I am a native of Douglasville, Georgia. My wife, Cindy, is from New Orleans, Louisiana. We have three children and an eccentric cat name Mercy. We moved to the beautiful city of Jasper in July 2014.
I am a graduate of Shorter College (B.A.) and Southern Seminary (M Div). Having served churches in several states, I have most recently been pastor of North Broad Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia (1995-2002), Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida (2002-2005), and Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky (2005-2011).
My interests include preaching and leading worship, helping people in their spiritual formation, spending time with my family, watching ESPN and reruns of The Office. I possess an embarrassing number of books. Whenever my wife allows me, you will find a book in my hand. My favorite authors include Robert Benson, Wendell Berry, Frederick Buechner, Ken Follett, Anne Lamott, Thomas Merton, and Flannery O’Connor.
I am honored to serve as pastor of such a diverse congregation of kind and generous people. I also have the privilege of working with a fine and gifted staff. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet you. My email address is email@example.com. Please join us for worship.
Matthew NewtonAssociate Pastor, Minister of Music and Administration
I was blessed to grow up in a loving family with strong ties to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Ellijay, GA. My grandmother was the church pianist, and my father was a choir member, a deacon and the church treasurer.
Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother practicing hymns at the piano and letting me pick out melodies by ear. I was fortunate to have the consistent example of mature Christians to guide my spiritual development.
At age eleven, I made a profession of faith and was baptized. I sang in children’s and youth choirs, played handbells, and studied piano and organ.
My wife and I started dating when we were in church music activities together, and she has been a faithful soprano in every choir I have directed. We both value the church experiences we had as children and youth, and it is very important to us to provide a similar environment for our children. My diverse interests have taken me down many interesting paths in life, but God has patiently provided opportunities for me to serve in ministry. No matter what I did, I found myself drawn more and more to serving in the church. I once asked a wise pastor friend how the Lord calls one to ministry, and his reply was, “He is relentless.” Looking back, I realized that I had already been following the call one step at a time. Whenever I least expected it, God led me to new places of service with new challenges and opportunities for growth. I am excited to be the Minister of Music at First Baptist Jasper.
Anna S. J. WalkerDirector of Youth & Children's Ministries
I was born and raised in Jasper, Georgia. My grandfather, Rev. Charles O. Walker, was pastor at FBC Jasper for 37 years and my grandmother, Betty Anne Walker, started the Preschool at FBC Jasper. Growing up with such close ties to the church, most of my time was spent here. My favorite memories are of times spent at Passport Kids camp and serving on YMTs. It is a blessing to be back serving the church that helped shape me into the person I am today.
After shadowing under Joan Rutledge, I had big dreams to become a kindergarten teacher. During my freshman year in college, I first heard God calling me to ministry. Since then I have served as a Children’s Ministry Intern at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky and a Ministry Assistant to Youth at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia. I am currently a senior in the College of Education at the University of North Georgia. I will graduate in May 2019 with a dual degree with Elementary and Special Education. I plan to begin seminary this fall at Mercer University for a Masters of Divinity.
My grandfather always said, “Youth are the future of the church.” I do not completely agree with him. I believe that our Youth and Children are the past, present, and future of our church. It is an honor to be able to grow and learn with each and every one of them.
Ruth Mehari9:00 Worship Leader
I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA with two older brothers and a younger sister. My parents moved to Atlanta in about 1992; they’re from Eritrea. I grew up in an Eastern Orthodox Christian church until I went off to study music at Reinhardt University. I’m a Music Education and Cello Performance major. In my time at Reinhardt, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to expand on my knowledge of different styles of worship which inevitably led me to FBC Jasper.
In my free time, I enjoy searching for kitten/puppy videos on the Internet, Netflix, hiking, reading, and practicing the cello. I also enjoy massive amounts of sushi and Thai food, and baking desserts!
I would love to see you at our 9:00 am worship service!
Lana CallahanPreschool Head Director
Lana Callahan was born in Arkansas but spent most of her life here in Jasper. She has been married to Marty Callahan for 30 years. She is a long-time member of First Baptist Church and was recently elected Secretary to the Deacon Board. Lana and Marty have two grown daughters; Abbey works at Georgia Tech and Claire recently graduated from University of North Georgia. Lana taught in Pickens county for many years, including elementary, middle, and high school. She brings considerable experience and knowledge to the position of Head Director and is very excited for all the things to come at FBCJ Preschool & Kindergarten.
Samantha DunnPreSchool Assistant Director
Samantha was born and raised in Jasper, GA. She has been a member of First Baptist Church of Jasper since she was 12 years of age. Upon completion of High School, Samantha obtained her Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining FBCJasper Preschool, Samantha worked as Project Manager for McKesson Healthcare. Samantha is married is Matthew Dunn and has two children Madison and Molly Dunn.
Her interest include traveling around the world, cooking and competitive clogging. Samantha has deep ties to FBCJasper Preschool and cannot wait to build upon the great legacy already established.
Christie BeiringOffice Administrator
I am blessed to be the mom of four boys. My twins are now grown and starting an exciting season in their own lives and my two youngest and I have been enjoying the beautiful surroundings and history in these Appalachian foothills since 2007. While not a native of Jasper, this is the first place I’ve lived that feels like “home”.
I was born in Washington DC and enjoyed a unique childhood growing up in six countries. I earned my bachelor in International Business and Foreign Languages and MA in Spanish from Mississippi State University where I taught Spanish labs as an undergraduate and lower level courses as a grad student.
I have since lived in four southern states and gained invaluable experience working first as an office administrator with a small, family-owned business and then with executive level management of a national company and teaching at The University of South Alabama. After the birth of my twins, I shifted career tracks and began teaching at a Christian college preparatory school in Mobile, Alabama. When we relocated to Georgia in 2001 I was a stay-at-home mom for ten years and occupied my time with my children, PTO, volunteer work, part-time computer work, and writing. In 2010 I began teaching all levels of Spanish at Wildwood Christian Academy in Marble Hill until the school’s closing in the fall of 2016. In 2016 I joined FBCJ as their Office Administrator.
In my free time I most enjoy writing, reading, computers, and learning new skills.