Staff at First United Methodist Church
Rev. Donnie Wilkinson, Senior Pastor
comes to Alexandria after serving as pastor of First UMC, Thibodaux for five years. He grew up in Ruston and is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University and Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
He and his wife April have been married for twelve years and have two children Mollybeth (10), and John Harper (5). April grew up in Little Rock, AR and is a graduate of Centenary College, and Louisiana Tech.
Donnie is an alumni of The Upper Room Academy for Spiritual Formation, a two-year program of study and prayer. He is founder and retreat leader of the Louisiana 5 Day Academy for Spiritual Formation (www.la5day.com
In his free time Donnie loves spending time with his family, reading great books, and sharing meals and conversation with friends old and new.
Rev. Dr. Henry C. Blount, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
The Rev. Dr. Henry C. Blount Jr. is pastor emeritus at First United Methodist Church Alexandria.
From 1989 to 1995, Dr. Blount served as pastor here four different times, even after an attempted retirement in 1992, including service as minister of visitation and as associate pastor, during his career of more than 60 years in active ministry. Blount has been a United Methodist minister since 1947.
"They called me back three times other than the time I was senior pastor and retired -- I came back, and finally settled in as an associate, and stayed until about '99." Blount agreed during an interview Nov. 4, 2013, that there was "a lot of overlapping," adding that "I've served, in other words, different places in the church -- wherever there was a need, I tried to fill it."
He attended Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colo., has written two books published by Land and Land of Baton Rouge titled "Soul Sounds" and "Looking for Honey," and writes a column for CenLa Focus monthly magazine.
Rev. Gary Van Horn, Minister of Visitation
The Rev. Gary L. Van Horn is a retired United Methodist Church pastor who serves as a volunteer minister of visitation for First United Methodist Church Alexandria by delivering Communion for our members and loved ones in assisted living/nursing homes and for homebound members.
"I love people. That’s why I’m doing the visitation now for the nursing homes and everything for your church, because I am a people person … I always have been," Van Horn said during a faith stories interview Aug. 28, 2013. “I’m not getting a penny for this, because I want to do it.”
Van Horn said he looks forward to delivering Communion for nursing home residents.
“To me, Communion is the key. I believe that, in Communion, every time we take it, it is a rededication service, that you die anew to self -- as you die with Christ, you rise anew in Christ as He brings you back to life," he said.
Though he received his bachelor's degree in divinity and a master's degree in theology at Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Van Horn joined the United Methodist Church in 1969. He served churches in such places as Cameron, Crowley, Eunice, Oakdale, Lafayette, Grand Chenier, Slidell, Indian Bayou in Kaplan, Patterson and Bayou Vista, Tangipahoa, Pine Ridge and Pine Hill.
Jaime Gentry, Children and Volunteer Coordinator
began working at First United Methodist Church in January 2007. She started as the administrative assistant and now coordinates all children activities and volunteers for the church, including Sunday morning and Wednesday night planning as well as Vacation Bible School, fun activities and much more.
Jaime was born and raised in the Central Louisiana area. She has a certification in Christian Education from Columbia College in South Carolina. Before working at First United Methodist Church, Jaime was the office manager at a pediatric office in Alexandria.
Jaime lives in Pollock with her husband, Philip and their four children.
David Mire, Director of Youth and Young Adults
began working at First United Methodist Church in November 2012. He coordinates all youth and young adult activities for the church, including Sunday and Wednesday night studies as well as mission trips and projects.
David was born and raised in Crowley, LA, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from McNeese State University. Before taking on his position at FUMC, he was the Director of Children and Youth Ministries at Wesley United Methodist Church in Sulpher, LA.
David lives in Woodworth with his wife, Martha and daughter, Rebekah.
Mike Wood, Business Administrator
joined the staff at FUMCA as the business administrator in July 2008. He oversees the business areas of the church and supervises maintenance staff. He is originally from Lubbock, Texas and graduated from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in business.
