Yvi Martin, Lead Pastor
Rev. Yvi Martin comes to Platte Woods UMC after 11 years of ministry in the Missouri Annual Conference, serving churches first in Springfield (King’s Way UMC), then St. Louis (The Gathering UMC). First called to ministry at the age of 15, Yvi served as a missionary for the Free Methodist Church in both the Philippines and Mozambique before discerning a call to pastoral ministry and beginning that journey at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. While pieces of her heart remain in every place she has served, she eagerly anticipates sharing gifts of teaching, writing, preaching, music and hospitality with the wonderful community of Platte Woods UMC.
Along for the adventure is husband, Scott Giffen, who works as VP of Advancement for Greenville University, but more importantly brings the gifts of humor, leadership, music and a deep faith to this new church community. Their two sons, Ezekiel (8) and Lazarus (4) come with all the energy, creativity, spunk and strong wills that one might expect from preacher’s kids! They will quickly make every other parent of small children who act out in church feel completely normal and ok. And they will, no doubt, make you laugh.
Email Pastor Yvi
Jess Horsley, Associate Pastor
Passionate about building relationships, celebrating people’s unique stories, and helping people discover their God-given gifts and abilities, Rev. Jess Horsley comes to Platte Woods UMC having served in the St. Louis area in full-time ministry since 2009. A lifelong United Methodist raised in rural Iowa by a nurse mother and a farming father, Pastor Jess discerned a call to ordained ministry after years of eclectic jobs: high school English teacher, professional film critic, action figure & video game reviewer, and machine gunner in the United States Marine Corps.
Pastor Jess enjoys watching movies (especially sci-fi and horror!), reading comics (make mine Marvel!), collecting sneakers, getting tattooed and encouraging and empowering others to unleash their love, presence, power and knowledge to change their lives – and the lives of others – for the better!
Married for 20 years to his high school sweetheart Shelly, who works for Sisters Floral Design Studio in St. Louis, Jess and Shelly have the pleasure of parenting Amelia (12), a musician and empathetic soul; and Warren (8), a dancer who loves video games. Together, their family cares for Samson, a rescue cat who has a love/hate relationship with the outdoors.
Choongho Kwon, Associate Pastor
Rev. Dr. Choongho Kwon will join PWUMC as an associate pastor. He completed his doctorate of ministry from Candler School of Theology in 2017.
Choongho comes to us from Avondale UMC, where he served as pastor the last five years. He has been in ministry more than 20 years and has extensive experience in the areas of Intentional Faith Development and Congregational Care.
Choongho comes to PWUMC with his wife, Hannah, and his two teenage sons, Samuel and Stephen.
Email Pastor Choongho
Lori Bogart, Director of Administration & HR
Lori serves as the director of administration and human resources. She and her husband Jeff are 20+ year members of the church and have two adult children. Lori has served in many volunteer capacities at the church and has worked in the church office since 2008. Her current role allows her to utilize her background in human resource management to continue serving the PWUMC staff and congregation.Email Lori
Misty Wilkinson, Financial Manager
Misty serves as the financial manager for PWUMC. She enjoys working with people through her background in accounting. She also enjoys lake time with her husband, Bill, and daughters.Email Misty
Rachel Zolnowski, Administrative Associate
Rachel serves as an administrative associate at PWUMC, focusing on database management and accounts payable. She has attended Platte Woods for over 30 years and is now raising her 2 children here with her husband Adam. Rachel loves watching baseball and can often be found out at the K cheering on the Royals!Email Rachel
Anne Bartholow, Director of Senior Adult Ministry
Anne serves as director of Senior Adult Ministry. After many years of working with God’s children she is delighted to be involved with God’s senior adults at PWUMC. She loves being active with her family as well as being active with her church family!Email Anne
Molly Budzinski, Welcome & Connections Coordinator
Molly finds her passion in developing safe and inclusive space for all people to feel loved within/where all people can feel loved. She joins us here at Platte Woods UMC following her time as a Youth and Children’s Director in Maryland. Molly grew up in the United Methodist Church where she first discovered her love for God. This led her to pursue a career in vocational ministry at the Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. There, she spent all her time either working with campus ministry organizations or volunteering with local churches in growing their youth ministry programs. After the pandemic sent her home her senior year, she used that as an opportunity to expand her experiences and went to serve the youth and children in Ashton, Maryland, just outside of D.C. She moves back to the KC area with a renewed passion to facilitate the creation of safe spaces for people of all backgrounds and age groups. She is especially excited to use her experience to welcome and connect everyone to a child-like joy that is to be found in growing one’s relationship with God. If you would like to reach out, Molly’s coffee mug collection, fully stocked snack drawer, affinity for Grey’s Anatomy and propensity for sharing pictures of her very cute cat will surely put you at ease.Email Molly
