Lead Pastor

Rev. Keith Nelson

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Thanks for checking out Mitchell First UMC’s web page.  As the heading tells you, I’m Keith Nelson, the Lead Pastor here at Mitchell First.  Being in Mitchell is like being back home for me.  I grew up just 50 miles from Mitchell on a farm north of White Lake, SD.  As a kid, Mitchell was definitely a destination; relatives, bigger stores, movie-theater, Corn Palace Days, etc. these were all things that brought us to Mitchell.

Ministry has been an exciting journey.  God has surprised me with every move and ministry setting I’ve been in, but God has also taught me a lot through each and every place I’ve served.  I have served United Methodist churches in Onida and Agar, SD, Devils Lake, ND, Sturgis, SD, Brandon SD.  I also served as a District Superintendent in the Dakotas Conference, overseeing the ministries in the Sakakawea District of North Dakota.  Now I am thrilled to call Mitchell home and to be serving Mitchell First UMC.  My personal ministry focus is “to help people touch and be touched by the Living Christ.”  I believe that Jesus is alive and with us in our hearts and lives.  I also believe quite strongly that Jesus wants to give people life, abundant life – John 10:10

My wife, Nancy, and I have been married for 30+ years and we have two adult children.  Our son, Richie, lives in Omaha, NE and our daughter, Melissa, lives in Sioux Falls.  We’re excited to be this close to both of them.  Nancy and I both enjoy the outdoors; biking, hiking, paddle boarding, camping, etc.  I also enjoy a good long ride on my motorcycle from time to time.  (Remember, I did serve in Sturgis, SD!!)

If you are looking for a church home, I hope that you will check out our worship services and other ministry opportunities. Here at Mitchell First we believe that 1) People are important; 2) God is at work; and 3) the best days of the church are yet to come.  Mitchell First UMC is a downtown church that is committed to making a difference in the Mitchell Community.  



Connection Pastor

Rev. Jerry Stravia IV

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Welcome to Downtown First Church!


My wife Rebecca and I, along with our four children Regan Iris, Jerry Joe, Graclyn Lee and Finley Rose came to Mitchell First UMC in 2012. I joined the Pastoral staff in April 2016 and I am excited for what God is doing in and outside the walls of our historic Church. As your Connection Pastor here at Downtown First, I have the privilege of welcoming God's deciples into our community of faith. I am very passionate about our congregational care ministry and am surrounded around the greatest team one could ask for. 


I was born and raised in Arvada, Colorado. I have a degree from from Dakota Wesleyan University (BA in History/Communication), and I am currently pursuing a Master in Divinity. I am a proud alumni of DWU and a former Tiger football player and wrestler. I retired from the U.S Army in 2008 and served a tour as an infantry team leader in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have called Mitchell my Home since 2010 and cant imagine being happier elswhere. 


Again, welcome to Downtown Mitfhell First Church and may God bless you and your family!


Pastor Jerry




Director of Children's Ministries

Carolyn Knight

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Director of Youth Ministries

Jessica Kremer

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Office Manager

Short Larson

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I am in my 24th year as Office Manager at First United Methodist Church.  My job includes everything from record/calendar keeping, publishing the Sunday bulletin, and scheduling events, to searching for food that has been donated to the church and cannot be located.  I love people and feel that my ministry is to make everyone who calls or walks through these doors feel welcome and loved by God and this church.

I am married to Larry, a retired watermelon picker.  I have two married children, Brooke (Ryan) Anderson and children Wil, Jack, & Andi, and Tate (Jan) Larson and daughters, Liv & Hally.  My family is my life along with reading, eating, walking, eating, friends, and eating.  My happiest times are vacationing anywhere with my family! 

Facilities Manager

Tim Friedrich

Tim is orginally from Tripp, SD.  He has three children and three grandchildren.  He enjoys cooking, movies, dancing, and any kind of music concerts.  He loves life!

Secretary/Newsletter Editor

Irma DeSmet

Sunday Coordinator

John Claggett

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