Pastor Chris and his wife Kelly have been married 24 years. They have 3 kids—Gavin, who attends college, Grace, who is in high school, and Abigail who is in elementary school. Chris is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church with a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and a Bachelor of Science in Textile Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University. Pastor Chris has 17 years of experience as a minister and has served four churches in Georgia. Chris has also trained in martial arts since he was 10-years-old and is currently a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Favorite Experience: One of my favorite experiences happened on a mission trip to Guatemala. A friend and I were sitting on the roof of a church we were helping to build with our feet hanging off the edge. It was a beautiful day and we were just reveling in the glory of God’s creation and the privilege of serving Him. The sweet sound of a female voice came drifting to our ears from a house next door. She was singing something we couldn’t understand in Quiche (the local language of the village). We asked our translator what the words meant. He said, “She is thanking God for sending your mission team to help her church.”
When not at church or with the family I like to: build or make things by hand. I especially like to start with a raw material like wood, leather, or metal and turn them into something useful and beautiful like a pantry, a pen, a book cover, or a knife. It is also neat to take something old and worn out and restore it to make it beautiful again.
Favorite Quote: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”, St. Francis of Assisi.
Music/podcasts I like to listen to: I enjoy all kinds of music, including Switchfoot, TobyMac, Third Day, MercyMe, Need to Breathe, Classic Rock, Bluegrass, Blues, and Classic Country. I also enjoy listening to NPR news, audio books, and SermonCentral.com.
My life verse is: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”, Matthew 6:33.
Amy and her husband, Jason, have been married 13 years. They have 2 children - Jackson who is 11 years old, and Lindsey who is 9 years old. Amy has been the youth director at Pleasant Grove U.M.C. for three years and has worked in youth ministry in the United Methodist Church for a total of 18 years. Amy also works as a full-time paralegal.
Favorite experience: Many years ago, when I had only been working in youth ministry for a few years, I was faced with a good bit of conflict and stress from the job and felt like I was being told to give it up and let someone take my place. We were on our annual youth beach retreat and I had been praying that God would direct my path in this ministry and in that time, I asked God why I should continue working in the youth ministry when it was causing me such hurt and grief. My favorite part of our beach retreats is communion on the beach. After each youth member is served communion, they go to a quiet place on the beach to reflect and pray. We had finished communion on the beach and my back was to the ocean and the youth members. As I turned around to go to my quiet spot, I saw 20 teenagers spread out across the beach, some with heads bowed, some with faces raised, all loving God and what he has done for them. At that moment, I heard a quiet voice say to me, "This is why." I have never felt so sure of anything as I was of my purpose in youth ministry at that moment. Fifteen years later, there is no turning back!
When not at church I like to: Watch sports or go to the lake. My life outside of church revolves around my children and their activities. We are a big sports family and most weekends you will find us at the ball field sitting behind home plate or at the gym cheering on our kids and their teammates. When our children's sports schedules allow, we like to take off to the lake during the summer.
Favorite Quote: "Just do it." - Nike (does that slogan count as a quote, because I find that I am regularly reciting those words over and over to myself and my children)
Music/podcasts I like to listen to: I listen to it all--Contemporary Christian, Southern Gospel, Country (new and old), Classic Rock, and even the hip hop music that comes from my children's iPods.
My life verse is: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 NKJV I have witnessed personally the truth in this Proverb. My desire is to train up as many children as God places in my path.
Ashten and her sweet husband, Matt, were married in April of 2017. Together they have a wonderful dog named Ghost, who they love dearly. Ashten worked as a summer camp director and youth intern in the Presbyterian church for one year, and has taught ballet to children for six years. Ashten is currently working at a preschool in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ashten graduated from Lee University in December, 2016, and is excited to be working with the children of Pleasant Grove.
Ashten’s favorite experience: “I have been truly blessed with so many great experiences in my life that it is hard to pick just one! One of my favorites would be an anniversary party that my family threw for my grandparents’ one year. We were on a beach trip with all of my extended family and we surprised my grandparents with a party in their honor. It was such a time of love and laughter. I knew that this is what true Joy is. It made me long for heaven, where there will be overflowing love and pure joy, forever and always.”
When not at church, Ashten likes to play with her dog (or just pester him depending on his mood). She also likes to play Geoguessr. “It lets me see the world while in my pajamas. My husband and I are also avid board game players!”
Ashten’s favorite quote: “Docendo discimus” (By teaching, we learn) – Seneca
Favorite music/ podcasts: “I love to listen to Relient K and Ed Sheeran from my own music library. However, if the radio is on, I am singing, regardless of if I know the song or not.”
