Michael WoodLead Pastor
Tim SpencerExecutive Pastor
Frank ValenzanoFairbanks Campus Pastor
Josh ElliffCalhoun Campus Pastor
Debbie RobertsonOffice/Human Resources Director
Kelli DeBordLead Pastor's Assistant
Connie PowellFinance Director
Brenda McPhearsonFinancial Assistant
Todd SherwinDirector, First West Counseling Center
Brad JettWorship Pastor
Brandon RodgersMedia & Communications Director
Haylee ThackerWorship Administrator
Drew CokerCalhoun Campus Worship Leader
Morgan LeBlueCommunications Resident
Michael McMahanWorship Resident
Taylor LollisFirst West Counseling Center Office Manager
Mark FennAssociate Pastor
Woods WatsonAdult Groups Pastor
Deanne GrovesSenior Adults Assistant
Keith McVayCompassionate Ministries Director
Hayley GastonCommunity Minister
Rhonda MoodyWomen’s Minister
Courtney KiddConnections Minister
Makenzie ComptonCollege Resident
Mark ColeNextGen Pastor
Evan McFarlandWest Monroe Campus Student Pastor
Carly RankinNextGen Assistant
Tara TrahernStudent Ministry Resident
Austin RodriguesStudent Ministry Resident
Dustin LeeWest Monroe Campus Children’s Minister
Angie WidenerChildren & Preschool Classroom Support
Ema StoneChildren's Ministry Resident
Christi KellyPreschool Minister
Jessica PeckmorePreschool Associate
Amanda NeckMother's Day Out Director
Chelsea McDanielMother’s Day Out Assistant
Vicki PerryWEE School Director
Stephanie CokerWeekday Ministries Assistant
Nathan NaranjoCalhoun Student Resident
Roy BrownFairbanks Student Minister
Erica GrossFairbanks Campus Worship & Administration Minister
Misti StoneDiscipleship/Missions Ministry Administrator
Jana HutzlerSchool-Based Ministries Director
Katelyn WeemsBroaden Horizons Administrator
Phillip ThigpenTransform Center/Thrift Store Director
Bill SmithBuilding Services Director
Pattie DiazOperations & Food Services Manager
Marilyn RobinsonChurch Office Receptionist
Warren MajureStaff Assistant
Johnathon LasyoneMaintenance Specialist
William HobsonBuilding Specialist
Ronnie HughesBuilding Specialist
Gunnar ZordanBuilding Specialist
Wendy KingHousekeeping Coordinator
Jamileh BarberoHousekeeper & Kitchen Assistant
Michael has served as the Lead Pastor at First West since 2014. Michael and Abby came to First West from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas in 2009 to serve as the Student Pastor. After serving five years as the Student Pastor, he stepped into the Lead Pastor role.
Michael’s heart is to see people changed by the Gospel and help them live out their Christ-centered purpose. His desire is to see to it that no one misses the grace of God.
Michael was licensed to the ministry at Faith Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas, and ordained at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. He went to Oklahoma Baptist University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Ministry. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently working on his Doctorate of Ministry degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He enjoys playing sports of all kinds, hunting (especially turkey hunting), fishing, and pulling for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. Michael and Abby are the proud parents of Gavin, Cannon, Asher, and Karis.
Tim serves as Executive Pastor at First West, previously serving on the Senior Team at Collierville FBC outside Memphis, Tennessee for over fifteen years. Tim also served as adjunct instructor of Organizational Leadership and Communication at Union University’s Department of Continuing Studies in Jackson, Tennessee, for ten years.
As Executive Pastor, Tim oversees day-to-day operations and provides leadership to First West ministries and staff.
Tim says, “It’s incredible to be a part of what God is doing at First West! Suzy and I are excited about working with Lead Pastor Michael Wood and the entire leadership team to share God’s love in Northeast Louisiana, New Orleans and the world. We are praying for great things. Things that only God can do. We have the faithful expectation that First West will be energized for Christ-centered worship, community and service.”
