Our Leadership

Gary Jared

Senior Pastor
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Since April 1 of 1990, Gary has served as the Senior Pastor at Stuart Heights.  In addition to teaching at Stuart Heights, Gary provides vision, leadership and direction to the church.

Gary’s wife, Nancy, is very involved in the worship ministry of Stuart Heights along with his daughters, Stephanie, Amanda, Paige and Jillian.   Gary is an avid sports fan and when not at church or spending time with his family, he can often be found at a Detroit Red Wings game.

Education:  Tennessee Temple University:  (BRE) Bachelor of Religious Education 1983 – (MDiv) Master of Divinity 1986 – (Honorary DD) Doctor of Divinity 2013

Life Verse: Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Darrell Davenport

Senior Executive Pastor
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Darrell came to Stuart Heights in November of 1990.  He has served at SHBC in many capacities.  He presently serves as the Senior Executive Pastor.  Some of his responsibilities are overseeing the church staff and coordinating volunteers from the campuses of Stuart Heights.  Darrell teaches one of the largest Sunday School classes at Stuart Heights and continues to preach at various campuses when needed.

Darrell was born in southeast Missouri and is the youngest of 12 children.  In 1975  Darrell became the first of his family to attend college when he enrolled at Union University in Jackson TN, where he met and married his wife over 40 years Charlotte.  They have 5 children, Abbey Smith (Daniel), Callie Hodge (Jacob), Isaac (Haley), Samuel (Tiffany), and Amos. Darrell came to SHBC from teaching and coaching in the public middle schools in Hamilton County, TN.

Favorite food/restaurant:  Steak, Seafood, Italian, Fried Chicken, Pizza, Biscuits, Gravy, Fried Potatoes, etc…  Charlotte’s Kitchen

Life Verse:  Hebrews 10:25 and II Chronicles 7:14, emphasizing the encouragement of the saints.

Why do you love SHBC?   It is Home for me and my family, and everyone loves home. 

Brian K. Smith

Associate Pastor
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Brian came to Stuart Heights as the Associate Pastor in May of 2010.  He serves as one of the teaching pastors and can be found preaching at the different campuses of Stuart Heights.  He oversees our small groups, Stuart Heights University (our Wednesday evening classes), and Growth Track (new member assimilation).   Brian and his wife, Amy, have five children (Abby, Campbell, Graham, Christian, and Nathanael).  When he finds some free time, he enjoys golf, hunting, and fishing.  He also enjoys playing music.  Every once in awhile, you may find Brian filling in for one of the band members on guitar or bass.

Interesting fact about yourself:  I used to be the lead singer of a Christian heavy metal band.  I like beets.

Favorite food/ restaurant: I like food.  If given the choice, I like a good steak, or food that I’ve caught or grown.  Bonefish Grill is one of my favorites.

Education: Carson Newman College – 1993 – BA (Religion/Psych), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – 2000 – MDivBL, pursuing a DMin degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Life Verse: Romans 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:9

Why do you love SHBC?: It is our church family and we are honored and blessed to be part of it.  We are blessed with super music, great children’s and student ministries, in addition to a host of other opportunities; but the thing that I love the most about SHBC is that it is genuinely family.

Zac Johns

Worship Leader
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Zac came to Stuart Heights as the music intern in 2004.  He joined the staff in 2006.  His responsibilities include the planning of all musical aspects of services and developing musical groups and choirs.  He oversees the audio and lighting teams.  Zac also provides graphic design, communications, and helps maintain the church website.

Zac and his wife Becky were married in May of 2015.  Becky helps serve the church with here musical talents.  They both enjoy traveling to new places and spending time with family.

Interesting fact about yourself:  I’m a commercial pilot.

Favorite food/restaurant:  Pizzeria Cortile in Red Bank.

Life verse: Col. 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Why do you love SHBC?  The music program is incredible!

