Meet our Deacons


Deacon council officers 2017

Chair—Craig Taylor
Vice Chair/Chair Elect—Darren Draper
Secretary—Kevin Benefield
Assistant Secretary—June Gay


DOTTIE AIKEN

I have been actively involved at FBCD for a long time, having served as church clerk, preschool teacher/director, deacon, finance chair/vice chair, missions’ development committee chair, and Sunday School teacher. Currently I serve on the Clairmont Oaks Board. I have also been on several mission trips to Japan, Hawaii, and Africa. I am retired from Baptist Retirement Communities of Georgia. FBCD has been family to me. I hope FBCD will: reach out extensively to Decatur and beyond, accept that all persons regardless of age have a place and mission here, and rebuild a vibrant, God-led community of believers. I pray that I can be a part of FBCD’s future and participate in its growth and development. 
Serving through 2018


Kevin Benefield

Born in Gainesville, Georgia, Kevin grew up in a Southern Baptist church and accepted Christ as his savior as a child. He moved to Atlanta to attend Oglethorpe University and has lived in the city since. He has spent the bulk of his career at Atlanta magazine, where He currently works at Atlanta Magazine as editorial director for the custom media division and editor in chief of Southbound, the magazine's travel publication. Kevin joined FBCD in January 2011. He is a member of the Pilgrims Sunday school class and works on the sanctuary tech team. Kevin lives in the Grant Park/East Atlanta area with his dog, Macy.
Serving through 2019


Edward (Eddie) Campbell, Jr.

I was taken to worship services in Union Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga. at the age of seven days. The sounds of an upright piano and the mesmerizing voices of choir members still echo in my soul. I have continued in the Lord’s way for the past two years here at FBCD. Both my parents came from families of farmers/sharecroppers in middle South Carolina and south Georgia. They believed in education as a step up from poverty and ignorance to success. These values have produced a generation of positive contributors to America. Simply put, my ministry is: Service to God and to humanity. My prayer for FBCD is for strong spiritual membership growth, through prayer, youth and adults. I also pray that FBCD will be freed from financial bondage.
Serving through 2017


cecil Cannon

I accepted Christ when I was twelve years old.  I was baptized at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in 1950. I have been a member of Decatur First Baptist Church since the spring of 2011. Ann and I married in 1966. Ann passed away in 2010.  We had 43 years together. We adopted a son, Corey, and a daughter, Casey. Corey lives in Charlotte and Casey lives in Knoxville. I love the Fresh Start service. The fellowship in this service is awesome. There is so much energy at Fresh Start. Also, the Wednesday night supper and fellowship are not to be missed! I am concerned about our Church. God has great things in store for us if we will only follow his lead. Decatur is such a growing place. We need to reach out to our community in ways that we haven’t thought about. – Cecil
Serving through 2019


fred cavalli

Fred grew up in East Point, Ga. and was baptized in the Jefferson Avenue Baptist church at age 12. Mai and Fred have been married for 35 years and have three adult children and 1 grandchild. Fred has taught Youth and Adult S.S, classes for over 30 years and Bible study continues to be his favorite subject and joyful service. Fred has served on many church committees and boards over the years including two terms as a Deacon, Finance Committee, FBCD Foundation, and long term member of the Boards of Clairmont and Briarcliff Oaks. After 46 years in private practice Fred retired as an attorney focussing on Family Law, Wills and Probate Law, and Business Law.
Serving through 2019


THERON clark-STUART

My family and I have called FBCD home for over four years. From the moment David and I stepped through the front doors of the sanctuary, we have witnessed and felt the Holy Spirit of God at work. Through the years we have brought our neighbors, friends, family and colleagues to come and encounter the Kingdom of God first hand in this place that we call ‘home’. Having grown up as a preacher’s kid and under the loving tutelage of a godly mother, I learned firsthand what it meant to be part of a family of faith. I have shared ministry at FBCD through teaching Sunday Bible study, leading in worship, co-facilitating men’s Bible study groups, counseling and giving of my time and offerings to advance the Kingdom of God in this holy place. My prayer for our church is that we will have the spiritual eyes to see, and the individual and corporate courage to follow, God’s leading in reaching Decatur, the Metro area and World with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Serving through 2017


GWEN COTTRELL

My journey as a Christ Follower began at nine years of age. My life’s journey has led me to many church families in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. In 2010, I became a member of FBCD. Many people and events have encouraged me as I have grown spiritually. Jesus’ life demonstrated love and justice, compassion and healing, thus I desire to follow his example in missional ways. I find joy by serving in Fresh Start, the Wednesday evening children’s ministry, missional activities, and the women’s ministry. My prayer is that we at FBCD will grow in our love and service for one another and that our passion for the needs of others will radiate into the community and the world.
Serving through 2017


