Rev. Amanda Gordon

Pastor Nikki

Associate Pastor
E-mail Pastor Nikki

Hometown: East Moline, Illinois

Background: When Nikki was eight years old, she felt called by God to be a missionary. Since that day, she has been on a journey to discover my mission field. This journey has taken her to Africa, Central America, and many places in the US. What she has found in all places is the call to share God’s love with the community. From leading an after school program teaching kids to pray in rural Illinois, to playing soccer with a pop bottle in west Africa, to running a community summer program in Costa Rica, sharing the love of God while meeting the needs and building relationships with the people of the community is the most important work she has done. Nikki was blessed to serve as Pastor at Hampton Grace UMC, where she served for five and a half years. She was also blessed to serve at Eldridge UMC as Youth and Family Pastor and to be the Community Spiritual Director for the Quad City Chrysalis Community. Nikki is currently a Deacon with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, serving as a bridge between the church and the community.

Education: Nikki completed her Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Iowa State University and her Master’s degree in Missional Christianity at Dubuque Theological Seminary.

Family: Nikki lives in Ames with her husband James and their two children, Aaron and Alaina.

Nicole Smith

Children, Family, and Intergenerational Ministries Coordinator
E-mail Nicole Smith

Hometown: Carroll, IA

Background: Nicole always wanted to be a teacher. Granted she first wanted to be a dance teacher and own and operate her own dance studio someday—but still—it was teaching! She was called to teach. Sister Nancy Hoffman was her fifth grade teacher who not only helped instill in her the desire to teach, but also instilled in her the seeds of faith allowing her to continue to learn about the Christian faith and hold it close to her heart. So she went on to earn a degree in elementary education and started working right away for William Penn University in the education division as a teaching assistant in the distance learning program. She worked with non-traditional students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures who were passionate about becoming teachers. She still works for William Penn as the lead teaching assistant for elementary education-distance learning and an adjunct instructor every semester. This has helped her keep up-to-date on current methods in teaching, learning strategies, classroom and behavior management, communication and lesson structure. After college, while living in Muscatine, Iowa, Nicole developed a passion for working in youth ministry. She helped lead a mission trip with high school youth to Ruiz, Nayarit in Mexico and served as an interim youth director at Wesley United Methodist Church before moving to Gilbert. Nicole and her family became members of First UMC in Ames in 2008 and in 2012, Nicole became the Director of Christian Education.

Family: Nicole lives in Gilbert with her husband Ben (a volunteer youth leader with the middle school class), their two children Zachery and Savanna, and their little fur babies Zoey and Ozzie.

“I absolutely LOVE what I do at First UMC. Seeing the excitement on the faces of the children and youth here and the smiles from the adults as they all share in the gospel message make every day here so much fun. I know they are hearing the message and wanting to serve others in Jesus’ name.”

Youth Ministries Coordinator

Youth Ministries Coordinator
E-mail Youth Ministries Coordinator

Please contact our Associate Pastor, Nikki Ross Bishop, with questions regarding youth ministries

Ilene Riitano

Music Director



Granddaughter of Italian immigrants, Ilene was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Ilene’s first contact with the piano, the organ, and sacred music was in her

childhood at the First Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro. Years later, she was introduced to organ music practice at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Brazil in the Sacred Music undergraduate program. At the same time, she was a piano student at the

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro undergraduate program,

oriented by Dr. Arnaldo Cohen. She desired to quit the piano and be solely dedicated to the organ and the Sacred Music program at the seminary; however, her family strongly opposed this idea. Therefore, as years passed, she received a Bachelor’s and

Master’s Degree in Music – piano performance at the Federal

University of Rio de Janeiro, oriented in the latter by Dr. Miriam Grosman. For many years, she played to the First Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro and the Itacuruçá Baptist Church.

Several years later, when deciding what research area to pursue to apply in a Doctoral Program in Music, the old love for the organ came back to the surface like a Divine call, and she decided to heed the call. Therefore, instead, she pursued the undergraduate organ program at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and

received a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance, oriented by the Composer and Organist Dr. Alexandre Rachid. She worked for five years as the Organist at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San

Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro and as a private Piano Teacher. In

recent years, she was awarded a full scholarship to pursue the

organ graduate program at the University of Iowa, where she

received the Master of Arts in Music, majoring in organ

performance, oriented by Dr. Gregory Hand.

At the present moment, being Ames First United Methodist Church’s Organist and Music Director brings her a sense of living a dream, of finally having found life’s real purpose, which recalls a book of Psalms’ passage:





“When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad.”

Psalms 126:1-3 NASB 1995


Master of Arts, Organ Performance, 2021, University of Iowa;

Bachelor’s Degree, Organ Performance, 2018, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Master of Music, Piano Interpretative Practices, 2003, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Bachelor’s Degree,

Piano Performance, 1982, Federal University of Rio De Janeiro.

Reid Cummer

Business Manager
E-mail Reid Cummer


Responsibilities: Serves as the primary staff person working directly with the Committee on Finance: completes monthly reports; attends meetings; monitors and reviews ministry budget items and missions funds, etc.; recommends procedures and policies related to the financial/stewardship ministries of the church; plans and prepares for an annual financial review/audit. Serves as the custodian of all financial records and supplies reports as requested; counts, posts, and deposits offerings and payments for facility use and weddings. Maintains effective computerized accounting system in order to produce and distribute quarterly and annual financial statements, and in conjunction with the Finance Committee, reports to the congregation the financial status and health of the church. Prepares required information for the annual Charge Conference and complete report forms for use by the Iowa Annual Conference. Works with the church’s accounting firm to help manage payroll and all related issues

Matt Woodworth

Part Time/Sunday Custodian