David Ivarson

Chattanooga Campus Pastor/ Student Pastor
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    David Ivarson is the Campus Lead for our Chattanooga campus and the Student Pastor for all 3 of our campuses.  He especially helps to facilitate the discipleship process for families with students in middle school, high school, and college.
  David has been married to Shana since 2000 and they have 5 awesome children: Alana, Avery, Asa, Aiden, and Arabella.  He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (BS in Bible- concentration in Youth Ministry 2001), and from Temple Baptist Seminary (Master of Divinity 2013).  He loves to eat nachos, play sports, and hang with his family.
    David has been on staff at Stuart Heights since 2001 and one of his favorite things about Stuart Heights is the opportunity he has to share life with people and to help connect God’s Word to real life in practical ways.
Life Verses: Galatians 5:22-23 which describes what will be evident in our life when we allow the Holy Spirit to control us and to develop His fruit in us.

Roger Russell

Children's Director
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How long have you been on staff at SHBC?:  Since 2007

What is your roll/job at SHBC?: To love the children of Stuart Heights and direct the children programs for school age.

 What are your hobbies?: snow skiing

Spouse name/ Children names?: Sherri, Ashlyn, Sam, Noah

Interesting facts about yourself?: Used to teach rappelling and snow skiing

 Favorite food/restaurant?: Grandmas Sunday dinner was my favorite food. That is long gone so now I like to eat at the Chop House.

 Life Verse: Proverbs 17:28

Why do you love SHBC?: Our family has been at SHBC since 1994. It has been a major tool for my wife and I as we raised our now adult children as well as our own personal growth.

Dani Vetterick

Director of Preschool Ministry & Mother's Day Out
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Dani came to Stuart Heights in 2011 as the Director of Nursery and Preschool Ministry.  Dani brings years of experience in the field of education and a love for children.  Since on staff, Dani has successfully implemented our Mother’s Day Out program at our Hixson and Soddy Daisy Campuses which provides a nurturing environment for our church members and the community.  Dani strives to partner with parents to share the message of Jesus Christ with their preschoolers in an appropriate way that they can understand.  Other responsibilities include overseeing the nursery and preschool services, recruiting safe and loving volunteers, reviewing curriculum, providing leadership training for teachers and support for parents.

Dani and her husband, Jeff, have four sons, three daughters in law, and two grandsons. who can often be found serving in various ministries around the church.  When not in the office, Dani enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

Interesting fact about yourself:    I love music from the 70s and 80s.

Favorite food/restaurant: Chocolate is my favorite food group!

Life verse:  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Why do you love SHBC? SHBC is a place where people are excited to be at church.  It is a teaching church and the Holy Spirit is definitely present.  The staff is very personable and reachable.  The children and parents are the best!

Patrick Williams

Soddy Daisy Campus Lead

Chandalee Chrisman

Director of Women's Ministry
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Chandalee has been part of Stuart Heights since 2001 and joined the staff in 2008.  She serves as the Women’s Ministry Director. Chandalee and her husband, Keith, have three children (Maddie, Tucker and Ashleigh).

Interesting fact about yourself: I like action-adventure movies, especially the X-Men variety!

Favorite food/restaurant: I like to eat! I could probably eat Mexican food every day.

Education: Trevecca Nazarene University – 1996 – BS (Psychology), Bryan College – 2016 – MA (Christian Studies)

Life Verse: 2 Samuel 22:33 “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.”

Why do you love SHBC?: After growing up as a pastor’s kid and moving on average of every two years, Stuart Heights has provided roots for me that I have never had. This body of believers is our family. Our children have been raised in this church and we love having this family to do life with.

Chris Braly

Media Specialist
How long have you been on staff at SHBC: 2011
What is your role/job at SHBC: I produce videos for our various church activities including the 5b4 announcement video, our event videos, and specific ministry video productions.
What are your hobbies: My family, traveling, motorcycle riding, comics, BBQ, and home remodeling.
Spouse name/ Children names: Juliet and Kaitlyn
Interesting facts about yourself: I’m afraid of heights, but I did successfully try skydiving once from 3 miles above the clouds.
Favorite food/restaurant: BBQ
Life Verse: Proverbs 3:5-6
Why do you love SHBC: I can see God working at Stuart Heights and I’ve been able to show love to so many members and guests at SHBC. God has also taught me many things at SHBC.

