Pastors & Staff


Lead Pastor

Barry Whipkey has been at Rapid City First for three years, within his 18 years of ministry. He realized he had a calling to become a pastor when he was in high school, but ran from it until he was in his late forties. His wife Deb has supported him throughout his years as a farmer, and a pastor. They have three children, married, and eight beautiful grandchildren. Pastor Barry is enjoying his time in the Black Hills, but he will always be a farmer. "They sent a country boy to a downtown urban church." 

Jeff hauser

Assistant Pastor and Contemporary Worship Leader

Displaced Montana boy whose life has been ridiculously turned upside down by Jesus. I seek to be emptied more and more of me, and filled more and more with the Spirit of Christ. I seek awareness of the living God in me flowing like living water through me in all I do and in all my interactions.

I have two beautiful kids. Selah Joy, 17, and Caleb Jeffrey, 15. I love the outdoors! Especially with my kids. We love to rock climb, hike, hunt, fly, fish, mountain bike...and anything else outside. 

Kotti Wickard

Business Administrator 

A native of Nebraska, Kotti and her husband Dennis, relocated to Rapid City 18 years ago.  Kotti has been in banking for over 25 years and hopes that this experience will add value to her roll as Business Administrator.  Kotti was previously a member of the First United Methodist Church in Sidney but feels she has found her church home here in Rapid City.  She has met many wonderful individuals and has enjoyed many studies with great women in the congregation.  Kotti and Dennis have 4 children and 8 grandchildren.  Although being a parent was a blessing being a grandmother is a blessing beyond words.  Kotti enjoys golfing, spending time with friends and family in her spare time.  Especially the time spent with Dennis.

Anne TOrgerson

Christian Education Director

Anne Torgerson is a graduate of South Dakota State University. A native of Watertown, SD she has made Rapid City her home with her husband Peder, three children (Hans, Gretchen and Kai) and one dog (Gracie). She enjoys helping others discover all of the surprising ways God reveals his great love for each of us.

lauren holderfield 

Children's Coordinator

My name is Lauren Holderfield. I am from North Carolina, we are military family. I have two girls, a husband, and two dogs. I've been a teacher in MMO for the last two years and have worked in the nursery for the past year. I am president of the local MOMS CLUB of Rapid City, an active member of the Grandview PTA, volunteer soccer coach, and a dance mom.

Hannah O'Donnell

Mom's Morning Out Director
Youth and Digital Media Coordinator

Hannah O'Donnell moved to Rapid City, South Dakota with her husband and airman, Matt in 2021. She brings a wide array of strengths with her background in working with children of all ages, multimedia communications, and years of volunteering at her hometown church in Jacksonville, Florida. As the director of our preschool age program MMO,  Hannah enjoys leading the teachers and getting to build a relationship with all the kids. She welcomes military families from Box Elder, as well as other families in the area. She coordinates the youth ministry, and believes the youth are a vital part of the body of Christ. Knowing from her own experience as a challenging teenager, developing a foundation with God and being surrounded by a loving church family is important. Her other role involves sharing the heart of Rapid City UMC on multiple digital media platforms. 

stephen branch

Choir Director

Coming soon. 

Diane ketel


Coming soon. 

parker knox


Parker Knox, a now-retired former teacher and journalist, first came to Rapid City in 2004 because family members were already here.  He immediately chose First UMC because of the music program---the organ and the two choirs.  He has stayed as a choir member and as a substitute organist ever since because of the people who comprise this church.

Margot Burton

Care Coordinator  

Coming soon. 

Rick gilson


Coming soon.