Senior Pastor

Caitlin Lai

  Send Email  •  (704)954-8096

Pastor Caitlin Lai (pronounced "lie") is a lifelong United Methodist, but it wasn’t until college that she started exploring questions of faith and discerning a call to parish ministry. She is Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and holds degrees from Duke University and Appalachian State University. Prior to her appointment to Hickory Grove, Caitlin has served under appointment as a Solo Pastor and as an Associate Pastor, and has served many ministerial internships in varying contexts. Pastor Caitlin has experience in refugee resettlement and immigration, as well as working in home care. While a graduate student at Duke, Pastor Caitlin spent a year studying at a seminary and interning at a church in Hong Kong, where she deepened a call to intercultural, urban ministry. It was through this global experience that she also discovered one of her favorite aspects of the United Methodist Church and the family of God: through our connection as the body of Jesus Christ, we can find friends and partners for the journey, anywhere we go.

Pastor Caitlin seeks to cultivate a community rooted in the love of Jesus Christ: one where everyone knows they are deeply loved and embraced for who they are. She is delighted to be serving with the good people of Hickory Grove UMC to share the love of God in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and beyond.

Fun fact: Pastor Caitlin enjoys learning about cultures different than her own and traveling through food. If you have a dish that is unique to you or restaurant(s) that you love, reach out to Pastor Caitlin. She'd love to get to know you, especially through a good meal!

Associate Pastor African Venue

Preciouse Wilson

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Preciouse was born in his native homeland of Liberia, West Africa. He was reared by his aunt an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He has been married to his lovely wife Loretta for eighteen years. They have two beautiful children, Elijah and Faith. Preciouse and Loretta are both registered nurses. Preciouse holds a dual master degree in Business Administration and Health Care Management. Recently Preciouse graduated with a Master of Divinity. However,  it is the degree in religion that brings about fulfillment, contentment and desire to serve God. It is the studying and living the Word of God that continues to transform our lives. Preciouse and his family are Christians who have made Jesus the Lord and Savior of their lives. Preciouse believes that serving God and humanity is paramount in his walk with God. All that I am and all that I surrender to God because all belongs to God.

Assistant Pastor & Latino Pastor

Candido Albino

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Candido was born in Puerto Rico on February 3, 1960. He received his associate degree on Social Work from the World University in Guayama, Puerto Rico. In 2016, Candido completed his fifth year of Course of Study at Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.  Candido has served as Director, Pastor and Founder of Ministry Cave of Adulam and Remembranza Music Ministry from 1997 to 2006, and his first pastoral assignment was from 2000 to 2004 at Comerio Puerto Rico United Methodist Church. In 2006, Candido was called to the WNCC Conference for mission work with Latino Ministries in North Carolina.  Candido was appointed to Blair Road United Methodist Church Blair Road in Mint Hill , NC from 2007 to 2010 and then to Forest Hill United Methodist Church in Concord, NC as Associate Pastor and Pastor of the Latino Ministry.  Candido is married to Pilar Perez and has three bright children Tanairi, Thamar, and Uziel.

Director of Music & Organist

Hassan Sankary

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Hassan joined our staff in September of 2023. He is from Liberia, West Africa where he entered the musical scene in 1975/76.  After 47 years, and direct association with a wide variety of religious organizations he developed a proficiency in instrumental, choral music and music instruction. These includes orthodox and traditional Christian Hymns, Classical Music, African-American Gospels, Religious Jazz and Musical Dramas. He plays the piano, organ, guitar, and saxophone. Hassan is over our music program and leads the Traditional and African choirs during the Sunday services.

Office Administrator/Financial Secretary

Gail Reynolds

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Gail joined our staff on December 18th, 2017. Gail is a native Charlottean and a graduate of UNCC. She has a Pomeranian named Lady. Gail has been an elementary school teacher and church office administrator. She is a member at Durham Memorial Baptist Church and enjoys crafts and gardening.


Matthew Baucom

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Matt is a native of Gaston County and he and his wife have been married for 19 years. They have three teenaged children whom they homeschool.  Before coming to Hickory Grove, he worked at Walmart for 18 years. He is a dedicated Christian who is a Deacon at Garver Memorial Baptist Church.  There he teaches Sunday School, Children’s Church, and the Wednesday night youth group.  He loves working outside and owns his own lawn care business (his children work for him).  Matt’s favorite verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Preschool Director

Sharon Freeze

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Sharon has been involved at Hickory Grove United Methodist Church for over 20 years.  She became a teacher here in our preschool in 2004 and has served as the Preschool Director since 2008.  Her position allows her to use her gift of administration and her love for children at the same time.  She enjoys talking with preschoolers and their families, gardening, and loves her Carolina Panthers!