Bill Hardee joined the staff as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in February 2009. He is a native Georgian and grew up in Jesup. He adores his lovely wife Jane and is proud of his three children. He earned his PhD at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Throughout his ministry, Dr. Hardee has also served as Chair of the Religion Department at Tift College, Headmaster of Cross Keys Christian Academy, a Hospice Chaplain, an adjunct professor at Mercer University, and has pastored 6 Churches.
Pastor Bill is known for his contagious laughter and his fun-loving ways. When he is not being knocked of sailboats or becoming lost in the Canadian Rockies, he and his wife enjoy traveling, hiking, cycling, and watching reruns of their favorite television programs. He is terrible at golf but enjoys being with friends in the out-of-doors wandering in the woods looking for his golf ball.
Steven Norris joined the staff of First Baptist Church as Associate Pastor in May 2018. Though he was born in Meridian, MS, he calls Memphis, TN his hometown. He has been identified by many roles and titles throughout his life: pastor, teacher, fire chaplain, missionary, musician, author, professor, photographer, artist, nature-lover, storyteller, world traveler, and bibliophile (book addict). His most important roles, however, are those of husband and father. Steven and Michelle have been married since 2002 and they have two amazing boys.
Steven’s high school job at an office supply store has made him a certifiable “pen snob.” His love of coffee probably borders on an addiction. He is also pretty sure that he was blessed/cursed with the spiritual gift of sarcasm. Steven is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and Gardner-Webb University with degrees in music and theology. He has served various churches and schools as music minister, senior pastor, adjunct college professor, and middle/high school theology teacher.
Sarah Murray began serving First Baptist Church of Griffin as Minister to Families with Children in July 2014. With a love for people and for stories, Sarah is driven by a calling to help families discover their place in God’s story through the routine and the extraordinary. Through experiences with her family of origin and the church families she’s been a part of, Sarah is confident that although life together is not always easy, we are better servants of Christ and one another when we live out our faith in the context of community. Fred Rogers is one of Sarah’s faith heroes and models for equipping and encouraging children and parents in Christian faith.
A native of Thomasville, Georgia, Sarah is a graduate of both Mercer University and McAfee School of Theology. Prior to First Baptist of Griffin, Sarah served First Baptist of Fitzgerald, Georgia. She is married to David, and they enjoy traveling, doing household projects together, trying new foods and recipes and making one another laugh. Sarah has an infectious enthusiasm and is courageous! Growing up, she asked repeatedly for a pet snake! Also, for four years she created children’s sermons “on the fly” based on a random object children would bring to worship.
Seth Brown earned his Bachelor of Art in History from Georgia College and State University. He has a diverse ministry background. His call into ministry began with his work at children’s homes in North Carolina and also Georgia. He has served at three different churches as minister to students, most recently at First Presbyterian Church of Griffin, prior to joining the staff of First Baptist Griffin in March of 2018. He is married to Emily, and they have two boys: Xander and Sheppard.
Seth grew up with a love of sports and the outdoors. In his hometown of Lilburn, he is a neighborhood two hand touch football legend. He is a huge fan of Duke Basketball, the DAWGS, music, and coffee. If he is not in the middle of a nerf gun battle or a trampoline wrestling match, you will probably find him listening to some music, sipping coffee on the back porch. He doesn’t believe in participation trophies, skim milk, or drinking from a day-old pot of coffee. He does believe in Chaco tans, sarcasm being a love language, and the fact that fractions are indeed evil.
Erin Clarke joined the staff of First Baptist in April 2019. Her call to ministry came later in life, enabling her to collect a wide array of experiences under her belt before landing at FBC, Griffin. Erin has been a Middle School Chorus Teacher, Children’s Theater Director, Camp Counselor, Arts Council Board Member, and Interim Music Minister- all of which have prepared her well for her current position.
Erin graduated from Mercer University with a Music Education Degree and a Masters in Choral Conducting. After being elected to the Student Government Association for five terms, serving as Mercer Ambassador, living in the Phi Mu house, and traveling on four international tours with the Mercer Singers, Erin is entirely convinced that Mercer is “the best school in the land.”
As one of three girls raised in a strong Christian home, Erin is a certifiable over-achieving perfectionist who fully appreciates the proper way to tie a bow. However, being married to Chip and being a Momma to three little boys has taught her to relax, go with the flow, play in the dirt, and occasionally accept a summertime swim as substitute for a bath. Despite her flair for the dramatic, she prefers being real to putting on a show. At FBCG, her desire is to help facilitate worship that is genuine and inspired.
Ellee Hilley has been a member of First Baptist her entire life. Born and raised in Griffin, she calls First Baptist her home church. Prior to serving as Director of Worship Arts, she has been a church pianist, worship leader, instrumental ensemble director, and has accompanied many ensemble groups at First Baptist. Ellee has a bachelor’s degree in business from Georgia State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Mercer University. She is currently in seminary at the Institute for Worship Studies and is working toward a Master of Worship Studies.
Ellee loves her family, including her wonderful husband, Troy, and her two boys, Harrison and Owen. Ellee is a pianist, but also plays the trombone and the cello. She loves gardening, and her absolute favorite flower is the hydrangea; she believes blooming hydrangeas are an instant mood-booster! Her favorite food to grow is the potato but only because it’s fun to dig up and harvest. Her sweet tooth is for Reese’s peanut butter cups, and she also has a coffee addiction. She loves playing tennis and loves being with her family.
Ellee loves music, ministry, and First Baptist!