Our Staff

Dr. Clifton & Linda Black

Senior Pastor & Executive Secretary to Senior Pastor

Cliff came to Mountain Grove from Florida in 1986 and in 25+ years of service, has led the church to baptize over 2000 believers and experience a 500% growth, as well as built a modern, multi-use facility that seats over 1700 persons. He was educated at Florida Baptist University and Luther Rice Seminary (DMIN). Cliff has authored four books: “The Reality of the Kingdom of Demons,” “The Reality of the Holy Spirit,” “The Reality of Intimacy,” and “The Study of Joshua.” Cliff and his wife, Linda, have three children and six grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Jeff Burkhimer

Executive Pastor

Jeff Burkhimer came to Mountain Grove in January of 1999 from New Life Baptist Church where he served as Youth Pastor. Jeff assumed his new responsibility as Executive Pastor in March 2009, wherein he will be responsible for office, staff, and ministry issues. He received has an A.A. in Business form Caldwell Community College, a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Luther Rice Seminary, and an M.B.A. in Leadership from Liberty University. He is married to Tammy and they have two sons and a daughter.

Tina Thieman

Director of First Impressions and Small Groups

Tina came to Mountain Grove Church in December 2015 from Cedar Creek Church, Toledo Ohio, where she served as the Spiritual Formations Director. Tina assumed her new responsibility as the Director of First Impressions and Small Groups. She has earned A.A. Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is married to Chad.

Darren Smith

Worship Pastor

Darren came to serve at Mountain Grove as worship pastor in February 2017. He has served the Lord in the music ministry for 20 years. Darren has an Associate in Arts Degree from CCC&TI and was ordained into the ministry in 2001 by Dr. Clifton Black. Darren’s wife, Tonya and son, Corey also serve in the music ministry alongside him.

Josh Clark

Director of Guest Services and Children’s Ministries

Josh is the paterfamilias of the Clark home. He and his wife Annamarie have 4 kids, 2 dogs, a cat, 10 chickens and about 5000 bees (which technically qualifies him to be called an apiarist). Josh joined the staff of Mountain Grove in 2009 after more than 8 years of volunteering in children’s ministry. His hobbies include photography, baseball (#SanFranciscoGiants) and Social Media. His favorite way to spend his time? Watching the sun go down by his fire-pit, with Annamarie sitting beside him, watching his kids play in the yard. He hates brussel sprouts.

Toni Wright

Tiny Town Nursery Director

Toni is a wife and mother of two. Her family enjoys raising animals, gardening, hiking, camping and growing mushrooms. They have dogs, goats, chickens, guineas, honey bees and a cat. Toni has an Associates Degree in Information Systems Technology and previously worked for the NC Department of Correction before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Toni and her family came to Mountain Grove in 2012 and she joined the staff in April 2018 as Nursery Coordinator. Toni loves baking, soap-making and Labrador Retrievers.

Madi Ryder

Preschool Parkway Director


Ken Gillen

ViaCross Student Ministries Pastor

Ken serves as Student Ministries Pastor for Middle through High School students. Ken and his wife Cindy have worked together in student ministry since their marriage in 1990. They have been members of Mountain Grove since 2002 and began serving in student ministries in 2006. Ken received a BA in Theology from Ambassador University and a MAR in Discipleship Ministries from Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. Ken and Cindy have two sons, Jonathan and Bailey.

Larry Puett

Facility and Food Pantry Coordinator

Larry joined the staff of Mountain Grove in June of 2015 and serves as Facility and Food Pantry Coordinator. Since then, he was ordained by Cliff and Jeff into the ministry. He’s passionate about spending time with his wife and three children, along with watching his favorite football team (Dallas Cowboys). Larry has a double major in Business and Logistics Management.

David Hennessee

Media Director