Our Leadership

Cordele First UMC is a part of the connectional system of the United Methodist denomination. 

At a local level this means that our Lead Pastor and Hispanic Pastor are appointed to our church by the South GA conference. They are called Elders, and focus on preaching and teaching the Word of God, administering the sacraments of baptism and communion, ordering the church for its mission and service, providing pastoral care, and exercising pastoral supervision. All other Ministers and Staff are hired directly by the church to serve over specific ministries.

The role of our Pastoral staff is to equip the people of the church for the work of the ministry. This is called the ministry of the laity, which every believer is called to accomplish. Our Lay Leadership team works with the ministry staff to fulfill the vision of the church. They model Christian discipleship and live out their faith daily. Church members are asked to serve in these leadership roles on a yearly basis. Serving on these committees and in these leadership roles allows the church to effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Our Pastors & Ministry staff and Lay Leadership team are listed below.

*For any questions or concerns about our Pastoral, Ministry, or Lay Leadership team please contact the church office.

Our Staff Team

  • David Thompson

    lead pastor

    As Lead Pastor, David provides visionary leadership to the ministries of Cordele First by guiding the overall execution of the church’s vision of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” He oversees the pastoral and administrative staff of the church to provide for their personal and spiritual development, to ensure excellence in ministry, to maintain a healthy team environment, and to challenge each staff member to develop to their full potential in ministry. He provides leadership to the implementation of Cordele First’s vision and strategic plans, values, and content of ministry. He also seeks to motivate and mobilize the church body in a passionate, unified approach to fulfill this vision.

    About David: David has an overarching passion to see the lost come into life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. He is involved in our community and believes the Church is at her best working to fulfill her purpose to make disciples for the transformation of the world. His enthusiasm is contagious and he loves the Lord with all his heart. Pastor David has over 28 years of ministry experience and has been ordained within the United Methodist Church (UMC) for 19 years. He holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a B.S. Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a part of the Walk to Emmaus Community and has helped the Upper Room to start the Walk to Emmaus in Estonia, Ghana (West Africa), and Costa Rica. David has ministered in 16 different countries and continues to teach in Latin American Methodist Seminaries. He lives here in Cordele, Georgia, with his wife Rev. Jennifer Thompson. Their children are daughter Lydia, as well as sons Benjamin and Luke. Prior to coming to be the Lead Pastor of Cordele First UMC, David served as the Senior Pastor at Colquitt United Methodist Church in southwest Georgia. The Thompson Family has also served with the Mission Society for United Methodists working initially in Costa Rica and then Peru where they lived. That ministry expanded to include eight countries throughout Central and South America during the last 5 years of their service with the Mission Society. They worked helping to train over 400 pastors and continue that work today. David and Jennifer were first appointed by Bishop Richard Looney to serve together on staff at Americus First United Methodist Church and are glad to be back in the Americus District again. 

    Favorite Food: Red Velvet Cheese Cake

    Favorite Scripture: Galatians 2:19-21 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

  • Felipe Ricardo

    Associate Pastor of Hispanic Ministries

    I teach the truths of the Bible and do it responsibly. 

    Enseñar las verdades de la Biblia y hacerlo con responsabilidad

    About Felipe: The Rev. Felipe Ricardo is originally from Cuba, where he was one of the most prominent pastors in the Methodist church. His received his first pastoral appointment when he was 20 years old and served nine different churches. His last church, located next to main campus of La Habana University (Havana’s University) was one of the largest Methodist churches; his church held several worships services and bible studies with an average attendance of 1,000 per weekend. He also served as a district superintendent and as a seminary professor at Seminario Evangelico de Matanzas, Cuba, where he received his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees in theology. He was ordained elder by Bishop Armando Rodriguez in 1997 and has been in South Georgia since September 2001 serving in Cordele FUMC since his arrival. He is married to the former Mary Ricardo, who is also from Cuba, and they have three children Felipe, Sarai, and Emanuel. Besides serving as the pastor of “Nuevo Pacto” (New Covenant) United Methodist Church, Felipe is one of the Associate Directors of Hispanic Ministries for the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

