Gail was born and raised in Augusta, Ga. Windsor, SC has been home for 20 years. She began working at Aiken’s First Baptist Church in 2011 and served in churches in Augusta since 1999. She accepted Christ at an early age at Crawford Avenue Baptist Church in Augusta, GA., and is now a member at Mt. Beulah Baptist Church in Windsor, SC. Gail has 3 children – Andrew, Matthew, and Rebecca. Grandmother to two perfect grandkids Andrew and Andie Grae. Gail enjoys spending time with family and spending time with a menagerie of animals on the farm.
Anna grew up here in Aiken, SC, and her love of music began with piano lessons and music theatre in elementary school. This led to pipe organ lessons in high school and also participation in band, orchestra, and church choir. In 2012, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in organ and bassoon at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. In 2015, she obtained a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to playing piano and organ, Anna has a passion for graphic design and illustration. Anna is married to our Director of Music and Worship, Zach Derr, and they have two young sons, Bennett and Wesley.
Lillian moved to Aiken from her birthplace of Cleveland, TN, at the age of five when her father accepted a position at Savannah River Plant. She graduated from Aiken High School and went on to Licensed Practical Nursing School in Aiken. She is also a trained Emergency Medical Technician and volunteer fire fighter. She has previous experience in the medical field for over twenty years serving in several positions including nursing and management in hospitals, medical equipment companies, and group homes for mentally and physically challenged individuals. She has served on several volunteer fire departments and first responder organizations. She has six children and many, many grandchildren. She loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing, and camping. She has worked at Aiken’s First Baptist Church since December, 2017. She first was the Music Department Assistant and presently serves as Ministry Assistant.
Director of Administration
A native of Macon, Georgia, Debra joined Aiken’s FBC Staff on April 1, 2019. Previously she lived in Dalton, Georgia, with her late husband, Don, and worked in the financial industry for over 30 years. While in Dalton, she also served over eight years as Church Business Administrator at Dalton’s First Baptist Church. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management, several banking certifications, and is a Certified Church Administrator through The Church Network (formerly National Association of Church Business Administration). Debra served in many leadership roles at FBC Dalton prior to joining the staff, including Sunday School teacher, Bible Study Facilitator, Deacon (chair and vice-chair), Finance Committee (chair), Personnel Committee, and other standing committees. Active in the Dalton community, Debra served as a Trustee of the Dalton-Whitfield Hospital Authority, Trustee of the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation, Board President of Friendship House (a United Way daycare), and an Advisory Committee Chair for Secretarial Science of Dalton State College. Having the gift of administration, Debra’s lifelong passion has been creating order out of chaos and freeing others to do the work God has called them to do.
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Kathy grew up in Athens, Georgia. She graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She received her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Georgia.
Kathy taught elementary school in Bethlehem, Georgia for three years and at Aiken Elementary School for 16 years. She taught third, fourth, and fifth grades. She also taught gifted and talented classes and kindergarten reading intervention.
Kathy has served as the Preschool Director since June 2012. Kathy believes in the value of play for young children. Kathy values the relationships she has built with children and their families in our school.
Kathy is married to Ahmed Samaha. They have 2 sons, Drew and Tucker. When she’s not at preschool, Kathy likes traveling, reading, and shopping. She also enjoys spending time at the animal shelter with rescue pups.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Ellen was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Her love of children and call to ministry came early from her time and experiences with her parents who ran Oregon Hill Baptist Mission Center in Richmond. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, from Virginia Commonwealth University, she moved to Texas. There she attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and graduated with a Masters of Arts in Religious Education. Since graduating she has been the Children’s Weekday Director of First Baptist Church Longview, Texas, taught first and second grades in Virginia, and was the Children’s Minister at Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken, South Carolina. Over the years she has been part of various leadership organizations and has had the opportunity to lead workshops and conference sessions related to Children’s Ministry. Ellen is married to Marshall Looper. They have two children, Sarah and Matthew. In addition to her church activities she enjoys traveling, antiquing and spending lots of time with family and friends.
Director of Music and Worship
Born and raised in Aiken, SC, Zach has an enduring love for the area and its community. In 2012, he graduated from The University of South Carolina in Columbia with a Bachelor of Music with emphasis in education. He spent the seven years in Aiken County Public Schools as a band director and general music educator. Zach’s life has been filled with a passion for making music, spending time performing in and with multiple choirs, bands, and orchestras throughout the state. His primary instrument is euphonium, and he sings bass. He considers the opportunity to create music for the Lord as one of the greatest blessings in his life. When not making music, Zach can be found spending time with his wife, Anna, and their sons, Bennett and Wesley. This time is spent traveling, running, and reading.
Minister of Youth and Pastoral Care
Sarah was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina, and has come home to Aiken’s First Baptist to serve the community of faith which has nurtured her spiritual growth and development since she was a teenager. Sarah graduated from the University of South Carolina-Aiken with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in the Spring of 2018, and immediately began at Gardner-Webb School of Divinity in the fall. She graduated with her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling in 2021. Sarah has always had a passion for youth ministry. Her philosophy of youth ministry is, “love God, love self, love others.” She strives to provide a place for students to authentically be themselves while also walking alongside them as they discover new pieces of their identities. In addition to serving as our student ministries intern, Sarah also served as an intern at First Baptist Church, Greenville. She has also served as a hospital chaplain while completing an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Sarah has a rich history with Aiken’s First Baptist, and she is thrilled to be back serving alongside us. In her free time, Sarah enjoys playing guitar, discovering new vinyl for her collection, and spending as much time as possible with her Border Collie, August.
Darin was born and raised in Georgia. He calls Lavonia, GA his hometown. Thus, he is a lifelong and avid Georgia Bulldog fan. He graduated from Tuett McConnell College, Cleveland, GA with an AA degree, Samford University, Birmingham, AL with a BA degree and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY., with a MDiv/CE degree. Darin served as a youth minister at Warren Baptist Church, Augusta, GA; Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Gibson, GA. He is retired as a State (Georgia) Parole Officer and served for 30 years. He accepted Christ as a young person at Poplar Spring Baptist Church, Lavonia, GA and attends Mt. Beulah Baptist Church, Windsor, SC. Darin is married to Gail and enjoys spending time with his children and is completely captivated by his grandchildren, Andrew and Andie. He began working at Aiken’s First Baptist Church in January, 2021. His passion is raising thoroughbreds and working on his farm.
John has served in various ministry positions in the church, the non-profit world, and global missions. He has been a pastor in Virginia, a pastoral assistant for community engagement and disciple formation in North Carolina, and a youth minister in Georgia. He also started a homeless ministry in college, engaged in tsunami relief work in Indonesia after the 2004 Southeast Asia Tsunami, and worked as an assistant building coordinator with the Macon Area Habitat for Humanity. From 2007 to 2009, John served alongside his wife, Casey, as field personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Southeast Asia working with a clean water project. Interspersed among these various ministry opportunities, John received his Bachelors in Christianity from Mercer University and his Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
John’s work and volunteer experience speak to his calling to touch the pain-laced places of life with tangible and redeeming acts of presence, justice, and love. He also loves running, cooking, reading, carpentry, and good cups of coffee.
John is married to Casey who is a licensed clinical social worker, and together they are parenting their three sons Josiah, Elliot, and Asa.