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KAITLIN CURTICE

The best way to tell you about myself is to tell you the things that work together to make up who I am in this season of my life.
First, I am a woman with a very child-like faith, and I often see God through the lens of a father.
I’m a Native American from Oklahoma.
I’m a mother and wife.
I’m a writer and storyteller at www.kaitlincurtice.com.
I’m a worship leader, and I love the church.
I’m a coffee drinker and perpetual learner, and often the two go hand in hand.
And I spend most of my days trying to stay tethered to the goodness of God, and to find Him in the people and places that surround me.
Serving through 2018


Darren Draper

Darren Draper and his wife Amber have been FBCD members for 10 years. He is a member of the Seeking the Kingdom Sunday School class.  Darren is an active participant in the FBCD Children's Ministry as well as a regular service volunteer.  They have two children, Graham (3) and Lilly (1) and live just north of Decatur. He is an owner of Epsten Group, an architecture and consulting firm, in downtown Atlanta. His background is in mechanical engineering. He enjoys spending time with his family, listening to podcasts, and finding reasons to go to Home Depot.
Serving through 2019


JAMILA EDWARDS

I am a lifelong believer in Christ, but I was baptized at FBCD in the fall of 2012. I love working with the Children’s ministry and Conversations ministry. My prayer for this church is that we can become a safe place in Decatur for people who feel disconnected from God but are interested in seeking Him.
Serving through 2017


CHRIS FAULKNER

I grew up in and out of church most of my childhood. I attended non-denominational, Baptist, and Methodist churches.  That coupled with my upbringing made a lasting impression on me about what I thought church and being a Christian should be.  That impression along, with my amazing best friend and wife Amanda, is what has allowed us to call FBC Decatur home since our church-shopping ended in 2007. We are both committed to serving our church and community.  Most Sunday’s you can find me with our youth where the only real distinguishing characteristic between us is I have more grey hair.  My hope is that we as a church become even better examples of what being a Christian truly means.
Serving through 2018


BOB FOCHT

My Christian pilgrimage has led me through growing up at FBC East Point through college, being baptized at age 9, and both part-time and full-time employment with the Home Mission Board over a period of 12 years. I became a member at FBC Decatur in 1988,  have taught Sunday School and served as Sunday School Director for more than 10 years, have served on the Deacon Council and been on numerous committees. I have been on the Multi-Media Committee forever. During the past year, I have worked on the Healing and Connectivity task force, and been on the Bylaws group. I have three children and ten grandchildren. To become the church we aspire to be will take all of us working together under God’s leadership.
Serving through 2018


June Gay

June cannot remember the first time she came to Decatur First Baptist Church but has a photo of her and her family in 1951 standing in the front of the church on one of many Sundays attending church under the leadership of Dr. Dick H. Hall, Jr.  First Baptist, then as it is now, serves as a pivotal part of her life. Her hope for DFBC is that we will develop our individual relationships with Jesus through stronger faith, continual prayer and active Bible study. Her prayer is that we will each support DFBC through our presence, our service and our gifts.
Serving through 2019


randall hampton

Randall was born in Chicago, IL and dedicated his life to Christ as a teen. He moved to Georgia nine years ago, and has been a member of First Baptist Church of Decatur for six years. As a follower of Christ he is called to love and serve both the church community and others, and each day he trys to live in just such a manner.
Serving through 2019


MICHAEL HAUN

I was brought up Lutheran and the Hauns have been at FBCD since 2007. I am blessed to have Tifanie as a wife and partner as we raise Gabriel and Olivia. I love to make people laugh and forget their troubles for a time. I like to take active roles as a servant leader. I’d like to work in ways that help others plug in and become active. I would love to work for God to help as many people as possible to engage in ministry; to reach those alone, hurting, or unchurched; and to reach a point of health and sustainability in which difficult financial discussions, which often can serve to distract, become a thing of the past.
Serving 2015–2017


RONNIE JOWERS

Though baptized as a youth in Williston, S.C., my true Christian maturity commenced when I met Kay at Furman University and we attended Taylors First Baptist. The 1987 move to Emory brought us to Smoke Rise Baptist Church and then to FBCD.  During this pilgrimage, I have taught Sunday School, been a deacon, served on finance committees, and have worked on many, many church budgets. I serve as Emory’s Vice President for Health Affairs. Kay and I have been married for 41 years. My son Ryan, his wife Kelly and my daughter Ivey have blessed us with five grandchildren—2 boys and 3 girls. I pray that God grant FBCD peace, understanding, healing, and a true commitment to furthering His Kingdom.
Serving through 2018