    El Rev. Felipe Ricardo es originalmente de Cuba, donde fue uno de los pastores más prominentes de la iglesia metodista. Recibió su nombramiento pastoral por primera vez cuando tenía 20 años y sirvió nueve iglesias diferentes. Su última iglesia, situada junto al campus principal de la Universidad de La Habana fue una de las iglesias metodistas mas grandes en el pais; su iglesia sostienio varios cultos y estudios bíblicos con una asistencia media de 1.000 atendientes por fin de semana. También se desempeñó como superintendente de distrito y como profesor de teología en el Seminario Evangélico de Matanzas, Cuba, donde recibió su licenciatura y su maestría en teología. Fue ordenado come presbitero por el obispo Armando Rodríguez en 1997 y ha estado en la region sur de Georgia desde septiembre de 2001 sirviendo en Cordele FUMC desde su llegada. Está casado con María, que es también de Cuba, y tienen tres hijos: Felipe, Jr., Sarai , y Emanuel. Ademas de pastorear esta Iglesia Metodista “Nuevo Pacto”, es uno de los Directores Asociados del Ministerio Hispano en la Conferencia Anual del Sur de Georgia. 

    Favorite Food: Black Beans & Rice

    Comida Favorita: Arroz y frijoles negros

    Favorite Scripture: Psalms 42:11 "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disturbed within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." 

    Escritura Favorita: Salmos 42:11 "¿Por qué voy a inquietarme? ¿Por qué me voy a angustiar? En Dios pondré mi esperanza, y todavía lo alabaré. ¡Él es mi Salvador y mi Dios!"

  • Drew Anderson


    Drew focuses on all the adult discipleship opportunities at Cordele First. This includes new member classes, Sunday classes, small groups, Wednesday night classes, and more. In coordination with a discipleship team, he provides direction and support in equipping the church to live out it's vision of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." He also preaches and teaches at times and is involved in assisting the youth and children with their discipleship efforts. He also oversees part of the communication and technology aspects of the ministry of the church. As a part of the pastoral and administrative staff, Drew enjoys providing spiritual formation and discipleship opportunities to anyone Christ has called to follow him. 

    About Drew: Drew's greatest passion in life is making disciples. It is actually making disciple-making disciples - or disciples who multiply other disciples. He truly believes that in Christ, God places within each believer the Holy Spirit, making them fully capable of not only being a disciple but making other disciples. He looks to instill this same passion in others as they follow after Christ. Drew has been in ministry for over 10 years - starting with his time interning with several college and youth ministries and continuing to his time in full-time pastoral ministry. In the past he served at Millen UMC as their Youth and Children's Director and later at Chapman Memorial in Charlotte, NC as their Youth Pastor, Most recently he served at Relevant Church in Lake Wylie, SC as a Pastoral Intern while attending seminary at Gordon-Conwell Theological in Charlotte, NC, where he graduated with a Master of Divinity. At each place Drew has had the blessing of making meaningful connections to each church family through discipleship efforts and times of preaching and teaching. Drew married Sarah after they met at the real GSU - Georgia Southern University (Go Eagles!) - where he graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. Sarah is originally from Douglas, GA and graduated with a degree in Special Education. They have two small dogs, Gracie and Molly, who think they are big dogs. Drew loves soccer, college football, and coffee. Sarah loves to read, spend time with family, and play cards. 

    Favorite Food: Ice Cream - specifically Ben & Jerry's "Milk & Cookies"

    Favorite Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV): "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

    Favorite Songs: Shane and Shane "Though You Slay Me" and the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul"

  • Ben Drennan

    Minister of Music & worship arts

    As Minister of Music and Worship Arts, Ben is responsible for ensuring that all of our worship venues here at Cordele First are running efficiently and accomplishing our mission of Making Disciples for the Transformation of the World. He is directly responsible for planning the musical and creative content of each service and working alongside the other pastoral staff to ensure that each service has a feeling of cohesion throughout. Ben provides oversight and leadership to our Children’s and Youth Music Ministries as well as helping to coordinate media, technology, and digital communication as it pertains to worship and the life of the church.

    About Ben: Growing up a ‘navy brat,’ home was often where his father was stationed, but his family has always considered Cordele ‘home.’ Ben finally moved to Cordele with his family in 2001 and completed his high school years at Crisp Academy and went on to study music at Mercer University. During college, Ben served churches in Pinehurst, Macon, and Vienna, Georgia. After college, Ben served churches in Tampa, Florida and Americus, Georgia where Ben met his wife, Elizabeth. Ben and Liz have spent the past 9 years down in the Panhandle of Florida serving in different congregations including a contemporary church plant, a mainline traditional congregation and one in a tourist/vacation town context. Along the way they have welcomed Isaac, their two year old son to the family. During his time in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, Ben served on the CORE Team as the District Representative for Music and Worship. In addition to Ben’s work in church, he was also an Adjunct Instructor at Pensacola State College in the Music and Theater Department. Ben and his family are excited to be back in Cordele and serving at Cordele First.

