Dr. Larry Gipson
Bro. Larry has been in the ministry since 1980 when he served as Assistant to the Minister of Youth at Berney Points Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He also served Katherwood Baptist Church in Birmingham as Minister of Youth and Associate Pastor. Bro. Larry has pastored at Glenn Memorial Baptist Church in Bessemer and Bethel Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove. Since September 2002, he has served as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Oneonta. Bro. Larry received his Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees from Samford University, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. He is married to the former Wanda Rinehart. She is presently employed with the Jefferson County School System and is very active in the Music Ministry of our church. Larry and Wanda have two sons: Andrew and Timothy. Andrew graduated from Belhaven University in Jackson, MS with a BS degree in Psychology and a BS in Sports Administration. He is married to Brittany and they have two children: Cullen Paul, born in February 2020 and Merritt Lyle, born in November 2022. Timothy graduated from the University of Alabama with a BS degree in Public Health. He is married to Meagan.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, Gary received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Alabama and Master of Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He began his ministry of music while in college and has served as Minister of Music at several churches in Alabama and Texas. Using the extremely talented and gifted Celebration Choir and Praise Band, Gary encourages the First Baptist family to experience the presence of God through praise and worship by blending the great hymns of our faith with praise and worship songs and visual media. Gary is married to Jane Bailey Morgan and they have two married children in ministry: Kristie Morgan Frazier (Andy) and Chris Morgan (Stephanie) and seven grandchildren. Gary's favorite verse is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." His favorite local restaurant is Outback Steakhouse where he normally orders the Outback special and wings. His favorite out-of-town restaurant is Wolf Bay Lodge in Orange Beach, Alabama. He loves their fried shrimp, whole fried flounder, seafood gumbo, and West Indies Salad. When Gary is not eating or working, he enjoys anything computers, mountain biking, hiking, running, and "fixing" things around the house.
Minister to Students & Young Adults
Patrick’s passion is to know Jesus and make Jesus known (Matthew 28:16-20.) He was licensed and ordained into the gospel ministry in 2009. He did his undergraduate at the Baptist College of Florida and earned a Masters of Divinity degree from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Throughout his ministry training, Patrick remained involved in ministry, serving as an inner city project pastor, and youth pastor, as well as remained active in a local church body. He is currently continuing his education at NOBTS, working towards a Doctorate of Ministry in Education. Patrick met his wife, Katie, while serving the Lord in Jacksonville, Florida and they have been married since 2011. Together they have two sons, Seth and Samuel “Sammy” who keep them busy and entertained. Patrick joined First Baptist Church Oneonta as Pastor of Students and Young Adults in the spring of 2021. He has been ministering to students in various capacities for over 15 years. He enjoys getting to be part of the community of Oneonta through substitute teaching and reaching out to youth at Southeastern and Oneonta high schools through leading First Priority meetings. He enjoys many ministry opportunities such as preaching, teaching, leading worship, and prison and recovery ministries to name a few. In his spare time, Patrick enjoys being outdoors. You can find him playing disc golf, hunting, fishing, playing sports, and playing music, as well as spending time with his family in the yard or at the park.
Dan Sims was named Pastor Emeritus at a special service at Oneonta First Baptist Church on Sunday, April 14, 2013. Bro. Dan has pastored churches in Michigan and Alabama. In Alabama, he served Park Avenue Baptist Church (Oneonta), First Baptist Church (Hayden), and First Baptist Church (Oneonta). He also was pastor at San Vito, Italy, and Baumholder, Germany. Dan served as interim pastor at First Baptist Church (Blountsville), First Baptist Church (Hayden), the International Baptist church in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; and churches in Azores, Portugal, and Rota, Spain. After 20 years of service, Dan retired from the United States Air Force. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Samford University and a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Seminary.Dan has been married to Glenda Battles Sims for over 60 years. They have three sons: Keith (Regina), Rick (Cindy), and Mike (Lisa). They are also proud grandparents of seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Andrea serves as the Pastor's Ministry Assistant at First Baptist Oneonta. Reared in the home of a Baptist pastor, Andrea has been in church her entire life. Her parents have been a great influence on her life and her Christian walk. Andrea has been married to Mark Towns since 1988. They have one daughter, Mary Elizabeth, who is a graduate of UAB and is now a high school teacher. Andrea says, "My family is very active at FBC because we love to serve! I think of this position as a ministry, not a job." When not at the church, Andrea enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and working in the yard.
Sarah is serving as the Financial Secretary at First Baptist Church. She was married to the late Michael Blakely and has two daughters, Leah and Lara. Leah is attending Wallace State Community College and Lara is homeschooled. Sarah's family resides in Oneonta. They enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing games, and playing with their two dogs. Isaiah 41:10.
Ministry Assistant/Children's Coordinator
Shana and her husband Matthew Towns were married in 2015 and have three children: Anna-Marie (4), Charlotte (2), and Hoyt Michael (1), and a golden retriever, Grace. Shana grew up helping and serving in different children’s activities and programs at her home church which included teaching Preschool Sunday School, Awana, Children’s Church, and the Puppet Ministry. Shana has an associate degree in Business Management and has always had a love for children and is so excited to continue serving children at First Baptist. Her prayer is that the Lord will use her to help the children not only in our church but throughout Blount County learn about God’s love for them. When Shana’s not at church, she enjoys doing anything that involves family time, camping, or trying new restaurants! Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 and her favorite church hymn is “Beulah Land.”
Apryl Casey serves as Pianist for First Baptist Oneonta. She grew up in Blount County where her father, Mike Young, pastored many churches throughout the area. Apryl moved away for a few years, but now resides back in Blount County with her four children: Connor, Chayse, Caylee and Carley, and her husband, Brian. She graduated from Locust Fork High School in 1998 and obtained an Associate’s Degree in Accounting at Jefferson State in 2001 and works for a Birmingham company called Avenu. Her husband Brian works for ALDOT. Apryl has played the piano for different churches over the years but started playing piano for First Baptist in June of 2018. In her spare time, Apryl loves to fish and spend time with her family and keeping them laughing with her self-proclaimed humor, although they laugh at her more than with her. She also enjoys cheering on her favorite football team, Alabama, while trying to keep the peace with her Auburn- loving husband. She loves God and feels so honored to be able to share His love through music.
Child Development Center Staff
Deana joined the CDC family in February of 2013 and became Assistant Director in 2017. She now serves as the Director. She received her bachelor of arts and science degree from Samford University in 1989. In her spare time, Deana enjoys gospel music and spending time with friends and family.
Shae has lived in Oneonta all her life and is a 1993 graduate of Oneonta High School. She has been a member of First Baptist Church and an employee of the CDC for five years. She and husband Scott have three daughters: Kayla, Kassidy, and Hailey; and one son, Blake. They also have two granddaughters named Aria and Lennox. Shae and Scott enjoy grilling out with family and watching Alabama Crimson Tide football. Shae shares, "I love working with children and teaching them about God's love."