Tim earned a B.A. from Union University, M.A. in Communication and Educational Ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and M.A. in Public Policy from Regent University.
Tim and his wife, Suzy, have been married for 25 years. Together they have three children—William, Daniel and Katie. Tim’s hobbies include home projects, classic movies, American history and basketball.
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Fairbanks Campus Pastor
Frank Valenzano was raised in West Monroe. He joined the First West Team in May 2018 as the Fairbanks Campus Pastor after 15 years in the Baton Rouge area. Frank earned a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe as well as a Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is in the final stages of completing his Doctor of Ministry at NOBTS. He has also served churches in student ministry, music ministry, and as the lead planter of One Life Church. Frank and his wife, Anne, live in Sterlington with their three children Abigail, Ethan, and Deacon. He enjoys seeing people grow in their relationship with Jesus and spending time with his family.
Calhoun Campus Pastor
Josh, who is licensed (2005) and ordained (2010), serves as the Pastor to our Calhoun Campus. He is invested in the Calhoun community by serving as Chaplain to the West Ouachita Football team, serving as Vice President of the West Ouachita Youth Basketball League board and leading the Calhoun Campus to serve regularly.
Josh has served in several roles through previous churches since 2004. Prior to joining First West in 2016, Josh served at Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas, The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, Rock Creek Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Lighthouse Church in Stuttgart Arkansas. Through these churches Josh has worked with deacons and hospital ministry, led worship, student ministry, college ministry, young adult ministry, and young married ministry, as well as developed discipleship curriculum, preached, and worked with groups. Josh has a Bachelors in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University (2008) and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS, 2014).
Josh’s wife Jacqueline has a Masters in Counseling from Dallas Baptist University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She is currently not practicing as she invests in their daughters, Evelyn (3 ½) and Clara (1 ½) and prepares for their newest arrival in October of 2019!
Josh says “God has called Jacqueline and I here to be faithful to share the Gospel with the community of Calhoun, and to equip others to do the same. We love our growing church family and are excited to see how God continues to impact Calhoun through His church!”
Josh loves pond fishing, reading, working in his woodshop, playing guitar and hanging out with his friends and family.
He is active on Facebook and occasionally can be spotted on Twitter.
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Office/Human Resources Director
Debbie Robertson joined the First West team in October 1998, serving first in Student Ministry and later transitioning to the area of church administration. In addition to serving in the area of human resources, Debbie works closely with the Personnel Committee, Committee on Committees and Long Range Planning. A graduate of Louisiana Tech, Debbie enjoys time with her family, home improvement projects, writing and editing, and quilting.
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Lead Pastor's Assistant
Kelli has served at First West since June of 2014. She has a nursing background and has embraced this new role as her ministry during this season of life.
Kelli is married to Mark, and they have four children and two grandchildren.
She loves serving the Body of Christ as Michael’s Assistant. She also enjoys reading, having coffee and lunch dates with friends, and hanging out at home.
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Connie Powell has been the financial director of First West since June 2001. She is a CPA and worked in public accounting for 17 years and industry for five years before transitioning to First West. She oversees the daily operations of the church’s finance office and directs two full-time assistants in the finance office, Brenda McPhearson and Jamie Chapman.
Connie’s dream is to have the finance office operating in such a way to free all the other ministries to reach more people for Christ.
Connie and her sister live in West Monroe with their two rescue dogs.
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Brenda joined the First West Finance team in 2016. She also married her husband Rick on January 1st of that same year. Rick is the Minister of Administration and Education at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church where Brenda serves as Women’s Minister. She teaches a women’s Bible Study class and enjoys singing in the choir. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
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Director, First West Counseling Center
Todd joined the First West team in 2001 and currently serves as Director of the First West Counseling Center. He holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Louisiana Tech University. Todd is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), an LPC Supervisor (LPC-S), and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Todd’s desire is to see individuals, families, and marriages thrive through the hope and grace of the Gospel. In addition to counseling, Todd provides oversight to the ministries of Celebrate Recovery and GriefShare at First West. In his spare time, Todd enjoys various outdoor pursuits, sports, and spending time with his wife and two children.
