Staff & Leadership

PASTOR

Rev. Zachary L. Bay

Zach joined the staff of First Baptist Church as Pastor in 2013. Prior to that, he served 2.5 years as the full-time Maddox Pastoral Resident at Northside Drive Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, following seminary. Zach’s primary ministry responsibilities are preaching, teaching, pastoral care and coaching, congregational leadership, and drinking coffee.

A graduate of Mason County High School and Georgetown College, Zach earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, and is currently earning a Doctor of Ministry degree at Columbia Theological Seminary (Class of 2021).

Zach’s interests include pastoral theology, church history, Bowen Family Systems Theory, ecumenical and interfaith activities, all things science fiction, fountain pens, and wristwatches. He loves to travel, and agrees with Mark Twain, who once wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Married in 2011, Zach and Kristy have one precocious two-year-old daughter named Eleanor.

MINISTER OF MUSIC

Beth C. Parker

Beth was raised in a ministry family in East Tennessee. Her dad was a music minister and her mom, the organist and children’s choir director. She was involved with singing and playing from the beginning of her life. She went to Carson Newman College to study music and earned a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Choral Music. She spent several years teaching public school music from elementary age up to high school.

When her family moved to Middlesboro in 2004 she became Minister of Music at First Baptist. She has led children’s and youth choirs, handbells and Sanctuary Choir over the years. MusiCamp has been a summer staple for kids in the community and for our members’ grandkids. We even had a “youth choir” reunion on the 125th anniversary of the church. What fun they had singing and playing bells again!
Beth is very involved with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Kentucky serving in different ways. This year she is Moderator of the group.

Beth is bi-vocational and works several days a week with her husband, John, in their business, JWParker Financial Services. They have three grown children scattered over the United States where each of them is following their dreams. It is always great when they come home to southeast Kentucky!

CHURCH OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR

Elizabeth Lowden

The welcome I’ve received from First Baptist Church has been incredible. Those of you who have introduced yourselves over the past couple of weeks have been nothing but genuinely friendly and helpful to me while I’ve started to settle in. I’m so greatly appreciative of each one of you; your candor, your patience and your senses of humor. I couldn’t have asked for a better start.

To those of you who haven’t yet met me, my name is Elizabeth Lowden and I’m FBC’s new Office Administrator. Though I am a native Kentuckian, I’m relatively new to Eastern Kentucky. I grew up in Bagdad, Kentucky, a tiny town in Shelby County. I currently live in Barbourville with Evie, my very cute, very spoiled, very bad Labrador.

When not at work, I spend most of my time working on a series of half-finished craft projects (sewing, crocheting, re-finishing furniture, the list goes on…), playing with Evie, hitting some yard-sales, baking or reading a good book — currently David McCullough’s 1776. Highly recommended for history lovers.

I’m always happy to answer your questions, help with projects or assist with anything you might need. You can find me in the Church Office on weekdays between 9:00 and 1:00. Please don’t hesitate to drop by and say hello!

FACILITIES MANAGER

Bill Hunter

Bill joined the staff of First Baptist Church as Facilities Manager in 1994. Prior to that, he worked in a local automotive body shop.

Bill is a native of Middlesboro, attended Middlesboro High School, and later while working, enrolled in evening courses and earned a GED through the Middlesboro School System under the instruction of church member Freeman Thompson.

Bill’s interests include fishing for bass and catfish, playing horseshoes, and traveling.

Bill and Anita were married in 1982, and they have two grown children and four grandkids.

You can contact Bill by calling the Church Office at 606-248-2637.

CHILDCARE COORDINATOR

Cherry Lynn Stamper

Cherry Lynn joined the staff of First Baptist Church in 1987 as the church’s Childcare Coordinator. Cherry Lynn is responsible for overseeing and managing the church’s nursery for Wednesday evening and Sunday morning activities.

Cherry Lynn has for 30 years worked as a Kindergarten teacher’s assistant at Middlesboro Elementary School. Prior to that, Cherry Lynn provided church nursery support to the Parent’s Day Out program.

