Beth LaRocca-Pitts has been a member of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church since 1983, though she has been preaching for longer than that! She was raised in Athens Georgia and began faith as a Roman Catholic. “When I was 12 year old and a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, I realized that I would never be happy in life if I had to do another job other than the job that the priest at St. Joseph’s did.” Understanding that as a call to ministry, she joined Athens First UMC and at 14 and trained to become a lay speaker at 17. She attended undergraduate school at Duke University where she received a BA in Religion. She received her M.Div from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and then returned to take her first ministerial appointment as pastor in charge of the Bishop Circuit in the Athens Elberton District. Next she attended Harvard University where she completed a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, with a concentration in Old Testament Studies. At Harvard she met her husband Mark and after they married they returned to Athens where she became the associate pastor at Athens First. In 1996 she was hired to teach Old Testament Studies at Duke Divinity School. While in Durham, Mark and Beth were blessed by the birth of their twins Ellie and Joe. In 2002 the family returned to Athens where Mark was hired as Staff Chaplain at Athens Regional Medical Center and Beth was appointed to be associate pastor at Snellville UMC. In 2002 Beth was appointed to be senior pastor at Watkinsville First UMC and in 2010 she was appointed to serve at Saint Mark. Mark works now as a chaplain with Crossroads Hospice. Ellie and Joe attend Grady High School. The whole family is blessed to be in ministry at Saint Mark.
Jennifer joined Saint Mark as the Minister of Missions and Outreach in January 2014. Prior to joining Saint Mark, she was appointed to serve as the Coordinator of Leadership Development for the East Africa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Kampala, Uganda as a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She has experience in short-term mission trips and local community-focused ministries on three continents.
As a second-career minister, Jennifer also draws on her experience in her career in finance and accounting which she began as a CPA with Ernst and Young and then worked her way up through various corporate roles to a position in senior management as a financial executive. She changed career paths in 2007 after feeling called to seminary and to service to others in the area of outreach and missions. While in seminary, her interests led her to special studies related to missions, sub-Saharan Africa and a concentration in church and community leadership.
Jennifer earned two degrees from Emory University, a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 2010 and a Masters of Business Administration from the Goizueta Business School in 2002. She is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelors of Science in Accountancy.
In her free time Jennifer can be found outdoors enjoying one of her many active pursuits such as hiking with her dog Lily, cycling, playing tennis, running or gardening.
Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt is Saint Mark’s Minister of Social Justice and Evangelism, and a owns a private psychotherapy practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In addition to offering individual, couples, and group therapy, his work involves leading program, advocacy and volunteer opportunities related to social justice issues in the community. Rev. Noblitt completed his Master of Divinity at Emory University in 2004 and was ordained at the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2009. Rev. Noblitt is a Clinical Fellow with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, is currently perusing certification through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), and is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Ministry at Emory University in 2017. He has served on numerous national and local boards, including the Board of Directors for the Reconciling Ministry Network from 2008-2013. He is currently serving on the board of WonderRoot, For The Kid In Us All, Inc., and the Emory University Hope Clinic for HIV/AIDS Research Community Advisory Board. Among his civic engagements, Rev. Noblitt is proud to serve as a member of the volunteer Chaplain Corps for the Atlanta Police Department, President of the South Atlanta Civic League, and Vice Chair of NPU-Y. He is also an alunmus of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2011, New Leaders Council Class of 2013 and Outstanding Atlanta Class of 2013. Visit Josh on the web at www.joshuanoblitt.com
Sheila Stephens is a career educator who has pursued her call to ministry after retiring from 30 years as a public school music teacher. She holds degrees from Georgia State University and Candler School of Theology and is a candidate for ordination as a deacon in the North Georgia Conference.
Sheila joined the staff of Saint Mark UMC September 2016 as Director for Children’s Ministries. Currently she serves as Minister for Education and Spiritual Formation and is a ringer in the Saint Mark Hand Bell choir. Sheila refers to herself as “a great team player” and shares her gift of hospitality with enthusiasm and grace. Her thirst for knowledge, passion for people and tenacious approach to life blends well with the folks at Saint Mark.
She is the wife of Eldridge T. Stephens, Jr., the mother of three children Hollie, Jaison and Gene and “nana” to one grandson Ja’Juan. In her spare time, she enjoys attending live theatrical and musical performances, bowling, singing, meditating, watching the HGTV channel and doing small interior design projects. Sheila is a proud Atlanta native who professes a deep love for all God’s children.
Jonathan Easter joined the staff of Saint Mark as Director of Fine Arts and Organist in July of 2016. He is a recent graduate of Emory University, where he studied with Timothy Albrecht and Dr. Eric Nelson and earned a double master’s degree while playing the organ at Roswell Presbyterian Church. He continues to work throughout the Emory music community accompanying the Emory University Chorus and Concert Choir and serves as the accompanist for the Atlanta Master Chorale under the direction of Dr. Eric Nelson. Recent highlights include co-conducting the featured ensemble for the Atlanta Rolling Stones concert, accompanying Jamie Barton mezzo-soprano for recitals at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, serving as worship service organist for the Southeastern regional convention of the American Choral Directors Association and serving as an accompanist and co-presenter at the American Guild of Organists convention in Charlotte.
Prior to moving back to Atlanta, Jonathan served as Music Director for St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. He also served as Collaborative Artist for the choral ensembles at the University of North Florida conducted by Dr. Cara Tasher. While in Jacksonville, he was an active recitalist, performing at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, Memorial Presbyterian Church and Jacobi Symphony Hall and performing with Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano. He was also an active administrator in the music community, serving on the board of the Beaches Fine Arts Series and as Sub-Dean for the Jacksonville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Jonathan earned his undergraduate degree from Shorter College where he studied with Dr. Peter Dewitt, Helen Ramsaur and sang with the Shorter Chorale under the direction of Dr. Martha Shaw. Jonathan loves his two dogs who you can often find helping him with work around the office.
A native of the greater Atlanta area, Jess graduated from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) in 2012 with her B.A in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. Since then, she has served several United Methodist congregations in student ministry roles around the state of Georgia. In July of 2015, Jess made the move back towards the city to pursue her Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology. When Jess isn’t studying for school, she loves rock climbing, kayaking, spoken word poetry, live music, and eating all the things her roommates bake.
Receptionist and Assistant Office Administrator. Jim sends the email Remarks, posts the service recordings on the website, directs calls to the appropriate staff person, and acts as staff liaison to the Technology Committee.
Business administrator. She is in charge of financial records and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Deana can answer your questions about your giving record, memorial gifts, and other building or finance related issues.
Christia joined the church staff in the spring of 2002 and is the Administrative Assistant to the Senior Pastor. She also maintains church membership records, manages the church calendar, serves as the wedding coordinator, assists with special events, and publishes the weekly Remarks newsletter and weekly Sunday bulletin.