Rev. Dr. Jeremy Shoulta
Rev. Dr. Jeremy Shoulta became the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Gainesville in 2020. Jeremy was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and is married to Valarie with whom he has two children, Maggie & Macy. He received his B.A. in Religion from Georgetown College (Kentucky) and a degree from the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. Jeremy is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Gardner-Webb University. Prior to serving at First Baptist Church, Jeremy pastored churches in North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky. As Senior Pastor, Jeremy does a majority of the preaching/teaching, assist with pastor care of members, and helps cast the larger vision of where we are going as a faith community. Jeremy enjoys spending time with his family in the great outdoors of North Georgia and cheering on the University of Louisville Cardinals.
Rev. Dr. Tony Lankford
Rev. Dr. Tony Lankford began serving as our Executive Pastor in February of 2021. Tony moved to Gainesville with his wife, Tiffany, who serves as the nurse at Gainesville High School, and their two children, Kaley and Carter. He attended Shorter College prior to receiving his seminary and doctorate degree from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. Prior to FBC, Tony served as Senior Pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church (Atlanta) and First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island (Georgia). In addition to being a pastor presence with Jeremy, as Executive Pastor, Tony seeks to help our staff excel in their roles, as well as oversee the functional work of our multi-faceted ministry, programs, and campus. When he’s not at FBC, Tony enjoys reading, music, outdoors and travel.
Rev. Mark Green
Minister of Music
Rev. Mark Green began leading the Music Ministry at First Baptist in 1999. Mark grew up on a farm near Oneonta, Alabama. He is married to Joy and they have one daughter, Lucy, as well as a “son by choice”, Herve. Mark graduated from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance in 1983; then earned a Master of Music in Church Music with a Piano Concentration at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986. Prior to coming to Gainesville, Mark served as the Assistant Minister of Music/Church Pianist at First Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama; then served as Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Forsyth, Georgia, and at Seventh Street Baptist Church in Cullman, Alabama. In his role at FBC, Mark directs the Sanctuary Choir, Sonlight Youth Choir, Young Musicians Choir, our annual Living Christmas Tree Presentations and planning/preparing worship for our Sunday Services as well as coaching/rehearsing with musicians as they prepare music offerings for worship, and providing pastoral care when possible. Mark enjoys hiking to beautiful mountain peaks and to the many waterfalls in North Georgia, working in his yard, swimming, boating on Lake Lanier, musical concerts/plays, providing piano programs in our community, and lots of Alabama football.
Rev. Kellie Denton
Associate Pastor for Faith Formation
Rev. Kellie Denton grew up in Bradenton, Florida, and is married to Paul Denton. They have two adult boys, Joshua, 24, and Tucker, 19. Kellie joined the staff of FBC in 2010. Kellie received her B.S. degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Florida. She worked in the corporate marketing environment for over 20 years before answering the call to full-time ministry. Kellie received her Seminary Master’s degree from Mercer University & MacAfee School of Theology. Kellie has worked in Family Ministry for over 12 years. She currently oversees Adult Discipleship, Senior Adults, Pastoral Care and helps in Children’s Ministry. When not at FBC Kellie enjoys paddle boarding, hiking, cooking and traveling.
Rev. Ruth Demby
Minister of Missions
Rev. Ruth Demby has served as our Minister of Missions since 2008. Ruth grew up in Atlanta and currently lives in Gainesville with her husband, Richard, with whom she has two adult children and one adorable grandchild. After a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Social Work, Ruth pursued her seminary degree at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She served as a chaplain and counselor for Brenau University and Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center prior to overseeing the vast missions ministry of the church, including the weekly Promising Futures program. Outside of FBC, Ruth enjoys reading, hiking, yoga and learning about other cultures.
Rev. Christopher Simonton
Minister of Youth
Rev. Christopher Simonton became the Student Pastor in 2022. A Houston native, he met his wife Sammy in Georgia and they have a son named Luke and a dog named Sadie. He received his BA in English at the University of Houston and an MDiv from Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas. Christopher is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry at Mercer University. Before coming to FBC Gainesville, he pastored youth across Texas and Georgia. He is a passionate believer in Christ’s call to young people to follow after him and works to help them understand their faith. Christopher loves spending time with his family, walking the dog, cooking, weight lifting, running, bicycling, video games, reading, watching movies and tv, listening to music, and the occasional nap. He is a published fiction author and loves coffee and steak.
Rev. Dr. Glenn Eernisse
Associate Minister of Music
Rev. Dr. Glenn Eernisse serves as half of our co-Associate Minister of Music team with his wife, Susan. Glenn grew up in Florida/South Carolina, and with Susan they have two adult daughters and three grandchildren. After receiving music degrees from Anderson University and Berry College, Glenn earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Glenn taught music at the college level and served at various churches, including most recently, First Baptist Church of Carrollton (Georgia). Glenn exercises his gifts here at FBC through directing the orchestra, handbell choirs and Sonlight Youth Choir.
