MEET OUR MINISTRY TEAM

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Rev. Brent White

Senior Pastor

Rev. Brent White was born in Atlanta in 1970 and grew up in Tucker, GA. He became a Christian in 1984 and was an active member of the Briarcliff Baptist Church in northeast Atlanta. In fact, he met his wife, Lisa, at Briarcliff when her mother came on staff as a children's minister in the late 80s (Lisa was a student at Auburn at the time). Brent has two degrees from Georgia Tech--in Electrical Engineering and Management. Lisa and Brent got married in 1993 and joined Tucker First United Methodist Church after they bought a house in Tucker in 1996. 

Lisa and Brent took the Disciple I Bible study (as students), after which Brent facilitated the class for a couple of years. Through this experience, Brent began to sense that God was calling him into pastoral ministry. In 2004, he left his engineering career, enrolled in seminary, and pastored Christ United Methodist in Forsyth, GA, as a student pastor while completing and M.Div. at Emory in 2007.

Brent was commissioned as a Provisional Elder that year and became an Associate Pastor at Alpharetta First, where he served for six years. During those years he was in charge of the church's contemporary service, in which he preached weekly. He was ordained an elder in full connection in 2010.

In 2013, Brent was appointed to serve the Hampton United Methodist in Hampton (near the NASCAR track). He served there for five years. He was appointed to Toccoa First United Methodist Church in 2019 and has been serving here since. 

One highlight of Brent's ministry was traveling, on two occasions, to Nakuru, Kenya, where he taught the "License to Preach" course to indigenous United Methodist pastors in that country.

Brent has a passion for preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. He enjoys Christian apologetics--defending the Christian faith and answering objections that skeptics often raise about it. 

Brent's wife, Lisa, has spent her career in education. She taught high school chemistry and physical science for nine years in Snellville, GA, before they had kids. She is now a Senior Content Specialist with K12.com, the nation's largest online education provider. She also runs a fully accredited "hybrid education" school in Tucker. 

Brent and Lisa have three children: Elisa, Townshend, and Ian. 

Brent loves his Yellow Jackets--win or lose--and has season tickets to Georgia Tech football games. He enjoys music; he collects vinyl records, goes to concerts, and plays guitar. He loves The Office TV show. And he's crazy about his dog, Ringo, an English springer spaniel. 

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Rev. April Briant

Associate Pastor

Rev. April Briant has been serving as the Associate Pastor at Toccoa First as well as the Pastor-in-Charge at St. James United Methodist Church since 2020. At her previous appointments, she has served congregations as the Pastor in Charge, the Pastor of Church Operations, and the Pastor of Communications. 

April earned a Bachelor's degree in Legal Studies (a political science degree) in 2010 and. Master's of Divinity in 2014 before entering full-time ministry. In 2022, she was fully ordained as an elder in the North Georgia United Methodist Conference. 

April is passionate about calling, equipping, and mobilizing disciple-making disciples and helping every person discover and walk out who they are in Christ. Her background in corporations (executive assistant, assistant corporate meeting planner, sales and marketing analyst) and law firms (litigation paralegal/legal secretary) helps her relate to the daily life of congregation members and people in the community. She came up in her home church as a lay person serving on many committees, serving as an advanced lay speaker, leading the women's ministries, and working on staff before moving out in response to her call to preach and teach the word of God to the people of God as a pastor. 

 

Equipping the laity to be the church will always be the primary focus for Pastor April. She delights in helping believers (1) be at ease sharing the story about what Christ has done in their lives with their friends and neighbors and (2) discovering and walking out the unique way God has equipped them to be a servant leader for the Kingdom. She loves to connect to the community and develop relationships for Christ out beyond the walls of the church, especially alongside the believers. April sees it as her privilege to learn from everyone and to encourage them along the way to share the great gifts God has placed in them for this world. She knows that every disciple has much needed hope to offer the lost and hurting in this world and in our community, each in their own unique way.

