stranger to the area as I was born and raised in Kansas City North. I grew up going to Smithville Lake during the summers, and am blessed to have many fond memories of the area and am beyond excited to be back home. 

After graduating from North Kansas City High School, I attended college in Sterling, Kansas majoring in Theology & Ministry with a Concentration in Cross-cultural Ministry. Later, I attended Saint Paul School of Theology and earned my Masters of Divinity with a Specialization in Women, Church, & Society in 2017. Soon after graduation, I was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Greater Kanas City Region. 

During my time in seminary and thereafter, I have held various roles within Methodist, Presbyterian USA, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and United Church of Christ denominations as well as many jobs outside of the church. I served as a Church Office Manager, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, and as a Senior Pastor. Throughout my time in ministry I have developed a passion for assisting faith communities vision and plan for how they can most authentically live into their call to be beacons of love, justice, service, and radical inclusion within their communities. I very much look forward to serving in and with Smithville First Christian Church in these coming months!


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, calendar, newsletter, bulletin 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.