Sonia Harris

Prayer Coordinator
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Sonia has been serving at Stuart Heights since 2009. As our prayer coordinator, she encourages members in small group and large city wide prayer activities, keeps our church informed of prayer request and praises, and she is earnestly seeking for national revival. She also serves as an ACBC Certified Biblical Counselor in the Biblical Counseling Center. Sonia is a retired Register Occupational Therapist and is currently working on her Mater of Arts in Theological Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Online. She has two adult children, Oliver Jr. and Sasha and one grandson, Carter.

What are your hobbies: Vegetable & flower gardening, cooking, mentoring women

Interesting facts about yourself: Grew up in military family and lived in Berlin, Germany, during the late 60’s. I get silly when I’m tired.

Favorite food/restaurant: Asian Food

Life Verse: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal.2:20, KJV)

Why do you love SHBC: Because of the great teaching, great people, and its great impact on the world

Jim & Peggy Herndon

Counseling Coordinator
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Jim and Peggy married in 1971. They have 5 children and 10 grandchildren. Jim and Peggy currently serve in a Missionary Care Team for Word of Life Fellowship, Inc. This involves domestic and international travel for counseling and Bible teaching assignments for Word of Life. They have been members of Stuart Heights Baptist Church since 2014 and they attend the Chattanooga Campus.  Jim began as a volunteer Staff Counselor in the Biblical Counseling Center in 2014 and he became a certified counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in 2015. Jim accepted the responsibility as Coordinator / Administrator of the Biblical Counseling Center in January 2020. Peggy began as a Staff Counselor and receptionist in the Biblical Counseling Center in 2015, she also assists Jim with administration responsibilities.

Emily Graffius

Children's Ministry Assistant
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Emily started working on staff at her home church as a freshman in college while she attended Samford college in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew a love and passion for ministry from that point on as she worked with children, youth, and families. She later met her husband at Denver Seminary and together they have helped churches in CO, NE, CA and TN. She has one son and one daughter. They are also a foster family.

Emily came on staff in January of 2018 and has been a bright addition to the children’s staff with                                                                 her fresh perspective and wit.

Life verse: Proverbs 3:5-6.

Margy Barber

Music Associate/Children's Music Director

Larry Stansell

Director of Building and Maintenence

Danny Robinson

Building and Maintenance

Danny is married to Terri and they live in Soddy Daisy. Danny has one daughter and three grandchildren. Danny enjoys watching sports year-round, while mixing in jogging, running, swimming, and attending Southern car shows.

Favorite restaurants: Jim n Nicks, Steve’s Landing, Champy’s

Favorite Bible verse: Acts 17:26-27 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each of us.

Joni Browne

Financial Secretary
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Joni has been managing all financial aspects of the church since December 2007.   Holding an MBA, Joni has provided leadership in the area of finances and a professional standard of excellence.

When not in the office, Joni enjoys spending time with her husband, Toby and playing with her son, Brody.  She is a photography enthusiast who loves traveling to new places.  You can often times find Joni working on DIY projects around the house, reading a good book, or just spending time outdoors.

Interesting facts about yourself:  I was saved at the age of seven and I am from Cleveland, TN.  I have been rappelling a couple of times and use to play a lot of billiards.  I love dogs.  I cherish music and can’t imagine life without it.  Someday I hope to learn how to play an instrument.

Favorite food/restaurant:  Home cooked vegetables, Italian, or Greek

Life Verse?:  Romans 12:12

Why do you love SHBC?:  Even though our family has only been here since 2007, it just feels like home, and I have received so much nourishment while at SHBC.  God is clearly doing a good work at SHBC and I am so thankful the Lord has brought us here to work alongside so many Godly people.

Rachel Samsel

Front Office Secretary
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Rachel Samsel came on staff as our front office secretary in 2016. Rachel is originally from the mountains of North Carolina and moved to Chattanooga to attend college at Tennessee Temple University. She met her husband, Stephen, while there and they married in 2003. Rachel and Stephen have 2 boys: Zachary and Kaden. Rachel enjoys traveling and spending time with family.

Rachel has been attending Stuart Heights since 2003 and one of her favorite things about Stuart Heights is the relationships she has made while here and growing in God’s Word alongside family                                                              and friends.


Life verse: Proverbs 3:5-6