Our Staff

David Israel

Lead Pastor

DIsrael@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2802

David has been a pastor in United Methodist Churches since 1995. He has served churches from mid-sized to large, including one he and his wife, Nancy started themselves. David and Nancy have three children; Stephanie (Carrie), JD (Alyssa), and Rachel (Seth) and five grandchildren. In addition to his family and the church, David’s passions include the St. Louis Cardinals, Imo’s Pizza, any mission project that alleviates suffering, and vacations with Nancy and his family.

Amanda Alber

Assistant Director of NextGen Ministries

AAlber@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2825

Amanda and her husband Dan became members of Living Word after moving back to St. Louis in 2008. She has been teaching at Living Word ECC and volunteering with NextGen Ministries since then. Prior to St. Louis, she lived in Champaign, IL where she spent lots of time at church teaching Sunday School, leading High School Youth Group, and directing Youth Club. She has two sons, Ben and Ryan, and loves spending time with family, hiking, and going on road trips. She loves watching college football, Cardinal baseball, and going to amusement parks around the country. She has yet to find a roller coaster she won’t try!

Donna Baker

Director of Traditional Music Ministries

DBaker@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2810

A former elementary and high school vocal music teacher in the Rockwood School District, Donna also served in the church as a director of children, youth and adult choirs. She received her degree in Vocal and Instrumental Education from William Jewell College and a Master of Arts in Educational Processes from Maryville University. She enjoys singing and plays the flute and piano. A St. Louis native, Donna also enjoys spending time with her family (Lane, Landan & Kate, and Lance) and their sweet beagle, Marley.

Beth Balzraine

Director of Communications

BBalzraine@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2803

Originally from Little Rock, AR, Beth has lived in Louisiana, Texas and Missouri. She graduated from Kickapoo High School and Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. She and her husband, John, have lived in Wildwood since 1999 and have been members of Living Word since April of 2000. They have 2 children, Elise (Brett) and Brett (Emily) and two grandchildren. Beth enjoys traveling, fitness training, and spending time outdoors.

Amanda Braun

Administrative Assistant to the Lead Pastor

ABraun@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2852

Amanda grew up in Leasburg, MO and has spent little time away from Missouri. Now she comes to us from Union where
she lives with her five-year-old son, Finn, and husband, Darrel. In her spare time, when she isn’t gallantly chasing after Finn, she likes to play cards, read, and embroider. 

Nancy Classen


Nancy is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and joined the staff of Living Word in January 1 of 1999. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Music from Webster University. Before her Living Word appointment, Nancy served as organist for the Evangelical Redeemer United Church of Christ in south St. Louis. Nancy is a freelance oboist and enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris, and their children. In her spare time she enjoys fitness and the arts.

Joe Eichholz

Weeknight Custodial Associate

JEichholz@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2844

Joe is a St. Louis native, and has lived here his entire life. He has been married for eighteen years to his wife, Ginny, and between them they have five children, with five grandchildren, and one more grandchild on the way. Joe worked for the Fort Zumwalt School District for six years, and has also been employed as an over-the-road truck driver, a rehabber, and seller/buyer on eBay. His hobbies include metalworking, electronics, plasma cutters, and playing his Fender guitar. He likes to invent anything from toys to tools.

Alyssa Kellhofer

Director of Contemporary Worship

AKellhofer@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2850

Alyssa grew up in O’Fallon, Illinois, and began singing at an early age. She attended Missouri State University where she majored in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Vocal Music. While in college she was a member of the MSU Gospel Choir, Concert Chorale and the all-female a cappella group, A Cub Bella. For the past three years, Alyssa has been working as a prevention educator for the National Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and will continue to teach part time, traveling to schools in the St. Louis area.
Besides singing and teaching, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her husband, Jeremy, and their three children – Noah, Avery and Hadley.
Alyssa joined Living Word’s Worship Team and became a member of Living Word in 2012.

Andy Langdon

Director of NextGen Ministries

ALangdon@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2826

Andy moved to the St. Louis area after serving as a Youth Director in Iowa and Minnesota. Originally from the Kansas City area, he graduated from Mizzou and also has a master’s degree in Youth and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Wildwood is a coming home of sorts, as his wife, Becky, grew up just a few miles away. They have two children, Jacob and Drew. Andy enjoys playing games of all kinds, strumming a guitar, and meeting new people, not necessarily in that order.