Brad Jett joined our staff in July of 2018 as the Worship Pastor. He gives leadership to the entirety of the ministry for worship, media, and communications.
Born in Paducah, Kentucky, Brad was led to Christ through the Children’s Camp of his local church. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education with an emphasis in Voice from Murray State University and continued his education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he graduated with a Masters in Church Music.
He is married to Bethany and they have three boys: Daniel, Isaiah, & James.
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Media & Communications Director
Brandon Rodgers has served at First West since July of 2014. He oversees all of the church’s production, communications, and publicity efforts. He loves telling the story of God through the people of God.
Brandon graduated from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations. He also has his Masters of Divinity degree from the McAfee School of Theology, which is a part of Mercer University in Georgia. Brandon came to First West after working as the Executive Producer at KNOE 8 News in Monroe. He has also served churches in student ministry, worship, and media/production.
Brandon and his wife, Candi, live in West Monroe with their two crazy dogs. They enjoy binge-watching television shows, their extremely comfy couch, and calling the Arkansas Razorbacks onward to victory.
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Calhoun Campus Worship Leader
Drew, born in Monroe, Louisiana, serves as the Worship Pastor of our Calhoun Campus. He grew up in sub-Saharan Africa with his family serving as missionaries. He is passionate about leading and equipping people to worship The Lord through music, prayer, the Word, and living life for His glory.
Since being called to ministry (2007) he has been ordained (2014) and served the church as worship leader, music minister, college pastor, missions pastor, associate pastor, and in other various roles. He came to Calhoun from serving at Immanuel Baptist Church in Olive Branch, MS. He studied vocal music at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, where he earned a Master of Music degree.
Drew is married to Elizabeth, who is the Ministry Coordinator of Seeker Springs Ministry in west Ouachita Parish. Together they have a precious baby girl, Sybil, and two crazy doggies, Camp and Kirk. The greatest joy in his life is to serve the Lord along with his family.
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First West Counseling Center Office Manager
Taylor joined the First West Counseling Center team in 2018 and serves as the Office Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Louisiana State University. In her spare time, Taylor enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and dog.
A Morgan City native, Mark Fenn joined the First West team in April of 1992 as youth pastor, serving in that ministry for 11 years, followed by five years as senior adults pastor. In 2008, Mark transitioned into his current role as Global Ministries Pastor, working to mobilize First West to reach the nations with the Gospel.
Mark says, “I believe every Christian should be involved in using their gifts to fulfill the Great Commission, from their neighborhood to the ends of the Earth. I want to help the members of First West be equipped and mobilized to do their part in making that happen.”
Mark earned his B.A from Louisiana College, masters of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and doctor of ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In the community, Mark is known as the P.A. announcer for West Monroe Rebels football as well as a team chaplain. Mark enjoys time with his family, hunting, fishing, golf, watching sports, and reading. Mark and his wife Ann married in 1988 and have one son, Caleb, who serves in the U.S. Navy.
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Adult Groups Pastor
Since April of 2004, Woods has served on the staff at First West. He leads the church’s Adult Groups, Senior Adults, and Pastoral Care Ministries. He is grateful to partner with the church family in ministry to make sure no one misses the grace of God.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Watson received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University and the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also studied at the Torchbearer Bible schools in England (Capernwray) and Sweden (Holsby Brunn).
He and Anita have six children. For 43 years, Dr. Watson has served in local church ministry including as an inner-city missionary, as a church planter for three churches, as a church stewardship consultant and as a senior pastor for 15 years. In his spare time, he teaches at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Extension in Monroe and the Perspectives course, and volunteers with the Northeast Louisiana Reentry Coalition, the Freed Men Ministry and the Ministry of Inspirational Therapy. He also likes running, reading/ writing, and helping Anita at Northeast Baptist School, where she is principal.