Ashten says that she has not really chosen a “life” verse yet, but that she is really inspired by Psalm 34:22: “The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” It is such a promising and hopeful message. There is no doubt in the author’s voice. God will rescue us.
David and his wife Amy have been married 25 years. They have 2 kids—Tiffany, who attends college, and Sarah, who is in high school. David is a media specialist with a Master’s in Media from the University Of West Georgia, and a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL). David has 7 years of experience as a middle school band director, 5 years of experience as a middle school technology instructor, 12 years experience as a middle school media specialist, and is in his 3rd year as music director at PGUMC. David has also trained in martial arts for one year and is currently a 1st degree white belt in Tang Soo Do. (Thank you Chris! :-)
Favorite Experience: One of my favorite experiences was posting to Youtube a silly song about the experiences of raising children. It had over a million hits and led to the opportunity to have that song and several others professionally recorded at a studio in Detroit, MI.
When not at church or with the family I like to: hike, tinker in my workshop, write songs, sing with my family and friends, and watch movies where the bad guys get what’s coming to them.
Favorite Quote: "Just because it is what it is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it ought to be.”, Me.
Music/podcasts I like to listen to: I don’t listen to any podcasts, I reckon I’m not hip enough, but I like just about all kinds of music.
My life verse is: I don’t think I have considered a verse to be my, “Life Verse”, but having reflected after being asked to come up with one, I suppose, at this moment in my life, the verse could be, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”, 1 Peter 4:10.
Sarah and her husband Bobby have been married almost 30 years. They have 2 daughters, Amy and Susan. Amy is married to Blane Bradford and Susan is engaged to be married to Nick Baker. Sarah works as a special education teacher for Whitfield County Schools and enjoys playing keyboard with the Pleasant Groove Praise Band.
Favorite Experience: Some of my favorite experiences are the memories I have of raising my daughters…I’m so thankful for the gift of my family and my extended church family. I love the way Pleasant Grove rallies in prayer for specific prayer concerns of church members and others in our community.
When not at church: I like to read, spend time with my family, and enjoy God’s beautiful nature.
Favorite quotes: “To God be the Glory.” (Galatians 1:5) “Too many of us want a microwave God when God is often much more of a Crock-Pot. He wants to let that stuff bubble, sit, and simmer until it’s cooked through and through. Until the transformation occurs fully in your life.”, Dr. Tony Evans.
Music I like to listen to: The gift of music is so important to me! I love all kinds of music including classical, contemporary Christian, jazz, bluegrass, big band, and solo guitar.
My life verse is: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”, Jeremiah 29:11.
Angela and her husband Ricky have been married 23 years. Together, they have 4 children and 11 grand children. Angela has many years of experience as a faithful assistant. Prior to serving at the church, she was involved in sales as well as customer service and finance.
Favorite Experince: I have many experiences that I would call favorite, however I love building relationships with people at church. Each one brings a special gift every time I see them and I find it interesting to watch people grow where they are planted. I love watching our children learn and grow spiritually as well.
When not at church with the family, I like to: run and work out. “Like” may be pushing it, however taking care of myself is my hobby.
Favorite Quote: “Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.”, Coach Matt Lisle.
Music: I like to listen to a variety of music. Current pop, (I feel it keeps me young), classic rock (because I lived it), worship music and hymns, (because I was raised on it.)
Verse: “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”, Micah 6:8.
Dale and his wife Valerie have been married for 6 years. His oldest daughter Laurie lives in Dunlap, TN with her husband Jim and Dale’s grandsons Archer and Drake. Archer is attending UTC this fall and Drake is in middle school. Together, Dale and Valerie have one son, Daniel who is 2 years old. They are also foster parents and have provided care in their home for more than a dozen children. Dale graduated from Nyack College and received his master’s degree in social work from UT. He has played music in various churches and bands since he was 10 years old. He began playing professionally when he was 15.
Favorite Experience: Each phase of my life has experiences that are special. During my high school years, my favorite experience was earning my private pilot’s license and going on trips with my friends. The biggest challenge in our adventures was that although at age 17 I could rent an airplane and fly to many different places, I could not rent a car to get anywhere other than the airport. I wish there was Uber then.
When not at church or with the family I like to: investigate the paranormal. In addition to social work and music, I’m a tour guide with Chattanooga Ghost Tours.
Favorite Quote: Illegitimi non carborundum
Music/podcasts I like to listen to: Classic jazz and classical music. I also enjoy listening to NPR and the Catholic channel.
My life verse is: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Issaiah 40:31