Zillah Church of the Nazarene

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Meet Our Staff


Thomas Fender

Pastor Thomas moved to Zillah in February 2012 to become the lead pastor here at ZNC. Thomas is a 2004 graduate of Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs. He served as Assistant to the Pastor at Yakima West Valley Church for 2 ½ years and was then the lead pastor at Goldendale Church of the Nazarene for over five years. He is married to Mary Beth and they have four children. Thomas enjoys the outdoors-hiking, camping, and hunting. He is also a huge football fan and loves the Denver Broncos.


Associate Pastor:

Jason Schoonover

Pastor Jason has been a member at ZNC since 2002 while teaching music in the Zillah School District. In January of 2015 he began volunteering as Co-Youth Director with Lesli Nelson. In May of 2018 God called Jason to be a pastor and he has since begun classes that will lead him to be an Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene. Jason has been married to Meghan for 20 years and has three daughters who can be found all over Zillah participating in numerous activities.


Office Manager: 

Mary Ann Clarence

Mary Ann is the office manager & she assists with the Church's emails, worship guides & various publications. The favorite part of her job is planning events that are helpful & uplifting to others, & just having fun with family & friends.

She has been married to her best friend Mark, for over 31 years & they have two grown children & are expecting the arrival of their first Grandchild soon.

When not working Mary Ann enjoys going shopping, having family dinners & going out on date nights with her hubby.


Music Coordinator: 

Meghan Schoonover

Meghan has been the Music Coordinator at Zillah First Church of the Nazarene since 2002. A church musician since the age of 12, Meghan has experience in a wide variety of denominations, a background in organ, and a degree in piano performance. She is responsible for working with pastor to plan the services, scheduling musicians, accompanying special music as needed, and providing leadership to the Worship Team.

In addition to working for Zillah Nazarene, Meghan enjoys teaching piano lessons, gardening, substitute teaching, playing with jazz groups, and being the mom of three girls.


Children's Ministry Director:

Jessi Kirsch

Jessi stepped into the role of Children’s Ministry Director in September of 2019. Though this is her first official role in this capacity, she has been working in church nurseries, children’s Sunday school classes, and VBS’ since she was 11 years old. She is passionate about instilling an early love for Jesus and His Word in the children of our congregation.

In addition to her duties at the church, she is also a homeschool mom of four, and enjoys cooking, reading, and knitting.


Youth Director:

Lesli Nelson

Lesli joined the staff as youth director in January of 2015. She has a heart to make sure every teen is seen and heard and to impart how much Christ loves each one of them. She came to know Jesus as a teen and realizes how much they want to be loved and accepted.  Lesli also works at Hilton Elementary School where she interacts with students every day.  

Lesli has been married for 22 years and has two teenage boys of her own. When not working Lesli enjoys time with her family and friends. She loves cooking, coffee, shopping, and laughing.