Chris Highfill

Lead Pastor

Jacob Matthews

Next Generation Pastor

Paul Urban

Next Steps Pastor

Rob Salyer

Operations Director

Shelly Temm

GraceKids Director

Karianne Lusa

GraceKids Coordinator

Patty Taylor

Website / Database Administrator

Sam Watkins

Administrative Assistant


Chris Highfill - Lead Pastor

Chris Highfill is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University with a degree in church ministries. Prior to church planting, Chris worked in youth ministry for 14 years; 13 of those at the same church.

Chris and his wife Sarah planted Grace River Church in 2015 with coaching from Converge they were able to launch large and have seen the church grow from a small gathering in their living room to 700 every weekend. He is also the Regional Director of Church Planting for Converge Midamerica.  

Chris served on the executive board of the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce for 4 years and is a graduate of the Saint Charles County Vision Leadership program.

Chris met his wife Sarah while in college and they have been married since 2003. They have three children; Ella, Jack and Alle.


Jacob Matthews - Next Generation / Discipleship Pastor

Jacob serves as the Next Generation/Discipleship Pastor here at Grace River. He is a graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri where he earned his B.S. in Intercultural Studies. He is passionate about helping others take a next step in their walk with Christ. 

Jacob has been married to his wife, Hannah, since 2020. They enjoy playing games and doing anything outdoors.


Paul Urban - Next Steps Pastor

Paul Urban is a graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a graduate of Trinity International University with a Masters of Divinity.  Prior to coming to Grace River in September of 2023, Paul planted a growing multi-site, church planting church in Muskegon, Michigan.  He has been in church ministry for over 20 years.

Paul has worked with Converge Church Planting and serves on the board of Converge MidAmerica/Southeast/Caribbean.

Paul is married to Jennifer, and they have three young adult sons: Spencer, Max, and Will.  Paul and Jennifer love to travel and to hike and love exploring new places.


Rob Salyer - Operations Director

Rob graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He has been the Director and co-owner of Leaps and Bounds pediatric therapy center since 2005. Rob has served on the boards of The Greater St. Louis Prayer Breakfast, Teen Challenge of St. Louis, and Tres Dias of St. Louis. Rob has a passion for teaching and leadership and loves applying his business experience to the church environment.

Rob has been married to his wife, Carrie, since 2000 and they have two children, Gavin and Mia.


Shelly Temm - GraceKids Director

Shelly graduated from Lindenwood with a Bachelor degree in Elementary Education.  She has enjoyed teaching in the education field since 1998.  She most recently taught 4th Grade at Trinity Christian Academy and in the Fort Zumwalt School District. Shelly is passionate about building relationships with students and parents so they can grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Shelly has been married to her husband, Brad, since 2000.  They enjoy doing home improvements and anything outdoors.  They have 3 children: Carter, Mya, and Lydia.


Karianne Lusa - GraceKids Coordinator

Kari has worked with children from nursery through college age for 28 years within church settings. She also has been a Cosmetologist for the last 30 years.

Kari finds the most joy in seeing children of all ages make the connection between the God of the Bible and the God, alive and well, in their everyday lives. 

Kari has been married to her husband, Gabe, since 2006. Their favorite thing to do is to be near a body of water. They have three children: Isaac, Isaiah, and Leah.


Patty Taylor - Website/Database Administrator

Patty graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. She held positions as a Manager and also Project Manager for several large corporations in the St. Louis area for 30+ years, and retired in 2016.

Patty has been married to her husband Mark, since 1997, and they have two children, Alyssa and Brendan.  Patty’s family enjoys spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks.


Sam Watkins - Administrative Assistant

Sam is a graduate of University of Missouri, St. Louis with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has worked in administrative and supervisory roles since 2015. Most recently, she has been a stay-at-home mom, raising little believers.

Pastor Chris married Sam and Timothy (TJ) Watkins in June of 2019. The Watkins family consists of Sam, TJ, Nevaeh, and Ben. They enjoy spending time together watching sporting events, playing outdoors, playing card games, and completing puzzles.