Meet our Staff

Matt Marston

Senior Minister

Born and raised in Memphis,Tennessee, Matt Marston was the son of a pastor who served in Memphis for 29 years.  In his early years, Matt’s parents instilled a love for God and the church. After receiving his Bachelor or Arts in Religious Studies from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, Matt attended Duke Divinity School where he earned his Masters of Divinity with a certificate in Baptist Studies. In November, 2009, Matt was ordained at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Soon after, he was called as the Senior Minister at Trinity Baptist Church in Moultrie, GA where he served for 10 years. Matt is married to Elizabeth, a social worker in private practice and the couple has two children. 

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.

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

Minister to Students and Young Adults

A native Georgian and lifelong Baptist, Emily grew up in Dalton and attended the First Baptist Church. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2014 with her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science. Upon graduating, she began her career in ministry serving at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, GA, as Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries. In 2017 she joined the ministerial staff of First Baptist Athens and began studies at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. She currently serves as our Minister to Students and Young Adults. She was recognized with the 2019 John R. Claypool Preaching Award for excellence in preaching at McAfee and graduated with her Master of Divinity in May 2020. Emily was ordained to the gospel ministry by First Baptist Athens in September 2020. She loves all things UGA, playing tennis, and kayaking!

Connie Ivester

Interim Missions Minister

Connie Ivester and his wife Martha, members of First Baptist Church since 2014, live in Elberton, Georgia. Connie and Martha are active in many areas of our church life and mission, and are members of the 10-10-10 Sunday school class where Connie serves as one of the teachers. Prior to their membership here, Reverend Ivester served as a pastor for over 40 years in various congregations in Northeast Georgia. He is also retired from Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, where he was a counselor. Additionally, he served as an adjunct faculty member for Truett-McConnell College and Athens Technical College. His current community involvement includes membership on the following boards: Friends of Advantage, Elbert County Board of Health and the Elberton Housing Authority. He and Martha have two children and four grandchildren. Connie says of their involvement here: “We are extremely happy to be a part of the Athens First Baptist family and are always eager to serve alongside such wonderful people.

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.

Keisha Ryals

Ministry Associate

Keisha joined the staff of First Baptist Church in October 2019.  She provides support to the Clergy, Church Teams, and Volunteers. 

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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