Ministerial, visionary scholar and spiritual shepherd to many, Rev. Dr. Kregg F. Burris, is the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Founder of the Cleveland Life Institute. Before coming to Cleveland in 2015, he has served several congregations throughout the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio) specializing in congregational renewal. Dr. Burris passion towards growth in the kingdom can be seen in the continuous expansion of his congregations, including the new construction projects, this includes two new building projects costing over 4 million dollars and major renovations of each of the congregations where he has served. In addition to building, teaching and empowering, he reorganized the governing the board of several congregations and served on Constitutional revision team for the state constitution of the American Baptist Churches of Indiana. While serving in West Virginia, he served on the state board of Budget and Finance Committee and was over the ordination governing board of the Panhandle Association of the WVBC.
A skilled team leader, Rev. Burris has taken an active role within each community in both ecclesiastical and community action programs which including after-school programs, early childhood reading, food pantries, leadership development, and serving on the executive board of the Weirton Medical Center, and council of the Bedford Medical Center (now Indiana University Health Center- Bedford, Indiana), Bertha’s Ministries, the Weirton Christian Center. Dr. Burris believe in a balance of spirit, word, and action, which can be seen in his numerous mission trips to areas such as, Russia, India, and Mexico. He has inspired students through workshops, retreats and even taught in churches and denominational settings.
He holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston. His doctoral study related to ministry in the era of postmodernism in the contemporary culture of the church. His doctoral thesis was on the identity of congregational life in the midst of the worship wars within the churches of the American Baptist Churches of the USA.
In addition to his service on both local and regional boards of the American Baptist Churches of the USA, he has earned certification in conflict management, premarital and marital counseling, hospice care, and leadership.
Rev. Burris has been used as a consultant to the church regarding church growth and governing. He has a member of the Cleveland Baptist Association Ministerial Council, and the Minister’s Council of the American Baptist Churches USA, and United Pastor’s Mission.
Jeff Gordon came to First Baptist Church in 2006, having served previously as An Associate Pastor in Martinez, California, then as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Murphysboro, Illinois. As Church Administrator, Jeff has staff responsibility for oversight of the financial and business management of the church’s ministry, and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the facility.
Jeff brings considerable experience as a church administrator, having served in a similar capacity at the First Baptist Church of Martinez, California from 1986-97 and then an earlier two-year term right here at First Baptist Church from 1998-2000. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, during his first term of service at First Baptist, Jeff was instrumental in the development of our contemporary worship service, and he continues to help design and lead the contemporary worship service.
Jeff graduated from the University of California at Davis with a major in Plant Science, then received the Master of Divinity Degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1988. In addition, he received specialized training in church business administration through the National Association of Church Business Administration in 1997.
Jeff serves on the Board of the Koinonia Camp and Conference Center in Geneva, Ohio, and the Minister’s Council of the Cleveland Baptist Association. Jeff and his wife Tammy have two adult children. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys renovating his Cleveland Heights home, riding his motorcycle and playing bass guitar.
Reverend Sandra Alexander-Haynes, Ph. D serves as the Christian Education Director at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland. As Christian Education Director, Reverend Sandra has staff responsibility for overseeing discipleship ministries of the church including children, youth and adult discipleship programs of the church.
In 2016, she was ordained at Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late Rev. Dr. Jeremiah B. Pryce. Previously, as an Associate Minister at Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church, she served as Chairperson of the Christian Education Committee and Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader. Rev. Sandra has a thirst for Biblical knowledge and a passion for teaching and preaching God’s Word. While attending Grace Tabernacle, her blessings also included being given the opportunity to share the gospel, facilitate workshops (as part of the Grace Tabernacle Institute for Christian Growth), conduct new membership classes, and teach Bible Study, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School. She also served as a member of the Governing Council.
Beyond her local church focus, Rev. Sandra has been a guest speaker and teacher at various churches in the greater Cleveland area. She was especially blessed to have been a guest speaker for the Annual World Day of Prayer for American Baptist Women Ministries.
She received a Ph. D. in Urban Education in 1997 from Cleveland State University. Sandra has been a School Psychologist for over 30 years and has served as an adjunct professor at several local Colleges and Universities including Ursuline and Notre Dame.
Sandra is the daughter of Mary Alexander and the late Winfield Edward Wright Jr. She is blessed to be the wife of Jeffery Haynes, the mother of Michael Alexander-Leeks and the stepmother of Courtney Haynes.
Betty Meyers has served as the Associate Director of Music since 2006.
A graduate of Ashland and Indiana Universities, Betty is a retired teacher/librarian, and has served for many years as an accompanist for The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. She has appeared as one of the soloists in Bach’s Triple Piano Concerto with members of the Cleveland Orchestra and has performed as organist with the orchestra in Severance Hall and on tour, including the Musikverein in Vienna. Betty is a member of the Executive Board of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In addition, she is very active as a chamber music performer. For two summers, Betty participated in the Festival Internancional de Musica Clasica and the Musica Coral in Managua, Nicaragua.