 

Pastor April has a big-picture, no-drama approach with a strong focus on details. She has been blessed with the natural ability to develop processes to increase efficiency and accuracy, engages in strengths-based leadership and creative problem solving. She is a life coach, adult interview prep resource, math and English tutor, mentor, and organization and study strategies coach; she also teaches hospitality as a service and assists in the development of mission statements. She loves the team approach as she administers programs, analyzes societal impacts, facilitates communications, and inspires leadership through service.  Pastor April calls, equips, and mobilizes disciple leaders that call, equip, and mobilize other disciple leaders for the Kingdom. 

April is the proud mama of Hope (22) and Faith (16).  She loves riding and working with horses, kayaking on still water, biking with friends on scenic routes, and investing time with her family and friends. She can be reached via cell phone at (678) 571-7818 or via email at april@fumctoccoa.org

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Joshua Villars was born in Pensacola, Florida, to David and Michelle Villars. He was raised in Fayetteville, Georgia, where he graduated from Konos Academy in 2016. Joshua then went on to Liberty University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry in the fall of 2019. He has been with Toccoa First since August of 2019.

Joshua's goal is life is to raise up multiple generations with foundations that are built firmly on Christ. 

Joshua loves to be outside as much as he can, whether that be hiking, camping, or scuba diving. He also loves his dog, Shiloh. 

Pastor Joshua Villars

Youth and Children's Minister

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Sheldon Lehman

Music Director

Sheldon Lehman comes to us having lived most of his life in Toccoa--a product of both Stephens County High and Toccoa Falls College, where he studied Music composition.

Sheldon entered church music ministry in 1994, serving with several churches as music director, including Toccoa Presbyterian, St. Mark Methodist in Seneca, SC, and most recently at Trinity Lutheran of Toccoa before coming to Toccoa First in 2016. 

Sheldon's philosophy is summarized by the following: "My goal in church music is to get people excited about praising God through singing or playing and communicating that to others, so that when they hear, they will not see us, but Him."

Sheldon is a highly visible member of the community, having played in the Toccoa Symphony Orchestra since 1990, fulfilling numerous roles such as principal percussionist and pianist, librarian, and stage manager. His true passion is writing music. He has composed pieces for choir, bells, violin, horn, piano, orchestra, small string ensembles, and, most recently, melodica.

Sheldon is married to Kelly, local violin instructor and Toccoa Symphony concertmaster, and they have one son, Jaron, an assistant band director in the Forsyth County school system. 

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Kayla Griffith

Communications & Administrative Specialist

Kayla Griffith was born and raised in Oakway, South Carolina. She graduated from West-Oak High School in 2009 and then enrolled at Southern Wesleyan University, where she graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics Education in May 2013. 

 

After graduating from college, Kayla spent the next five years teaching middle and high school math within the school district of Oconee County, South Carolina. After leaving the classroom in March of 2018, she worked for several years in business administration and served as a financial manager for several up-and-coming businesses. After much prayer, she left the business field and started working as the Communications and Administrative Specialist at Toccoa First in July 2022.  

 

Kayla is married to her high school sweetheart and they will be celebrating their ten-year wedding anniversary in September 2022. They have one son, Kyler, that keeps them both very active. The Griffith family attends Bethel Baptist Church in Oakway, South Carolina where they have served for many years.  

 

In her free time, Kayla enjoys day trips to the beach, Disney store searching, watching movies with Kyler, and spending time with family both near and far as much as possible. She is also a devoted Snoopy and Peanuts fan and collects them regularly.  

Other Church Staff

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Traci Hornick
Facilities Manager

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Jennifer Blasingame
Financial Manager

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Kerry Busbin
Maintenance

Cavonna

Cavonna Holcomb
Audio/Visual

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Ryan Chase
Audio/Visual

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Carolyn Collins
Organist

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Lia Sutherland
Children's Intern

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Ashley Chase
Nursery Worker

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Taylor Murray
Nursery Worker

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Conner Bentley
A/V Intern

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