John Hemming

Lead Pastor

Karen and I celebrate 17 years of marriage on July 20, 2019. We are blessed with three children: Luke (12), Aaron (10), and Anna (5). Culpeper UMC is the third church we have served. The journey began at Cave Spring UMC (2008-2012) and our second appointment was Powhatan UMC (2012-2019). It's been a joy to work alongside others, striving to build God's Kingdom. To be sure, Christ has shown up in amazing ways, helping me understand my role as a pastor and challenging people to BE disciples of Jesus in order to MAKE disciples of Jesus. Spiritual disciplines are vital to my daily life, reminding me that I am a follower first and foremost. The Hemming family is excited about our next stage of ministry at Culpeper UMC. Without a doubt, God is already on the move at Culpeper UMC and I look forward to building onto the wonderful legacy left by Pastor Randy.


Kelly Weiss

Executive Director

Hi, I’m Kelly Weiss, the Executive Director at Culpeper United Methodist Church.  I joined Culpeper UMC in January 2018 after I heard God’s call to join this beautiful church in its mission, and I became a professing member of the church in February 2018.  I have been blessed to work for Culpeper UMC, to be part of this community, and to be involved with the many wonderful ways in which Culpeper UMC helps out in the community.  

Prior to joining Culpeper UMC, I spent 17 years at ATIS – the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions in Washington, D.C. where I was the Vice President of Finance and Operations.  I have also worked for law firms in Washington, D.C., for the Alaska Department of Revenue, and in the U.S. Senate for an Alaskan Senator. I received my Master of Public Administration from The American University, and my undergraduate degree from the University of Washington (go Huskies!).

I have been married to my lovely wife Maria, who works as a Network Engineer for the Culpeper County Public Schools, since 1999, and have two amazing daughters, Hailey and Caitlin, who attend Culpeper County Public Schools.  Our other family members include our two Pugs and our five (!) cats.



Lauren Wright

Associate Pastor

Hi Friends! I’m Lauren Wright, Associate Pastor here at Culpeper UMC! I was appointed to Culpeper UMC in July of 2018. I grew up outside of Richmond, Virginia (where my family still lives), and went to undergrad at Virginia Tech (I studied biology!)  before going to Duke for seminary. I’m currently a licensed local pastor, hoping to be an ordained elder in the UMC. I’m passionate about missions, making meaningful connections with others, and discipleship. In my role as associate pastor, I strive to help people find their place in the church (which we often call our calling), which, in the words of Frederick Beuchner is “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”


When I’m not at the church, you’ll likely find me walking my dachshund, Myrtle, at Yowell Meadow Park, drinking coffee and listening to a podcast at Raven’s Nest, or reading a good book.



Jean Wood-Kobert

Director of Music Ministry

Jean Wood-Kobert received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia, with an emphasis in piano performance, and also studied organ, voice, conducting and music education. She received additional training in music education in the areas of Musikgarten, Orff Schulwerk, Kodaly and Dalcroze methods of teaching music to children. She has taught music in public and private elementary schools, as well as taught private piano lessons in Virginia, Maryland and Florida. When living in Maryland, she taught courses in music education, fundamentals of music and accompanied vocal and instrumental students at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, MD.

Jean’s church service includes working as organist/pianist in Virginia, Florida and West Virginia, as well as directing children and youth choirs in Virginia. Accompanying singers, instrumentalists, choral groups, and musical theatre productions has been among some of her favorite musical activities and she has been accompanying since she was in middle school.

Other career paths Jean has pursued include dental hygiene and she has worked in that capacity for twenty years while continuing to enjoy and work in music. Married with two daughters, Jean adores making music with her family. 

Singing in church choirs since she was a very young child, Jean has found joy in praising God through music. Loving God and others and using music to glorify the Lord is her heart’s desire and she is filled with gratitude to serve at Culpeper United Methodist Church.


Betsy Smith

Director of Family Ministry

As a native of Culpeper, I have to say, I love this community!  I graduated from ODU in 1986 and after working in the business world for a few years God called me to ministry. I completed a MDIV – Pastoral Counseling and Family Ministry in 1993.  I’ve served in Children’s and Family Ministry since 1990.  I was excited to join the staff of CUMC in 2015.  I love spending time with kids and their families, sharing in life with them and sharing the truths of God’s Word.  I love my church family!  When I’m not at church I enjoy spending time with my husband Jon and three girls, Taylor, Rachel and Rebekah. ( I actually enjoy spending time with them at church too!)  I love watching sports, especially football (Go Hokies!), baseball, and my girls playing lacrosse, soccer, and swimming.  I enjoy exercising, biking, and going to the beach.  I love worshiping God and believe there’s nothing more powerful than spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer!