Cherry Lynn is a graduate of Middlesboro High School.

Cherry Lynn loves to walk her dog, spend time with her family, and is ready to go anytime someone wants to travel.

She is married to Joe, and they have two children, Melody and Luke, several grand-animals, and one grandson!

MEDIA COORDINATOR

Phil Akers

Phil joined the staff of First Baptist Church in 1979 as Media Coordinator. Phil is responsible for audio and video in worship, as well as the broadcast of services over local cable and the internet.

Phil works as Construction Coordinator with Spectrum, where he has worked in various capacities for over 40 years. Prior to that, Phil worked as night manager at Clancy’s hamburger restaurant, and at the old Middlesboro Tannery.

A graduate of Bell County High School, Phil took a number of courses through Eastern Kentucky University to further his education.

Phil’s interests include photography, outdoor activities, and time spent at Norris Lake and at any seaside beach available.

Phil has two sons, Dustin and Clay.

You can contact Phil by calling the Church Office at 606-248-2637.

ORGANIST

Janet Matthews
Janet grew up in Middlesboro with music as her main interest. In her school years, she enjoyed school games, sports, travel, and music contests. She did singing programs for various schools. She enjoyed the schools, but, mainly, working with the youth groups at First Baptist Church.

Janet is a graduate of Georgetown College and has helped with musical programs for Lincoln Memorial University. She taught for many years in the Middlesboro school system and, also, gave piano and organ lessons. In addition, she has worked for H and R Block for 36 years.

Janet joined the staff of First Baptist Church as organist in 1980-81. Before this time she directed the youth and adult choirs.

Janet enjoys her family, friends, and her church. She misses her husband, Herman, most of all. He was church pianist for many years and played duets with her for church services. He left to serve God in Heaven in 2008. She has 7 children, 31 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren. She loves her family and her church!

PIANIST

Bonnie Daniels

Bonnie grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, where both sides of her family loved music and sang together often. As a teenager, she sang in Youth choir, rang handbells and played for the Childrens Choir at her home church.

Bonnie began serving as Pianist at First Baptist Church alongside Barbara Asher in 2009. She worked with the Children’s Choir at FBC for many years and has served in various roles at FBC.

Bonnie is a graduate of Carson Newman College and has a Master of Education degree from Union College. She taught school in Lee County for 30 years and continues to work in the system as a Kindergarten tutor.

Bonnie enjoys family time, reading, traveling, and walking with her husband. Bonnie and Tony were married in 1978. They have 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren.

PIANIST

Teresa Brown

Teresa wanted to play the piano since the age of 6, but no one would give her lessons until she was 8. She began playing in church at the age of 10. During High School and College, she took organ lessons and loves the organ the best. She has always been involved with church music, in one form or another, having assisted many of the local churches throughout the years.

Teresa has been filling in at First Baptist as the substitute organist since the late 70’s and began helping Bonnie Daniels with the piano in the Fall of 2019.

Teresa and John Brown married at First Baptist on 09/30/89. She works with John at his law practice as his Office Manager Assistant. They love to travel in their spare time.

In the past Teresa has been active with many local community groups. She is currently serving on the Middlesboro Independent School Board as Vice Chair.

PASTOR EMERITUS

Rev. John E. Pennington, Jr.

Jack was called as Pastor of First Baptist Church in March of 1976 after serving 3 years as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksboro, TN, following his seminary education. Jack left First Baptist Church in 1983 after being called as Pastor of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. From Park Road, Jack went on to pastor Etowah Baptist Church in Etowah, TN, for 15 years, and then West Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN, for 10.5 years before retiring in 2011.

During his pastoral tenure at First Baptist Middlesboro, alongside a great group of deacons, Jack led First Baptist Church with firm convictions about historic Baptist freedoms and the inclusive and loving grace of God in Jesus Christ. Jack is remembered as the pastor who helped begin the FBC Live Nativity, organize the Cooperative Christian Ministry, and lead the church through the process of opening its membership policy to Christians from other denominational traditions without requiring them to be re-baptized (many Baptist churches still require this today). Following Jack’s tenure, the church continued to live the gospel of grace, opening its doors to the ordination of women to the roles of deacon and clergy, and embracing a Gospel that seeks to always put grace first, as did Jesus Christ. In recognition of his leadership and lasting legacy to the ministry and identity of the church, Jack was made Pastor Emeritus on September 23, 2018.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Jack earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, in 1973.

