Dr. Glenn Ethridge | Senior Pastor
Glenn has been a United Methodist pastor for over 25 years serving churches in the North Georgia Conference, including Blue Ridge United Methodist Church, Wesley United Methodist Church (Augusta), Cannon United Methodist Church (Snellville) and since 2007 Oak Grove United Methodist Church. Glenn’s ministry has focused primarily on church growth and mission. He has been on mission trips domestically and internationally. Glenn earned his undergraduate degree at University of Georgia, then completed seminary at Yale University. In 2011 he earned his Doctor of Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. His research focused on the congregational practices that affect a young person’s decision to enter ordained ministry. Glenn has worked extensively with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry including helping young people explore their call to ordained ministry as well as assisting candidates for ordination in passing their ordination exams. He currently serves as chairperson of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Glenn and his wife, Cathy, have two children, Lee (22) and Andrew (20).
Susan Allen Grady | Associate Pastor
Susan became Oak Grove’s associate pastor in June 2012. Susan brings considerable experience and passion to this position. She is a graduate of Emory University and Candler School of Theology and while at Candler, served as Youth Minister at Briarcliff UMC for two years. After obtaining her Masters in Divinity from Candler in 2001, she served as Associate Pastor at Mountain View UMC in North Cobb County for two years, Pastor at Trinity UMC in Austell for four years, and for the last five years has served as Pastor at St. Paul UMC in Grant Park. She also is an elder in the United Methodist Church and in line with her passion for campus ministry she currently serves as Finance Chairman for the Georgia United Methodist Commission on Higher Education and Campus Ministry.
As Susan says, Methodist ministry is her family’s business. Her father served as a minister in the North Georgia Conference for many years and her husband, Dave, is currently Pastor at Druid Hills UMC. Susan and Dave reside in Druid Hills with their three year old daughter, Joy, who we understand loves to sing and is a bundle of joy and energy. We hope you will join us in providing Susan and her family a warm welcome to Oak Grove over the next few weeks.
Rev. Louis Miller | Minister of Congregational Nurture
Louis has been at Oak Grove for 24 years, all as a member of the church staff. He was born and reared in Clarksville, TN, and attended Austin Peay State University, receiving a B.A. in History. While earning a Masters of Christian Education at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, he worked at Druid Hills UMC, eventually landing at Decatur First UMC, where he was on staff for 17 years. Rev. Miller is on the N. Ga. Conference Housing and Homeless Council, the N. GA. Conference Order of Deacons Steering Committee, and is also AMRY District mentor for ordained ministry. Louis’s favorite thing about Oak Grove is how warm, caring and generous the congregation is, and he believes that the rich tradition here is incredibly important to the whole community. Louis is a husband to Dale Mobley Miller, and has two stepsons, both of whom are married, as well as four grandchildren. He enjoys traveling and nature photography, when he can find the time.
Rev. Mary Lou Gilbert | Pastor of Visitation and Senior Adult Ministry
With a degree and background in Christian Education, Mary Lou served part time on the staff of Glenn Memorial UMC while the Gilbert children were young. Once they reached junior high and high school, she enrolled as a part-time student at Candler School of Theology and continued to serve at Glenn Memorial UMC. She graduated from Candler in 1998, was ordained Elder in the North GA Annual Conference and served in the following appointments: Associate Pastor at Saint Mark UMC, Pastor in Charge at Buchanan UMC, Associate Pastor at Oak Grove UMC, and Senior Pastor of Haygood Memorial UMC. She has initiated and participated in numerous mission trips, including Bolivia, Appalachia Service Project, and Urban Atlanta. Her love of people has led her to work with volunteers in many areas including: evangelism, senior adult ministry, Christian Ed., recreation, and mission.
She and her husband, Jack retired in 2011. Jack enjoys teaching Sunday School at Oak Grove, and volunteers to support the refugee program of the RRISA organization, while Mary Lou volunteers as Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Intown Collaborative Ministries (ICM), sponsored by 16 religious congregations. ICM works to find permanent housing for the homeless, and to provide food for the hungry.
