Ministry Staff

The Staff Directors at Sugarloaf UMC are here to empower you to become all that God is calling you to be! Our staff works tirelessly to make an eternal impact. You can learn a little about each of these great people below. Also, if you would like to contact a Ministry Director by email all you have to do is click on their picture below. 

  • Dr. Steven Usry

    Lead Pastor

    Dr. Steven T. Usry is the Lead Pastor of Sugarloaf.  He is a church planter, executive coach, and serves in leadership with several boards for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

    Steven completed his undergraduate degrees at Lee University (BA Vocal Performance/BS Biblical Education), his Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology (Emory University), and his Doctorate of Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary.  His dissertation explored "Building for Critical Mass When Launching New Churches".

    Steven experienced a call to ministry at the early age of 13 and has served the following churches in ministry:

    • Mount Paran Church of God ~ Student Ministries Pastor
    • Sandy Springs United Methodist Church ~ Associate Pastor
    • Aragon United Methodist Church ~ Lead Pastor
    • Harvest Point United Methodist Church ~ Church Planter and Founding Pastor
    He is a native of Augusta, Georgia and has been married to his wife Julie for 26 years.  They have three children:  Abigail (25), Andrew (23) and Alex (21). His hobbies include music golfing, beaching...and college football (his son kicks and punts for Charleston Southern University).
  • John Clough

    Executive Director

    John Clough is Executive Director at Sugarloaf.  He is a Coach, Consultant, Problem Solver, Writer and Dreamer and believes every good things starts with a relationship.

    John completed his B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Management from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.  In the past, John has managed global teams for Hewlett Packard, run the support organization for a subsidiary of American Express, and coached Cross Country at Providence Christian.  Most recently, John served as Chief Operating Officer at Displayit.

    John comes to Sugarloaf as a long-time member, where he truly experienced a relationship with Christ for the first time.

    John is passionate about his family.  He and his wife are high school sweethearts who wed in 1986.  They have two grown children;  Bennett who is a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church and attending seminary, and Sammy who is an educator at Augusta Christian School.


  • Jeff Thornton

    Director of Finance & Operations

    Jeff Thornton serves as the Director of Finance & Operations at Sugarloaf.  Jeff is a CPA and a graduate of Auburn University.  He began his career with Ernst & Young and has held various leadership roles in the accounting and finance departments of several public & private companies.

    Originally from Colorado, Jeff and his family have lived in Sugar Hill, GA since 2007.  He and his bride, Rhonda, were married in June 1993 near Auburn, AL, where they met.  They have two adult children, Mason and Sara.  Mason is a recent graduate of Mercer University earning dual degrees in Spanish and Chemical Commerce with aspirations of becoming a medical doctor.  Sara, a current student at Mercer, is studying Marketing & Psychology.

    Jeff is thrilled at the opportunity to join the Sugarloaf family in this life journey.  He has a heart for the outdoors, writing, living out love in service to others, and he cherishes meaningful conversations around the eternal truths of the Judeo Christian worldview.  

    "Jesus does not pray for escape, but for PURPOSEFUL ENGAGEMENT in the very world he also entered.  Here in the engagement with this world, Jesus promises peace.  Not a peace that comes from escape or from wishful thinking, but a peace that generates hope and meaning in whatever times his followers would find themselves." - Margaret Manning Shull #RZIM #LetMyPeopleThink

  • Jesse Cash

    Worship Arts Director

    Jesse currently serves as our Worship & Creative Arts Director here at Sugarloaf.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Lee University where he also began touring with bands and artists around the globe.

    Jesse has pursued music from a very young age and has enjoyed many years writing, touring, and teaching from his experiences.  He has served as Music Director for many different ministries upon his college graduation in 2014 (most recently Free Chapel) and is so excited to use his experiences and love for worship to maintain an inspiring and creative culture here at Sugarloaf.

    Jesse and his wife, Abbey, have been married for 2 years and they thoroughly enjoy travel, music, and good food.  They are so excited to pour into the Worship and Creative Arts teams here and are so thankful to be a part of this incredible church family.

