The Rev. John Mars has served as senior pastor of Meridian United Methodist Church since 2007. Before that, he served as a pastor for eight years in Southern Baptist churches and 17 years in United Methodist churches in Mississippi, Oregon, and Idaho.
The son of a Navy officer, Pastor John spent his childhood at various bases in Florida, California, and Cuba before his father retired to Mississippi. His formal education includes two master’s degrees in divinity – in pastoral care and counseling from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and in New Testament theology from Memphis Cumberland Presbyterian Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi.
He is dedicated to working with others to advance the Kingdom of God. He says his life is all about relationships: his relationships with God, with his wife and family, and with the people with whom he serves.
He sums up his approach to ministry in three adages:
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Trust God like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.
Always endeavor to create a bastion of moderate Christianity in the sea of extremism in which we live.
Assistant Pastor/Minister of Adult Discipleship
Jen was raised by her mom in Winter Park, Florida, and was actively involved in her church from a very young age. She feels very blessed to be from a rich spiritual heritage and believes the seeds of possibility were planted during the mission trips with her youth group when she was a young adult. After serving a Home Rehabilitation mission in North Carolina, Jen felt called into the field of Social Work. She earned her BSW and an MBA in Healthcare Management and for nearly 20 years, she worked in various capacities to serve marginalized and vulnerable populations. Jen has been an advocate for social justice and believes we are all gifted with unique talents to serve God and neighbor. In 2018, she felt called into professional ministry and joined the Church of the Warm Heart Family. She feels very humbled and blessed to be here to serve our church today.
During her downtime, Jen enjoys spending time with her husband and two teenage boys. As a family, they enjoy camping, rafting, and hiking. Their favorite destination spots are the Oregon Coast and Stanley, Idaho.
Having been deeply impacted by mentoring relationships as a teen, Nicole knew she wanted to work with teenagers for a living. After graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, she taught math and speech online and volunteered with the MUMC youth group for four years before getting a call into full-time youth ministry.
Nicole and her husband, Jacob, have two young children. When they’re not spending all their time at church, they enjoy reading, taking walks, creating art, riding bikes, playing board games, and hanging out with local friends and family.
Sharon Allison has been a member at Meridian United Methodist Church for 12 years and has been the Children’s Minister since 2013. Sharon grew up in Clovis, California and has a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University, Fresno. She has two sons, Matthew and Cameron. They reside in Meridian and enjoy spending time outdoors, camping, paddle boarding, and dirt bike riding. Sharon loves to read, scrapbook, and do puzzles. She spends most of her time with her kids and enjoys hanging out with her friends. Sharon has 6 siblings, one who lives here in Meridian and many nieces and nephews. Sharon’s love for Jesus and children has put her in the perfect place to be the Children’s Minister. She enjoys spending time with the Warm Heart Kids and actively makes them a part of her life. Her goal in life is to bring young children to Jesus and make disciples for Christ.
Congregational Care Minister
Lisa was raised in Idaho and after her husband retired from the military, they ventured back to Idaho from Georgia. While in Georgia, she earned her B.S. in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Education and Gerontology from Armstrong Atlantic State University. Lisa worked for the Chatham County Health Department as a community health advocate. Lisa joined the Church of the Warm Heart team in 2015. She has a passion for health education and helping everyone, no matter what stage of life you are in. Everyone is cherished and valued. Lisa and her husband have college-aged children, Austin (Averie) and Whitney. Lisa feels very blessed to be working in Congregational Care.
During her spare time, she enjoys sunshine, running, hiking, camping, and traveling with her family and friends.
Worship Arts Minister
Debbie has worked in music ministry since she was a teenager, accompanying choirs, playing the organ for services and eventually directing adult and children’s cantatas and musicals. Besides the organ, she plays the piano, guitar, and handbells.
She taught piano privately for 25 years and has taught choirs at Sawtooth Middle School, Meridian Middle School, and Meridian High School. She and her husband, Charlie, have enjoyed singing together since before they were married.
Debbie and Charlie have two children, Nicole Kopp and Tim (Samantha Jones), and two grandchildren, Lyla and Weston.
Debbie is excited about the music ministry at Church of the Warm Heart and is looking forward to the next phase of the journey. She cherishes relationships and friendships and loves learning about people's talents and how to use them for HIS Glory.
Worship Team leader
Brian Palmer was born and raised in Southern California. He started playing the guitar at age 10 after hearing the Beatles and Beach Boys. He had bands throughout high school and college. At the age of 21, he started a band called Strictly Business that played restaurants and clubs throughout California.
In 1986, He attended Musicians Institute in Hollywood Ca, to better himself as a Musician. After graduating from MI, he went on to perform with various show bands and session work. In 1990, Brian landed a gig as lead guitar player for Stonebridge, a high-energy show-band that backed up such groups as the Coasters, The Drifters, Shirelles, Freda Payne, Richard Street from The Temptations. And many more. He has opened shows for George Benson, Rick Springfield, and many other acts, as well as performed his own unique brand of jazz-influenced Blues Rock. He has also played and/or recorded with Cheri Keaggy, Junko Chen, Jana Alayra and Dean-O, and the Dynamos. Before Moving to Boise Idaho, He spent 3 years playing in Wartime Radio Revue, a 16 piece ‘40s style big band as well as leading worship for Crossline Church in Ladera Ranch California.
Brian currently has 2 albums out. The first one is called dbSmoothe, which is a jazz fusion record. The second is a country record with Joannah McKee that he co-wrote and produced. Both are available on Amazon and iTunes.
Brian is also currently playing with the Saloonatics, a high-energy country pop dance band as well as leading Meridian United Methodist Church in Contemporary worship.