The Gilberts have three married sons and a two-year-old granddaughter (two families are in Atlanta and one in Charleston SC). Mary Lou and Jack have lived in the same house in Druid Hills since 1979, when they came to Atlanta for Jack to work at Candler School of Theology. Mary Lou currently serves with pleasure as Pastor of Visitation and Senior Adult Ministry.
Dale Smith | Director of Administration
Dale came to Oak Grove in March 2011, after completing his degree in Organizational Leadership with a minor in Religion at Atlanta Christian College. Previous to serving at Oak Grove, he was on the staff at Emory University for 21 years, 13 of which were with the Candler School of Theology. He was born in Seville, Spain to Air Force parents but grew up in Northern Maine and the farmlands of Southeastern Kansas. After high school, he joined the United States Coast Guard, serving on Marcus Island Japan; Coast Guard Far East Section Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan; the Coast Guard Institute in Oklahoma City, OK and completing his seven years of service as a Recruiter based in Atlanta.
Dale is the youngest of three children, and his mother currently resides in the McDonough area. She is a member of McDonough First UMC, where she also volunteers as the Church Receptionist. My sister and her family currently live in the Houston, Texas area. She has two adult sons, both of which are married, but have not graced her with grandchildren, yet. Dale’s brother and his family live in the Seattle, Washington area. They have two adult children, both of which have children of their own, making Dale the proud great-uncle of three beautiful young girls. His brother’s son, Robert, is currently serving in the U.S. Navy onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Dale currently serves on the North Georgia Conference Board of Laity as the Lay Leader for the Atlanta Emory District of the United Methodist Church. In this ministry, he serves on all committees of the District, including the Committee on Ministry, Committee on Superintendency, Leadership Development & Nominations, Finance, Trustees, and numerous other teams. His favorite thing at Oak Grove is the wonderful people here. “While many congregations claim to be warm and welcoming, the people of Oak Grove truly open their hearts to invite others in.”
Kathy Brockman | Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor
Kathy Brockman joined the Oak Grove staff in April 2013 as Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor. She graduated in May 2013 from the Candler School of Theology with a Masters of Divinity and is pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. Kathy is excited to be serving in such a dynamic church that is working to build relationships and communities that are accepting to everyone and are in service to the world through Jesus Christ. Kathy and Bard live in the Sagamore Hills neighborhood and have two sons. Ben is a rising senior at Chamblee Charter High School and Jonathon is a rising freshman at Lakeside High School.
Rachel Fullerton | Administrative Assistant to the Church Administrator
Rachel joined Oak Grove in August of 2011 as the Administrative Assistant for the Young Children’s School where she worked with Sue Balcom. In January of 2013, she moved to the main office of the church and become Administrative Assistant to Dale Smith. As a lifelong United Methodist, Rachel comes from a long line of church folks. Her grandmother, Faye Hutcheson, worked for the Council on Ministries (now referred to as Connectional Ministries), her mom, Karen Fullerton, is the N. GA Conference Benefits Officer, and her dad, Lee Fullerton, is the senior minister at Embry Hills United Methodist Church. Rachel has a Bachelor of Science in History and Political Science from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA. While at Wesleyan, Rachel was very active in campus-wide activities. She was President of Student Government Association her senior year, a member of the Wesleyan Disciples, a member of WAVE, (Wesleyan Admissions Volunteer Experience), and served on many more committees and clubs in her time at Wesleyan from 2006-2010. Rachel is currently a member at Embry Hills United Methodist Church, where she is a youth counselor and in charge of the young adult program.
Pamela Reynolds | Director of Finance
Pam joined Oak Grove in October, 2010, but she grew up locally and attended Lakeside High School. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Finance and Accounting. Pam and her husband Scott, also a native Atlantan, have 3 children. George is the oldest, a civil engineer and a 4th generation Georgia Tech graduate. Alice is a Samford University graduate, and is a preschool teacher here at the Oak Grove CDC. Their youngest, Mary, is a junior at Georgia Southern University and is studying to be a preschool teacher, as well. Pam is currently on the Lakeside Foundation scholarship committee. She taught 1st grade Sunday School for 10 years, and assisted with children’s choir and children’s mission programs for many happy years.
