Meet our Staff

The Reverend Mikah Hudson
Senior Pastor

 The Reverend Mikah Hudson, Senior Pastor at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Mikah Hudson was appointed to Highlands United Methodist Church in 2010. Rev. Hudson is a native of Robertsdale, Alabama and grew up in the United Methodist Church. He received his BA in History from Birmingham Southern and was awarded a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He and his wife, Missie, are the proud parents of four children: Emmalynne, Eleanora, Miriam, and Whit.

Rev. Hudson has a deep interest in traditional liturgy and worship, with a particular focus on sacramental theology. Through the sacraments, not only do we strengthen our relationship with God through Christ, but also with one another. He is relationship driven, helping to further Highlands’ outreach and evangelism.

mikah@highlandsumc.net | 205.933.8751, ext 212

Reggie Holder
Director of Growing Ministries

  Reggie Holder, Director of Growing Ministries   at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Originally from Tuscaloosa, Reggie Holder came to Highlands United Methodist Church in 1989 to serve as Youth Director. Over the years he began to help our congregation explore God’s call to be in ministry to the Five Points South neighborhood. He helped establish the Festival of the Three Kings, the Child Development Center, and the Community Ministries programs at Highlands. Reggie regularly leads Bible studies and other short-term classes and is a Catechist in the Atrium, our children’s spiritual formation program. One of Reggie’s favorite roles as a part of the Highlands staff is the Children’s Moment during the 10:30 a.m. worship service. Reggie is married to Kristin Harper and they have two sons, Carter and Graham. Reggie takes seriously the call for Highlands United Methodist Church to be a place where all people are welcome, and to discover and use the gifts God has given them to be in service to others.

reggie@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 213


The Reverend Deb Welsh
Director of Serving Ministries

 The Reverend Deb Welsh, Director of Serving Ministries  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Deb Welsh was ordained a Deacon in the UMC in 2009 though she has served in various churches since 1996. She understands her calling as “one who bridges the world to the church and the church to the world” and felt that call lead her to Highlands in 2012 where she serves as Director of Serving Ministries. Her favorite part of the day continues to be Hospitality Hour each morning. Originally from Rock Run, Alabama, she attended Berry College and Jacksonville State University to obtain a BS in special education before going to Memphis Theological Seminary.

deb@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 211

Rick Phillips
Organist and Director of Music

 Rick Phillips, Organist and Director of Music  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Rick Phillips became Director of Music at Highlands in January of 2000. He was previously on the Highlands staff as organist in the 1980's under the direction of Amos Hudson. A student of Dr. Hugh Thomas', Rick graduated from Birmingham-Southern College. Post graduate studies with conductor Robert Shaw and at Vanderbilt University further prepared Rick to be an accomplished organist and for choral leadership. In January of 2001, Rick assumed the role of organist at Highlands. Rick teaches music at the Cathedral of the Advent Episcopal School. He and his wife Suzanne have two daughters, Lucy and Gracie.

phillipsmusic@msn.com | 205-933-8751, ext. 200


Dick L'Eplattenier
Church Administrator

 Carrie Johnson, Church Administrator  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

As Church Administrator, Dick oversees finance, administration, human resources, and facilities. A native of New York, Dick has been a life-long Methodist, serving as chairman on key church committees. He has developed his managerial and interpersonal skills through his many years operating funeral homes in the Birmingham area. In his many command and staff assignments as an Army Reservist he has acquired knowledge in the fields of logistics and facilities management retiring as a Colonel in 2003. He earned a BS degree from the Jacksonville State University in 1973 and an Associate degree in Funeral Service Education from Jefferson State Community College in 1978. He is married to his wife, Lynn, since 1974, has three adult children, and a grandson.

