I am excited to have joined the Grace staff in July of 2013 after seventeen years in college related ministries, most recently as chaplain of Centenary College of Louisiana since 2002. My ministry through the years in both the Memphis and Louisiana conferences has included youth, children, family and college ministries as well as eight years directing the Christian Leadership Center at Centenary, two years as Centenary’s Vice-President of Student Development and a year as the Director of Church Relations.
I am a native of Tennessee, daughter of a United Methodist pastor, graduate of Centenary College, and a member of the first four-year graduating class of the Centenary School of Church Careers which later became the Christian Leadership Center
Passion: Through it all, my passion has always been around meeting people where they are, walking with them through this crazy journey we call life, helping them discover their connection to God and to each other, as well as how God is calling them to live their unique gifts.
Education: I have a B.A. in Christian Education from Centenary and a Masters of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.
A certified Spiritual director in the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, I have a passion for spiritual formation and discipleship. In the past year, my passion has also turned to coaching as I complete certification by the International Coaching Federation as a life and leadership coach.
Family: Almost 35 years ago I married Shreveport native Clay Eaves who can still thrill my heart with his music, his humor and his “can do attitude.”. We have two grown daughters, Emily and Ashley, and love of our lives – grandson August Clay, who is the son of Emily and her husband Jason.
A long time ago I coined a phrase that identified coincidences in my life as “either odd or God or so odd that they must be God”. God works in amazing ways to grow and guide us if we will just open ourselves to that. My life seems to have been a series of coincidences and paradoxes. I guess one of the odd/God things about me is that I can be like the energizer bunny going ninety miles per hour getting things done, but I am also deeply energized by quiet mornings at Lake Bistineau, morning coffee on the patio, and long hikes in the woods. I also love leading a group, helping groups and individuals learn about themselves and each other.
And heaven on earth for me – spending time with my family hiking or singing or cooking or laughing or hugging…..and the best days are when we manage to get all of that into one day.
I Love My Work: My ministry at Grace includes working with all of the ministries that touch the life of worship including music, technical arts, altar design, drama, creative movement, and visual arts. I thoroughly enjoy working with the many creative artists who work together week after week to create dynamic, multifacted worship. Incoporating as many people as possible to live their gifts in the life of worship is top priority.
My Background: I previously taught music at a parochial school after earning a BME degree in music and a MEd in educational administration at Centenary College in Louisiana. I have completed the seminary coursework recognized by the United Methodist Church to compliment my graduate degree (BGTS courses) for ordination as a Deacon. In addition to my full-time employment at Grace Community, I am part of the music staff at Youree Drive Middle School serving as the class piano instructor.
Significant other – I am married to the love of my life, Cari. We have journeyed together for over 30 years. Being married to an artist is cool…almost every square inch of wall space at home is covered with art!
Our son Nick is currently working on his degree at LSUS. We still love to get together and jam with guitars – he has played and worked with both the Grace Youth Band and our adult Worship Team.
Livin’ that home life – Our other children are Picasso (a feisty, female, long-hair chihuahua), Tiger (a large, orange boy-cat) and Lily (a beagle-mix puppy that Nick rescued from the pound). Our home reflects our creative passions – Cari has an art studio and I have a music/recording space.
Drawn to Grace – I met Christ while attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1975. We started visiting Grace Community about a year after worship services started at Captain Shreve High School. The joy, welcoming atmosphere, music and message drew us. After my experiences working in the military and in the business sector, Pastor Rob invited me to consider working in full time ministry. I joined the staff at Grace as “Program Director” in 1994.
What gets me going – I’m into books on the spiritual life and prayer (Thomas Merton is a favorite), good science fiction, music (especially praise and worship, blues, jazz and classic rock), playing guitar, writing and recording my own stuff, small groups and deep Christian relationships.
Still learning – At age 58, I am still learning. I have a undergrad degree from the Air Force Academy, a Masters in Communication from Regent University, I have taken some seminary classes from Asbury Theological Seminary and am trained and certified as a Spiritual Director. But I am always looking for more ways to grow and learn from others.
Favorite Scripture – Psalm 27
Married: Barbara is married to Ron, a self-employed electrical engineer and all-around great guy! Ron and Barbara are charter members of Grace Community and it continues to be a huge part of their lives together. They remember the days all the way back to when the church met at Live Oak Retirement Center.
Where we met: Ron walked into the bank where Barbara was a loan officer 24 years ago and the rest is history!
Children: Ron and Barbara have three beautiful and talented children. Mallory Grace is an 18 year old freshman at Louisiana Tech who loves music, college life and spending time with children. Andrew Reid and Madison Claire are 14 year old twins that are looking forward to being freshmen at Byrd High School next year. Andrew’s into football and being able to arbitrarily do flips off of things, while Madison enjoys piano and singing (most Sundays you’ll find her in the youth band in the Warehouse).
