Dr. Eric Spivey – Senior Pastor
As the son of the late John Spivey, a Baptist pastor, Eric Spivey grew up exploring God’s direction for his life. First Baptist Church, Port Wentworth, GA, an industrial town on Savannah’s Westside, licensed him to preach at the age of 17.
In 1991, Eric received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University where he met his wife, Marcia Coyle Spivey. For the next three years, Eric served as a resort chaplain at Dollywood theme park working with Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries. While working at Dollywood, Eric and Marcia married in April 1992. Following a call to prepare for ministry, Eric and Marcia moved to Fort Worth, Texas where Eric attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
After his seminary years Eric continued to explore God’s direction for his life through a variety of ministries. In Texas in served as the chaplain for Six Flags Over Texas theme park and at Baylor University Medical Center. In Alabama he served as the 1996 Olympic Ministries Coordinator for the Birmingham Baptist Association. In South Carolina he served as North American Mission Board (SBC) resort missionary in the Beaufort/Hilton Head area. Also in South Carolina he served as both the Associate Pastor/Christian Formation and Missions and Interim Pastor at the Baptist Church of Beaufort.
In 2010, Eric received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Gardner Webb University. At the same time, First Baptist Church, Cornelia called him to be their 32nd pastor. He preached his first sermon on July 4, 2010.
Eric’s family includes his wife Marcia, his two daughters, Sarah and Sydney, and his mother, Jean. Marcia serves as an educator in Habersham County Schools. Sarah is a college student at Samford University. Sydney attends Tallulah Falls School where she runs track. Eric’s mom, Jean (or Mama Jean as we call her) lives in Demorest.
Eric loves to explore the mountains of Northeast Georgia through day hikes with family and friends. Snow skiing continues to be a passion both for him and his family. While no one can believe, he is now known around Habersham County as the “Dancing Preacher” after winning a clean sweep in the 2016 Dancing with the Stars for Hope fundraiser.
Rev. John Swindler, Associate Pastor, Faith Formations
John grew up in Columbia, South Carolina in a strong Christian home. As a teenager, he was very involved in the growing student ministry at First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina where Dr. Ed Young served as pastor. After attending Furman University and graduating in 1982 with a major in psychology, he began to deal with God’s call on his life to minister. A mission trip to inner city Philadelphia in 1981 was a key time in this process of a life long calling. He graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986 with a master of divinity degree in pastoral counseling. Following graduation, he returned to Columbia, SC and the Baptist Medical Center there to complete 3 units of Clinical Pastoral Education and in 1987 was called to work as minister of music and youth at the Sandy Level Baptist Church in Blythewood, SC. There he began to realize his calling in youth ministry, and has worked with students in churches all over South Carolina including Beaufort, Florence, and Lexington. The teaching of God’s word and an emphasis on missions are important in all that he does. His philosophy of ministry can be summed up in three phrases: Life Change, Life Choices, and Life Memories. He enjoys photography, being with his family, and watching lives change as people commit their lives to the Lord.
His favorite TV show? SURVIVOR…mainly because he is one!
John met Jennie in 1972 in the youth group at FBC Columbia. They have been married since 1984. Jennie is a graduate of Columbia College and the University of South Carolina and works as a speech pathologist at Demorest Elementary. They are the parents of 3 girls. Alana and her husband Steven O’leary live in Mobile, Alabama where they study at the University of Mobile and are expecting the birth of their first son, Aiden, in April 2012. Laura Grace is a sophomore at Charleston Southern University where she plays volleyball and is majoring in physical education, desiring to use her sports skills on the mission field in the future. Jillian is a 7th grader at Wilbanks Middle School and enjoys music and drama.
John’s desire is to lead our children, youth, and families into a deeper walk with the Lord and to work along side Pastor Eric and the congregation here at First Baptist to help them fulfill the vision that God has given them to reach and disciple others. He is also available for pastoral counseling. His contact information is below:
Bobby Ivey, Minister of Worship & Music
Bobby Ivey grew up as a military dependent while his dad served in the U.S. Air Force. Living in Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina, and the Philippines, he learned to love God, family, and country. Blessed with a gift of music and love for singing, Bobby went to the University of Montevallo to study music. There he met his wife, Tammy, also a music major. They were married at FBC Cornelia in 1982 while Bobby was serving as part time Minister of Music. Bobby taught in the Georgia public schools for 30 years with the last 25 years as choral director at Habersham Central High School. He is now an assistant professor of music at Brenau University in Gainesville where he directs the music education program and conducts 2 choral ensembles. Bobby has spent most of his professional career as a bi-vocational minister of music. Tammy is now a 4th Grade teacher at Cornelia Elementary School where she has been teaching for 29 years. She is, and always has been, a constant support to Bobby as he serves in music ministry.
Married for almost 30 years, Bobby and Tammy have 2 beautiful daughters, Megan and Hannah. Megan is a speech pathologist living in Dallas, TX with her husband, Spencer, who is attending Dallas Theological Seminary. Hannah is finishing her music therapy degree at the University of Georgia and preparing for a 6 month internship. Bobby and Tammy enjoy spending time with their family when they can all be home together. As for watching TV, their favorite show is NCIS and can be found watching re-runs or DVD’s of the past 8 seasons.
Bobby’s life scripture is Psalm 104:33. I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Jarvis McFarlin, Business Manager
Jarvis is a native of Franklin County, born in Royston, GA.
He and Joyce have been married for 35 years.
They have two children: Josh, a graduate of Clemson University who works for Agilis Engineering in Camden, SC. and Jared, a student at Gainesville State College planning on majoring in engineering.