Our Team

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Dr. Chris Craig

Senior Pastor

E-Mail:
Facebook: robert.c.craig.9

Our Senior Pastor is Chris Craig. Chris is married to Cindy, and they have four grown children: Jason, Julie, Alicia and (nephew) Craig Raines. They are also the proud parents of Madea and Hershey, their two boxers.

Chris earned his Bachelor’s of Science from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He earned a Master’s of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft.Worth, Texas, and received his Doctorate of Ministry degree from Midwestern Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chris has been in the ministry for over twenty-eight years. He was serving at a church in west Texas before moving to Ruston to become the senior pastor in January 2003. Chris is responsible for the leadership and teaching ministries of the church.

Chris loves spending time with his family, dogs, and friends. He loves football, reading, studying, karate, preaching, serving, leading and working out. His greatest love, though, is Jesus Christ. Chris gave his life to Jesus at the age of 19. This was a radical, life-changing experience for him. Since that time, he has had a great desire to know Jesus in a more intimate way and to share the life-changing love of Jesus with those around him. As a pastor, he wants to see people come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and to help them mature in their relationship with Christ. Chris has learned from personal experience that God truly loves us despite our sins, problems and shortcomings. He also knows that Jesus can truly give one a meaningful life if they will place their lives in His hands. His life goal and mission is to help as many as he can come to know the love of Jesus in these life-altering ways.


 

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Clayton Owen

Education Minister

E-Mail:
Facebook: clayton.owen.10
Twitter: @Claytonowen1

Clayton Owen joined the church staff in April 2009. Clayton serves as the Minister of Education and Administration. Clayton holds two bachelor’s degrees from Union University and two master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (because he couldn’t make up his mind).

“Clayton served 20 years in his hometown of McKenzie, Tennessee, before moving to Ruston. He has been married to Mary since December 29, 1984. She works in Internet Banking at Origin Bank and enjoys cooking, football, small group Bible study and prayer, and for some reason, half marathons. They have three children. Caleb, their oldest, is married to Alyssa, and they reside in Alexandria, Va. Caleb is a ‘real’ UT law grad who works at the Heath and Human Services Dept. and Alyssa teaches in the Alexandria school system. Sarah is their daughter, who is a PA with Green Clinic Northside. She is married to Tyler Davidson who works for the Ruston PD. Their youngest, Josh, is a West Point grad who is presently stationed at Fort Hood Unfortunately, the entire crew are brainwashed Tennessee Vols, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Memphis Grizz fans, but they have all now added Louisiana Tech, the Army Black Knights, the Bearcats, the Cougars and the Big Blue from Choudrant to their favorites. Clayton and Mary also have one very delinquent Airedale Terrier named Berry (after Eric Berry).
Clayton enjoys watching football, eating chocolate, exercising and reading (not really but it doesn’t look good just to say watching football and eating chocolate). Clayton came to know Christ as his Savior during his senior year of college. Not long after, instead of entering the exciting world of finance, God called him into the ministry. He truly enjoys getting to know people and seeing them grow in their faith to the point where they are looking to serve God and share their faith with others. He invites you to stop by the office, send him an e-mail, give him a call or meet him for lunch or for coffee at the Depot.”


 

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Justin Shipley

E-Mail:
Facebook: justin.d.shipley

Justin serves as the Contemporary Worship Pastor as well as Young Adult Pastor. Justin is married to Melissa and they have 3 children, Kailyn, Micah, and Luke. Justin earned his bachelor's at Mississippi State University, where he studied education. He acquired his master’s in Worship Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Justin accepted Christ at the age of 9 and has been pursuing Him ever since. He has served the local church in some capacity for over 15 years. His experience has led him to develop a passion to see individuals, marriages, and families thrive in their faith in a secular progressive culture. He believes that  faith in Christ should be woven into everyday life that displays a posture of worship!

Justin loves hanging out with his family, watching sports and anything outdoors. Justin also finds joy in creating! He loves photo/ video editing and loves to make music in his spare time.


 

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Russ Givens

Traditional Worship Leader

E-Mail:
Facebook: russ.givens

Russ serves as our Traditional Worship Leader and Celebration Choir Director. Russ is a native of Louisiana where he has served as both a music educator and church musician. Russ holds a Bachelor’s of Music from Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana & Master of Music in Vocal Performance from ULM in Monroe, Louisiana. He has completed post graduate study at several Universities including, Louisiana Tech, ULM, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His teaching experience and positions include The University of Louisiana Monroe Music Department, Louisiana Delta Community College, Claiborne Christian School and his present position as Religious Education Teacher at Family Community Christian School in Winnsboro.

Russ has served in ministry for 40 years as Music Minister, Associate Pastor, Education, Youth and Senior Adult Ministries. He has also served on numerous state organization committees for Louisiana Baptist and presently serves on the Board of Trustees of his Alma Mater – Louisiana College.

