Paul Gardner and his wife, Sharon, came to ChristChurch in 2005. Following a degree in Spanish from London University, Paul started a candle-making company with a partner in the early 1970’s, with the intention of being able to afford a theological education. In 1979, Paul received his Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS and later, his PhD from Cambridge University in England.
Paul is British, and Sharon was born in California, leaving for England when she was just twenty. Paul’s ministry in England has included teaching New Testament and Homiletics for seven years at Oak Hill Theological College, a seminary in London, pastoring a church in the northwest of the country for over twelve years, and most recently, serving as the Archdeacon of Exeter. This is a position appointed by the Bishop to help oversee clergy, parishes, and churches in an area in southwest England.
Along with his love of pastoral ministry and care for people, Dr. Gardner has been actively engaged in preaching and teaching both nationally and internationally. In England he served, for a number of years, as Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council. Some of his teachings are available at www.paulgardner.org.
Paul and his wife Sharon arrived in Atlanta in November of 2005. Sharon is a qualified school teacher. Their family is now grown: Jonathan is married to Charlotte, and they live in London with their daughter Naomi, born June 28, 2006. David is married to Amanda, and they live on Seabrook Island, SC. Hannah is married to Steven Simms and she is pursuing studies at Richmont Graduate School.
Paul has published a number of books and articles, including commentaries in the Focus on the Bible Commentary Series from Christian Focus Publications. He has written on 2 Peter & Jude, Revelation, and Ephesians for that series. Further works include “The Gifts of God and the Authentication of a Christian”, “An Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 8-11,” and “The Zondervan Encyclopedia of Bible Characters” (as editor and major contributor). Dr. Gardner is also working on a commentary for Zondervan on 1 Corinthians and a pastoral book on the subject “When God Says No!,” which he describes as a “much-neglected area in Christian teaching.”
Sharon and I have a passion to love God and his people. We are always learning, but we are so thankful to God that he has called us to serve here. We long to serve the Lord at ChristChurch in whatever areas he opens for us. Whether it be visiting those in serious need, inviting people to our home, or teaching, or preaching the Word, our desire is that we grow continually in our knowledge and love of the Lord and help others to do the same. For both of us, the study of God\'s Word, and worship and prayer with God\'s people are foundational and the deepest joy of our own spirituality and love for the Lord.
My excitement about serving as the Pastor for Congregational Life comes from a great desire to see people gain a deeper understanding of God’s grace and reach out with that grace to our community. In my ten years as a youth pastor and nine years as an associate pastor at ChristChurch, I believe the Lord has given me a heart for shepherding and discipleship, and a real passion for the next generation.
Coming from a broken home, I came to know the Lord at a young age and have been influenced greatly by many godly people, including family members, teachers & coaches, Young Life leaders, youth group leaders, friends & mentors. After graduating from Anderson University in 1986 and spending 5 years in retail management, the Lord confirmed a desire to be in full-time ministry in the summer of 1991. While serving as a youth pastor, I completed my graduate studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1995.
The last several years have been a time of amazing growth in Christ and movement toward self-awareness and God-awareness. I believe the Lord has led my wife of 19 years, Paulette, and me on an incredible journey of our hearts. He has taught me much about myself, but more importantly, much about Him, exposing my idols and showing me His grace, His goodness, and His sovereignty. There have been times of struggle and difficulty, but a sense of wonder and “awakening” as well, with a new discovery and understanding of God’s grace and what that really means in our lives. It is truly irresistible and it’s truly amazing! Through the privilege of being a father to two incredible daughters, the Lord is redeeming my own experiences and revealing His character as I become more and more dependent on Him.
Ministry in God’s church, many times, involves deep personal struggle. Nevertheless, I have a great desire to deepen my personal relationship with the Lord and glorify Him with my work, for I “continue to work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [me] to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12-13)
I am passionate about God`s Word, his people, and the gifts that he has given to his Church in order to spread the Good News of Jesus in a compelling and holistic manner. For those reasons I am most interested in how we, as the Church, can best enter into God`s presence and make the most of the Bible, Bread and Wine, Baptism, and Prayer which are given by our Lord with the intended purpose that they nourish his people and call others to faith in King Jesus. Everything that I do at ChristChurch (see below) starts with worship. As a Christian and as a pastor I believe it is a joy to worship God and I hope to see others, those who confess faith in Jesus and those who as of yet do not, come to share the same joy and excitement of knowing our powerful creator God as a Loving Savior, a Loving Father, and a Loving King.
