Meet our Staff...




JC Harp 

Lead Pastor
Email:  Rev Dr JC Harp


Pastor Harp has been married to his wife, June, for 36 years.  He enjoys wood carving, magic, reading, golf and bicycling.   In addition to being a 35 year member of  the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Park University (2005 to 2009) and taught a Course of Study at St. Paul School of Theology (2015 and 2016). 

Tresa Malam

Office Manager/Director of Communications
Email: Tresa Malam


Tresa began her journey with IFUMC in March of 2018.  She comes to IFUMC with a background in book-keeping and secretarial experience.  She's been married to her husband, Dave, for 24 years and they have two children, Alex, 22, and Savanah, 18.    Tresa enjoys scrapbooking, gardening and nature. She is excited to be working at Independence First.

Donice Heriford

Visitation Minister
Email: Donice Heriford


Donice enjoys reading, traveling, being with her family and connecting with her extended family at the church in various ways.  She has two married children…a daughter and her spouse in California and a son and his spouse in Blue Springs, as well as many “gran-animals”.

Rachel Whitmire-Griffith

Director of Children’s Ministry /
Starshine Preschool Director
Email: Rachel Whitmire-Griffith

Rachel is been married to the love of her life, Gene, and is the mother of four awesome little ladies who never cease to amaze her.  This is Rachel's fifth year as Children's Ministry Director of Independence First.   After twelve years of Preschool/Daycare experience and an Associate degree in teaching, Rachel feels  God led her to Independence First United Methodist Church for her dream job, where she gets to teach children and inspire adults about Jesus, the great “I AM”, who loves us more than we can fathom.  She's excited to see Him work in the lives of little ones.  

Rachel enjoys music, a good laugh and believes anything can be fun – it’s all in your perception.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Angy Bounds

Organist at Traditional Service and Pianist for Church Choir 
Email: Angy Bounds


Ten years ago, my sweet mother-in-law, Pat Bounds, called me with the news that “her church” was in need of an organist. As I was a lifelong musician and a recent “stay-at-home” mom with a precious 6-month old baby boy, I was open to the idea of an “out of house” experience-especially one that involved music! Now, ten years later, my mother-in-law’s church is now my church too, and I am happily still playing the organ weekly and accompanying both the adult and children’s choir.  When I’m not at church playing music, I’m teaching elementary music at Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Gino Bueno

Worship Leader

E-mail:  Gino Bueno 

​Instagram: @gino_bueno

Joining the staff in the winter of 2016, Gino jumped right into the thick of things leading worship in both Traditional and Contemporary services. Having been involved with music his whole life and growing into a strong spiritual life, combining the two was a natural move for him. With his wife, Ashley, by his side and his son, Gino, in the nursery, he is excited to be a part of growing the Kingdom in Independence.


Favorite Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:58



Jessica Latta

Youth Director

E-mail: Jessica Latta

Jessica grew up in Chillicothe, Missouri and attended an United Methodist Church with my family. She attended youth group, mission trips, Wednesday Night services and was a member of FCA through out middle school. Jessica graduated College at Missouri Western State University with a bachelors in Sociology and Psychology. She is currently working full time with the State of Missouri, Children’s Division as an Adoption Specialist. Jessica is excited to take on this adventure of Youth Director and hope to get the youth of First United as excited as she was when she was in Youth. 

Jessica and her husband Justin were married June 8th, 2013 and have 2 amazing little boys Wesley and Edison. 

Mollie Johnson 

Nursery Attendant

Email: Mollie Johnson

Mollie is a Registered Dietitian and Americorps VISTA recently transplanted from Texas. Mollie enjoys working with children, and has in a variety of capacities including previous nursery experience at the First United Methodist Church in McKinney, TX, as a Ballet teacher at the prestigious Ballet Lubbock, and through her work in nutrition from fun educational events, to assessing critically ill hospitalized children. Mollie is excited to become a member of our staff and experience what we have to offer!


400 W. Maple Avenue

Independence, MO  64050


Telephone: (816) 254-6900

Pastor:  JC Harp

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