Russ’ main hobby is performing in opera theatre and musicals as well as directing and production. Russ’ singing roles include, Oklahoma (Curly), La Traviata (Gastone), Pirates of Penzenance (Frederick), Amahl and the Night Visitors (King Kaspar), The Mikado (Pish-Tush), Jekyll and Hyde (Utterson), Hansel and Gretel (Peter), Cats as (Old Deuteronomy), (Valjean) in a production of Les Miserables. Russ’ most recent appearance was in a production at Ruston’s own Dixie Theater in South Pacific.

Russ is married to Pam Nolan Givens. Pam is currently choir director/teacher at West Ouachita High School and was the founding director of Ruston High School’s Bear Cats on Broadway when she was Choir Director at RHS. Russ and Pam have two adult children, Chris and Claire, both live and work in New Orleans.


 

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Merrick Nunn

College Minister

E-Mail:
Facebook: merrickandemily.nunn
Twitter: @Merrickn23

Our College minister is Merrick Nunn. Merrick is married to Emily, and they have two wonderful kids  Ellis and Nora. They both graduated from Louisiana Tech University; Merrick in 2012 with his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry Education and Emily in 2013 with her bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Studies. They got married in August of 2013 and moved to Wake Forest, NC for Merrick to pursue his Master’s of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. After being in NC for a year, they moved to Jackson, MS for Merrick to begin an internship with the youth ministry at FBC Jackson while he finished his degree online. After being there for nearly two years, they both felt that the Lord was calling them to come back to Ruston to work with college students.

Both Merrick and Emily have a passion for college students, and this passion is in large part due to their college experiences. Merrick grew up in church, but he did not really understand what it meant to be a follower of Christ till he was 22 years old, which was right before his 5th year of college (he likes to call it his victory lap). Emily became a follower of Christ right before her senior year of high school, but it wasn’t until college that her relationship with the Lord really blossomed. They both have a desire to see college students come to know the Lord and continually grow in Him.

Merrick enjoys playing sports, hanging with friends, watching movies, and reading books. Basically anything that he can do with people, he enjoys. Above all though, Merrick enjoys walking alongside people in their relationship with the Lord. Discipleship is his heartbeat, and his goal is to use the gifts God has given him to lead others to know and experience abundant life in Christ.


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Josh Sanderson

Youth Minister

E-Mail:
Facebook: josh.sanderson.12
Twitter: @joshysanderson

Josh Sanderson came on staff in 2005 as our youth minister. Josh has been married to his wife J’nell for 13 years. Their first child, Addison, was born on December 2, 2009 and was joined by her sister, Ella on February 17, 2016. Josh has a B.A. in Secondary Education from Louisiana Tech University and is pursuing his Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Josh is responsible for carrying out our ministries focused on sixth through twelfth grade students. Josh enjoys hanging out with his friends and duck hunting. When he is not at the church you can find him doing one of these things.


 

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Ed Colvin

Children's Minister

E-Mail:
Facebook: akaCrush

Our Children’s Pastor is Ed (a.k.a. Crush or Coach) Colvin. Ed and his wife, Kelli, became members of our church family in 1996. Since joining our fellowship, Ed has served as a Kids Worship volunteer, Connection Group teacher, Deacon, College & Mission Minister, and Interim Administration & Education Minister. Before coming on staff in January 2016, Ed taught math and coached football at Ruston High School.

Ed and Kelli have two children, Joshua and Bethany. Kelli is the Coordinating Teacher at Hillcrest Elementary and sings in our Celebration Choir. Joshua is a student at LA Tech and is active in our College Ministry. Bethany is a student at Ruston High and a dancer. She loves being a part of our C3 Student Ministry.

Faith, Family, and Football could easily sum up Ed’s life. Holding all of these together in Ed’s life is God. Ed’s greatest desire is to see God as the focal point in every area of his and his family’s life. That desire extends to us, his church family, as well and the influence he will have on our children as he shows them the love of Jesus; partnering with parents to grow the generations to come in the ways of the Lord. While his primary ministry emphasis is children, Ed also wants to be a source of encouragement to their parents and to young married couples.


 

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Pam Flowers

Preschool / MDO Director

E-Mail:
Facebook: pam.flowers.5

Pam Flowers is the Preschool Director and Mom’s Day Out Director for our church. She has a love for preschoolers and has enjoyed teaching them for 27 years. Our goal is to provide a safe, learning environment while teaching God’s word.

Pam is married to Al Flowers and has 2 children and 3 grand children. Heather Flowers Yates is married to Zach Yates and has 2 children, Bella Grace and Jackson, and a puppy named Bear. Daniel Flowers is married to Kiley and have a daughter Molley Mikel and also have 1 puppy named Logan and a kitty named Lenny. Pam or “Huney” as her grand children call her, feels blessed to be an active part of their lives!