Associate Minister of Music
Susan Eernisse joined our staff in 2022 as co-Associate Minister of Music with her husband, Glenn, with whom she has two adult daughters. Susan studied music at Anderson University and Berry College, where she also received a Master’s in Education. Susan’s vocational work has spanned the musical arena, including teaching in public/private settings, editing an international journal for church music and leading children’s choirs. At FBC, Susan uses her gifts to direct our Academy of Music, the Young Musicians Choir, Handchime Ringers, and helps lead the Banquet Hall worship service. Susan enjoys reading, travel, hanging out with Glenn, their three granddaughters, and other family and friends.
Director, Family Life Center
Amanda Ramey joined our ministry team as the director of the Family Life Center in 2019. She was born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia, and attended Lakeview Academy for most of her adolescent years. She is married to her loving husband, Pete, and they have two Great Dane children, Ghost and Bliss. Amanda earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) focused on Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Brenau University. She also recently obtained her Personal Training certification through the International Sports Sciences Association and is a certified Silver Sneakers group fitness instructor. Prior to serving as the Director for the Family Life Center, Amanda has worked in the Dental field as well as working in the Non-Profit field, last working for the American Cancer Society as a Community Development Manager for four counties in Northeast Georgia. One of her biggest passions is making a positive difference in others’ lives and her community through her servant leadership and coaching. In all she does she strives to show love, kindness, and compassion just as Jesus did for us all.
April Wood joined our financial staff in 2015. She grew up in Gainesville, but now resides in the little town of Talmo in Jackson County. April married her husband, Nathan, in 1997, and they have two children. April graduated from North Georgia College & State University with a degree in Business Administration in Accounting. She employed that degree as an accountant for ACH Foam Technologies for 10 years prior to coming to FBC, where she now serves as Financial Administrator, assuring all of the church’s finances are handled with integrity, accuracy and timeliness. When not at FBC, April loves to camp, hike, read and spend time with her family.
Music Administrative Assistant
Kayanne Smith joined the FBC staff in 2019, but she grew up in the FBC congregation as she’s a third-generation member of FBC. Kayanne studied at Gainesville College and Jacksonville University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Marine Science. After moving back to Gainesville, Kayanne worked at Sonrise Camp. She also worked many years at the Coffee Shop at Lawrence Pharmacy, where she became a manager. At FBC, Kayanne is the administrative assistant to Mark Green and the Music Ministry team. She also helps oversee the Prayer List alongside the ministerial staff. When she’s not at FBC, Kayanne enjoys cooking, spending time with her family and friends, going to see live music, theater and traveling.
Carrie Owens began her role at FBC in 2021. She’s a native of Hall County and is married to Chris. Carrie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Literature and Music from North Georgia College & State University. Prior to FBC, Carrie worked in the Hall County Superior Court Clerks office for 18 years after teaching English for five years. Carrie is the “face” of FBC at our Welcome Desk, where she answers phones, helps guest reserve our facilities and manages multiple office functions. Outside of FBC, Carrie enjoys reading, gardening, playing piano, being outside and her two furbabies, Major & Janis.
Director of Maintenance
Bo Rodgers joined the FBC staff in 2009. Bo grew up in Georgia and is married to Jill. They have seven children and seven grandchildren. He’s the Director of Maintenance of FBC. He runs the daily operations from maintenance to custodian, and helps get the church ready for events on a daily basis. Prior to FBC, Bo studied business and was a store manager at Winn Dixie, store manager at Craven Pottery, store manager at Country Living Expo, and maintenance supervisor at First Baptist Church Hamilton Mill. When he’s not at FBC, Bo enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and all of the sports.
Ministry Assistant & Ministry of Caring
Charles Phelps joined the FBC staff in May 2021. Charles helps with Communications and the ministry team at FBC. He and his wife, Ashley, live in Gainesville. They got married in November of 2019. Charles graduated high school from North Hall. He went to Gainesville State College and Reinhardt University, where he graduated with his degrees. Charles has worked for four different newspapers including “The Times” in Gainesville. Prior to coming to FBC, Charles and Ashley attended 12Stone Church. In high school and early college, Charles attended Lakewood Baptist Church, where he was baptized in 2006. When he’s not at FBC, Charles enjoys spending time with Ashley, their two dogs, Iris & Georgia, seeing his family and friends, watching sports, going to Dahlonega and playing golf.
Director of Nursery and Preschool Ministries
Lisa Johnson has served as the Director of First Baptist Day School, Inc. since its inception in August 2011. Lisa was on the staff of First Baptist Weekday Preschool prior to the Day School from 1994 until 2011. Lisa grew up in Tucker, Georgia, and is married to Johnny, with whom she has two adult children. She graduated from North Georgia College with a BBA in Finance. Lisa enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.