Meet the FUMC Staff

We try to model faithful community and collaborative visioning for the entire congregation.  

Here's your chance to get to know us a little better.

  • Jim Bell, Lead Pastor

    Q: You seem in your element in church. Where might people find you in your element outside of church space and say “Wow, I didn’t know Jim liked/did that?"

    A:  I really enjoy hiking, walking in the woods and marveling at God’s creation. When I was in the eighth grade, I went camping with my best friend and his family in the Shenandoah National Park in the mountains of Virginia. We hiked with a ranger around Loft Mountain and ate delicious blackberries along the trail. I have loved hiking ever since! My wife, Melody, and I went hiking to South River Falls near Elkton, Virginia, on one of our first dates. We have hiked on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine and along a trail where we spotted a dozen alligators in the Everglades National Park in Florida. I enjoy nearby adventures also – like hiking in Medoc Mountain State Park in Halifax County or along the Tar River Trail in Rocky Mount.

    Q: Pastoring a church is hard and rewarding at the same time. Can you give us a brief word about what the church is supposed to be and do?

    A: The church is a community of people who strive to love, obey, worship and serve God. We live in grateful response to the incredible love of God that is revealed most clearly in Jesus Christ. We teach all ages how to live as followers of Jesus. We reach out to people beyond our walls to share the life Jesus desires for us all. We are together in this boat called life, and we do our best to encourage, support and love one another.

  • Matt Seaton, Associate Pastor

    Q:  You grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota.  What's one thing you love about South Dakota?  What's one thing you love about living in North Carolina?

    A:  I love South Dakota  sunrises and sunsets.  With the open prairies you can see for miles and see the full picture.   As far as Carolina is concerned, I love the beaches and the ocean.  Growing up landlocked, the ocean takes on special meaning for me.  

    Q:  You have been in the pastorate for nearly 9 years.  What's one thing you have learned about ministry in that time?  

    A: Good question.  Just one?  One important thing I've learned about ministry is that all people are different.  A simple insight, to be sure, but a helpful insight.  It means that I can't assume that the people ,at whatever church I'm serving at, enjoys the same type of worship or the same types of small group studies etc...  Rather than form the ministry programs and worship services in my own style, I've come to learn to listen to the congregation and draw from their collective desires and wisdom.

  • Stephanie Geanes, Minister of Next Generation Discipleship

  • Daniel Mullens, Youth Pastor

  • TJ Shirley, Contemporary Worship Leader/Comm Director

  • Bill Wood, Director of Traditional Music

    Q: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned about God through directing choirs and playing the organ?

    A: That so many (or a few) singers of varying backgrounds, abilities and tastes can come together as one voice in praise to God. I believe that singing is the ideal for music in worship. Through singing our bodies, minds and breath are integrated in a way that I find very spiritual. The connection between the breath of singing and that of the Holy Spirit is very real to me.  I am fascinated by the many ways that the pipe organ can enhance singing, whether it be through its volume and power or the intricate details of rhythm and interplay between voices. The organ has been the standard in supporting congregational and choir singing for hundreds of years. 

    Q: You play organ, piano and guitar. If you could only play one song for the rest of your life…what song would it be and on what instrument?

    A:  "Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die."  

    from There is a Fountain by William Cowper.

    -for voices alone.

  • Wendi Beck, Office Administrator

    Q:  I’ve heard you actually have a good singing voice and enjoy music. What song playing on your playlist makes you want to belt it out in the car?

    A:  Haha, I don't know who told you that, but they must be tone-deaf! I do enjoy music though; and to name just one would be too difficult. Worship music is my first love, and that's what I listen to and sing in my car 99% of the time, but some occasions call for 90s music, specifically hip-hop.  I love this quote from my sweet friend, Emily, "I love Jesus, and rap!" Sometimes you just have to 'take it back to the old school'. 

    Q:  A lot of people might look at church finance and say “ugh.” Can you talk about how you see it and your work as a ministry?

    A:  I can assure you that is a learned ministry for me. When I started at First UMC I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But, the beauty in this is knowing that although I didn't know, God knew. Over the years, he has given me the ability to grow into this position and learn so much about what it means to be a good steward of God's money; it's not just a job, but a true ministry. I feel very honored to be entrusted with the funds of the church, and count it a privilege to work alongside some very knowledgeable and passionate Finance Ministry Chairs, Treasurers, Ministry Leaders, & Pastors.

  • Llewellyn Edmondson, Administrative Assistant

    Q:  You used to be a teacher.  What was the lesson you taught that was always the hardest for students to get?

    A:  I taught middle schoolers.  My class was an elective, chosen by the students to learn about the world of work and to explore careers.  I'm not sure there was one "hard lesson" that comes to mind.  However, I think it was difficult at first for the students to understand the importance of thinking and planning for their future at that point in time.  

    Q:  What is your favorite part about being an administrative assistant?

    A:  I love working with and serving the staff and church members at First UMC.

  • Sybil Ward, Office Assistant/Bookkeeper

  • Cheryl Stanton, Preschool  Director