I grew up in a Christian home and for all intents and purposes I do not remember a day that I did not believe the good news that Jesus died for my sins and rose again from the dead having freed my from the tyranny of sin. As I have grown older my spiritual maturity has increased and so has my understanding of how sinful I am and how beautiful God`s grace is. In late high school and college I became enamored with Theology and I continue to loving studying God and his word and am humbled by how little I know and how many questions I still have.
CALL TO MINISTRY
I started teaching in the local church when I was in college. At that time I also led some small group Bible Studies, discipled some fellow students, and began to be more interested in actively telling others about Jesus (you know without lowering my voice and being a little embarrassed!). I was encouraged by pastors, elders, and friends to seek out God`s calling for me with regard to Gospel Ministry. So in June of 2006 my wife Julie and I headed out to St. Louis where I was enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program at Covenant Theological Seminary. At that time Julie was pregnant with our first child, Hadden who is now 8 years old, and since then we have added Tennyson (6), Roan (3) and Graham (1.5). As a result our house is full of lots of sword fighting, super-heroes, and weird smells. After seminary I interned at a church in San Diego, CA for a few months and then moved to Georgia where I continued to pursue ministry while working a number of sales jobs. God taught me many things about his faithfulness, his love, and his desire to see Christ formed in me during this time. I subsequently learned much of my doubting heart, my lack of patience, and my obsession with control (among other things). But during all of that time God was preparing me for gospel ministry in ways that I still struggle to describe.
SPECIFIC WORK TO WHICH I HAVE BEEN CALLED
In June 2011 my family and I began to worship at ChristChurch and in May 2012 I was called by the elders of CCP as the Assistant pastor of Outreach and Home Groups. That means that I am responsible to insure that everything we do as a church has an outreach—evangelistic—focus. This is an exciting calling at a church where many people want to tell others (friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members) about the hope that we as Christians have in King Jesus and where people, young and old, are eager to see visitors at Church!
One way that outreach is fostered, at CCP, is in our Home Group ministry where Christians are encouraged to grow deeper in their faith, grow closer to one another and engage their neighbors together (see Home Group link).
Beyond Outreach and Home Groups I also plan and lead our evening worship service (Sundays at Seven). At this service we dig deep into the word of God, sing and pray to him in the Spirit, and engage the questions that people have always wanted to ask but have, maybe, never had the opportunity to ask them. Further, I preach regularly, teach often and offer pastoral oversight to our College ministry. In all of these areas of church life it is a joy, and a labor of love before God, to serve the people of God, and encourage an outward face that seeks the peace, flourishing, and salvation of those in the City of Atlanta.
Greg joined the ChristChurch staff as the Director of Music and Arts in 2006. He is a graduate of Belmont University with a Bachelor of Music in Church Music, emphasis in conducting and piano. He completed a Master’s in Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Greg has served the local church for over twenty years, specializing in blending old hymns, modern songs, and liturgy into services of worship that undergird the spoken word. At ChristChurch, he is responsible for the training and development of instrumentalists and vocalists from within the body to lead weekly worship. He also leads seasonal choirs and produces Christmas at ChristChurch, an annual event including adult and children’s choirs, orchestra, dance, and drama.
Greg also oversees the ChristChurch Arts Ministry, which includes the Genema Gallery, located in the church foyer. The Genema Gallery hosts rotating exhibits by artists both inside and outside the church. The ministry has grown to include Expressions, an art show celebrating talent within the church body.
Greg is married to Kristi, a preschool teacher and freelance graphic designer. They are parents to a son and a daughter. Together, Greg and Kristi enjoy leading worship for Mission to the World (MTW) conferences, both in the US and abroad. They also enjoy writing and composing.
God has put a passionate love in Joseph’s heart for the next generation, believing God has created a beautiful image of himself, the triune God, in the context of family. When Joseph considers God’s plan for the family, he is in awe at how the relationship between parents and their children is to reflect him not only in life, but in worship. Joseph therefore believes God has called him to equip God’s family, the Church, to diligently disciple the next generation.
Joseph is a born and bred Californian, but Kelly is originally from New Jersey. After moving west to attend graduate school, Kelly thought she’d be there for two years and return - then she met Joseph. They would stay in California another 12 years before leaving for Atlanta in 2013, driving cross country in two cars with their boys and two dogs.
Ministry to children began early for Joseph, growing up in a home with parents actively involved in church and community-based programs for children and youth. These experiences early in life laid the foundation for what the LORD would use to call him into full time ministry.
After earning a degree in psychology (emphasis in child development) from BIOLA University, Joseph has spent nearly 25 years in children’s and youth ministry – camping, urban and suburban settings, both church and community-based. He is currently attending seminary with a desire to earn an MDiv sometime in 2018.
