Pastors and Staff

Phil Nelson


Phil has been the pastor of Lakeland since July 2006.  He and his wife, Melanie, have been married since December of 1979.  They have six children and nine grandchildren.  You can often find Phil on campus at SIU engaging with students and faculty about the claims of Christ.

Phil thinks he is good at telling jokes, but many at Lakeland have a different view. You will have to make up your own mind when you come for a visit. Pastor Phil met Christ as his savior in September of 1975 on the campus of SIU.  For the past forty years he has been actively engaged in sharing Christ both here in Carbondale and around the world.

Phil’s likes and hobbies are the following: sharing Christ with students, enjoying time with his wife, Melanie and their children and grandchildren, his church family and friends, coffee, hiking, kayaking, gardening and reading.

“If you are hungry to see how the Bible points you to Christ join us sometime soon.”

David Higgs

Worship Leader

David is a PhD student studying political science and international relations at SIU. He came to the Lord as a senior in high school, having been a militant atheist until then. Now, he is interested in impacting the culture around him through the positions the Lord has given him and sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible

Carolyn McDaniel

Office Manager

Carolyn handles all of our administrative functions in our office. She is the backbone of most of the things that we do here at Lakeland, meaning most things would fall apart without her. Although she grew up in Carbondale, many would consider her a true Mississippian. Carolyn has been here for around 8 years and has been a big part of Lakeland. She enjoys spending time with her pit bull, “Bulldog.”

Phone: (618) 529-4906

Vicki Willis


Vicki has been our custodian for approximately 8 years and has been known to keep our campus spotless! She has two sons, one of which is a radio personality out of Cape Girardeau, DJ Lil’ Will (Ian Willis). Vicki has been a great asset to Lakeland as the one who does the ‘dirty work’ and keeps everything looking nice.