Meet our Staff

Paul Baxley

Senior Minister

Paul Baxley became Senior Minister of First Baptist Church of Athens in June of 2010 following more than six years as Senior Minister of The First Baptist Church in Henderson, North Carolina. Earlier in his ministry, Paul served as Campus Minister at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina, Interim Pastor of Wingate Baptist Church, Director of Congregational Relationships at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia and as Associate Minister of The First Baptist Church of Henderson, NC. Paul holds degrees from Wake Forest University, Duke Divinity School and The Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Paul is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

As Senior Minister, Paul’s primary responsibilities include preaching, teaching, worship leadership, pastoral care and working with lay leadership and other staff to provide direction to the mission and ministry of First Baptist Church. He is deeply committed to seeing First Baptist Church continue to live into the vision discerned in 2013, namely that “First Baptist Church Athens is a thriving community in Christ where we all participate in worship and are all transformed by mission.”

Frank Granger

Minister of Christian Community

Frank joined the staff at First Baptist in 1989 as the Minister of Education. The title changed in 2013 to Minister of Christian Community. He serves the areas of Christian education and spiritual formation, including the Adult Sunday School, small group Bible studies, resources for spiritual growth and discipleship, young adult ministry, and other congregational community experiences and events.

Frank is a Greenville, SC native. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Religion from Furman University, a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. Before coming to Athens, he served at Trinity Baptist Church in Seneca, South Carolina for three years as Associate Pastor of Youth and Education (1986-89).

Frank contributes to the field of Christian education as a writer, teacher, and conference leader. Published materials include adult curriculum units for Smyth & Helwys Formations Literature, and the Center for Teaching Churches Learning Module curriculum. As an adjunct with the McAfee School of Theology, Frank has taught Ministry with Adults and Church Administration. He is certified with the Prepare/Enrich program for pre-marital counseling. Currently he is serving as a board member with Baptists Today.

Randy Brittain

Minister of Music

Dr. Randy C. Brittain began serving as Minister of Music at First Baptist Church Athens in October 2006. He directs and oversees a rich and varied Music Ministry with choral, instrumental, and handbell choirs for all ages that serves the church and the greater Athens community. He is a native of Morganton, North Carolina and came to Athens from the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Randy has a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education/Voice from Mars Hill College (1983), a Masters of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1986), and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1994). Randy has taught voice, choral, and church music on the faculties of Greensboro College, UNC-Greensboro, Salem College, Campbell University, and Gardner-Webb University.

Randy has served as Minister of Music in Baptist churches in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. He is actively involved in the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Polyphony: Fellowship of Pastoral Musicians. He has musical editions and articles published by Hildegard Publishing Company in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on the choral music of Amy Cheney Beach (1867-1944). He recently served on the Editorial Board of the Celebrating Grace Hymnal which was published in 2010.

Janet Cleland

Minister for Children, Families, and Outreach

Janet comes to First Baptist Church of Athens, GA after having served as Associate Pastor for Children at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA. Before moving to Carrollton, she was a life-long resident of California. She served in California as a Children’s Pastor, Church Planter Missionary, Minister of Education and Administration, Minister to Preschoolers, YMCA Center director, and Principal of Merryhill Country School. In addition, she has been a conference leader and trainer in curriculum development, a women’s retreat speaker, and a Christian Education consultant for the California Baptist State Convention.

Emily Harbin

College Minister

Emily Harbin joined First Baptist as the Minister to College Students in August 2017.  She leads Wednesday night Bible studies, and teaches the College Sunday School class.  Emily also coordinates activities for students including local mission projects and fellowship events.  She is passionate about intergenerational activities, and works to connect students into the life of the church.

Emily is a student at McAfee School of Theology working on her Master of Divinity with a focus in Congregational Ministry.  Emily was awarded the McAfee Leadership Scholarship upon her admittance in 2017.

Emily has a B.A. in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Georgia.  During her time in Athens she worked at the Boys and Girls Club on 4th Street and completed an internship at the Lake Oconee Community Church in Greensboro, GA.  She was active in Greek life and participated in Dawg Day of Service.  After graduating, she served for two years as Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, GA.

Emily grew up in Dalton, GA, where she was active in the children’s and youth ministries of First Baptist Dalton.  Raised by two UGA graduates, Emily is proud to claim her Bulldog roots and grateful to serve the Athens community she calls home.

Sharon Jenkins

Communications Manager

Sharon Jenkins joined the FBC staff in January 2015 after serving as a church communicator in Cincinnati, OH for over seven years.  She is a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism at UGA and oversees the website, print publications, and social media for FBC.

Heather Swank

Receptionist/Hospitality Coordinator

Heather joined the staff of First Baptist Church in November 2014. She serves the congregation as the Receptionist/Hospitality Coordinator, insuring that those who call and come to the church during the week are welcomed in ways consistent with the congregation’s commitment to be a thriving community in Christ.

Mark Channell

Facilities Manager

A retired High School Principal from Oconee County, Mark joined the staff of First Baptist Church in the Fall of 2014. He oversees the overall maintenance and scheduling of the church facility.

Cheri Rose

Administrative Associate

Cheri joined FBC in January 2008. She is the church bookkeeper and she provides administrative support to the Deacons and Administrative Division committees.

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