    Ben is very interested in church growth and new church development as well as engaging and equipping creatives both inside and outside the church walls to use their talents to reach people for Christ. Equally comfortable in a comtemporary service or behind the console of a pipe organ, Ben believes in a both/and approach to worship and not either/or.

    In Ben’s spare time, he is an avid boater and reader and is very involved in Musical Theatre. He is also a FAA licensed Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot and he and his family love traveling all over the country with their balloon.

    Favorite Food: Fresh Gulf Seafood

    Favorite Scripture: Isaiah 43

    "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.

    For I am the LORD your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. "

    Favorite Song: currently No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

    (changes weekly)

    Favorite Thing To Do: Annual Trip to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival in New Mexico every October.

  • John Eidenire

    Emerge Worship Leader

    As Emerge Worship Leader, John helps lead our church in worship each week at our Emerge worship @ 9 AM in the Activities Center. He oversees our Emerge band - including all practices and scheduling.

    About John: John has a passion for leading worship, and also agriculture. He is currently enrolled at GSW college in Americas Ga. He had been farming and going to school, until this year when he decided to go to school full-time so he can hurry up and finish! The reason he leads worship to this day is because seven years ago he prayed and promised God that he would worship him for the rest of his life if God answered that prayer. A few weeks later he was surprised with his first guitar, given to him by his earthly father, and now here he is - worshiping God with a guitar!

    Favorite Song: Come As You Are by David Crowder (you should check it out HERE)

    Favorite Scripture: Hebrews 13:5 which says God will never leave you nor forsake you. This verse has helped me throughout my life multiple times.

    Favorite Things-to-do: I love being outside, working hard, eating chicken, hunting & fishing, and farming. 


    Director of Youth Ministries

    As Youth Minister, Kody aims to guide students into a better relationship with Christ. Although he ultimately desires to assist all people, his focus is on students in particular. Students have different needs than adults, and these needs and experiences can affect them for the rest of their lives. One of the most important factors of his ministry is showing students that accepting Christ into their lives is the same as joining a family. His goal is to help them to reach a point in their walk with Christ where they are able to effectively state their beliefs, know why they have faith, and know how to share it with others. He desires for students to not only accept Christ into their lives but to be totally transformed by Him. This means that they resist sin, learn to pray effectively, study God’s Word, worship Him, serve others, and share their faith. Once they are able to accomplish these things they should be able to walk others through these processes as well.

    About Kody: Kody aims to share the love of Christ with others, and to make disciples that make disciples. He recognizes that students today are under an increasing pressure from society to neglect their relationship with Christ. He looks to develop leaders in Christ that can impact their families, friends, churches, and entire communities. Kody is a lifelong resident of Cordele where he lives with his wife, Katy, and their cat, Leo. He graduated from Crisp County High School in 2009 where he played for the soccer team. After high school, Kody attended Georgia Southern University where he graduated with a degree in Biology in 2013. Soon after, he finally answered God’s call to join the ministry. He enrolled in SEBTS in 2015 to pursue a Masters of Divinity with a focus in Youth and Family Ministry. He was the Children’s Minister at Pinecrest Church in Cordele for 3 years.

    Favorite Food: Pretty much anything with rice and gravy.

    Favorite Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (HCSB): We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

    Favorite Stuff To Do: Be outside and play soccer.

  • Kathy Minor

    Director of Children's Ministries

    As Director of Children’s Ministries, Kathy works with an incredible group of adult volunteers and other staff members to lead our church’s work with children. She enjoys her role in making sure all of the children’s pieces fit together to make disciples of children from birth through 5th grade. You might see her around in Sunday School, Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Children’s Programs, After School Music Program, Hispanic After School Tutoring, Upward Sports, and Mother’s Morning Out. She also gives the Children’s Message during the 11 am Traditional Service and coordinates the meals for Wednesday Night Suppers.


    About Kathy: Kathy grew up in Gulf Breeze, Florida where she and her family were an active part of a local church. After high school, she attended The University of Southern Mississippi where she was active in the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry. She enjoyed her summers as a camp counselor growing in faith and gaining experience working with children. She graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Elementary Education. Kathy taught 4th grade in Gulfport, Mississippi before beginning her journey in children's ministry. She served for 3.5 years in a similar role at Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama in fall 2011 before following God’s call to Cordele First United Methodist Church.


