Dr. Mark Ford
Senior Pastor
Mark and Teresa Ford were long-time residents of Pickens County, SC. Mark and Teresa came up through the Pickens school system, both graduating in 1975 from Pickens High.  They began dating in their senior year and have never been apart since.  The romance blossomed into marriage on December 31, 1976.  In the next two years, Teresa would finish an associates degree from Anderson University and go on to earn her bachelor and masters degree in agricultural education from Clemson University. Mark would finish studies at a local Bible college.

After a time of mission work in Paris, France, the Ford’s returned to begin their ministry at Mile Creek Baptist Church of Six Mile, SC in 1981. During these early years they began their family, with God giving them two wonderful children – Raquela Ruth Alexander and Paul Christian. In 1988 the Lord led the Ford’s to Praters Creek Baptist Church where they experienced a blessed and fruitful ministry from 1988 to 1997.  During those years, Mark would pursue a degree in history and a minor in Greek at Southern Wesleyan University.  With the gracious and supportive assistance of the church, Mark would go on to earn his M.Div. from Erskine Theological Seminary.   

Following a fruitful and blessed ministry at Westminster First from 1997 to 2003, Mark and Teresa were called of the Lord to serve at Cross Roads Baptist Church in Easley, SC. from 2003 to 2012.  During these blessed years, ministry opportunities expanded with Mark teaching at Southern Wesleyan University as an adjunct and serving as an associate chaplain at Palmetto Baptist Hospital. Mark finished his doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on leading a church into missional thinking and ministry. 

God has been gracious to the Ford family and continues to allow them to participate in the great work of His Kingdom to a hurting and lost world as Senior Pastor of Highlands First Baptist Church, beginning in 2012.  Mark and Teresa love the Highlands community and the people of First Baptist and anticipate great things for the church. Teresa uses her love of cooking and hospitality skills to be a blessing and help those in need of encouragement.

Mark and Teresa share a mutual love for their four grandsons and the outdoors. Most of all they love the Lord and count themselves privileged to serve His people and His Gospel. 

Associate Pastor
Pastor Donnie Seagle

Donnie and Sharon come to FBC Highlands after a good and fruitful nine years of ministry as the pastor of Holly Springs Baptist Church in Franklin, NC. Prior to that ministry, Donnie was the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Inverness, FL for 11 years. He was ordained in 1989 and has been privileged to serve for 35 years of pastoral ministry in Florida and the Carolinas.

He graduated from West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC and received his B.A. in Government/Pre-Law from Campbell University. He earned his Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has done additional post-graduate work at Reformed Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Donnie and Sharon have been married for 20 years and they have four grown children: Daniel (Dani), Craig (Cassandra), Lauren (Lyon), and Chelsea (Thomas). They have been blessed with nine amazing grandchildren; Carsten, Laken, Luca, Cam, Annistyn, Collins, Leo, Cal and Leyna.

In their spare time Donnie and Sharon love exploring these beautiful mountains and spending time with the grandkids. Sharon is a runner and gifted ASL interpreter. Donnie enjoys golf and reading. More than anything, Donnie and Sharon want to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ with the church family here at FBC Highlands and to be a light for Christ on this plateau.

Music Minister
Dr. Tom Council

Tom Council is the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church Highlands and also serves as Dean of the School of Professional Studies and Professor of Choral Music at Toccoa Falls College. He and his wife, Mitzi first met as new students at Toccoa Falls College in 1979 and were married in 1981. They have four children and fifteen grandchildren. Tom earned degrees in music education with concentrations in voice and choral conducting from Toccoa Falls College (B.S., 1983), Samford University (M.M. Ed., 1985) and Auburn University (Ph.D., 2000). Mitzi holds a bachelor’s degree in counseling psychology from Toccoa Falls College and a master’s degree in human services/marriage and family therapy from Liberty University.

While teaching as a full-time music educator for the past forty years, Tom has served in part-time music ministry for a number of churches. He has conducted honors choirs for various choral festivals and concerts, including nine concert appearances at Carnegie Hall and one at the Lincoln Center. His college choir has performed in Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Israel, Poland and Germany. In addition, he participated as a Fellow Conductor in a collaborative performance of Haydn’s Creation in Varna, Bulgaria.

Tom and Mitzi love the Lord and have committed their lives to serving Him. Their hope is to serve fellow believers in Christ to bring encouragement and edification, especially though music, worship, and counseling.
Pastor & Lay Elder
Sergio Barranco
Pastor of Hispanics Ministries
Sergio Barranco first started serving at First Baptist Church as a church planter in 2013, reaching out to the Hispanic Community. The Lord called him to being a pastor in 2015. He has been happily married to his wife Angelica for 21 years and together they have three wonderful children; Karla, Jazmin, and Alexander. He is excited to see the growth in FBC and is glad to serve here until the Lord calls him elsewhere.
Lay Elder
Dave Latta
 Lay Elder
James Yaskiewicz