Pam enjoys spending time at home and with her family. Her favorite food is anything chocolate!


 

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Brandon Ramsey

Counseling Director

E-Mail:
Facebook: brandon.ramsey.338

 Brandon joined the staff as a part time counselor in August of 2007. In January of 2008 he took on the position full-time. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Louisiana Tech. After completing that degree, he and his wife of 14 years, Marcie, moved to Roanoke, VA, where he served as the high school counselor for a private day school for emotionally disturbed adolescents. After he moved back to Ruston, he completed his masters degree in counseling from Louisiana Tech. He has served as the Director of Counseling for Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center and held a private practice for the past many years. Brandon is registered with the Louisiana Board of Examiners as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist. Brandon has three children, Braden, Taylor, and Kendall which are his pride and joy. Brandon is responsible for direction of First Ruston Enrichment Center, the counseling ministry of First Baptist Ruston, and is also minister to the men’s and recreation ministries.


 

 

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Jeremy Magee

Missions Director

E-Mail:
Facebook: jeremy.magee.12?ref=br_rs

Jeremy came on staff part-time in 2012 as our local mission director. Jeremy has a B.S. in Forestry from Louisiana Tech and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis on Church Planting from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Tara have been married since 2001; they have two children, Cole and Avery. Tara works part-time as an audiologist at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport. As our local missions director, Jeremy leads “Touch Ruston Ministry.” This ministry encompasses all of our church’s local mission efforts. Jeremy is also passionate about FBC’s young married couples, and teaches and leads a connection group designed specifically for them. Jeremy loves spending time with his family, especially hunting and fishing with his son Cole.


 

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Braden Hilton

Middle School Associate

E-Mail:
Facebook: braden.hilton.71?ref=br_rs
Twitter: @bradenthilton

Braden graduated from Louisiana Tech University in March 2016 with a B.S. in Accounting. He is pursuing a Master of Theological Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Braden joined our staff in January 2017 as Middle School Associate. He has a passion to see students to radically follow Christ in there pre-teen and teenage years to set a foundation for the rest of their lives.

Braden came into relationship with Jesus Christ in October of 2012. He grew up in church, led in his student ministry, but it wasn’t until his freshman year of college that he realized he was simply doing what he thought Christianity was and never truly had relationship with Christ. Braden’s call to ministry also came with his call to salvation, knowing that many students are in the same boat that he was. He began serving as the Youth intern in 2013 here at FBC before taking on the role as middle school associate.

Along with being the Middle School Associate, Braden also manages The Depot Coffee House. He is also an avid sports fan and follows Louisiana Tech athletics closely. Braden would love to sit down with you at The Depot chat about sports, or what God is doing in your life, and, of course, drink a cup of coffee.


 

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Jamie Bolton

Media Assistant

E-Mail:
Facebook: jamiefbolton?ref=br_rs

Jamie and his wife Lindsay are both Louisiana Tech graduates and both full-time teachers at Ruston High School. They have two children, Jack and Kate, and after staying in Ruston after college, they are happy to call Ruston home. Jamie is a life-long musician and even had the opportunity to travel with The Commonground Band leading worship for various events around the country for years after college. Since college, Jamie has had a passion for worship and worship production, seeing the importance of the behind the scenes details necessary to give people an opportunity to engage in worship.


 

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Alina Yocum

Children's Intern

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Danny Seal

College Intern

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Brenda Martin

Pastoral Assistant

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Brittany Jackson

Administrative Assistant

E-Mail:
Facebook: brittany.jackson.5458


 

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Kitty Carter

Receptionist

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Joann Barr

Music Assistant

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Bernard Gemelli

Building and Grounds

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 As the oldest of seven children, Bernard Gemelli grew up working. Except for that, he enjoyed his early years spent with his large Cajun family and friends in South Louisiana.  Following high school he transferred to Florida with Radio Shack where he eventually became a store manager. While doing that, he married his high school sweetheart, Becky Jones. Wanting to be closer to family, they moved to Ruston in 1977. They had two children: Miranda and James and five grand children.  He had various jobs until Mike Benefield hired him as Building Superintendent for First Baptist Church in 1994. Bernard has been blessed to work with and get to know many good people while at FBC.  He truly feels that he is working for the Lord and is glad to be a part of the team at First Ruston.


 

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Sue Cruz

Building and Grounds

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Jeff Moss

Building and Grounds

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Marcus Spencer

Building and Grounds

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My name is Marcus Spencer, and I joined the Building and Grounds Department at First Baptist Church in September of 2017. I am passionate about my job and excited to be a part of FBC.

I grew up and attended school here in Ruston, Louisiana. My wife is Tonette, and we are the parents of two grown children:   a daughter, Chardarell, and a son, Ja’Marius.

My favorite scripture is Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.


 

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Nesse Cooper

Building and Grounds

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