KATHY KINLAW

I grew up at FBC Decatur and have enjoyed serving as a deacon, on the personnel committee and on the board of Clairmont/Briarcliff Oaks. My graduate degree in theology from Candler School of Theology focused in healthcare ethics, and I currently continue that work through the Center for Ethics at Emory University. I am fortunate to be married to Bob Hamilton and to have two wonderful children who were involved in the children and youth ministries at FBCD and have recently graduated from college. I enjoy supporting those who are struggling with healthcare decisions, and I enjoy being a part of community service. I pray for healing in our church and for deep engagement with our community in Decatur and beyond.
Serving through 2017


carol may

Growing up in a Christian family and in the First Baptist Decatur family, I made my profession of faith when I was eight.  I grew to love the Lord more as I studied the Bible and learned more of His promises for me.  He has been with me in times of sadness and joy, loss and triumphant, and fear and faith.  By attending and leading Bible studies and teaching Sunday school lessons, I have come to know more about God’s grace that is offered to all.  My passion is that all who enter our doors will receive the warmth of our fellowship and want to join us, as we say at FBD, to “experience God’s love and grace through a relationship with Jesus.”
Serving through 2019


MELINDA MCBRIDE

I have been a follower of Jesus since an early age and was baptized at the age of 11 at First Baptist Church of Denton, Texas.  My family (Kris & Paxton) and I have been attending FBCD since 2009 and became members in 2013.  We searched for a church home for a long time. It was important to us to raise Pax in a church where he would encounter and learn about Jesus from faithful and joyful congregants. We have found something special within the walls of FBCD, a family of faith that spans generations and experiences. I am excited about our future and truly believe God is doing something special at FBCD. I pray that we will continue to shepherd in his desires for our church.
Serving through 2018


Bill neal

William (Bill) Neal retired in 2016 after a 45 year career in Baptist ministry, including campus ministry, religious journalism, and more recently as a proponent for people with developmental disabilities. He and his wife, Judy, have been members of FBC Decatur since 2004 and have been involved in many of the church’s ministries. He enjoys travel, reading, various hobbies, volunteer work at the church and elsewhere, and spending time with his four grandchildren.
Serving through 2019


DEVITA PARNELL

I intentionally chose to follow Christ at the age of thirteen, when I was in seventh grade. Our family has been at FBCD since 2008. Mark and I have been married for fifteen years, and we enjoy our children Tyler (12) and Julia (8) through soccer, gymnastics, biking, and playing together. I love making people feel accepted and welcomed in whatever ministry or situation I am in…whether teaching first graders (at church) or connecting with young adults (through my employment at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship). I pray that our church might begin to feel a sense of settled-ness and routine as we live into our recent transitions, including some new staff leaders. This will give us a strong base out of which to do good Kingdom of God ministry.
Serving through 2017


tracy pondo

Tracy has attended FBCD for about 3.5 years. She has a 10-year-old daughter and works at the CDC as a statistician. She attends the Second Cup Sunday School class. She would like to help the church accept and welcome everyone who comes through our doors, especially people who are discouraged with other churches.
My prayer for Decatur First Baptist Church: May we experience the nurturing, forgiving and redeeming love of God in our worship and service, so that we may love one another, sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of who we are. – Tracy
Serving through 2019


JAN PRATT

I was born in a town in the north-west of England. My church was Ebenezer Baptist. I sang in the choir and taught Sunday school. My late husband was an Episcopalian, however, so we were married in his church in upstate New York and, when we came to Atlanta, I was confirmed at St Philip’s Cathedral. The Episcopal Church was never a particularly good fit for me and I was blessed to find a home here in this faith community in 1984. I sing in the choir and am involved with several of our missions.  It is my belief that we are called to be the light of Christ on this corner in Decatur. I hope our church will continue its outreach and welcome everyone into our fellowship.
Serving through 2018


DEBRA PYRON

My faith journey began in South Carolina with my Methodist family and shifted to the Baptist traditions when I was a young adult. I retired from AT&T (BellSouth, Cingular) in 2008 after 23 years as a manager in IT and Management Development. Decatur has been my home since 1986 where I have been an active community volunteer. Scott and I have been married for 17 years and joined FBCD in 2010. A member of the Pilgrims group, I chaired and currently serve on the Personnel Committee, coordinate Conversations at First Baptist, and serve on the Children’s Ministry Leadership team. May we honor our rich history by being intentional risk takers as we focus outward to engage our Decatur community.
Serving through 2018


todd smith

Todd and his wife Sarah have been members of FBCD since 2010 and attend the Seeking the Kingdom class. They have two sons Asher (3) and Ezra (6 months) who attend First School. Todd works as a microbiologist at CDC. The family enjoys traveling and outdoor activities.
Serving through 2019


