Emily Hull McGee, Pastor
As a third-generation minister in a family of ministers, Emily’s family’s impact upon her life and calling into ministry has been significant. Watching her grandfather Bill, aunt Susan, mother Jane, and father David live fully into their callings as pastors and ministers within local churches around the Southeast, shaped her earliest understandings of what it means to be a Christian. A Baptist since her cradle roll days, Emily’s childhood was spent alongside brother Andrew, where the Hull family was always the first to arrive and last to leave the church on any given Sunday or Wednesday. The church truly was their second home, and it was in this home that Emily felt beloved, celebrated, and immersed within the experience of the God of Love.
As Emily’s parents served as ministers alongside each other – “laborers together with God” are the words inscribed in their wedding rings – Emily too felt a desire to be more fully attuned to living a life of faith. She professed faith and was baptized by her dad at the age of 7, and spent the remaining years of her adolescence engaged in church life and active in school religious groups, nurtured lovingly by Sunday School teachers and missions leaders.
Her love for music and the arts became the filter through which she chose her collegiate educational communities, pursuing a career in voice and opera performance, first at Furman University (undergraduate) and later Northwestern University (graduate school). It was during this season of her life lived in Chicago, far from the culturally-Christian South and her church-soaked family, that Emily felt the strangely warm tug of a call to ministry, when Love stirred within her a passion for community, inclusion, and transformation.
As with many 20-somethings in our contemporary culture, Emily’s journey through this season of her young adult life exposed cracks in the seams of her young evangelical faith. No longer required to attend church (by reality or her own Baptist guilt!), her patchwork faith found a community with the delightfully irreverent artists with whom she spent the majority of her time.
Questions about scripture and suffering collided with profound stories of her dear friends’ exclusion from churches simply because of who they were. And yet, in the midst of this life lived fully away from the familiar trappings of church or the Christian faith, Emily began to sense a call, announcing itself slowly and through circumstance, in impassioned conversations with parents and friends about the deep chasm she saw between the steeple and the sidewalk. Emily realized that God’s hand was threaded through her journey like the warp and the weft of a loom: two strands – the church and the world – and a beautiful, necessary, unbreakable point of tension where they meet and upon which she must stand.
Three incredibly formative, challenging, and life-giving years at Wake Forest University School of Divinity later, God called Emily, loudly and persistently, to the “family business” of ministry in the local church to be a voice of wholeness and welcome for the outsider, a voice of challenge and compassion for the insider. She followed that call to Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where she has served as Minister to Young Adults for nearly six years, seeking to cultivate the same curious questions, unconventional conversations, safe spaces, and revolutionary expressions of Love for 20- and 30-somethings that she too experienced along the pathways of young adulthood. Her work at Highland has broadened beyond ministry to young adults, as she has offered significant leadership in her church’s local missions efforts, communications and outreach, fundraising, and comprehensive pastoral ministry. Emily also enjoys contributing to our larger Baptist family through serving in leadership on a variety of organizational boards in CBF life, including chairing the CBF Ministries Council in 2015-2016.
David Williamson, Associate Pastor Worship, Arts, Administration
The Reverend David Williamson has been Minister of Worship and the Arts at First Baptist Church on Fifth since 1998. One of David’s best loved Scriptures among many favorites is Psalm 139 which reminds us of God’s intimate presence in our lives. David’s ministry focus, Worship and the Arts, grew out of his desire to use art as a tool for spiritual formation and worship. His leadership has helped bring about special arts related programming like the Open Doors Art Classes and exhibits featuring photography, sculpting, and oil painting. During his ministry at FBC, David has conducted numerous special musical performances such as the annual “Feast of Carols” Christmas concert. For the past ten years David has served as the Chorus Master of the Messiah Community Chorus for Winston-Salem’s annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah performed at Reynolds Auditorium.
David earned a Bachelor of Music from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and a Master of Music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Learn more about the Arts Ministry at First on Fifth.
Amy McClure, Associate Pastor Children, Senior Adults, Pastoral Care
The Reverend Amy McClure has served as one of the Associate Pastors since March 2015. One of Amy’s favorite passages of scripture is Isaiah 43, which reminds us of God’s redeeming power in our lives and that God calls us by name. In her role as an Associate Pastor, Amy provides leadership in the areas of Pastoral Care, Senior Adult Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and helps provide pastoral support for the Children’s Center. One of Amy’s passions is inter-generational ministry, where people of all ages partner together to be the Church and share the Gospel.
Amy holds a Master of Divinity from Campbell University Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She enjoys connecting with people from all over and loves being part of the beloved community at First Baptist Church on Fifth.
John Thornton, Associate Pastor Youth, Adults, Missions
After graduating from Baylor University and working for a year as a full-time tutor and mentor at an under-resourced elementary school, he moved to Nashville where he worked as the Middle School Director and Co-Youth Pastor at Preston Taylor Ministries. From there he began studying at Duke Divinity school, earning a Masters of Divinity in 2012.
John started as the inaugural Pastoral Resident at First Baptist Church Greensboro in September 2015. At First Baptist Greensboro, John participates in the broad pastoral ministry and leadership of the church, while also focusing on three areas of ministry he identified early in his tenure: young adult spiritual formation, hospitality and welcome, and pastoral and missional support to those experiencing chronic financial needs.
In June of 2017, John became the Associate Pastor of Youth, Missions, and Adult Formation at First on Fifth.