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Youth Ministry Staff


Learn more about our staff here or drop by the youth office to visit!


Jason Rhymer
Director of Youth Ministries
Office phone 704-295-4837

Jason grew up in Canton, NC, and attended college at UNCA.  He has lived in Charlotte since 1998 with his wife Valerie and their 9-year-old daughter Sully.  When he is not with our High Schoolers, he leads personal training sessions and bootcamps. He has been an actor since 1996, performing with the Missoula Children’s Theater and Taradiddle Players, and you might occasionally see him in a commercial or TV show if you don’t blink.  It is an honor and incredible joy to serve with this amazing staff!


Favorite Movie?  Fight Club


Favorite Food?  Mom’s Mexican Cornbread


First Job?  Maid at the Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska


Childhood Ambition? To be 3rd baseman for the Atlanta Braves (still hoping!)


Who Inspires Me? My wife and family – they are amazing and I want to make them proud.


What Makes Me Laugh?  Everything!  I love old silly comedy like the Three Stooges and Martin & Lewis, smart modern comedy like Louie CK and Aziz Ansari, and everything in between.  Life is too short…you have to keep laughing!


What do I do for fun? Family time at home or on vacation, workout, movies, concerts, and eat!


Favorite Bible Verse?  It rotates to something new often, but I currently love Romans 5:1-5 – I like the idea that suffering (training, sacrifice, bettering yourself in some manner) can produce endurance, character, and hope.     

Ellen grew up in the MPUMC Youth Group and is so excited that things have come full circle and she is now working here. Her passion for photography, design and communication help us get the word out to you about the amazing things happening in Youth. She and her husband Simon have two teenage boys, Jacob and Ethan and one daughter Megan.


What is your favorite movie? Sound of Music


What is your favorite food? My mom's lasagna


What was your first job? Cashier at Harris Teeter


What was your childhood ambition? Be a radio host


Who inspires you? My Dad 


What makes you laugh? Lauren


What do you do for Fun? Travel, go to music festivals, watch my boys play soccer.


Favorite Bible verse or passage? I can do all things through Christ who gives me faith. Philippians 4:13

Ellen Spence
Youth Ministry Coordinator
Office phone 704-295-4833
Sarah Simmons
Assistant Director of
Youth Ministries
Office phone 704-295-4834

Sarah is an outgoing, joyful, passionate and retired collegiate soccer player from Atlanta. She is a graduate of Presbyterian College (Go Hose), but her, along with her family, bleed purple and orange (Go Tigers). She enjoys exploring her city, while meeting new friends along the way. When she isn’t co-leading the most amazing Youth Ministry in the world, you may find her reading, being active, traveling, and/or taking her dog to the park. After interning for us back in 2017, Sarah is excited to be a part of this team full-time, and she truly feels called to a ministry that genuinely seeks after the heart of the Lord.  


What is your favorite movie? The Lion King, hands down -- ask me about my collection of t-shirts!  


What is your favorite food? Sushi 


What was your first job? Technically, this is my first big girl job, but my actual first job was at Salsaritas rolling burritos (wasn't very good at it). 


What was your childhood ambition? To climb trees and go to outer space (that didn't work out). 


Who inspires you? People who seek and are in tune with the Lord by participating in different spiritual practices (i.e. prayer, meditation, etc.), so that they may experience more of God's presence and holiness. 


What makes you laugh? Our team


What do you do for fun? Play tennis, watch movies, and pet dogs (I'll pet sit for you anytime)!


Favorite Bible verse or passage? Jeremiah 17:7-8 

"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."

MH Higgs photo.jpg
Mary Helen Higgs
Assistant Director of
Youth Ministries
Office phone 704-295-4832

Mary Helen is a big fan of glitter, champion for youth ministry, and a major Disney Dork. She is a graduate of Georgia College & State University (undefeated since 1889) where she studied Theatre and Rhetoric. She also holds a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Executive Leadership and Communication. A native of Milledgeville, GA she first discovered her love of youth ministry at Northridge Christian Church. She served on staff there for 4 years before moving to Charlotte in 2021. In her free time Mary Helen loves to travel (ask her about getting lost in Prague), read, and spend time with her family who are scattered between GA, AL, and WI. She’d like to say, “Roll Tide! (sorry Sarah),” and “thank you so much for letting me serve you here at MPUMC!”


What is your favorite movie? Princess Diaries, hands down.

What is your favorite food? I could eat pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Specifically Trader Joes’ butternut squash ravioli has my heart!


What was your first job? In middle and high school I worked summer basketball camps at Georgia College & State University rolling t-shirts, working the concession stand, and keeping stats for the games.


What was your childhood ambition? To become the first Princess Astronaut Garbage Woman, no joke.


Who inspires you? I am inspired by people who find God in the ordinary, my family for lots of reasons, and great heroic women of the faith like Esther and Ruth.


What makes you laugh? You know those games where it’s the challenge not to laugh? Yeah, there’s a reason I always loose.


What do you do for fun? Travel and explore! I’ve been to the Czech Republic, Amsterdam, Canada, and Costa Rica as well as 19 of the 50 states so far. I’d love to know your favorite spots in NC to explore!


Favorite Bible verse or passage?  “God can do anything you know – far more than you can ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all the millennia! Oh, yes!” Ephesians 3:20-21 (MSG).

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