Anna La Manna

Nursery Lead

Anna is from the St. Louis area and grew up in the United Methodist Church. She graduated from Mizzou with a Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Health with a focus on maternal and child health. Anna enjoys hiking, running, reading, and spending time with her family and dogs.

Brad Locke

Executive Director 

BLocke@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2840

Brad and his wife Mary became members of Living Word shortly after the church moved to its present location in 2008. He retired from banking after serving as Chief Financial Officer of Jefferson Bank and Trust Company for just over 30 years. Brad has a heart for ministry and wants to serve Christ by using his gifts to help Living Word make an eternal impact on the world. He has four children: Katie, Sarah, Brandon, and Justin and loves spending time with his family, playing golf, and fishing. He also enjoys walking his pup, Roxie, musicals, Blues hockey, Cardinal baseball, Silky’s custard, and barbecue.

Holly Mckee


Holly has lived her entire life in the St. Louis area, and is currently living in Fenton with her husband Jeff and daughter, Amanda. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music with an emphasis in Piano in 1989 from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has accompanied soloists, ensembles, choirs and instrumentalists during her career. Prior to coming to Living Word, she served as a church pianist and accompanist at the First Baptist Church of Fenton. She currently sings with the St. Louis Harmony Chorus, a 75-voice a cappella women’s chorus that rehearses weekly in Bridgeton. Her hobbies include reading (mysteries are her favorite!), walking, and playing video games with her daughter.

Becky Miller

Director of Early Childhood Center

BMiller@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2860

Becky graduated from Webster University with a degree in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in Special Education. She worked for a non-profit agency in an inclusive 2 year old classroom and then a 3-5 year old classroom while also providing developmental therapy in the community through Missouri’s First Steps program. She also ran a program called Sibshops for the siblings of children with special needs and owned and operated her own childcare business out of her home while her three boys were growing from infants to preschoolers. Two of her three boys attended Living Word Early Childhood Center (LWECC) for preschool and she taught at LWECC in different capacities since 2014. Her passion is working with children and families to help all children learn to grow and play together and be important and valued members of our society. Becky, her husband Jeremiah, and their three boys live in Wildwood.

Kyli Smith

Summer Intern


Kyli grew up going to Living Word’s youth group throughout middle and high school. She will be a junior at Southeast Missouri State University in the fall and is pursuing violin performance and music education. She spends her free time running, hanging out with friends, and attending various Bible studies across campus. She is excited for the opportunity to get more involved with Living Word this summer and to learn from supporting adults as well as the youth!

Jessica Smithson

Early Childhood Center Assistant Director

JSmithson@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2861

Jessica grew up in Mississippi and Tennessee and moved to the St. Louis area in 1999. Her family joined Living Word in 2000. Her husband, Jeff, works for Sams Club . They have three children: Ryan, Reagan and Reid. Jessica joined the staff of Living Word ECC in July 2006. If she had free time she would enjoy reading and scrapbooking!!

Mark Turner

Director of Facilities Management

MTurner@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2842

Mark grew up in Mount Prospect, Illinois (suburb of Chicago) and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Western Illinois University. Mark also has his paramedic license and worked in the ER of St. John’s Mercy Hospital (Washington, MO) for 5 years. He worked at Maryville University in Buildings & Grounds for 7 years and in Facilities Management at Fru-Con Construction (FCC Corporation) for 17 years. He has been married to his wife, Tammy, since 1992 and they have two children; Jerod and Ava. Mark enjoys singing, spending time outdoors & hunting, hanging out with family & friends, cooking & entertaining, gardening, internet shopping/research, and collecting kitchen gadgets. He likes the St. Louis Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Blackhawks. His favorite snack is Corn Nuts. He has mastered the crow call, and the sneak bear scare tactic.

Erik Wilson

Director of Multimedia Ministries

EWilson@livingwordumc.org – Ext. 2851

Erik was born into a military family who settled down in O’Fallon Illinois in 2004.  He graduated from Southwestern Illinois College with a degree in Music Technology and a Certificate in Audio Engineering.  Prior to Living Word, he worked as a Technical Leader at Christ Church Maryville Campus. He loves to hike, play guitar, woodwork, and explore new places around St. Louis.  His favorite snack is Goldfish.