Jane Pernicone began as the director of The Children’s Center in 2006. She has been a child care professional since 1986, working in a variety of capacities including administration, resource and referral. Jane completed her undergraduate work at Northwestern University and graduate work at National College of Education.
Jane is passionate about issues in the field. She advocates for quality child care and adequate compensation for early childhood professionals.
Star Knuckles came to First Baptist Church in February, 2005 as part-time Office Administrative two days a week while working three days a week at the Cleveland Baptist Association as Office Manager/Executive Secretary. First Baptist Church and the Cleveland Baptist Association are both under the wing of the American Baptist Churches/USA. Star brings more than 40 years of experience in all phases of clerical, administrative, financial, collection, customer service, and graphic design work, fulfilling the needs of both membership and staff.
Graphic Design / Web Developer / Video / Social Media / Marketing
Greg Beckner has a degree in Graphic Design from Kent State University. He has worked as a graphic designer for over 30 years and as a web designer for over 20 years for everything from nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. He has worked for First Baptist for more than three years while maintaining his freelance design and IT support business. As he is a jack of all trades he works on his rental properties and cars in his free time. He loves any high tech with blinky lights or that goes whir.
Carly has been involved with the children and youth at FBC for over ten years.
Her experience includes but is not limited to attending several ministry workshops and gatherings, over the ten years this includes, C3 Children’s Conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas and the American Baptist Youth Gathering in Estes Park, Colorado. The ongoing training, she received over the years provided Carly with an opportunity to learn from many great leaders.
Carly is excited and passionate about making a difference in the lives of our children, so they are prepared to impact others for Christ! Carly has created an environment where kids want to be and want to learn.
Carly studied business and marketing in college and has fifteen years of management and employee training and development experience.
She enjoys traveling and hiking with her husband Frank and six-year-old son Adam, as well as all things Cleveland sports – Go Tribe!
She is comfortable with children and parents will love and enjoy Carly, the 10+ years in the trenches, on a wing and a prayer philosophy makes her even more enjoyable because she comes to the table prepared.
For two decades, LeShun “Ship” Collins has been empowering young minds and challenging his peers to transcend the common and accepted thought of social confines. He is currently the Director of Youth Ministry at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland. A highly accomplished educator and innovator, Collins is leading the conversation and ultimately the transformation of social injustice by breaking down its barriers.
Collins’ expertise is grounded in real-world experience. As a practitioner in health and physical education, he spent over 20 years in the school system building positive relationships and cultivating student growth. He currently teaches health education and sports medicine at a high school, located in the Cleveland area. In this diverse and affluent suburban school, Collins’ innate ability to connect to the students and encourage them to find their voice were contributing factors in his being honored with the district’s Teacher of the Year award in 2013.
As a mentor and advisor, Collins works with the Reach Program, a summer enrichment initiative for academically advanced African-American males. He was also recognized by President Obama for a minority leadership program he created and coordinates. The innovative program provides mentoring and leadership opportunities for young men, helping them become divergent thinkers and explore their potential.
As a thought leader, Collins is passionate about developing the 21st-century person and conveying within any community the importance of excellence, determination, leadership, and social change. Collins is sought after by universities and other educational institutions for his keen insight and perspective and for raising awareness of a flawed system that benefits some, but not all students. His mission to provide a voice to the marginalized and underrepresented inspired the release of “Considering Sensemaking as Artmaking in Promoting Social Justice-Oriented Work in Schools,” an article written by Collins and his colleagues and published in the University Council for Educational Administration journal.
Collins received his Bachelor’s degree from Mount Union College and holds a Master’s in Education from Marygrove College. Collins is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity where he was named 2010 Omega Man of the year Zeta Kappa Kappa chapter and 2013 Citizen of the Year for The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity 4th District.
Stephanie has a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from Indiana University and a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of Denver. She also has a Bachelor of Music degree in Double Bass Performance from Indiana University.
Brian has been a member of the FBC Praise Band as guitarist for about 17 years. With a Bachelor of Music Degree from Baldwin-Wallace College (Magna Cum Laude) and a Masters of Music Degree from Cleveland Institute of Music, both degrees in guitar performance, Brian brings knowledge of all genres of music to the Praise Team. He has been teaching for many years at Baldwin Wallace, Kent State, Lorain County Community College, and Cuyahoga Community College.
For several years Brian has taught guitar right here at First Baptist to students that include members of our own congregation. Many of those students have performed occasionally during regular church services. In addition, Brian has been a personal contributor to many of our special worship services such as the Candlelight Service Christmas Eve, our New Year’s Eve Service, and many others. He is a perennial band leader of our annual Rock of Faith Concert.
Brian lives in Lakewood with his daughter Valeria. When you see Brian please be sure to congratulate him on his new position at First Baptist Church.