Pamela Harris

Nursery Coordinator

Pam Harris has served our CUMC staff since 2015. She is a seasoned educator, teaching for 25 years. She now brings her passion for children and her faith to the staff of CUMC. Pam has served on various committees at CUMC including Church Council, Staff Parish, the Preschool Board and many more. She currently serves as one of our Lay Leaders.


Denise Pass

Modern Worship Leader

Denise has served the LORD in worship ministry for almost 30 years. Her passion is cultivating worship in the hearts of God’s people and writing about the hope God has for us, communicating the passionate relationship we were designed to have with our Creator. As a singer/songwriter, she writes songs to reveal the depth of this relationship God offers to us. 

Currently an author with Abingdon Press with her book, “Shame Off You”, which was released in the fall of 2018, Denise also wrote a devotional called, “31 Days to Hope Reinvented”, and is a published author with The Upper Room, a CCM artist, speaker and worship leader. Denise blogs weekly devotions to encourage her on-line followers on her ministry website,, and is a conference speaker and worship leader. 

Denise holds a BA degree in Music Performance from the University of Maryland and is a homeschool mother of 5, married to the love of her life, Clay, who ministers with her at musical events.


Whitney Simpson

Preschool Director

Hi! I am Whitney Simpson! I am the Director of Culpeper United Methodist Preschool!  I truly believe I answered God’s calling in 2009 to start a Preschool Ministry here at Culpeper UMC. I know this because our preschool has been truly blessed each and every day since it’s beginning.


Culpeper UMC was my home church as a child and young adult.  In 1995, I married my high school sweetheart, Lee Simpson, and we moved close to his home town in Kentucky where he could attend the University of Kentucky for Dental School. I utilized my Psychology degree from Bridgewater College (1994) and worked as a certified Substance Abuse Counselor and a Licensed Correctional and Pre Release Counselor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  


My career took a drastic change in 1999!  I became a mom!  Lee and I have three gorgeous daughters - Lauren, Rylee and Georgie! They definitely changed our world and we are so excited each and every day to see God’s hand working in and through their lives! 


In 2006, Lee and I moved back home to Culpeper, where he is a dentist and the owner of Culpeper Dental Associates.  We returned here to Culpeper UMC where we both became members and active volunteers within the church.  In 2009, while co-directing the Children’s ministry, I was approached to begin a preschool.  At first, I was hesitant; I had three small children. But the more I read and investigated the more excited I got and then God took over!  In 2016, myself along with our preschool staff received our Teaching Credentials from the Christian Child Development Education Alliance. This was a very exciting two year process for us.  To not  only become certified Early Childhood Educators, but to have our school credentialed, as well, was a huge mile stone for our preschool program!


When I am not working and playing with our preschool friends, I truly enjoy spending time with my family.  They are my breath of life!  I love watching my girls play sports (field hockey, swimming, lacrosse).  I love our family dinner chats of listening to their shenanigans from the day’s events!  I love talking with my oldest daughter on facetime while she attends the University of Mary Washington, majoring in Historic Preservation and Museum Studies.  I love to crochet and to cook - but I don’t like cleaning up my mess :-)!  I love the beach!  To me there is no greater place to sense God’s majesty than looking out into the ocean, sinking your toes in the sand,  and the warm sun smacking you in the face!  The beach is my true happy place!

If you have not visited our awesome preschool, I invite you to do so!  You can’t help but smile when you are on this hall!  And Yes - consider that a challenge!  My office is in Room 14, the last door on the preschool hallway - and my door is always open!  I invite you all to stop by and say “Hey!”



Jean Krueger

Administrator of Congregational Life and Event Planning

Jean Krueger has volunteered in many areas of CUMC before joining the CUMC staff family in June 2016. She has been married to Paul Krueger IV since October 1988 and they have three great kids, Paul Carl V & Colin Michael, twins born in Dec 1993 and Keely Morgan born in July 2000. Jean loves to read and dig deeper into the Bible and is also passionate about youth and youth ministry where she has been a volunteer small group leader for many years.


Abigail Dovel

Administrative Assistant

Abigail is a student at Veritas Baptist College in Fredericksburg, a member of the 9:29 worship team and a speech and debate adjudicator in her spare time. She enjoys attending Christian music concerts and baking as well as spending time outdoors: hiking and traveling. She’s been working at CUMC since August of 2019 and enjoys being able to work alongside many amazing people.


Jean Krueger