Pastor Eric Kennedy and his family began serving Ringgold First Baptist in 2014 and are thrilled to call Ringgold home. Eric was born and raised in Laurens, SC and gave his life to Christ as a child. After studying finance at Florida State University, Eric spent ten years working as a stockbroker and operations manager in the financial industry before accepting God’s call to vocational ministry. He served on staff with Central Baptist Church of Miami, FL for two years before attending seminary at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL, and then served as senior pastor of Community Baptist Fellowship church in Bedford, IN for seven years. In his free time, Eric enjoys being outdoors fishing, hiking, and kayaking, and spending time with his family. Eric is married to Dallas, TX native Lori, who is a speech pathologist with the Catoosa County school system. Lori spent several years as a full-time missionary working in inner city Miami, FL and is a graduate of Texas Tech University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric and Lori are the proud parents of James and Ellie.
Minister to Families
Pastor Brant Olivarri and his family moved to Ringgold First Baptist in 2009 where he begin serving as the minister to families. Brant spent his childhood in Columbia, SC and though he is a USC Gamecock fan, his true college team is the University of Texas. Brant received a Physical Education degree from Carson-Newman, where he played soccer for the Eagles. Carson-Newman is also where he met his wife Kristy when he was supposed to be studying. After college Brant received a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Brant and Kristy have served churches in NC and SC before coming to Ringgold. Brant and Kristy have been married since 1999 and have three wonderful kids: Sawyer, Cohen & Piper.
MINISTER of music
Pastor Eric Purser accepted the call to serve as a minister of the gospel through music at Ringgold First Baptist in 2017. Born and raised in Macon, GA, he developed his love of music in church, school, and community choirs and instrumental groups. Upon completing his Bachelor of Music in music education at the University of Georgia, where he marched with the Redcoat Band for 4 years, Eric pursued a band teaching career. He worked with elementary and middle school bands in Fort Valley (GA), Folkston (GA), and Jackson (GA) and earned his Master of Music degree from Columbus State University. While in Jackson, Eric discovered his calling to lead music in church while attending Towaliga Baptist Church, where he was later ordained for ministry. After two years of musical leadership at Towaliga, Eric accepted a as Associate Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Blairsville, GA, where he served for seven years. During these years, Eric earned his Master of Theological Studies degree from Midwestern Baptist Seminary. Eric enjoys spending time with his wife Laura, who is a pianist and a music teacher at Oakwood Christian School, and their sons Ethan and Evan. He enjoys being outdoors camping, kayaking, hiking, biking or otherwise playing with the family, and watching UGA sports and all Atlanta area professional sports teams.
Dan Nichols has been part of Ringgold First Baptist Church since November of 1970. Prior to joining the staff as Financial Administrator in 2020, Dan has served as a Deacon, Sunday School Teacher and Children’s Choir Director. He has a degree in Economics and Finance from Shorter University. He attended UTC to study accounting in preparation for the CPA exam which he successfully passed on his first attempt. Prior to joining the staff at RFBC, he worked in the banking and insurance industries. Dan‘s interest are golf, Braves baseball, SEC football and spending time with the women in his life (his wife, two daughters and three granddaughters).
Allison Hullender joined the Ringgold First Baptist staff in June of 2018. She attended Moody Bible Institute for one year and finished her degree at Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Allison was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan but settled in Georgia with her husband Shane, a Ringgold native, She and Shane are the proud parents of daughter Promyss . Allison's professional journey has taken many turns, hills, and valleys, but she is happiest when she is supporting the work of others and is thrilled that she is also able to serve the Lord at the same time.
