Our Staff

Get to know our talented and dedicated ministerial staff through the listings below. Some of them may surprise you!
Feel free to contact any minister with questions.

David Blackmon, Coordinating Pastor

David and, his wife, Susan have lived in Asheville since 1990. Both Georgia natives, they moved to the Land of Sky as that first home post college days. David served as a chaplain at Mission Hospital. Susan found a teaching position at Valley Springs Middle School. Much of the past 25 years was spent raising Jonathan (Wife-Celia), Ryan (Wife-Hillary) and Elizabeth (Husband-Cody Jones) and sharing in life as fellow members at First Baptist Asheville.

David joined the staff at First Baptist in 2009 as Coordinating Pastor. It was a natural step in giving back to a congregation that had shared so much with the Blackmon family. In his work, David has enjoyed supporting the staff and church leaders as they imagine and implement the church’s future together. His role has also allowed him time to spend with members as they navigate illness and loss, joy and new seasons in life.

If you find David swinging in a hammock with a book at Lake Burton or digging around in the garden at home, you will have stumbled upon a good day. He also enjoys walks along the Davidson River and milkshakes from Dolly’s.

David received his BSED from the University of Georgia and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He followed this time with an internship in pastoral care at Athens Regional Medical Center. In his later career, David completed a MHA at Chapel Hill and the Shalem Institute’s program on spiritual direction.

Tommy Bratton, Minister of Christian Formation

Tommy joined the FBCA staff in 2004. As Minister of Christian Formation, he leads the Christian education and spiritual formation ministry of the church, which seeks to explore the connection between faith and everyday life through spiritual practices, Bible study, theological reflection, and cultural engagement.

He enjoys leading Bible study, writing curriculum for adult Christian education, and helping people reflect on their spiritual development.

Tommy received his Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Furman University and his Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. Post-graduate studies include a certification in Spiritual Direction from the Haden Institute, and a certification in Labyrinth Facilitation from Veriditas.

Tommy is married to Laura Robertson Bratton. They have three sons: Ryan, Jake, and Ben.

Tommy enjoys reading, listening to classic country songs, playing ping pong, and watching sports.

Leah Brown, Minister with Senior Adults

Leah graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from UNC-Asheville. She received her Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her clinical focus is aging and end-of-life care. She provides both individual and family counseling.

Leah is a proud native of Asheville. She and William married in 1991 and joined First Baptist Church of Asheville in 1999. They have two sons, Cameron and Collin.

Leah joined the staff of FBCA in 2008. She provides pastoral care and programming for Senior Adults. Leah is the staff liaison for the Sacred Garden, Communications and Outreach, and Endowment.

She enjoys playing the piano, singing in the choir, reading, going to concerts, seeing movies with her family and friends, and watching Carolina basketball!

Casey Callahan, Minister with Students

Casey grew up on a family farm in Travelers Rest, SC, where the best parts of life occurred outdoors. He studied the soil at Clemson University and then shifted studies to the soul at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (Virginia). Casey frequently finds points of intersection between the sacred and the mundane, and deeply enjoys exploring such intersections with ​others.

He is married to Martha Ann H. Callahan, and they have a six year old son, Brennan. Casey completed a doctoral degree program in 2017, which focused on the exploration of Celtic Spirituality. He loves making up new games with his son, sharing laughs with friends, and embarking on new trips & adventures with his wife. He joined the staff at FBCA in 2014.

Doctorate of Ministry, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Master of Divinity, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Bachelor of Science, Crop and Soil Environmental Science, Clemson University

Austin McIver Dennis, Senior Pastor

A native of Henderson, NC, Mack was ordained to the ministry of preaching in 2003, before beginning as pastor of First Baptist Church, Mt. Gilead, NC, the following year. From 2004-2009, he led the church to deepen their fellowship and strengthen local ministries for the hungry. From 2009-2014, he studied homiletics and reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, and served as adjunct professor until 2016. 