dick@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 206

Bonnie Hartley
Welcoming Ministries Assistant

 Bonnie Hartley, Welcoming Ministries Assistant  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Bonnie Hartley is likely the first person you will see when you enter Highlands United Methodist Church on a weekday. When she is not welcoming people in the Greeting Space and answering the phones or door, she is at her desk keeping statistics, printing bulletins, and working with Project ID. Bonnie is originally from upstate New York and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from Mars Hill University in North Carolina. Her only child, Sarah, attends the University of North Alabama.

bonnie@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 100


Ann Day Hunt
Finance Manager

 Ann Day Hunt, Finance Manager  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Ann Day Hunt joined the staff as the Financial Manager in May of 2016. She has been a member of Highlands for 20 years and has been an active volunteer serving on the Highlands CDC Board, the Finance Committee, the Church Council, the Highlands Foundation, and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. She currently is a member of UMW Circle 2 and helps lead the Wednesday group of volunteers for Community Ministries. Ann has undergraduate degrees in Economics and French from Emory University, and a Master’s in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. Ann is married to David Hunt, a local attorney. Their three children- Will (19), Elizabeth (17), and Virginia (13)- are lifelong members of Highlands. Ann was Assistant Director of Budget Development at UAB prior to staying at home to help raise her children.

ann@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 103

Mary Elizabeth Neal
Communications and Student Ministries Coordinator

 Mary Elizabeth Neal, Communications and Student Ministries Coordinator  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Mary Elizabeth Neal first came to Highlands as a Choral Scholar while a student at Birmingham-Southern College in 2001. She continued to sing in the choir throughout her tenure at BSC, and as often as possible while continuing her studies at Florida State University. Upon her return to Birmingham, she returned to Highlands and has been here ever since. Mary Elizabeth currently serves as the Director of Communications, as well as Children and Youth Coordinator. She also directs the Children’s Choir, teaches music and movement for the Highlands Child Development Center, and sings in the Choir.

maryelizabeth@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 214


Doreen Fell
Child Development Center Director

 Doreen Fell, Child Development Center Director  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Doreen Fell has been blessed to be a part of Highlands CDC for more than 10 years. She began as a part-time bookkeeper before moving into the Assistant Director position while working toward Highlands CDC Accreditation. For the past 6 years, Doreen has served as the Director of the Highlands Child Development Center, continually sharing her love for the children and families we serve.

doreen@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 111

Valerie Nash
Child Development Center Administrator

 Valerie Nash, Child Development Center Administrator  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Valerie Nash grew up in Mobile and attended the University of Alabama before coming to work and marry in Birmingham. Valerie had the good fortune to be on the initial planning group that formed the Highlands Child Development Center in the early 90s. She has served as the Director of Children’s Ministries and is now the Administrator of the HCDC. Valerie also serves on the Altar Guild, coordinates weddings, and is a Catechist in the Atrium, our children’s Sunday School program. Valerie is married to Rev. Warren Nash who currently serves at Canterbury UMC in Mountain Brook. They have three boys – Wilson, Graham, and Dixon – whom Highlands has helped raise. Valerie is happiest being the Gigi to Ann Harper and Luke, who are students in the Highlands Child Development Center

Valerie@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 110


Cailin Kerch
Child Development Center Curriculum Specialist

 Cailin Kerch, Child Development Center Curriculum Specialist  at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Cailin Kerch is the Educational Specialist at Highlands Child Development Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Shippensburg University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. Cailin joined the Highlands team in January of 2016 bringing experience as a former administrator and teacher. She is certified as an Early Childhood and Elementary school teacher in the state of Alabama and Pennsylvania. In addition to her duties at the HCDC, Cailin is an Early Childhood adjunct instructor at UAB in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, as well as a doctoral student in Early Childhood. Her research focuses on play, the importance of the classroom environment, and the role of the responsive teacher in the classroom. Cailin’s role at Highlands is to support the staff with implementing the Creative Curriculum, NAEYC, and DHR standards, in addition to supporting HCDC families.

Cailin@highlandsumc.net | 205-933-8751, ext. 112