Pets: Yahtzee is their 10 year old spoiled black lab and Henry is their 1 year old wire-haired terrier/dachshund mix that runs things at the Montgomery household. They also have 2 cats, Sylvester and The Professor, who keep things interesting.
Education: Barbara graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Quantitative Analysis.
Leisure activities: Barbara loves scrapbooking, but spending time with family and friends truly is her favorite activity!
Favorite vacation destination: If you don’t see Ron and Barbara at church one weekend, chances are it’s because they are enjoying a relaxing break at their camp-house in Daisy, Arkansas on Lake Greeson…there’s no place quite like it!
Family: Married for over twenty years to Brian Sample, who is a supervisor for Boggs & Poole Contracting. We have two daughters, Penny and Bri. We have yellow lab, Doc, and a chocolate lab, Hershey.
Hobbies: Watching softball, spending time with family and friends, reading a book, and worshipping
Favorite Verse: I can do all things through Jesus Christ, who gives me the strength. Philippians 4:13
Education: Bachelor’s in Education from Louisiana State University in Shreveport
I have the great honor and privilege to work with the children of Grace since 2005. I love watching all of the children grow and advance in their spiritual walk with Jesus our Lord and Savior. I want Grace Kids to know this is the sweetest relationship you will ever have.
I’m married to Rich Varner, pastor at Keithville UMC. We’ve been married for 31 great years!
My wonderful blessings: I have been married to my best friend and husband Eric for 11 years and have two beautiful and wonderful children Benjamin, 8 years old and Grace, 6 years old. After working fulltime for 13 years at Sci-Port, I decided to shift careers and work part time teaching Kindermusik. I am blessed to have a flexible work schedule so that I can participate in my children’s school activities and spend more quality time with my family. I teach Kindermusik at different day cares around town, at Power & Grace and Grace Community. In 2008, I joined the Grace Community team as the Elementary Coordinator. I have also directed 3 childrens musicals and hope to continue in the future. I am blessed to be a part of the children’s ministry team where I learn more and more about being a Christian from the wonderful examples surrounding me.
My passion: I have a passion for children & rhythm. My dream is to start a program where underprivileged children will learn music, art and technology to involve them in a positive environment and avoid the pattern of violence. I love teaching Kindermusik to children, especially to toddlers and preschoolers. I would love to get a drum circle started for all ages!
My hobbies: I love to play hand drums, be crafty, sew, knit, scrapbook, enjoy time with my friends and family, watch movies and read lots of great books!
What inspires me: Creativity and innovation! I love to problem solve and find new ways to solve challenges. I enjoy all the work I do at Grace and at the New Room with the children and can’t wait to start finding new ways to get children involved in learning more about Christ. I recently was apart of a team who started a summer school at the New Room. We do fun hands-on activities for the kids and then apply reading and math skills for them to practice for the next school year. I hope to continue this program in the fall with an after school program.
Where I am from: I am originally from down south. I was born in Houma, La and raised in Morgan City area.
Family: I am a mother of two amazing angel girls who are my world. The other two little precious gifts in our life are our dogs Bella and Tinz who definitely keep it fun and entertaining!
Comfort Food: Definitely chocolate!
Favorite Book: I love encouraging inspirational Christian books.
Things about me: I love spending time with my family and friends, four wheeling or mud riding is on the top of my list alongside being a vessel for God to use and encouraging others and can’t forget watching my favorite team win… Geaux LSU Tigers!!!
Favorite Bible Verses: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 and my other is “ Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21.
Encouraging quotes: I have not failed! I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work. -Thomas Edison
Whether you think you CAN or you think you Can’t-YOUR RIGHT! -Henry Ford
Positive thinking isn’t ignoring your problems-it’s having confidence in your ability to deal w/ them!
Where I’m from: Born & raised in Shreveport, Louisiana
My Family: I have three daughters, Rachel is 19 & and my twins, Ashley & Sierra, are 15.
Favorite Things to Do: Love being with family, having a good time, we especially love road trips!! I love listening to praise and worship music. It helps me keep my mind focused and the lyrics always seem to be just what I need to hear at any given time. Love to read, but don’t get a chance to do it as much as I’d like. I love anything and everything that makes you laugh… especially Tyler Perry, plays & movies. I am a diehard LSU Tiger fan (win or lose) Geaux Tigers and don’t forget, Who Dat?!
Favorite Verses: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”, “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.”
Additional Note: I am so privileged to be a part of Grace Community and look forward continuing to work with the great people here and help take us to the next level. I know for a fact that I am exactly where God wants me to be!