Jack married Sandra Donahue in 1967, and they have one son, John E. Pennington, III.

In 2018, Jack published a book! Full of stories and thoughts on the primacy of grace in Christian faith, it has become a favorite of the congregation. It is available for purchase here.

CHAIRPERSON OF DEACONS

Trish Edinger

Trish serves as the chairperson of the 15 elected and ordained deacons responsible for spiritual leadership of and pastoral care to the larger congregation. Deacons are servant-leaders, and work with the Pastor to carry out the ministries of the church.

For over 40 years, Trish worked for Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Middlesboro—for 30 of those years, she served as the Director of Physical Rehabilitation and a physical therapist, and for the last 10 years, she served as an Information Technology Analyst. Trish has served in numerous roles in the life and ministry of First Baptist Church throughout the years, and has been a steady volunteer for the our local ministry partner, the Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM).

Trish is a native of Middlesboro, having grown up in the brick house across the street from Covenant United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Middlesboro High School, and holds a degree in physical therapy from the University of Kentucky.

Trish’s interests include crochet, cooking, being present and supportive to her family and friends, and reading Christian authors like Barbara Brown Taylor, Frederick Buechner, Rachel Held Evans, and Anne Lamott.

Married in 1974, Trish and Bob have two adult children and three grandkids.

You can contact Trish by calling the Church Office at 606-248-2637.

VICE CHAIRPERSON OF DEACONS

Bridgette Myers

Bridgette serves as the vice chairperson of the 15 elected and ordained deacons responsible for spiritual leadership of and pastoral care to the larger congregation. She supports the Chairperson of Deacons in providing leadership to this group of servant-leaders in the life of the church.

For 12 years, Bridgette served in long-term care at Tri-State Health and Rehabilitation Nursing Home. From there, she went to work at the Claiborne Medical Center as Social Worker and Discharge Planner. Since 2011, she has served as Social Worker, the Bereavement Coordinator, and the Volunteer Coordinator at Suncrest Hospice. In addition to 14 years of service on the Board of Directors for the Middlesboro Housing Authority, Bridgette has volunteered for numerous roles in the life and ministry of First Baptist Church through the years.

Bridgette is native of Middlesboro. A graduate of Middlesboro High School, she holds a degree in social work from Eastern Kentucky University with a minor in child and family studies, and a Master of Education degree from Lincoln Memorial University.

Bridgette’s interests include spending time with her girls, supporting them academically and in sports, going to the gym, and spending time on Norris Lake.

In 1997, Bridgette married Ed, and they have two beautiful daughters, Anna and Courtney.

CHURCH MODERATOR

Bill Burchfield

Bill serves as the Moderator of the congregation anytime the church has a regularly scheduled or special called business meeting (church-in-conference). In that role, he provides procedural leadership in the discussion of church ministry and management related matters.

Bill worked for 22 years for Commercial Bank, 4.5 years for Community Trust Bank, and 3 years for Citizens Bank, the majority of that time spent service as a Senior Vice President and COO. After his banking career, Bill worked for 9.5 years at the Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency as Human Resource Manager. Bill has been actively involved in the local community for years, serving in various organizations including the Bell County Chamber of Commerce, the Board of the Middlesboro Country Club, President of the Bell County Industrial Foundation, and President of the Middlesboro Lion’s Club.

Bill is from Middlesboro, attended Middlesboro High School, and is a business administration graduate of Lincoln Memorial University. He also has a diploma from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.

Bill’s interests include golf, and books by Stuart Woods, David Baldacci, Lee Child, and Kyle Mills.

Bill married Sharon in 1999, and they have a total of four children and three grandkids.

You can contact Bill by calling the Church Office at 606-248-2637.