  • Jen Kenerly
    Director of Children's Ministry

    Jennifer Kenerly is the Children's Director at Sugarloaf.  She brings over 24 years of full-time ministry experience, including 17 years leading vibrant, growing children's ministries.  After meeting her husband, a pastor, at Oral Roberts University, they married and planted three church together with the belief that an excellent children's ministry would help their church grow.  In this new season, she's thrilled to partner, dream, and grow with Sugarloaf.

    Jen and Ken celebrated 24 years of marriage this year, have two sons in high school, and one very large, tender hearted German Shepherd.  She homeschools her boys, enjoys historical fiction, and enjoys hiking in the North Georgia mountains.

  • Jennifer Von Essen
    Associate Director of Children's Ministry

    Jennifer Von Essen graduated in 2010 from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in English: Writing and Publication.  She volunteered for many years with the Humane Society of Forsyth County where she developed community outreach and humane education programs for preschool through high school students.  She is excited to bring her skills and experience to Sugarloaf UMC and partner with parents, and the rest of our faith community, to inspire and encourage kids.

    Jennifer & Andrew have been married for 22 years.  They have two daughters, Anastasia (22) and Ellie (20) are both in college.  Ana is an early childhood education major at UGA and Ellie is majoring in Asian Studies at the University of North Georgia.

  • Kevin Cave

    Interim Director of Student Ministries

    Kevin is a long-time native of the Gwinnett County area.  He was born in Snellville, Georgia and he has lived in Gwinnett County for the majority of his life.  He graduated from Toccoa Falls College in May of 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry and a minor in Bible & Theology.  He is passionate about working with future generations as he felt a call to youth ministry when he was 14 years old.  He is excited to bring his skills, experience, and enthusiasm to Sugarloaf UMC.

    He played college basketball for Toccoa Falls for 4 years.  He is a huge sports fan, lover of music, and a movie fanatic.

  • Terri Strawn

    Missions & Ministries Director

    Terri Strawn has been working at Sugarloaf since August of 2004.  She currently serves the church in the area of Missions, Membership and Congregational Care.  She is married to Jay and they have two grown children, Abby and Connor and a sweet son-in-love named Tyler.  When she has spare time she loves to craft, Pinterest, read and cook. 

  • Jackie Grube

    Pre-School Director

    Jackie serves  Sugarloaf as Director of our Weekday Preschool. She taught preschool for 9 years and has 20 plus years of business and managerial experience.  She has a passion for Christ-centered early childhood education and is excited to help continue Sugarloaf's tradition of excellence in this area of ministry.  She lives in Suwanee with her daughter Riley, who attends University of Georgia, and their cat Orion.  She  loves her University of Louisville Cardinals, Georgia Bulldogs & Falcons football, reading, and yoga. 

  • Kayla Crawford


    Kayla was born and raised in Wisconsin!  She was heavily involved in Young Life where she met her Husband Graham. They moved to Georgia after working for Young Life and now reside in Sugar Hill. Kayla has a Masters of Science in Health and Nutrition Education.. She is also the owner and founder of her very own earring business where she sells earrings that are created to ignite strength and dignity in women! In her free time Kayla enjoys reading, learning, cooking, and working out. 

Finance Team

Lisa Hoover is our awesome CPA who has volunteered in the finance office for over 10 years.  Lisa loves Disney, traveling, cruises and spending time with her family.

Sugarloaf Preschool Staff

Patricia Reyes has been working at the Sugarloaf Weekday Preschool since August of 2015.  She started as an assistant in a classroom and transitioned to her "dream job" as the Finance Manager one year later.  She has been married to her incredible husband, Abe, since 2007 and they have two awesome kids, Annie & Thomas.  She loves spending time with her family, exercising, and all things music and dance.

Michele Thibeault taught Preschool for 14 years in all faith based schools before becoming the office manager.  She lives in Suwanee with her husband Jason and 2 kids.  Her son Kyle is 21 and attends University of North Georgia pursuing a degree in teaching and loves to umpire Little League baseball.  Her daughter Kaylee is 14 and is a freshman at North Gwinnett High School and is on the JV Competition cheer team and also the spirit football team.  In her spare time, she loves to travel, spend time with her family and loves to craft and make things.

Facilities Support

Gladys Rodas and Juan Flores are our amazing staff support here at SUMC.  

They work tirelessly keeping the buildings and facilities looking good.  We are thankful for their many years of service.