Choongho Kwon, Associate Pastor
As an associate pastor at PWUMC, Choongho leads our adult learning ministry. Learn more about Choongho in his bio at the top of the page.Email Pastor Choongho
Vicki Krehbiel, Director of Counseling
Jessica Sachs, Director of Grow Groups
Jessica serves as the Director of Grow Groups. She grew up at Platte Woods UMC, staying connected and involved in various ministries around the church. After college, Jessica spent six years leading youth ministry in Southwest Missouri and is excited to be back near family and serving the Northland community. She is working on her Masters of Divinity at Saint Paul School of Theology and is passionate about creating an environment where everybody feels specially connected to both God and this faith community. Jessica loves going on adventures with friends and lounging with her sweet cat!Email Jessica
Children’s & Youth Ministry
Sue Arensberg, Director of Sunbeams Preschool & PDO
Sue serves as director of Sunbeams Preschool and Parents’ Day Out at PWUMC. She graduated from University of Iowa with an elementary education and early childhood degree, and received her master’s degree in elementary education from UMKC. She enjoys teaching group fitness classes, and spending time with her husband, Mark, and teenage twin daughters.Email Sue
Jen Bruce, Director of Children's Ministries
Jen has served in our Children’s Ministry since 2013, and as our director of Children’s Ministry since 2018. She brings to her work an abiding passion for children and families and a background in social work. Jen enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband, Dan, and their four sons.Email Jen
Mandy Phillips, Children's Ministry Associate
Mandy serves as a Children’s Ministry associate, providing support to our children’s programming. She is married with two adult kiddos and enjoys family time, sewing and crafting, as well as active pursuits such as running and bike riding.Email Mandy
Janessa Aston, Director of Student Ministry
Janessa joined PWUMC as our Director of Student Ministries in 2019. She is a lifelong Methodist who previously attended and worked in student ministry at Kearney UMC.Email Janessa
Miranda Wingett, Sunbeams Preschool & PDO Associate
Miranda serves as a Sunbeams and PDO associate at PWUMC. She has worked with the children of the church for more than 20 years. She graduated from Missouri Western State University with an elementary education and early childhood degree, and received her master’s degree in education from Webster University. She enjoys scrapbooking and spending time with her husband, Jason, and two daughters.Email Miranda
Maegan Nelson, Communications Assistant
Maegan Nelson has a love for Jesus and has been a lifelong Methodist. She has a degree in early childhood education, and has primarily worked in an education setting throughout her career. She is excited always to learn new things and is so grateful to be on staff here at PWUMC! She is raising two teenage daughters along with her husband, who she has been with since she was 18. She loves all animals of all kinds, and has four fur babies of her own. She enjoys going to the Y and gardening.Email Maegan
Becky Bacon, Custodian
Becky serves in facilities for PWUMC. She help clean and maintain the building. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and doing crafts.Email Becky
Mike Casey, Maintenance Coordinator
Mike serves as a member of the Facilities team at PWUMC. He is a U.S. Army veteran and has a passion for helping others. He enjoys the cinema, music and gaming of all kinds.Email Mike
Brandi Molina, Director of Missions
Brandi has served as our director of Missions since 2018, and has been on staff since 2016. She graduated from Columbia College with a degree in business administration, and received her master’s degree in Spanish Literature from UMKC. Outside of work Brandi enjoys working in her garden and going on adventures with her husband, Trey, and their daughter.Email Brandi
Walter Bryant, Music Director
Walter has been part of the music ministry at PWUMC for decades, but he’s also well-known on the Kansas City music scene. You might have heard him performing with area bands, heard his jingles on TV or heard his arrangements at the shows at Worlds of Fun each year.
Walter and his wife, Julie, have three adult children and two dogs who keep them busy.
Alex Garnett, Technical Coordinator
Alex serves as technical coordinator, overseeing the church’s technical production needs and volunteers. He brings his knowledge of music, recording, and a strong work ethic to his role at the church. He’s rarely found without a cup of coffee in hand!Email Alex
Mat Thornton, Worship Director
Mat Thornton is our worship director, overseeing all aspects of weekend worship. As a musician and as a leader he brings a lively spirit to this community. Mat has a passion for connecting with people and growing with them in faith. One of his greatest joys is worshiping in new and creative ways with others, especially with his talented wife, Andrea.Email Mat