Stuart_Theron_180X216.jpg

THERON clark-STUART

My family and I have called FBCD home for over four years. From the moment David and I stepped through the front doors of the sanctuary, we have witnessed and felt the Holy Spirit of God at work. Through the years we have brought our neighbors, friends, family and colleagues to come and encounter the Kingdom of God first hand in this place that we call ‘home’. Having grown up as a preacher’s kid and under the loving tutelage of a godly mother, I learned firsthand what it meant to be part of a family of faith. I have shared ministry at FBCD through teaching Sunday Bible study, leading in worship, co-facilitating men’s Bible study groups, counseling and giving of my time and offerings to advance the Kingdom of God in this holy place. My prayer for our church is that we will have the spiritual eyes to see, and the individual and corporate courage to follow, God’s leading in reaching Decatur, the Metro area and World with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Serving through 2017


CRAIG TAYLOR

I run an organization called Communities for Veterans which develops housing for homeless Veterans. An Air Force Veteran, I served as a Missile Launch Officer in North Dakota during the early 1970‘s and saw firsthand the issues facing Vietnam-era Veterans. My education includes degrees from LSU, the University of North Dakota, and Candler School of Theology, Emory University. I hold a Doctor of Ministry degree in Community Ministry from Candler. My professional career has been focused on non-profit, systemic responses to inadequate housing and endemic homelessness. Serving homeless Veterans has been a long-term goal and commitment. Currently, I am overseeing the development of eight homeless Veteran facilities on VA Medical Center campuses around the U.S.
My prayer for Decatur First Baptist Church: May we experience the nurturing, forgiving and redeeming love of God in our worship and service, so that we may love one another, sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of who we are.
Serving through 2018


RON THOMAS

I grew up attending church in Albany, Georgia and was baptized at the age of 12. I began singing in the adult choir at the age of 13 and have sung in the choir here at FBCD for over 30 years. I also played in the church orchestra while it was active. When I married Sally Beggs, who is a lifelong member, I began attending FBCD and have attended for over 47 years. I have been on the deaconate more than once and have served as Deacon chair as well as Personnel chair. My prayer for our church is for healing, a stronger lay leadership and a church where families and individuals will feel welcomed, safe and closer to God.
Serving through 2018


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DAVID TYLER

Having grown up in a Christian home, my faith has played a pivotal role for my entire life. My wife of 18 years, Lisa, and our children, Davis, Kate and Max have called FBCD our church home since we moved to Decatur three years ago. We are active and loyal in the life of our Church—through our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service. We teach a Sunday School class made up of some of the most genuine people that I know, Journey. We serve God through the FBCD Youth Group, VBS, Hagar’s House, Journey Men’s Shelter, and by loving our neighbors in the Decatur community. My prayer is that our Church put aside all of our own personal, plans, agendas, and perspectives and become a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ lives, breathes and loves. There is work needed to improve the witness of Jesus Christ through FBCD—I look forward to getting about the task of doing it.
Serving through 2018


christina vanzant

I started my spiritual journey in 1980 at a church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1984 my family moved to Atlanta Georgia where we found a church home. I became very active in the choir which taught me to not only attend but serve. I began attending FBCD several years ago after meeting a wonderful family that embraced my son and allowed him to ride to youth activities with their son Henry. The first time I walked through the doors of FBCD I felt I was home, from the welcome of Scott Pyron to the warmth of the Second Cup group. I found a church that allowed me to serve without being a "member" and that made my heart glad. I have been a member for years now and I continue to serve as much as I can and where ever I can. My prayer for our church is that every person that walk through those doors feel as welcomed as I felt that first day and as loved as I feel today.  –  Christina
Serving through 2019


PAUL Wallace

I have been a follower of Jesus since an early age, but consciously as an adult since 1990. I am married to Elizabeth and we have three children: Henry (born 2000), Julia (born 2002), and Kristen (born 2008). We and much of our extended family have been part of the FBCD family since 2010. I love hearing what skeptics, scientists, and the religiously unaffiliated have to say about religion and spiritual questions, and I love sharing my story with them. My prayer for FBCD is that we not be anxious about the survival of our church, but wholly give ourselves to the task of incarnating the Gospel.
Serving through 2017