    Favorite Food: Ice Cream


    Favorite Bible Verse: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

    Favorite Things-to-do: Kathy enjoys board and card games, like Sorry and Canasta. She likes to play tennis and spend time outdoors camping or hiking.

  • Jorge Gonzalez

    Ministry Intern

    My duties as an intern include dabbling in a sundry of ministries, including working with children, youth, and adults. This broad zone of responsibilities is even further generalized by sub-categories such as our Nuevo Pacto Hispanic service, Emerge at 9 am, our Gatherings for college age students, and outreach projects for our community. It truly is a pleasure to be able to witness the various ancillaries within our church and it is even more impressive to observe how each of the pieces fit together to form one unified body. Similar to how a sealing agent repairs the hairline fractures in a vessel, my duties can be summarized as the ones which fix the tiny leakages in our ministries (to the best of my ability).

    About Jorge: Jorge was born on January 21st, 1996, moved to Cordele, Georgia when he was ten years old, and was raised in the First United Methodist Church where he was strongly encouraged by his parents to go to church (or forced, if such terminology can be employed). Thankfully, as an adult he sees the value in doing so to one's children, which greatly contributed to his own personal spiritual development and desire to work in the ministry. He is passionate about studying the Scriptures and teaching them to others, a calling which has been confirmed by the many opportunities to do so as well as the enjoyment received from it. When he finally grows up, he hopes to be a spokesman for God who will promote critical thinking among the listeners, challenges to established norms and customs, and a spurring on to take action. He currently holds a B.A. in Psychology and is currently working on an M.A. in Executive Leadership; additionally, he wishes to attend seminary in order to actualize the calling placed upon his heart.

    Favorite food: All the sugars, and buffalo wings.

    Favorite Scripture: The Lord has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does He require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Lord your God ~ Micah 6:8

  • Cindy McLemore

    Administrative Assistant

    I put together and print a weekly bulletin and newsletter and once a month a calendar and birthday/anniversary list. I assist those who come in requesting help with their utility bills. I answer the phone, update the weekly prayer list, Plan menus for the Wednesday night suppers and get a reservation list for the weekly suppers. I attend to the needs of church members who come in with questions, concerns, or need assistance- mainly to be the hands and feet of Jesus and show his love as much as I can. 

    About Cindy: I graduated from high school in 1980 and attended Middle Georgia College in Cochran, GA. In 1982 I began working at First State Bank where I worked in bookkeeping, as a Customer Service Rep., and as a teller for a brief time. I left there on June 17, 1998 and began working at First United Methodist Church on June 18, 1998. I have been here since and love waking up every day and coming to work. 

    Favorite Food: Apple crisp

    Favorite Scripture: Proverbs 3:5 & 6 " Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."

  • Tricia Joiner

    Financial Secretary

    I am responsible for the finances of the church, including Offerings, Accounts Payable, Payroll, & Benevolence Assistance. I also maintain employee records, insurance files, and computer information. I assist the janitor with buildings and grounds issues and I assist in keeping membership records current. 

    About Tricia: I grew up in this church as a child and youth and Cordele FUMC was instrumental in my spiritual development. As a young adult, I joined other Methodist churches in other cities where I lived. I re-joined in 1994 with my husband Joe at the same time we baptized our son, Alec. We also have one daughter, Lexie. I have a BBA degree in Accounting from Georgia Southwestern University and had experience in retail, government, and industry accounting before coming to work at Cordele FUMC.

    Favorite Food: Chocolate, Watermelon, Okra

    Favorite Scripture: Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

  • Michael Fraser

    Audio/Visual Director

  • Michael Barnes

    Facilities Manager

  • Elbert "tater" Terry


    I am the custodian for the church. I do a little bit of everything from electrical to plumbing, from painting to mopping floors. I also help people with any job that need to be done around the church.

    About Tater: I am married and have three children (1 girl, 2 boys). I like watching football games and going fishing. I travel when I can. 

    Favorite Food: Fried Chicken

    Favorite Scripture: Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

  • Barbara Stripling

    Church Keyboardist, Choir Accompanist

    I am responsible for selecting and preparing for the Prelude and Offertory music for the 11:00 Traditional Service. Selection comes from a study of the subject matter/sermon the pastor is presenting. Preparation includes private practice at the church and joint practice with the pianist. Tune selections and composers or arrangers are given to the church secretary in order that they may be listed in the printed Sunday bulletin. Congregational songs/hymns are selected for the service by the Choir Director and these songs are prepared and performed during the worship service. As needed, the organist accompanies the Adult Choir during rehearsal on Wednesday night and accompanies the choir on Sunday during their special music. 

