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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.  Email:





Rev. Nohemi Ramirez – Associate Pastor of East Sherman Ministries

Nohemi is an ordained Elder and member of the Rio Texas Conference.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Religion from Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theological Sciences from the Biblica Latin American University of San José, Costa Rica.  She completed the basic and advanced courses of study at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

Since 1996, Nohemi has been pastoring, planting, and assisting Hispanic ministries and churches within the Rio Texas, North Georgia, Minnesota and Michigan conferences.  A unique feature of Nohemi’s ministry is that she has worked with and accompanied churches with problems, churches that were losing members or dying — restoring, healing, growing and sometimes even raising them completely from the ground up.  This has been achieved with the help of God and the vision and resources of the conferences, equipping the churches and their leaders by providing them with the tools and knowledge of United Methodist doctrine and structure.  This has helped these churches and their leaders to become stronger and take responsibility to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Nohemi also has experience as a church planter, developing faith communities.  She has been exposed to and has extensive experience with Hispanic, bilingual, and multicultural ministries. Nohemi is also a pastoral counselor in the process of being certified, and is a member of the College of Pastoral Supervision and psychotherapy, Grand Rapids Chapter.

Nohemi has been married to Enrique Ramirez since 1979, and he has been her partner in ministry.  They both love music and have put their talents to the service of God and the various churches they have served.  Nohemi and Enrique have two children.  Daughter Joyce and husband Matthew Sheren live in Atlanta, Georgia, and they have three beautiful daughters — Mia, Zöe and Ava.  Son Daniel is single and lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  



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.


Whitney Tarvin – Director of School for Little People

A native of Sherman, Whitney graduated as a Bearcat in 2010, before earning her Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas in 2013. Her background includes a variety of project management experience and time in the classroom.

Whitney and husband, David, have been married since 2014, and after some practice as foster parents, welcomed their daughter Raylee into this world in May of 2017. Whitney follows in the steps of her mother-in-law as Director of School for Little People and continues in a tradition of positive growth for the school. Email:
Brittani Welch – Director of Youth Ministries & Communications
Brittani Welch grew up in Grand Prairie, TX and felt the call to youth ministry at the age of eighteen. She holds two Associates degrees, one in sociology and on in education. She is a Senior at Texas Woman’s University. 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.
Lesa Boswell – Administrative Assistant

Lesa Boswell and her family have been members of the church since 2003. With a background in education, Lesa has been in leadership in our church for many years. As a Sunday school volunteer, mission trip counselor, vacation bible school volunteer, a member of our capital campaign leadership team and now Lesa serves in the all-important position of administrative assistant .

Lesa has been married to husband John since 1994. He works as Senior Director of Development with Panda Power Funds of Dallas. Lesa and John are the proud parents of Emma (20) and Benjamin (17).