Meet Our Clergy

Rev. Dr. Chuck Starks

Senior Pastor

865.521.0260

Rev. Dr. Chuck Starks

Senior Pastor

Welcome to Church Street!

When I was young, one of four children growing up on a dairy farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I felt the promptings and presence of God in my life from a young age. Growing up on a farm, I spent a lot of time outside, among the fields and trees, and I became aware of God's presence in my life and the world around me.

After high school, I attended Emory and Henry College, followed by earning my Masters in Divinity and my Doctor of Ministry from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. From there, I was privileged to serve for two summers in A Christian Ministry in the National Parks, in both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton, where I ministered within our national parks. I spent the following year completing an internship with the same organization at their home office in New York City.

I came home to the Holston Conference and served as pastor at Meadowview UMC, Yellow Springs UMC, Pleasant View UMC (Abingdon), First UMC Newport, and Asbury UMC in Greeneville, TN before becoming District Superintendent of the Wytheville District for seven years. I served as Senior Pastor at First Morristown UMC for 9 years before my appointment to Church Street UMC in 2017.

When I'm not at Church Street or visiting with our members in the community, you may find me spending time with my wife Angela and daughter Olivia, reading, snow skiing, riding a bike, or traveling -- all favorites of mine. My favorite hymn is "How Firm a Foundation" and I love the Bible verse Jeremiah 33:3: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser

Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser

Senior Associate Pastor

Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser

Senior Associate Pastor

865.521.0279

Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser

Senior Associate Pastor

I was born and raised in the beautiful Ozark mountains of Northwest Arkansas. I come from deep Methodist roots and am a third generation pastor. I first felt stirrings of my call to ministry in high school. In my early 20s, I began to claim that call. This led me to move to Chicago to attend seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Little did I know that I would spend the next 20 years in the Chicago metropolitan area.

I completed my Master’s in Divinity in 1997 and was fully ordained as an elder in the Northern Illinois Conference in 2000. In 2004, I returned to Garrett-Evangelical to pursue doctoral study of liturgy. While working in full-time ministry, over the next 10 years I was able to complete the requirements in 2014 for my PhD in liturgical studies with a dissertation arguing against United Methodists celebrating holy communion over the internet. This research sparked a national debate on the issue for a period of time. I served congregations in and around Chicago for 20 years, in urban and suburban contexts.

In 2010, I moved to Knoxville to marry Scot Danforth, who I have known since I was 8 years old. I transferred into the Holston Conference and served churches in Lenoir City and Madisonville and also taught courses at Tennessee Wesleyan College and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. In 2013, I was appointed to serve as the Director of Preaching for the General Board of Discipleship, in Nashville, and for five years served the general church working to improve preaching across our global denomination.

In March 2018, Bishop Virginia Taylor appointed me to serve as an associate pastor at Church Street, where my  favorite thing is its amazing members.

My favorite Bible verse comes from Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Scot and I are proud parents to two grown sons: Gill Giese, who lives in Oahu, Hawaii, and Chris Giese, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Rev. Palmer Cantler

Rev. Palmer Cantler

Associate Pastor

Rev. Palmer Cantler

Associate Pastor

865.521.0298

Rev. Palmer Cantler

Associate Pastor

I grew up in Johnson City, TN, a cradle Methodist. My mom was on staff at our home church, and so I grew up running around the church. In the summer before I started 7th grade, I was attending a Holston Conference Youth event and went to sign up for an afternoon workshop. As I was walking down the hall, I felt my feet stop in front of a lime green sign that read “So you want to go into ministry?” I laughed it off, because I knew how hard ministry is. But I found myself signing my name and really began praying and discerning where God was leading me. I had wonderful mentors who cultivated and encouraged my call.

I attended Wofford College, class of 2015, with a BA with high honors in Religion. I completed Duke University Divinity School in 2018 with my Masters of Divinity and also earned a Certificate of Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Church Street is my first church in which I can make an impact in a leadership position! Wooh!

My favorite hymn is It is Well with My Soul.

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton-Wade

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton-Wade

Minister of Spiritual Enrichment

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton-Wade

Minister of Spiritual Enrichment

865.521.0264

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton-Wade

Minister of Spiritual Enrichment

I serve as the Minister of Spiritual Enrichment at Church Street and have served as an associate at CSUMC off and on since 1997.

I earned my Masters in English from the University of Memphis and then my Masters in Divinity (Theology) from Emory University. I completed my Ed.D in Public Relations in School Administration from the University of TN.

Along with our half-feral cat, my husband Dwight and I enjoy spending time with our two adult children and two grandchildren. My hobbies include the study of religious art, interior design, and gardening.

Program and Administrative Staff

To reach a member of our program or administrative staff listed below, dial 865-521 and 0+ the extension listed. The main Church Office number is 865-524-3048, and the office is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

Rev. Andy Ferguson, Visitation Pastor: 865-524-3048

Rev. Jim Bailes, Visitation Pastor: 865-524-3048

Tim Ward, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 276

Edie Johnson, Music Associate/Organist: ext. 277

Jenny Cross, Director of Youth/College Ministries: ext. 287

Katryn Bancroft, Director of Children’s Ministries: ext. 282

Beth Cooper-Libby, Director of Preschool: 865-524-3511

Katie Vesser Strangis, Director of Communications: ext. 299

Dona McConnell, Beacon of Hope Director: 865-599-5047

Kate Spencer, Church Administrator: ext. 268

Francine Jenne, Bookkeeper: ext. 267

Kelly Woods, Administrative Assistant to the Senior Pastor: ext. 262

Doris Lively, Executive Secretary: ext. 271

Nancy Keen, Receptionist: 865-524-3048

Eileen Weber, Part-time Secretary: ext. 278

Keith Bailey, Maintenance Supervisor: ext. 295

Jeffrey Rose, Head Custodian: ext. 274

Custodians: Dedra Ellison, Robin Crain, Kevin Bailey

Pastor on Call Number:

865-320-9100