Church Staff

Our church is blessed with many dedicated volunteers and faithful parishioners. In addition, we are pleased to have these people on staff at Kennewick First.

Reverend Mark McMurray


Pastor Mark is a native of the Tri-cities.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Southern Oregon University and a Masters In Divinity Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is an Ordained Elder in the PNW Conference of the United Methodist Church and has been ordained for over 20 years. Mark was a national caliber sprinter in college and while attending Southern Oregon met his wife of 28 years, Jennifer. They have two college aged children.

Pastor Mark has served a variety of churches from small rural congregations, multi-staff churches, suburban churches and a new church start. He is the Chair of the Full Membership Committee for the PNW Board of Ordained Ministry and has served on the Board for over 9 years. He is a published author, has been a preaching coach and is a garage band guitar hack, but his passion is building  motorcycles,  days on the track on two wheels and working in the garage.

Claressa Elvik

Youth Director

Claressa grew up across the river in Hermiston, Oregon.  She attended a Baptist church from the age of 8 until graduation in Hermiston.  She then started attending Nampa First United Methodist Church while attending the College of Idaho and working.  She moved back to Hermiston in 2019 and met her husband, Brandon Elvik, in the fall.  She was a substitute youth leader for the KFUMC youth group in 2021 and became a full-time leader in 2022.  Her and Brandon have a one-year old little boy, Anakin, and are expecting a little girl in November 2023.

Cheryl Nixon

Office Manager

Cheryl grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon and moved to the Tri-Cities in 1999.  She has been a follower of Jesus since she was 10 years old. She attends Columbia Community Church and started working for KFUMC in March of 2016.  Cheryl did her “Walk with Christ” in August of 2018 and it changed her life!! She is married to Brian Millar and has one adult son Jeff, who is married to Alisha.  She has two beautiful grandchildren, Sienna and JR.  She enjoys spending time worshiping, walking, reading and traveling.

Cynthia Bement

Congregational Care Coordinator

Cynthia Bement has a long history with Kennewick First beginning with her Baptism as an infant in 1961 and is a Third generation KFUMC member. She originally served as a volunteer in Children’s ministry primarily as the Sunday school superintendent and teacher. Cynthia led her first mission trip as a volunteer in 1989 which inspired her to a staff position as Youth and Education Director from 1992-2014. Her passion for serving the Lord and others continues in the position of Congregational Care and Outreach Assistant. Cynthia and her husband Randy were married at Kennewick First in 1980 and have two grown children: Son Brian and daughter in law Amelia, daughter Jocelyn and son in law Mark with Granddaughter Camryn. Cynthia enjoys traveling, family and friends, sewing, cake decorating, home renovation projects and camping.

Sharon Varzandeh


I was born in Richland, Washington and grew up in Kennewick, Washington. My first introduction to Kennewick First United Methodist Church was when I attended Kindergarten at the Church. I began attending Sunday school at the same time and was baptized and confirmed at Kennewick First United Methodist Church.

After graduating from college I moved to Seattle for about 20 years. While there I attended Tibbetts Methodist Church in West Seattle, then University Methodist Temple in the University District. I married in Seattle and had my son Jeffery. In December 1990 Jeffery and I moved back to the family home in Kennewick and reestablished my membership in Kennewick First.

Margo Cox