    About Barbara: I began my study of music when I was 6 years old. I took private piano and flute lessons for 12 years and following graduation of High School attended college at the University of Georgia on a dual music scholarship. I am presently a member of the Redcoat Alumni Band and occasionally attend Homecoming in Athens where we, once again, march between the hedges. In 1969 I moved on scholarship to Samford University, Birmingham, Al. where I studied music for 2 years, being the first instrumental major at that University. My professor was a member of the then known Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Due to a death in my family, I returned to Ga. and attended Ga. State University in Atlanta continuing my music education. In 1971, I meet a young man from Dooly County, Vienna, Ga. who was visiting a friend in Atlanta. He swept me off my feet, married me within a few months and moved me to South Ga. He is the father of my three children, Tripp, Holly and Lynn Stripling. I was privileged to be the church pianist and organist in Vienna, Ga. both in the Baptist and the Methodist church, for approximately 15 years. In 1988 we moved our family to Cordele and I became the full time organist at the First United Methodist Church where I served under the direction of Scott Hearn for 6 years. Incidents in my life took me back again to Alabama, however, I came home in 2008 and began attending church again at FUMC. I accepted the position of part time organist to substitute services with the regular organist. I enjoy being part time as I am now a grandmother and also the caretaker of my parents who still live in the Atlanta area.

    Favorite Food: BBQ Ribs

    Favorite Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

  • Ruthi O'Brien

    Handbell Director, Church Keyboardist

    I play piano and sometimes organ at FUMC, direct the bell choir, help with the after school music program and Hispanic after school homework. 

    About Ruthi: I was born, raised and lived in Illinois until May 2008 when I moved to South Georgia. My musical “career” began at the age of 7, I started playing for my church’s junior dept when I was 10...MYF at 12...church pianist at 14. I graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in Clothing and Merchandising. Married in 1972. I have 2 daughters…one lives near Valdosta, GA, the other in Chattanooga, TN. and 4 grandchildren. My husband and I owned an automotive repair service. I was a substitute teacher and managed rental units. In 1998, I decided I needed a challenge and began taking harp lessons.

    Favorite Food: Mexican

    Favorite Scripture: The lyrics of On Eagle’s Wings are based on Psalm 91 and have special meaning for me.

2018 Lay Leadership Team

  • John Pridgen, Church Council Chair
  • Lee West, Church Council Vice Chair
  • Noel Williams, Church Council Vice Chair-Elect
  • Monica Simmons, Church Council Secretary
  • Don Barnes, Lay Leader
  • Don Barnes, Annual Conference Lay Member
  • Patricia Nipper, Annual Conference Lay Member
  • April Trussell, Children's Council Chair
  • Karen Barnes, Nursery Ministry Coordinator
  • Mallory Garwood, Pre-school Ministry Coordinator
  • Lee Frost, Elementary Ministry Coordinator
  • Jimmy Mitchell, Youth Council Chair
  • Nate & Kelly Faircloth, 18-20s Ministry Coordinator
  • Will & Nikki Griffin, Young Adult Ministry Coordinators
  • Lee Guerry, Senior Adult Ministry Coordinator
  • Peggy Rumsey, Sunday Class Coordinator
  • Kyle & Macy Young, Small Group Coordinators
  • Betty Lynn Baker, Treasurer
  • Paul Williams, Finance Team Chair
  • Melanie Fontaine, Staff-Parish Relations Team Chair
  • Will Griffin, Board of Trustees Chair
  • Lee West, Permanent Endowment Team Chair
  • Jonathan Windham, Building and Grounds Team Chair
  • Loida Waters, Safe Sanctuaries Team Chair
  • Charles & Barbara Ruis, Traditional Worship Team Chair
  • Shearer Turton, Emerge Worship Team Chair
  • Pete Peebles, Stewardship Team Chair
  • Judy Irwin, Scholarship Team Chair
  • Dale Steinert, Local Outreach Team Chair
  • Amy Moore, Missions Committee Chair
  • Mandy Mackey, Care Team Chair
  • David Simmons, Upward Sports Ministry Coordinator
  • Kyle & Macy Young, Emmaus Coordinators
  • Laree Bowen, Outreach Communion Director
  • Dot Grimes, Prayer Ministry Team Chair
  • Jimmy Mitchell (Treasurer), United Methodist Men (UMM)
  • Dorinda Coleman, Christian Women's Fellowship President
  • Jesse Posey, Youth Representative