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Rev Chris DowdChris Dowd – Senior Pastor

Pastor Chris has been Senior Pastor since July 2013.  In that role, he works with lay leadership and staff to discern and implement the vision for our church’s ministries, and he is usually the preacher on Sunday mornings.  Chris graduated from the University of Notre Dame (Go Irish!) in 1992, majoring in Government and Russian.  He worked as a Supply Corps Officer in the US Navy for four years, a logistics consultant for four years, and a logistics manager for Blockbuster for four years before hearing a call to ministry.  While attending Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, where he graduated summa cum laude, Chris served as Youth Minister at Arapaho UMC in Richardson.  He then served as Associate Pastor at Arapaho and Senior Pastor at First UMC Henrietta, Texas, before moving with his family to Sherman.  Chris and his wife, Whitney, have two sons, Max and Sam, and the entire family loves this church and community. Chris coaches the boys’ soccer and basketball teams.  Whitney serves on the School For Little People Board (here at First Methodist Sherman), the PTA at Sory Elementary, and the Child Welfare Board of Grayson County.

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Samantha Parson – Associate Pastor

Samantha began serving as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship in July 2016.  In addition to assisting with Sunday School, small groups, and preaching when needed, she works to develop and implement systems for reaching new people, growing our faith, and going in ministry! Samantha graduated in 1992 from Texas A&M with a degree in English & History and worked in both public and private education until committing to her call to ministry in 2004.  She attended Asbury Theological Seminary and graduated in 2011.  She has been blessed to pastor the oldest church in the North Texas Conference, Virginia Point UMC (1837), and the oldest Methodist church in Collin County, Cottage Hill UMC (1846).  She has also served as pastor at Chambersville UMC and as associate at Prosper UMC. Samantha has been married to husband, Craig since 1990, and they are the proud parents of daughter, Jacqueline, who attends William Jewell College in Missouri. Craig is the Science Instructional Specialist for McKinney Boyd High School, serves on the Texoma Emmaus Community Board of Directors and is also a musician. 

Joe Ed's PicJoe Ed Goolsby – Associate Pastor

Joe Ed received his first appointment in ministry in 1962 at 20 years of age and has since served churches across the North Texas Conference.  He joined our staff in 2007.  Joe Ed oversees our Pastoral Care ministry, a place where he can share the love and grace of God with people when they need God the most.  He and his wife, Juanielle, have three children and four granddaughters.

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Sherry Little – Financial SecretarySherry joined First UMC with her husband Robert and their four children, upon returning to Sherman in 1995.  Robert is a third generation member who was raised at FUMC, so this was truly a homecoming.  Sherry graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Secondary Education – Geology and English, and has taught Junior High & Pre-school, served as Administrative Assistant and Program Director at Kessler Park UMC in Dallas before coming to Sherman, and served Home Hospice of Grayson County for 19 years as Volunteer Coordinator and Executive Director.  As a member of FUMC she has served as confirmation leader, Great Days of Service leader, Lay Leader and assisted Robert in teaching Junior High Sunday School.  She is a member of the United Methodist Women and currently serves on the Mission Committee. She joined the staff of FUMC as Financial Secretary in September last year so that Mary Adlof could train her before she retired.  She says, “I love this church family and find it challenging and rewarding to work with the staff and Finance Committee in practicing good stewardship – finding more cost effective solutions and always being completely transparent in the areas of fundraising and spending.”  In their spare time, Sherry and Robert follow Baylor sports, attending all the football games each season; spend time with their four children, spouses and, of course, grandson, Archie (a fifth generation member of FUMC); travel, and spend time at their new downtown Sherman restaurant, Old Iron Post.

Dr. Jeremy Blackwood

Dr. Jeremy Blackwood – Director of Music Ministries

Dr. Jeremy Blackwood joined the staff at First Methodist Sherman as the Director of Music in 2008.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Arkansas State University, a Master’s of Music in Voice Performance with a related field in Opera Theatre from University of North Texas, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance with a related field in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of North Texas. Dr. Blackwood coordinates all worship experiences and directs the Chancel Choir and the Handbell Choir. In addition to his duties at First Methodist, Dr. Blackwood is Assistant Professor of Voice at Southeastern Oklahoma State University where he is the coordinator for voice studies and the music director for stage productions with Opera Southeastern and Theatre at Southeastern. Dr. Blackwood previously served First United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Arkansas and Trinity United Methodist Church in Denton, Texas.

Abbey Echols

Abbey Echols – Director of Children’s Ministries


Abbey oversees our children’s ministry to ensure a smoothly operating, safe, and vibrant program.  She brings energy and enthusiasm to our children’s programs!  She and the Children’s Ministry Team work hard to plan special events for children, like our Easter Egg Hunt, Vacation Bible School, and the Halloween Carnival.  She also recruits and trains all of our adult volunteers who teach our children throughout the year. Abbey grew up in Anna, Texas and graduated from Austin College in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology. She is in her 2nd  year at SMU Perkins School of Theology pursuing a Master of Divinity in order to become a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She, and her husband, Matthew Echols (the drummer in the Mosaic band), have a beautiful baby girl, Ellie Mae, and a rat terrier named Tonto.

Dr. Stewart Mayers

Stewart Mayers – Organist

Stewart has served churches as organist in Oklahoma, Georgia and Texas since 1988, and has been organist at First Methodist Church Sherman since 2002. Stewart holds Colleague Certification from the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter of the AGO. He is a professor of education at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Janann Powers

Janann Powers-Hefner – Assistant Director of Music Ministries

Janann serves as our assistant director of music.  She loves all aspects of her job here at First Methodist because it allows her to use her God given gifts in so many areas of the music program and in the church.  The passion she has for sharing music is most evident in her voice and can be heard in the voices and seen on the faces of the children of First Methodist.


Wendy Vellotti – Director of School for Little People

Wendy has been working at SFLP since 2010 and has been the Director since 2011. She works with parents to make them feel more at ease with the transition to preschool. She has a passion for inspiring children, and for nurturing their curiosity, imagination, and confidence while creating lifelong friendships.
Wendy graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.  She and her husband Chris live in Sherman and have been married since 2004.  They have three wonderful boys Alex (11), Anthony (8), and Preston (6), all of whom graduated from School For Little People. They have been active members of First Methodist Sherman since 2007.


Brittani Welch – Director of Youth Ministries

Brittani Welch grew up in Grand Prairie, TX and felt the call to youth ministry at the age of eighteen. She is currently working her certification in Youth Ministry through Spark Southwestern.  Brittani oversees our youth program, creating a fun and safe environment while continually nourishing young students’ spiritual growth. She and her husband Brian love spending time with their three children as well as camping as often as possible when they are not together serving in ministry.
Courtney Mitchell

Courtney Mitchell – Director of Communications

Courtney Mitchell – Director of Communications

Courtney joined our staff in the fall of 2015. She publishes the seasonal church newsletter, manages the church websites and social media accounts, as well as any marketing that is done around the campus. Courtney attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where she earned a B.A in Political Science. She is a Certified Professional Photographer with the Professional Photographers of America and often lends her craft to our congregation. Courtney and her husband, Shane, have two daughters, Whitley and Charley.

Melissa Mitchell Melissa Mitchell – Administrative Assistant