Cris Jackson//Director of Student Ministries
As a student, I was blessed to have had the gospel of Christ taught to me at home with my parents and through a variety of student ministries at my local church. The Lord used those influences in my life to save me and to call me to minister to students. Through ministering to students in a Christian school context, I have been so very encouraged by God's faithfulness to reveal Himself to students through the power of the Word of God. Therefore, it is my joy to lead the STS staff in having the Scriptures taught and discussed faithfully to students so that Christ might continue to make himself known. My wife and I, along with our four children, are so very thankful to God for the community and encouragement we have found at Church of the Apostles, and we are looking forward to how God will use us for His kingdom.
Blake Thaxter//Guys Ministry Coordinator
After being invited to my friend’s youth group in high school and hearing the gospel, I felt compelled to find out who God was and what that meant for me. I went into college at USF hungry for friendship and open to learning about God. While attending college at (USF) University of South Florida in Tampa, I got involved in an organization called Cru. Through this ministry, I began to understand the importance of having a relationship with Christ. After graduating, I interned with Cru at USF for two years and I met my amazing wife Hillary in Miami during a summer mission’s project with Cru. In May 2014, I moved to Atlanta and got married to Hillary that August. I worked at a mental health facility for a year and half and then, in 2016 I joined staff with Cru. Since following Christ, I have had a deep passion to see students encounter the gospel and while volunteering with the youth in my church, I felt the Lord lead me to serve in a church setting with students. I am so thankful to be able to serve at STS as your Guy’s ministry coordinator! I am really looking forward to getting to know you and your children. I see it as a huge responsibility and privilege to come alongside you and to begin the process of knowing, befriending, loving and discipling your kids. I want you to know that I don’t take this opportunity lightly and I am deeply passionate about encouraging and equipping them to grow into young men who truly love and follow Christ.
Mary Beth Benson//Girls Ministry Coordinator
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that my life would be about people. I've always been a relational person, and I love hearing people's stories. In college, God called me into ministry. Upon graduation, I joined staff with Cru at Kennesaw State University and served for two years and then pursued clinical experience at a rehabilitation and mental health facility. In 2014, God reignited my calling and passion for Him in an incredible encounter. In 2015, I enrolled in Richmont Graduate University to not only pursue a master's degree but to further understand my call to ministry. I married my wonderful husband, Chad, in 2016 and he's been on the adventure with me as I pursue this call. My heart is to lead others to know where their stories intersect with God's story so that they will live into all of the good that God has for them. I am so thankful and grateful that God has opened the door for me to serve at STS, and Chad and myself are so eager to love, serve, and point these students to the amazing story of God!
Mark Johnston//Coordinator for Grades 5-6 & College Ministry
In 1989, while working in the Sports Medicine field, the Lord called me to student ministry. I started out as a volunteer for two years and that eventually led to me becoming a full time Youth Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, where I served from 1992-2002. In 2003, I arrived at The Church of The Apostles with my family and immediately volunteered in the STS ministry where I served for five years. I was asked to come on staff in 2008 to serve the families in STS. My desire is to minister to our families and see them grow in their relationship with Jesus and be equipped for their ministry wherever God has called them to serve. I have been blessed with an incredible wife, Monica, and three children: Caroline, Elijah, and Gideon.
Leah Colvin//Assistant Coordinator for Grades 5-6 & College
I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I lived in New York, North Carolina and Louisiana but have always called Georgia home. I graduated from the University of Georgia and have a M. Div from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. With ten years of ministry experience in Preschool, Children, Youth and College ministry, I have been blessed to do ministry with many different people and I have loved every bit of it! I also loves the ocean, all my nieces and nephews and traveling as much as possible!
Rachael Kytle//Assistant Coordinator for Grades 5-6
I grew up in Evansville, Indiana and went to college at Purdue University. Before being called into ministry, i was working as an outside sales rep for a corporate company here in Atlanta. I'm reminded everyday in my own life that as soon as I laid down my life in front of Christ, it was made clear that His plans for me were different than my own. I began to volunteer as a YoungLife leader and, through that, God continued to grow my love for youth ministry. I love building relationships with teenagers and, most importantly, pointing them to The One that loves them unconditionally, will never fail them, and wants a personal relationship with them. I married Daniel in May 2016. Second to my salvation, Daniel is the greatest gift the Lord has blessed me with and we look forward to serving Him in our marriage.
Jenny Sessoms//Student Ministry Assistant
I grew up as a child of missionaries in Mali, a nation in Western Africa. I’ve always had a love for ministry, but God confirmed this passion in me late in high school and all throughout college. I moved to Atlanta in 2009 after I graduated from Carson-Newman College. In March 2010, God opened the door for me to work here in STS! I am honored to be a part of what God is doing in and through this ministry and church. I love working with our students and families; there is little that is more rewarding than seeing God at work in teenagers' hearts!