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.
Laura Addis, Ministry Associate, Students
Tate Addis, Organist
Tate Addis joined the staff of First Baptist Church as Organist in August of 2015. In this position, he collaborates with the Minister of Music in a comprehensive music program, teaches organ and piano in the church’s Academy for the Arts, directs the Youth II Handbell Ensemble, accompanies the Asheville Youth Choir, and presents a monthly series of organ recitals entitled ‘Bach’s Lunch.’ He also serves as Assistant Director and Accompanist for the Asheville Symphony Chorus.
Prior to coming to Asheville, Tate served for two years as Wilson Family Sacred Music Intern at New York City’s Brick Presbyterian Church. He has also served as organist at the Yale Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven and Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.
Tate Addis holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Wichita State University; the Master of Music degree from Yale University; and the Artist Diploma from Oberlin College. His primary teachers were James David Christie, Lynne Davis, and Thomas Murray. Additional studies were with Marie-Louise Langlais and Roman Summereder.
Tate, his wife Laura, and their pet pig Virgil make their home in Asheville.
Tommy Bratton, Coordinating Pastor
Tommy joined the FBCA staff in 2004. As Coordinating Pastor, he coordinates and supports the staff and church leaders as they imagine and implement the church’s future together through our collaborative ministry model. Tommy is the liaison to the Communications council and is on the advisory board of the Center for Faith & Life (CFL).
Tommy received his Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Furman University; his Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta; and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University. 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, Associate Pastor, Pastoral Care
Leah joined the FBCA staff in 2008. She coordinates and provides pastoral care for the congregation. Her clinical focus is aging and end-of-life care. She provides both individual and family counseling. Leah is the liaison for the Sacred Garden and the First Shine Learning Center.
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.
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, Associate Pastor, Mission and Students
Casey joined the FBCA staff in 2014. He coordinates the mission and reconciliation work of the congregation, guiding our vision and practices ever towards the city and beyond. In his ministry with students, he seeks to help students deepen their relationships with God and one another. Casey is the liaison to the Mission & Reconciliation council.
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 son, Brennan, and a daughter, Zee, both of whom fill their lives with joy and wonder. Casey completed a doctoral degree program in 2017, which focused on the exploration of Celtic Spirituality. He loves making up new games with his kids, sharing laughs with friends, and embarking on hike and adventures with his wife. He joined the staff at FBCA in 2014.
Wally Davids, Operations and Finance Manager
Bio coming soon.
Austin McIver Dennis, Senior Pastor
Mack joined the FBCA staff in 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 and teaching.
A native of Henderson, NC, Mack was ordained to the ministry of preaching in 2003. After five years as pastor of First Baptist Church, Mt. Gilead, NC, he studied homiletics and reconciliation at Duke Divinity School (Th.D., ’14), and taught there as adjunct professor until 2016. He came to First Baptist Church of Asheville after serving as interim preacher at Warrenton Baptist Church in Warrenton, NC.
Mack’s interests lie at the intersections of preaching, biblical interpretation, theology, and reconciliation. Both his preaching and scholarly work are concerned with faithful responses to division, conflict, and violence. His dissertation explores 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).
He lives in Asheville with his partner, Erin, and their two children.
Kim Garner, Finance Assistant
Kim joined the staff at First Baptist Church of Asheville in February 2020. She may look familiar because she has been serving as chairperson of the Asheville Nativity Exhibit, which has been held in our building since 2014.
Originally from South Carolina, Kim attended Brigham Young University in Utah. After marrying her husband, also from SC, they returned to the east coast and have lived in the southeast ever since. They moved to Asheville in 2004. Kim and her husband John, a civil engineer, have 4 children. Their oldest son lives in NYC. They have twin daughters who recently got married just 2 ½ months apart! And, their youngest son is still at home and attends AC Reynolds High School.
Kim enjoys photography, researching her ancestors, sitting on the beach, and spending time with her family.
Ellis Anne Rhom, Ministry Assistant, Music & Worship
Ellis Anne Rhom is a native of Asheville, NC. She is a graduate of AC Reynolds High School and holds an Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. She has a great passion for music, having sung in church and school choirs her entire life. Ellis Anne provides administrative support to both the church’s music ministry and the work of the Academy for the Arts.
Clark Sorrells, Associate Pastor, Worship & Music
Clark Sorrells joined the FBCA staff in 1997. He coordinates the worship life of the church, conducts the Adult Choir, and is Director of the Asheville Youth Choirs (AYC). Through the Academy for the Arts (AFTA), he teaches private voice and piano lessons. Clark is the liaison to the Music & Worship council.
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, Director of the Academy for the Arts 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.
Amy Stertz, Associate Pastor, Christian Formation and Children
Amy joined the FBCA staff in 2015. She leads the church’s Christian formation ministry, exploring the connection between faith and everyday life through spiritual practices, Bible study, theological reflection, and cultural engagement. In her ministry with children, 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. Amy is the liaison to the Christian Formation council and the Child Development Center (CDC) committee.
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, Sophia. She loves good conversation, a good laugh, a good book, a good football game, and more than anything spending time with people she loves.
Heather Swanson, Ministry Assistant, Senior and Coordinating Pastor
Heather is grateful to serve the First Baptist community as Assistant to the Senior Pastor and Coordinating Pastor. She began on staff in the spring of 2020 following her move from Philadelphia, and in the whirlwind of a global pandemic.
Heather is passionate about engaging God’s creation through rock climbing, backpacking and cycling, and is excited to make her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Volunteering at the community garden in Black Mountain, spiritual and theological reading, singing, and going exploring with her nieces and nephews, all bring her great joy.
A former French teacher and a practicing spiritual director, Heather looks forward to combining her administrative skills and spiritual gifts to support the work of First Baptist in Asheville.