Susie Mobley | Membership / Database Administrator
Susie has worked here at the Church for 8 years, but her and her husband, Steve, have been members for 12 years. Susie grew up in Williamsville, NY and moved to Atlanta when she was 15. Steve is a National Account Executive at Innovative Design Works. They met at Georgia Southern University and have been married for 28 years. Their daughter Caitlin is in NY attending Grad school at Fordham majoring in Social Services. Their other daughter, Britt is a junior at Georgia Southern University majoring in Hospitality. They have an 11 year old chocolate Lab named Gussie. Susie is an avid reader, enjoys exercise and eating out! “Oak Grove feels like my extended family.”
Jen Wahlen | Accounting CDC
Jen works with the Child Development Center in Finance, as Staff Accountant. She began working at here in October 2010. Jen is married to Eric and has two daughters, Emery and Annie. She lived in Cleveland, Ohio until I was 16, and finished high school in Lakeland, Florida. Jen graduated from Auburn University with a degree in accounting and continued to University of South Florida for her MBA. She then went to work in public accounting in Tampa where she met Eric, and moved to Atlanta in 2002.
Jen grew up in the Methodist church – first at Brecksville UMC in Brecksville, Ohio; then First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Florida. She and her family have been members of OGUMC since 2003. In addition to working with the church finance office on and off over several years, Jen has been on the Children’s Ministry Team, worked with Vacation Bible School and served as a Friend in Faith. She thoroughly enjoys all of the activities at the church, especially seeing the 9:35 service grow and change.
Nancy Brooks | Office Manger CDC
Kim Cody | Director of Children’s Ministry
Kim Cody became a member of Oak Grove in 1991 and joined the staff in 1995. Kim worked part-time as Director of Elementary children for seven years before taking over as full time Director of Children’s Ministry. She was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL and majored in communication arts at The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. Kim worked as a graphic artist in West Palm Beach and Atlanta for over 15 years. Prior to joining Oak Grove she also worked at the Center for Puppetry Arts. While volunteering extensively in church and in the community, Kim felt a calling to work with children. An invitation to work in ministy at Oak Grove led to a new career, one she thanks God for each day. Kim and her husband share the same name, but according to Mr. Kim, are not hard to tell apart…. She is tall and blonde, he is short and good looking! They have two children, Shannon who resides in London and Alex who is a Navy Officer currently stationed in Japan. Kim loves cooking, gardening, and traveling, but most of all, she loves being in ministry with families at Oak Grove!
Sue Balcom | Director of YCS
Sue has just begun her 5th year at Oak Grove. Sue is married to her patient husband, Tom, and they have just celebrated their 32nd anniversary this August. Sue’s oldest daughter, Olivia is married to Bryan, and they are the proud parents of Sue’s sweet first grandchild, Eloise, who lives close enough to visit every week. Sue’s daughter Kristina, lives and thrives in Seattle, Washington, working to make the world a more fit and peaceful place. Sue’s African foster daughter, Colette has been with her since 2008. She is a senior at South Gwinnett High school and a talented basketball player and creative writer.
As the daughter of two Air Force parents, Sue lived many places before settling in Syracuse, New York. She graduated Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania with a degree in Special Education/ Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Psychology. Sue finally settled in Atlanta in 1995.
Sue may be a practicing Catholic, but her heart has found a special home in the Oak Grove Methodist community. Since moving to Atlanta, she served as Children’s Minister and Director of Religious Education at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Snellville for 3 years, and Youth Minister at Corpus Christi Catholic Church for 2 years.
For Sue, working at YCS is a dream come true. It allows her work to make my philosophy of early childhood education a daily reality at YCS in partnership with our wonderful YCS staff. Sue also works with immigration assistance, teaching ESL classes, and children’s music ministry.
Barbara Naish | Director of CDC
Barbara has been the director of the Oak Grove UMC Child Development Center for over 18 years. She lives in Roswell with her husband of 42 years, has two grown children and seven grandchildren. She is blessed to have her son’s family close by in Roswell.