Mike retired as a Captain in the U.S. Army in 2004; his last assignment was operations and training officer for Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana. While in the army, he received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Louisiana Cross of Merit, among other awards. He was also a teacher and coach for the Rapides Parish School Board for three years.
Mike currently resides in Pineville with his wife Shana. He has three children: Jesse, a soldier in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Stewart, GA; James, a graduate of Louisiana College; and Heather, a high school freshman. Mike also has 2 step-daughters: Regan, a student at University of Louisiana – Monroe; and Gwen, a high school senior.
Julie Bacon, Communications Director/Office Manager
began working as the administrative assistant in December 2012 and was promoted to the Communications Director/Office Manager position in April 2013. She oversees the office work stream, updates the website and produces printed material for the church. Julie was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated with a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Before joining the FUMCA team, she was a CBP Canine Officer in Texas.
Julie lives in Alexandria with her husband, Jeremy and son, Jackson.
Bill Sumrall, Communications Assistant
began working as the communications assistant in June 2013. He assists in updates to the website as well as writes articles and takes photos for the newsletter. Bill is a native of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1979.
Before joining the FUMCA team, he worked for The Town Talk newspaper in Alexandria until December 2008 and has been a freelance writer/online content provider since then.
Bill lives in Alexandria with his wife, Kimberly.
Jasmine Piper, Administrative Assistant
Jasmine Piper joined the FUMC staff as the administrative assistant in September 2013. She is the first contact person for visitors to the church, and she oversees the church calendar, event/room reservations, donations and membership records.
Jasmine is a native of Alexandria, LA. She graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA with a degree in Accounting in May 2013. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Accounting online at the University of Phoenix.
Jasmine loves to travel and meet new people.
Candy O'Brien, Director of Childcare
has been the childcare director since February 2007. She oversees the full-time Childcare Program for children ages six weeks to five years old. Candy was born and raised in central Louisiana and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in social work from Northwestern State University.
Before taking on her position at FUMCA, Candy was a case manager for CLASS (Central Louisiana AIDS Support Services) and at Hope House in Alexandria.
Candy is married to Chris O'Brien and lives in Pineville with their four children.
Melanie Taylor, Director of Preschool
has been the preschool director since 2006. She oversees the Preschool Program for children ages two to pre-kindergarten and the Mother's Day Out Program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Louisiana at Shreveport.
Before accepting her position at FUMC, Melanie taught elementary school.
Melanie is a mother of three children.
Gordon Roach, Organist/Choir Director
Gail Roach, Pianist/Accompanist
Gordon and Gail Roach
have been members of First United Methodist Church since 1979. During their time here they have worked with youth choirs, youth handbells, children's choirs, adult handbells and as members of the Chancel Choir.
Gordon had a Masters Degree in Music Education from ULM, Monroe at which time he also studied organ under Charles Eves. Gail also has a Masters Degree in Music Education from ULM, Monroe with a minor in piano.
They both are retired from Rapides Parish School Board where Gordon served as Choral Director at Peabody Magnet High School for 35 years. Gail has taught most of her 35 years in Rapides Parish with the last 11 years at Brame Middle School.
Gordon now serves as organist and choir director at FUMCA with Gail serving as church pianist and choir accompanist.
They have resided in Alexandria for 35 years. They have one son, Beaux, and three beautiful "dog-hters" -- Katie, Carmen and Tilley!
DC Sills, The Well Worship Leader
has been attending FUMCA since 1994. She along with Janice Williams have coordinated the Christmas Cheer program for the past 10 years. And in 2011, she and a group of committed youth and adults rekindled the fire of the Contemporary Worship Service at FUMCA. Since then, DC has served as the lay leader for the Well, FUMCA’s Relaxed Family Style Worship service, where you can come as you are and leave blessed!
DC works full time at Rapides Senior Citizens Centers, INC, and has a degree in Business Marketing. She is also a performing singer-songwriter.
She lives in Alexandria with Janice Williams and their plethora of pets: dog-thers, Pasqualie, Mollie and Abby Cadabby and cat-dren, AM, KC, CeeCee and Parish.