HomeGuests and NewcomersLeadershipPastors
site map






leadership

• meet the deacons

PASTORS:

Julie Pennington-RussellSharyn DowdBob WilliamsonDale DoudBlake TommeyVan Smith


Julie_Pennington-RussellJulie Pennington-Russell,
Lead Pastor

The call to minister is given by God to the whole church. Some are called to be leaders in this ministry, yes, but all are called by God to be ministers. All Christians are called to share their faith, to care, to proclaim, to practice justice, to bring healing ..."  

- Pastor Julie

Julie Pennington-Russell came to Decatur First Baptist in August of 2007. Before moving to Decatur Julie served as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, TX, and Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, CA. She earned her B.A. from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, an M.Div. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, CA, and hopes to complete her D.Min. through Baylor's George W. Truett Baptist Theological Seminary before Jesus returns. Currently Julie serves as a Trustee for Mercer University. Her messages have been featured on the television broadcast 30 Good Minutes, Day-1 Radio and the Festival of Homiletics.

Julie is married to Tim Pennington-Russell, a website designer and sometimes poet and bass player. They have two teenage children, Taylor and Lucy. Willie the bulldog completes the family. Julie reports that because of their “ridiculously long last name,” many people simply refer to them as "The P-Rs." She loves the poetry of Billy Collins and Mary Oliver, movies about redemption and second chances, and jotting down notes for that book she’s been writing for about 20 years.

Mostly Julie loves seeing the gleam in people’s eyes when they have a life-changing encounter with Jesus. She is crazy about the Church and loves to lean with the people of God toward “big picture, kingdom of God stuff.”  E-mail: pastor@fbcdecatur.com.

To read the Atlanta Magazine article about Julie click here.


Sharyn DowdSharyn Dowd,
Spiritual Formation & Mission Engagement

Sharyn likes to read almost anything, travel, and listen to audiobooks, especially the adventures of Ma Ramotzwe and the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency...."  

Sharyn Dowd joined the staff of First Decatur in August 2008 after 21 years of academic ministry as a professor of New Testament at Lexington Theological Seminary (Kentucky) and Baylor University (Texas). In the 1970s she served First Baptist Winston-Salem, N.C. as director of the church's urban ministry programs. While at Baylor she was also a member of the pastoral staff of Calvary Baptist Church, where she was responsible for leading ministries in the church's lower-income, racially mixed neighborhood.

Sharyn earned a B.A. from Wake Forest University, an M.Div. from Southeastern Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Emory University. She has also been trained by two obedience-challenged poodles. Sharyn likes to read almost anything, travel, and listen to audiobooks, especially the adventures of Ma Ramotzwe and the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency. Her favorite hobbies are listening to people tell their stories, especially stories about how God has shown up in their lives, and trying things that will certainly fail unless God is in them. E-mail: sdowd@fbcdecatur.com.


Bob WilliamsonBob Williamson,
Congregational Care & Senior Adults

Running a few miles each day has been a habit for over 30 years and he would rather be outdoors than eat...."  

Bob Williamson joined the FBCD staff in 1990 when he was still a child. Bob has worn just about every conceivable ministry hat at First Decatur (one of his spiritual gifts is flexibility) but his current role as pastor for congregational care and senior adults is a great fit and a lot of fun for him. Bob is Margie's husband, Scott & Jenna's Dad, and Nate's PawPaw.

Bob has his Bachelors degree from THE University of Georgia, a Masters in Religious Education from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Educational Ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Running a few miles each day has been a habit for over 30 years and he would rather be outdoors than eat. He enjoys reading more technical stuff than anything fiction and he bleeds Starbucks Houseblend. What is of most importance is building connections with, growing relationships with, and investing in the lives and ministries of the people of God at FBCD, especially the older adults. E-mail: bwilliamson@fbcdecatur.com.


Dale DoudDale Doud,
Children & Families

I am not sure there is any better summary of what it means to be a follower of God than when Jesus said we are to love God and to love others as much as we love ourselves. My passion and my call in ministry stems out of the desire to accompany children and families on the journey into learning what it means and in exploring what it looks like to live into those simple, yet, bold and daring words of Jesus."  

Dale Doud’s ministry to children and families spans more than 2 decades in churches in Georgia. Dale is an ordained minister and is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and is a graduate of Shorter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Dale’s experience with families arises out of his own context of being the youngest of five boys in his growing up years and now has a family of his own. He is married to Orielle K. Doud and have two adult children, Brian and Jennifer.

Dale loves virtually anything related to spending time in nature, but in particular enjoys spending quiet days on the lake, camping by a rolling stream, hiking in the mountains, traveling and spending time with his “grandgift,” Alex. E-mail: ddoud@fbcdecatur.com.


Blake TommeyBlake Tommey,
Youth Minister

Blake has a passion for writing, photography, movies, bluegrass music, Christian community and shaping the lives of young people...."  

Blake Tommey has been serving at First Baptist Church Decatur since October 2012, when he joined the staff as Interim Youth Minister. Born in Dallas, Texas, Blake grew up immersed in the life of Wilshire Baptist Church from birth until departing for Samford University, where he received a B.A. in journalism and mass communication in 2006. Following his undergraduate education in Birmingham, he began work on his M.Div at McAfee School of Theology in 2011, where he currently studies Christian Social Ethics and will receive his degree in May of 2014.

In addition to his love for the church and theological education, Blake is a writing and performing musician, singing and playing the piano, guitar and banjo. Blake has a passion for writing, photography, movies, bluegrass music, Christian community and shaping the lives of young people. In addition to his friends and church community, Blake survives on the support from his mother Carol, a 3rd grade teacher, his father Terry, a retired banker, and his sister Claire, a nursing student at Texas Tech University. E-mail: blakefbcd@gmail.com.


Van SmithVan Smith,
Director of Operations and Finance

Van also plays numerous instruments, including the piano, guitar, and saxophone. He has served as a worship leader at previous churches, and is sometimes allowed to crush a song with the praise band here at First Baptist....."  

Van has been serving as our Director of Operations and Finance since August 1, 2013. Van is a graduate of McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. He earned his B.A. in Religion from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. As well as working as a Restaurant Manager for many years, Van has also worked in several different churches as a Student Pastor. He grew up in the heart of the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina, where he learned how to trout fish, shoot a rifle, and speak with a heavy country accent. While attending college in West Palm Beach, Van had the pleasure of hearing numerous people say, "Paddle faster I hear banjos" to him. With this in mind the country accent waned, but the love for fishing remained, although it shifted to include Wahoo, swordfish, and the occasional piece of coral.

Van is the father of twins, William and Emma. You can imagine the look on his face when people ask, "Are they identical?" Van also plays numerous instruments, including the piano, guitar, and saxophone. He has served as a worship leader at previous churches, and is sometimes allowed to crush a song with the praise band here at First Baptist. Van is keen on having a humorous side as well. He once told ten pun jokes to get some laughs, but no pun in ten did. Van is an avid outdoors person, enjoying camping, skiing (snow and water), and hiking. His favorite outdoor activity is playing disc golf. He is often found entering disc golf tournaments and doing quite well, finishing next to last. E-mail: vsmith@fbcdecatur.com.