Mack’s interests lie at the intersections of preaching, biblical interpretation, theology, and reconciliation. Both his preaching and scholarly work are concerned with understanding and pursuing faithful responses to division, conflict, and violence. His dissertation explored the theology of faith leaders involved in The Greensboro Massacre and The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  He is the editor of The Luminous Word: Biblical Sermons and Homiletical Essays, an anthology of sermons and essays by Old Testament scholar, Ellen F. Davis (2016). 

In both his pastoral and scholarly work, Mack commends the ways God’s reconciling love is revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the church and world. He has a deep sense of call to pastoral ministry, bearing witness to the gospel’s transformational power, and honing the art and craft of Christian preaching.

He lives in Asheville with his partner, Erin, and their two children.

Eddie Morgan, Ministry Associate

Having received his undergrad degree from Furman University, Eddie went on to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received a Master of Divinity and Religious Education. He later received his Master of Social Work degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a focus on family, marriage, and adolescent counseling.

Eddie came to First Baptist Church of Asheville in 1983 as Minister of Youth. In 2004, he transitioned to focus on Missions, Young Adults, and Pastoral Care. His lastest transition, at age 62, moves him toward exclusively working with Young Adults. He also works part-time at Carolina Mountain Psychiatry as a clinical therapist.

Eddie and Martha married in 1977. Martha retired from 30 years of teaching Special Education in 2014. They have two adult children, Rebecca and Mark; son-in-law, Ben, daughter-in-law, Laural, and two grandchildren, Bella and Benjamin.

Eddie enjoys the outdoors, hiking, traveling, woodworking, and especially time with family and friends.

Clark Sorrells, Minister of Music

Clark Sorrells has been the Minister of Music at First Baptist since 1997. He co-ordinates the worship life of the church, conducts the Adult and Jubilee Choirs, the FBCA Brass Quintet and the FBCA Orchestra. Through the Academy for the Arts Clark directs the high school choir of the Asheville Youth Choirs and teaches private voice and piano lessons.

He has a Bachelor’s of Church Music from Carson Newman University and a Master of Divinity in Church Music from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

He is married to Karen Sorrells, Associate Minister of Music at FBCA, and they have three adult children, Lillie, Hannah and Jacob. Clark enjoys all genres of music, all types of sports, and all subjects of stimulating conversation.

Karen Gray Sorrells, Associate Minister of Music

Karen joined the FBCA staff as Associate Minister of Music in 2002. She helps lead the music ministry across all ages, coordinating and directing children’s choirs, directing youth and adult handbell choirs, in addition to serving as pianist for worship services. She has taught at the collegiate level, written curriculum for children’s choirs and is a frequent choral clinician and conference leader at both state and national events. Karen is also Director of the Academy for the Arts at First Baptist Church.

Karen received a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Piano) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Church Music from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Post-graduate studies include a Kodály Certification from the University of North Texas in Denton.

Karen is married to Clark Sorrells, Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Asheville. They have three children: Lillie, Hannah and Jacob. She loves traveling, reading and especially spending time with family.

Amy Stertz, Minister with Children and Families

Amy joined the FBCA staff in 2015. As Minister with Children and Families, she works to create ways for families to deepen their relationship with God and each other while they are at church, in the community, and at home. She enjoys seeing faith come alive in children as they explore the Bible, learn spiritual practices, serve others in missions and ministry, and engage fully in the life of the church.

Amy received a Bachelor of Social Work from Mars Hill College and a Master of Divinity from Campbell University Divinity School

Amy is married to Joe. They have a daughter, Sophie. She loves good conversation, a good laugh, a good book, a good football game, and more than anything spending time with people she loves.

Bree Welmaker, Weekday Preschool Ministry Coordinator

Joined the FBCA staff in 2003

Family: Jed, husband, and children Patrick and Allyson

A born and bred Southerner, Bree came to FBCA as a newlywed with her husband Jed, choosing it as their church home after a year-long search. Now, as a certified teacher, she provides programming for preschoolers and their families. In her spare time, Bree likes to curl up with a good book or get creative herself with some scrapbooking. When the weather’s nice, you’ll find her out in the garden.

BA in Spanish and Sociology

Master of Education Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary