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Dr. Bryant Barnes
Pastor

Dr. Barnes began serving as First Baptist Church pastor on April 1, 2007. He is a graduate of William Carey College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div) (Th.D.). In over thirty years of ministry, Dr. Barnes has served as pastor in churches in Louisiana and Mississippi, and is currently serving as a Trustee for William Carey University. Dr. Barnes and his wife Cheryl have a son named Colin. (email)

Hugh Plunkett
Minister of Music

Hugh has been serving at First Baptist Church since April, 2009. He is a graduate of Mississippi College. Hugh has served as Minister of Music and Senior Adults in Magee, MS and Clarksdale, MS. He is married to Wanda and they have four children. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, golf, coaching softball, playing rook and reading. Hugh plays the trumpet, handbells, guitar and bass guitar. (email)

O.J. Seals
Minister of Education and Recreation

OJ has been serving at First Baptist Church since June, 2008. He is a graduate of William Carey University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. OJ served as pastor at East Columbia Baptist Church for twelve years and has served at Tylertown Baptist Church. He is married to Teresa and they have three children Emily, Ellen Jo, and Ethan. (email

Mike Pendarvis
Daycare and Kindergarten Director.
 Mike has three children, Mickie, Rance, and Holli and seven grandchildren.  She is married to Stan Pendarvis and is an avid MSU Bulldog fan.  "My greatest desire is to help children grow spiritually, socially, emotionally, academically and physically to their highest potential and to provide them with a loving and safe environment away from home. I truly believe God's Word that 'Children are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him'  Psalm 127:3." (email)


 

Tom Thurman
Minister

Tom Thurman has served as Minister at First Baptist Church since June 2006.  He is married to Gloria P. Thurman and they have two sons, Philip and David.  Both sons are married, and  Philip has three children. The Thurmans served with the International  Mission Board in Bangladesh for thirty-five years (1964-1999). They are now retired and live permanently in Columbia. (email)

Jennifer Baker
Preschool and Children's Minister

 It is my passion to see kids grow in Christ.
Jennifer has been serving at First Baptist Church since 2001. She is a graduate of Belhaven College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She has served as intern minister of preschooler/children at Colonial Heights Baptist Church and  minister of preschooler/children at FBC Gulfport, MS. Her hobbies include writing, cats, computers and horse back riding. She is an avid Mississippi State Bulldogs fan. Her current favorite phrase is “It's all good”. (email)

Mary S. Herrington
Associate Minister for Church Care

Mary has been serving at First Baptist Church since 2010. She is a graduate of Florida State University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is married to Robert R. Herrington, III, and they have two married sons: R. Ramsey Herrington IV (Heather), and Thomas M. Herrington (Marni), and two grandchildren: Carter Matthew and Dahlia Anne. Mary grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and accepted Christ at the age of 16. Upon moving to Columbia, she and family found their place at First Baptist Church, Columbia.  Her hobbies include watercolor painting, handiwork, gardening, reading, and writing. She finds true joy just being with Robert, her sons et al, and her church family.(email) 

Shannon Willis
Youth and College Minister

Pastor Shannon is youth pastor at First Baptist Church since July 2011. He served as pastor at Bethany Baptist Church in Prentiss, Mississippi. Shannon is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a business degree and is currently working on his Masters of Divinity at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Gidget own two local preschools in the area (TLC). They love working with children and spreading the love of Jesus in the community. They have three children; Sadie, Mary Michael, and Shannon.

 
Elsie Fortenberry
Financial Secretary and Office Manager

Elsie Fortenberry is a lifelong resident of Marion County and has been employed at First Baptist Church for 24 years as the Financial Secretary and Office Manager. Elsie and the late Charles Fortenberry have four children, Charles, Jr., Patricia, Philip and Betty Jo. They also have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. (email)

Ellen Hawkins
Music Assistant

Ellen Hawkins has served as Organist and Music Assistant at First Baptist Church for 25 years. She is a native of Tupelo, MS. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance at Blue Mountain College and her Master of Music degree in organ from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to her duties at First Baptist Church, Ellen serves as organist at St. Stephens Episcopal Church and is an adjunct music instructor for Pearl River Community College. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists. (email)

Cornelia Cooper
Pastor's Secretary

Cornelia Cooper is a lifelong resident of Columbia and has been employed at First Baptist Church for 25 years as the Pastor's Secretary. She is married to Fred Cooper and has two children, Andy Moorman & Jennifer Sorrell and three step-children, Mike, Trish and Steve Cooper. They have nine grandchildren. (email)

Dianne Pittman
Educational Secretary

Dianne Pittman has served as educational secretary since 2000. She was born in Guam while her father was serving in the Air Force. She is a graduate of Pearl River Community College. She is the wife of Duane Pittman and they have three daughters, Celia, Sarah and Shelley. Dianne and Duane have been married for 38 years and reside in the Bunker Hill Community. (email)