Barbara is originally from Cincinnati, OH, where she grew up, got married and raised a family there. Her daughter and her family live there with four grandchildren. Barbara graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Child Development and attended Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati to complete her teaching certification and graduate work. Her entire career of 40 plus years has been dedicated to working with children’s programs and early childhood education. It is her passion and true joy to serve as the director of the CDC.
Robin Merrill | Youth Minister
Robin claimed Matthew 5:16 as her personal Bible verse when she was 14 years old and has tried to live her life in such a way that brings honor and glory to God. “Let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works, they will glorify your Father in heaven.” Robin has been a member of Oak Grove UMC for 23 years. She became passionate about working with teenagers while on a mission trip with her family to Austria in 2006. Her heart’s desire is for every young person and their family is to fall in love with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to begin living a life that is full of the joy and peace that only He can give.
Robin loves to cook, entertain, take pictures, read, spend time with her family, “walk and talk”, meet people for coffee at Starbucks or Panera and have lunch at the Oak Grove Market. God is all about “divine appointments” and Robin enjoys looking around daily to see where God is moving so that she can jump in!!
Robin and her husband, Chad, have been married for 25 years and have 2 sons, Barrett, age 18 and a freshman at Samford University, and Christian, age 15. Being the youth minister at Oak Grove is truly a family ministry because each one of the Merrill family is as passionate about the ministry as Robin.
Robyn Giles | Administrative Assistant
Robyn started working at Oak Grove part time in youth ministry in 2006, after a long (20+) years in Corporate America. She left with a desire to serve the Lord and do something bigger with her life. God is good and Robyn was led to Oak Grove by her mother-in-law (Kathy Brooks) a long time member. She was asked to work full-time in 2009 and gratefully accepted. She splits her time between youth and main office administration even though she is almost always found in the youth building. Robyn is thankful and happy to use her skills for the glory of God! She loves working for and with the youth and loves seeing them grow in every way!
Robyn has been happily married to her husband Joe Brooks and has a stepson, BJ (21), who is a senior at Evansville University in Indiana. She has a younger sister Melanie and her parents live in The Villages, Florida. Robyn loves to cook, loves plants and she enjoys golfing on occasion. She is also a fan of Formula 1 racing.
Shara Sanders | Youth Programs Coordinator
Shara joined Oak Grove United Methodist Church in 2006 and started volunteering with the 6th grade girls in the Revolution Community. Those girls are now graduating from high school and Shara is so thankful that she has been a part of their lives for the past 7 years. As a youth volunteer, Shara has enjoyed chaperoning retreats to Awanita and Camp Glisson, being a confirmation Friend In Faith, and being an adult leader with Caring For Clarkston. In addition to helping with the youth at OGUMC, Shara has been a Guide and Recreation Leader for Vacation Bible School, served on the church’s Finance Council, and filled the Assistant Treasurer role. Shara also volunteers at the Oak Grove Young Children’s School and is the current president of the school’s Parent Council.
Before “retiring” to stay at home with her daughter, Shara practiced labor and employment and general litigation law for over 10 years. Shara moved to Atlanta from Florida in 1996 to attend Emory School of Law and graduated in 1999. Shara received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Presbyterian College in 1992 and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida State University in 1995.
Shara lives close to OGUMC with her husband, Garrett; her daughter, Jillian; her dog, Lulu; and her cat, Willow. She looks forward to a new role with the Revolution Community and working with Robin, Robyn, Lucas, and Atticus.
Janet Johnson | Choir Director
Janet Johnson’s involvement with music has been long and varied. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education, she began her career in DeKalb County where she served for six years as a high school choral director. She then taught choral conducting and techniques at GSU for four years, and directed the Atlanta Vocal Consort. After the birth of her children, Janet began to direct choirs in metro Atlanta churches serving at Ousley UMC, Embry Hills UMC, and Roswell UMC, and is now in her tenth year at Oak Grove UMC. As minister of music, she conducts the Chancel Choir, the Youth Choir, and Wesley Ringers, coordinates the Children’s Choir program, serves as staff partner for Altar Guild and Acolyte Ministry, and assists with weekly worship planning.