Music Ministry Associate
Krystal joined the Ringgold First church family in June 2022 as Music Ministry Associate and leads worship in our contemporary service. Born in St. Augustine, FL and raised mainly in Chattanooga, Krystal is a preacher's kid with many years of experience serving the body of Christ. She was a part of the Hickory Valley Community Church praise team for over 20 years, serving as their worship leader from 2008-2020, and most recently served as a vocalist with the New Heights Baptist Church praise team from 2020-2022. Krystal has a degree in business administration from Bryan College and a master's degree in education from UTC and works as a math teacher, instructional coach, and head volleyball coach at Oakwood Christian Academy in Chickamauga. She and her husband Paul are the proud parents of Josh, Isabella, JD, and Wyatt, and they have one granddaughter Alanna.
Youth ministry associate
J.P. was born and raised in Chickamauga. Growing up, he attended Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church in Flintstone and came to know Christ at age 11 at a Power Team crusade. In his high school and young adult years, he served in various worship bands as a drummer while working as a custodian at Oakwood Baptist Church. In 2011, J.P. received his B.A. in Biblical Studies from Midwestern Baptist College, the undergraduate program at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBC) in Kansas City, MO. During this time he served as a youth ministry intern at Antioch Bible Baptist Church. J.P. returned to Georgia and has served as a youth pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Cleveland, TN, where he received his ordination for ministry, and at The Gathering church in Ringgold. He joined RFBC as our Youth Ministry Associate in May of 2022. J.P. also has a passion for drumline and was the percussion instructor for the Gordon Lee marching band from 2001-2005 and 2012-2021. During those years he often instructed simultaneously in other high schools including Lafayette, Northwest Whitfield, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, and Model High School in Rome. He has arranged show music, warm-ups, and cadences for the groups he has taught. J.P. became the percussion instructor at Ringgold High School in 2021 and is excited to serve students both in our church and in our community. J.P. also owns his own painting business specializing in cabinets and interiors.
David Darnell hails from Louisiana and joined the RFBC staff in piano ministry in 2016. David has served in piano ministry in various churches throughout the U.S. and South Korea for almost 60 years. As the son of a full-time evangelist, David started playing in church at 10 years of age. After retiring in 2016 from library administration, David moved to Georgia with his wife Wilma. Since then, David has recorded in Nashville several solo piano CDs for worship enhancement and is currently working on upcoming CD projects. It is a pleasure for David to worship and share in ministry with the RFBC staff and church family. His prayer is that the piano will complement the worship experience and bring comfort and joy in the grace and love of our sweet Lord.
Beth Long has ministered to Ringgold First Baptist for more than 50 years! She became our church organist in 1966 and has served under the direction of eight ministers of music and alongside eight pastors. But to limit Beth’s service to our church to the area of music alone would be a huge oversight. Beth is not only a talented musician but also a trusted spiritual leader, tireless prayer warrior, devoted friend, and faithful servant in all areas of church life. Her theology of music is that it “glorifies God and lifts our peoples’ hearts”, and she has lived out that theology through decades of worship services and countless weddings, funerals, and other events. Beth’s happiest time of the week is Sunday morning worship when she has the joy of hearing the voices of our congregation raised in praise to the Lord. Beth is happily married to Win and loves spending time with their children and grandchildren.
Lynndi Fountain was born and raised right here in Ringgold, GA. She grew up in a Christian home with her dad, mom, and two older brothers. After graduating from Ringgold High School in 2012 with a career strand in Early Childhood Education, she devoted herself to teaching children. Whether it was through dance classes or education, she knew from a young age she loved working with kids. After joining the Ringgold First Baptist PreK and Learning Center staff in 2013, she attended Northwestern Technical College where she received her TCC in Early Childhood Education. Lynndi has served in a variety of roles in our PreK over the years, working most recently as our 2-year-old class teacher prior to becoming our PreK director in 2020. Lynndi has been married to her high school sweetheart, Tanner Fountain, since 2013. They have two wonderful children together: Church and Atlas. In her free time, she enjoys fitness activities of any kind, dancing with her children, long naps with her cat, coffee dates with her husband, and making people smile. She is so excited for this new chapter in her life and can’t wait to see all of God’s plans with the PreK program.