Joseph met Kelly in 2001 when mutual friends relentlessly bugged him until he asked her out on a date – when he did finally ask her out they hit it off, marrying a year-to-the-day later.
While they have many things in common, what most drew him to Kelly was their differences ... differences that the Lord has used to mature Joseph into a man. This includes Kelly completing her Masters in Theology degree, which she has not only used to lead and teach others, but to also support and challenge him in his thinking and approach to ministry.
From the moment they met, Joseph and Kelly wanted to be involved in foster care, even to possibly adopt. However it was not until they entered their 40’s, having struggled with infertility for 8 years, they began the process. In 2011 they were introduced to Jacob (4) and Makiah (3), biologically half-brothers, whom they’d adopt nearly two years later in 2013.
Joseph has come to firmly believe in what he calls The Acts 6 Model; a scripturally based approach to diligently discipling our children through our God-given abilities, inspiring our children to 1) fall in love with God’s word, and 2) to learn how and why we worship God, loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength as we do so.
Robin serves as the Business Manager and also as Interim Children's Nursery Coordinator. She has worked at ChristChurch for over 10 years, and manages the day-to-day operations of the church.
Robin is married to Jay Parten, who manages customer support at Horizon Software. Robin and Jay live in Marietta, and worship at Johnson Ferry Baptist.
Jill served for 10 years as an itinerant worship leader with OM (Operation Mobilization). She hails originally from Minnesota but feels more like an Atlanta native after spending most of her life in the area. Her childhood was spent sailing the seas onboard OM’s ship, MV Doulos. She currently resides in Fayette County where she dotes on her four nieces and nephews.
Kutania is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and has served in ministering to youth and young adults for over 18 years with her husband Brian of 19 years. She and her husband share a love for music and have recorded several underground musical projects with a style of hip hop alternative and contemporary worship for the local congregation. Their message is to bring hope to the broken hearted and encouragement to strengthen the weak. Kutania and her husband have two lovely daughters, Kenya age 17 and Zionne age 10 and they reside in Powder Springs, Georgia.
Kutania has received her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and has served in children\'s ministry for over six years. She has a passion for reaching the next generation while leading them and their families in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Her two favorite passages of Scripture are Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” To her, these are messages of hope to all people for knowing they have purpose and knowing they are loved by God. Kutania finds joy in giving endless energy, honesty, creativity and resilience to the next generation in helping them to discover their part in God’s story.
Kelley has been working as the Accountant at ChristChurch since 2010. She is a graduate from Georgia State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting.
Kelley is married to Charles Miller who works as the budget director for the Counsel of Superior Court Judges. They have one grown son, Steven, who is currently serving in the US Navy. Charles and Kelley live in Locust Grove and are members of Salem Baptist Church.
Lauren joined the ChristChurch staff as the Next Generation Youth Director in July 2015. She graduated from Grove City College, in Grove City, PA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Religious Studies and minors in Psychology and Communications.
Lauren comes from a family with a strong background in youth ministry. She was born in the suburbs of Chicago, and attended a large non-denominational church where her father was the youth minister. At the age of five and a half, her family moved to England, where her father took another youth ministry position in a parish church. Through interactions with the youth group and her own peers, Lauren gained a passion to share the Gospel with youth and teens. From an early age, she realized how important it is to be able to grow and defend one’s faith. After living in England for just over five years, her family moved to Charleston, SC. Following her graduation from high school, Lauren returned to England for a year to serve as a missionary at a Christian “camp.” During this year she was able to work with a team of Christians from across the globe to share the Gospel with both churched and unchurched youth. Through serving on that team, her passion for sharing the Gospel with students grew, and God reaffirmed her calling to youth ministry. When her time in England was over, she returned to the States to study at Grove City College.
During the summers in college, Lauren spent two summers working at a Christian summer camp near Charleston, SC. The last two summers she spent as a youth ministry intern at a Presbyterian church in Ashburn, VA. The following autumn, she was an intern at an Anglican church in Georgetown, SC. She also worked as the Digital Sales Lead at her local Barnes and Noble for a little while.
In June 2015, Lauren married her college sweetheart, James. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Business and is a classically trained guitarist. He is currently working for a sales outsourcing company, but has the desire to compose for video games and other media outlets. They both dream of starting a duo for one of his side projects.
Lauren has a strong desire to see the students of the youth ministry not only grow in their faith and understanding of the Biblical Truth, but also learn how to reach out to their friends and communities.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”