She continues to conduct honor choirs and All State choirs and has presented sessions for Ga. Music Ed. Assoc., American Choral Director’s Assoc., SMENC, Choristers Guild and Fellowship of UM in Worship Arts. She created the curriculum and taught adjudicator classes for Certified Adjudicators and Head Judges for performance evaluation in Georgia. Ms. Johnson received the Distinguished Career Award from GMEA in 2006. For 21 years, Janet and her husband Bucky have been Directors of the Southern Star Music Festivals, a successful choral and instrumental performance festival associated with Six Flags Over Georgia. Janet is in her 22nd year of singing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, continues to sing in the ASO Chamber Chorus, and was a member of the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers. Janet and Bucky have two wonderful sons, Manny, who is married to Sheena and father of their two granddaughters, Shaylee and Ivy; and Wesley, who was recently married to Abbey.
Bucky Johnson | Orchestra Director
Bucky joined Oak Grove in 2004 and serves on the Music Ministry Team as the Orchestra Director. He holds a Master in Music Education from the University of Georgia. Bucky retired as Director of Bands and Music Department Chair at Georgia Tech in 2002. He founded and served as the Director of the Atlanta Olympic Band from 1992-1996. Bucky and his wife Janet, who he works with at Oak Grove, own and produce the Southern Star Music Festival each spring. Bucky is currently the Mayor of Norcross.
Atticus Hicks | 9:35 Worship Leader
Atticus began leading worship in his youth group at Mt. Carmel UMC in Norcross, GA when he was a freshman in High School. While in college he was the worship leader at Hope Springs Christian Fellowship in Athens, GA as well as leading services at various college ministries on the UGA campus. Atticus started leading contemporary worship at Oak Grove in November 2011 after graduating from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and a minor in Portuguese. In July 2012 he also began working with the Youth praise band and writing curriculum for the Java Hut Sunday School program. Atticus comes from three generations of Methodist pastors and his mother, Nanci, is currently the pastor at Mossy Creek UMC in Cleveland, GA. Also, his father, Steve, is on the building staff at Dunwoody UMC. He has a little sister, Annie, who is finishing up her degree at Athens Tech. Atticus is looking forward to marrying Leslie, his girlfriend of almost 7 years in November. Atticus enjoys listening to and playing all kids of music, as well as watching and playing football, baseball and basketball.
Susan Matteson | Organist
Susan Soderstrom Matteson, originally a native of Chicago, has been an active accompanist and keyboard artist in the Atlanta area since moving to Georgia in 1995. Dr. Matteson has accompanied extensively in the U.S. with a special interest in choral accompanying. She has also been a solo keyboardist on organ, harpsichord and piano, including a series of critically acclaimed organ concerts in Sweden. Organ recitals in the United States have included a Featured Artist performance at the 1999 American Guild of Organists Regional Convention in Knoxville, TN, and the inaugural organ recital for the Distinguished Alumni Concert Series at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She has taught music performance and theory to all ages, and has worked as a church musician nearly continuously since high school days. In addition to accompaniment and solo work as a keyboardist, Dr. Matteson also enjoys any opportunity to play the flute, a favorite pastime. She holds music performance degrees from Indiana University, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and Eastman School of Music, where she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts, the Performer’s Certificate, and did extensive studies in Music Theory.
Virginia Sowell | Communications Coordinator
Virginia joined Oak Grove UMC with her husband Jim and sons Daniel and Thomas in 1998. With her background in advertising and graphic design she quickly jumped in, sharing her skills with the church. Not long after she was asked to come on board to help in an official capacity. She has been called a part-time worker with a full-time heart, and truly enjoys viewing God as the ultimate “client”. She designs the weekly bulletin and newsletter in addition to creating posters, brochures and other types of visual communication. Virginia is passionate about the Oak Grove Mobile Soup Kitchen, serving the homeless downtown every Wednesday morning. She has also been an active volunteer in Oak Grove’s Scouting ministry for many years and works with the Refugee Ministry too.
The best part of Oak Grove is the congregation. In 2011, when her son Thomas was injured in a snowboarding fall, Virginia and her family learned just how much Oak Grove members come together in a crisis. Oak Grove folks are a faithful and prayerful group, who make this the ideal place to worship and to work.