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Senior Adults Assistant
Deanne Groves supports the senior adult and pastoral care ministry at First West as assistant to Dr. Woods Watson. She has been enjoying wise and wonderful senior adults and accepting pastoral requests since 2016. Before her work at First West, Deanne received joy from a career working with persons with disabilities as well as teaching life story writing classes.
Deanne sings in the First West Choir. She loves to be outdoors playing tennis, swimming or chasing her grandchildren.
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Compassionate Ministries Director
Keith served as Student Recreation Ministry Associate during his college days (1969-1973) here at First Baptist Church. He was called to ministry in 1973 and served 22 years in full-time ministry while receiving a Bachelor of Science from NLU, then a masters degree and PhD from Seminary. He also taught school and coached for 14 years during which time he served as a bi-vocational pastor. He is currently serving part-time as Compassionate Ministries Coordinator and Adult Minister at First West. Keith is married to Dianne (who retired from teaching after 38 years). They have three children and five grandchildren.
Hayley Gaston, a native of Summerfield, LA, serves as the Community Minister at First West. In March of 2014, Hayley graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Studies and joined our team full time as the Girls Minister. In May of 2019 she graduated with her Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hayley now serves as the Community Minister and gives direction to many different areas within our Discipleship Department.
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Rhonda Moody serves as Women’s Minister. She joined the First West staff in August 2010. Rhonda has a degree in Secondary Education and a Masters in Counseling. She enjoys using her gifts by leading Bible studies and pouring into the lives of women. She feels blessed to be in ministry where she has the privilege to help women grow in their faith. She is married to Derek Moody and they have three children.
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Joining the staff in November of 2018, Courtney Kidd serves as the Connections Minister here at First West. She helps guide someone through the process of being a first time guest all the way to membership. With a love of hospitality, she enjoys meeting new people, getting to know their story, and through that, working with them to get them connected within the church. She can help find the Life Group or Home Group that best fits what a person is looking for. She believes that God has made each person gifted in various areas and would love to help them find a place to volunteer within the church. Courtney’s goal is to make sure each person feels seen, loved, and heard.
Born and raised in West Monroe, Courtney grew up here at First West. She has a degree in psychology from ULM. She is married to her husband, Jon Michael; they have one friendly, energetic little boy, Ezra.
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Mark Cole serves as our Next Generation Pastor; leading the team responsible for ministry from birth through high school graduation and their parents. Additionally, he is the Next Generation champion for ministry across all of our First West campuses.
Over the past 20+ years he has served students, kids and families in churches in Tennessee, Texas & Louisiana. While serving the local church in Baton Rouge, LA, Mark was also the Head Middle School Football Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Parkview Baptist School; a South Louisiana Football factory that ran the triple option. Currently, he is the “voice of the Patriots” as he serves as the PA announcer at West Ridge Middle School for Home football games.
Cole graduated from Ouachita Baptist University and holds a Masters Degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife J.Jaye (who also holds a Masters Degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) have twin daughters, Corbin & Mallie and 2 sons, Titan and Hikman. “TEAM COLE” are loyal LSU fans and HUGE March Madness enthusiasts. ESPN, gumbo and laughter are always in large supply at the Cole house.
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West Monroe Campus Student Pastor
Evan joined the staff at First West as the Student Pastor in August of 2018. He was licensed, ordained, and started his ministry at First Baptist Church of Bossier City. He surrendered to ministry there after feeling called by God from his professional career into a life of full-time ministry. He served there as the Student Pastor. He graduated from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, with a Master of Arts in Christian Education degree, with concentration in student ministry. Evan received his bachelor’s degree from LSU-Shreveport. Evan grew up in the town of Doyline, Louisiana and is married to Kaiti. They have two children, Wilder and Adeline.
