Our Staff

Our church is in the search for our next Senior Pastor and you can stay updated on the process by visiting the pastor search page here.
Pastor Mike and Jolene Dawson

Willie McLaurin

Transitional Interim Pastor

Willie McLaurin began serving as our Transitional Interim Pastor on May 2nd of 2021 as the church began the search for a new senior pastor.  He also serves as the Interim President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. He and Antonia have been married for 25 years and they have two amazing daughters.
Pastor Mike and Jolene Dawson

Mike Dawson

Pastor Emeritus

Our Pastor Emeritus Mike Dawson provides pastoral support to our pastoral team and prayer support for our church. Pastor Mike stays busy serving as a transitional pastor for churches throughout our region. His wife Jolene is a wonderfully accomplished pianist and plays at local churches in our area.
Pastor Rick and Karen Blevins

Rick Blevins

Biblical Education Pastor

Pastor Rick oversees the Bible-centered teaching part of our mission. He has influence over all education programs birth through senior adults and hands-on oversight in our adult ministries. Pastor Rick joined our staff in 2000. He and his wife Karen have two children: Courtney (married to Ryan Cothran, their children: Kaylee, Sydney, and Asher) and Cameron.
Pastor Gustavo and Alma Castillo

Gustavo Castillo

Pastor, Hispanic Ministry

Pastor Gustavo shepherds our Hispanic Ministry, Primera Igelsia Bautista Columbia. He joined the staff full-time in 2013, although he has served in our Hispanic Ministry for several years. He and his wife Armida (Alma) are originally from Guatemala. They have three children: Josue (married to Peyton), Jazmin, and Vanessa.
Pastor Deron and Lourae

Deron Henry

Young Adult Pastor

Pastor Deron has been on our staff since 2007. He first served as our student pastor and now leads our Young Adult Ministry. He’s also the teaching pastor at The Well, a weekly worship gathering for young adults. It meets at Mule Town Lumberyard (1104 S. Garden St.) Sundays at 6:30 p.m. Pastor Deron and his wife Lourae have two children: Stephen and Luke.
Pastor Ryan and Family

Ryan McMichael

Student Pastor

Pastor Ryan joined our staff in 2019. He oversees our ministry to students in 7th up to 12th grades and is passionate about helping students find Christ and live their lives on mission for the glory of God. He and his wife Jessica are the proud parents of Charlie.
Pastor Joey and Kim

Joey Scruggs

Event Coordination Pastor

Pastor Joey is responsible for the facilitation and support of all special events on our campus. Recognizing that every time our doors are open is special, he works with our greeters, ushers, and Information Central staff to ensure an overall sense of hospitality for our members and guests. Pastor Joey joined our staff in 2002. He and his wife Kim have three children: Seth, Zachary, and Mollie.
Larry and Pat

Larry Wright

Director, Senior Adult Ministry

Larry and his wife Pat have been members at First Baptist Columbia since 2007. He has served as a small group leader, a deacon, our Men’s Ministry leader, and on a variety of teams and missions initiatives. “I am so blessed and humbled to serve my Lord through the ministry to senior adults. My heart is that seniors will continue to grow and serve our great God through ministry, missions, and fellowship — encouraging each other along the way.”

Meet our Support Team

Emily Burcham

Student Ministry Associate and Director of Ministry to Girls
Emily joined our staff in 2020. She oversees our Student Ministry’s administrative work and is hands on with discipleship and outreach. She’s a graduate of the University of Tennessee and has always had a passion for children and youth ministry.

emily@thefirstfamily.org

Beth Clawson

Ministry Assistant, Executive Pastor and Church Administration
Beth works with the operations side of our church’s ministry and manages our church's finances. She and her husband Rick have two daughters, Maggie (married to Christopher Turnbo; their children are Taylor and Caison) and Jessica.


beth@thefirstfamily.org

Susan Dodson

Receptionist
Susan, a retired speech therapist, serves as one of our part-time receptionists. Susan is married to Jerry, and they have two children: Julie (married to Andrew Ackley; their children are Luke and Lillian) and Steven (married to Kalah).


susan@thefirstfamily.org

Ralph English

Facilities Manager
Whether it’s making sure each of our 26 HVAC units is working properly or scheduling the cleaning and care of our 76,000 square foot facility, Ralph is the man in charge. Ralph and his wife Elizabeth have four children: Scott, Alan, Taylor, and Jessie.


ralph@thefirstfamily.org

Nancy Hopper

Business Office Assistant
Nancy joined our staff in 2020. She recently retired as associate professor and program director of Radiologic Technology at Columbia State Community College, where she worked for 26 years.

nancy@thefirstfamily.org

Gayle Johnston

Ministry Assistant, Senior Pastor
Gayle serves alongside our Senior Pastor and works with our hospital, and prayer ministries. Before coming to our church, she was at Maury Regional Medical Center for 40 years working as a nurse and director of nursing. She resides in Columbia with her fur-baby Lucy.

gayle@thefirstfamily.org

Ayesha Rochester

Ministry Assistant, Preschool Ministry/Weekday School
Ayesha serves alongside our Children's Pastor in our FIRST KIDS and Weekday School ministries. She and her husband Mike have five children: Emilee; Kimberly (married to Tyler McKenzie); Jessica (married to Sean Holder); Bryan; and David (married to Emily); and three grandchildren.

 ayesha@thefirstfamily.org

Brady Ratzlaff

Tech Director
Brady joined our staff in 2020. He comes to us from Valdosta, Ga., with a degree in Mass Media. Brady is gifted in working with tech, but more importantly, he has a heart and a calling to local church ministry. Brady and his wife Summer were married in 2020.

 brady@thefirstfamily.org

Sheri Stacy

Receptionist
Sherri serves as a receptionist in our office and helps in our Weekday School when needed. She and her husband Ed have two children and five grandchildren.


sheri@thefirstfamily.org

Karen Townsend

Ministry Assistant, Biblical Education and Senior Adults
Karen takes care of church membership, baptisms, guest visitation, attendance numbers, curriculum, and senior adult ministry details. Karen and her husband Gary have two children: Kevin (married to Lisa; their children are Samantha and Michael) and Melissa.


karen@thefirstfamily.org

Kacie Streeter

Elementary Kids Ministry
Kacie serves in helping lead our elementary kids ministry and helps create a fun, welcoming environment for those kids.  She joined our church staff in 2021. Kacie and her husband Jimmy live in Columbia and have 3 dogs.

kacie@thefirstfamily.org