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Student Ministry Resident
Tara began working at First West as a Student Ministry Resident in 2016, then transitioned from that role to the Student Ministry Assistant in 2018. She works behind the scenes daily on administrative tasks, keeping events organized and spending time with students. Tara loves working with the Student Ministry team and believes they are truly the best!
Student Ministry Resident
West Monroe Campus Children’s Minister
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Children & Preschool Classroom Support
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Children's Ministry Resident
Christi serves as the Preschool Minister, leading our preschool and weekday ministries at First West. Christi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Mississippi State University and a Master’s of Science in Family and Child Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi. She began her career as a classroom teacher before transitioning to leadership, coaching, and consulting in early childhood education. She was excited to join the First West staff in 2018 and enjoys ministering to young families in Northeast Louisiana.
She lives in West Monroe with her husband, Justin, and their 4 young children Jack (4), Levi (2), and twin baby girls Abby and Avery.
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Mother's Day Out Director
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WEE School Director
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Weekday Ministries Assistant
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Calhoun Student Resident
Fairbanks Student Minister
Fairbanks Campus Worship & Administration Minister
Erica joined First West Fairbanks campus in July of 2018 as Children’s Minister. Erica has served as a volunteer in Kids Ministry and on the worship team at the Fairbanks campus since 2015. Prior to becoming the Children’s Minister, her background was in Video Engineering at Centurylink. Erica spent a significant amount time in New Orleans pursuing urban outreach and working with inner city students through several different church plants. She is passionate about seeing people of all ages have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Erica, her Husband Justin, and children, Finleigh Kate and Sullivan, currently reside in Sterlington.
Discipleship/Missions Ministry Administrator
Misti joined the team in November of 2018 to assist Mark Fenn in the Global Missions area. She helps coordinate mission trips and mission-related special events. Her background in corporate database training and development lends itself well to her support and maintenance of First West’s people software. She also works with our Discipleship team to support Life Group needs and is often seen with a camera in her hands!
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School-Based Ministries Director
Jana Hutzler is the Director of School-Based Ministries for First West. She has been with First West Counseling Center since 2008 where she developed and implemented Project HELP, a school-based counseling, life skills, and parenting initiative. Jana project directed the OPSB 21st-Century Community Learning Centers Grant (2013 -2016) in partnership with Broaden Horizons. Presently Jana oversees the daily operations and partnership development with local churches and businesses for the 3 school-based ministries at First West – Broaden Horizons, Kids Hope, and Project HELP. She is happily married to Charles Hutzler and together they have 4 adult children and 4 grandchildren.
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Broaden Horizons Administrator
Katelyn Weems is the Administrator for Broaden Horizons. She joined the Broaden Horizons team in September 2016. She graduated from Louisiana Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing. She has strong roots in the ministry field having grown up ‘living’ at Seeker Springs in Eros, LA. Katelyn has a heart for business development, outreach & marketing, and school-based ministries. She is happily married to her husband, Jamie Weems, and together they serve in the FW orchestra.
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Transform Center/Thrift Store Director
Phillip joined First West as the Thrift Store Director on January 1, 2015 and has led businesses in North Louisiana for 18 years. He graduated from Ruston High School in 1990 and then from Louisiana Tech in 1995. Phillip has been a member of First West since 2008 and was ordained as a deacon in 2014. He is married to Bonnie Nell Prewitt and they have one daughter, Faith.
Building Services Director
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Operations & Food Services Manager
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Church Office Receptionist
Marilyn greets each person with a friendly smile, making sure visitors feel welcomed as they enter the church office at our West Monroe Campus. She is a native of West Monroe and currently resides in Swartz, Louisiana. She graduated from West Monroe High School and earned a B.B.A degree in Management from ULM. Marilyn retired in the summer of 2018 from Louisiana Tech after 20 plus years of service. She has three children (Wendy, Layne, and Lori), eight grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. She enjoys having fun, singing in the choir, reading, traveling, outdoor activities, and getting together with siblings (especially her four sisters) and extended family.
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Housekeeper & Kitchen Assistant