Angie Gongwer, Director of Children's Ministry
Angie Gongwer graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. For 12 years, she dutifully worked in the healthcare industry. But things changed after she had two children. “I loved being a mom and God called me to children’s ministry,” she says. “I’m passionate about the faith development of our children. Laying a foundation for discipleship is imperative to creating a faith that lasts.”
At home, Angie is hard at work laying that foundation with 13-year-old Reid and 10-year-old Riley. Both of her children are active in Asbury’s youth and children’s ministries and they keep her on her toes. Reid plays basketball and baseball; Riley is in gymnastics and cheerleading. Angie is the cheerleading coach.
Angie hasn’t once looked back to her former nursing career. “It’s a privilege to do God’s work here at Asbury,” she says. “It’s more than a job; it’s family.”
Questions? Email Angie!
Susanne Warren, Associate Director of Children's Ministry
When Susanne Warren isn’t facilitating the next big event for Asbury’s Kids Town, you’ll find her thinking about facilitating the next big event. She’s a planner. She’s a decorator. And Asbury Kids Town could not function without Susanne and her creativity.
A member of Asbury for 12 years, Susanne started volunteering 10 years ago when her kids, Max (now 11) and Molly (now eight), were small. She became an official Asbury team member in 2016. She didn’t necessarily expect her career to be in ministry (she graduated from UAB with a degree in in psychology) but Susanne says she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be. “You can only run from your calling for so long before you have to answer it,” she says. “I get to talk to children about God…what more could I ask for?”
When she’s not helping with Vacation Bible School, the Daddy/Daughter Dance, Trunk or Treat, or Kids Town's weekly programming, she and her husband Rob are spending time with their kids and a 50-pound lap dog named Roxie. Her motto is simple, even though her job is not: Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3.
Questions? Email Susanne!
Ellen Dean, Recreation Director
Tireless cheerleader. Faithful team mom. And caring friend. Ellen Dean wears all of these hats and still has time to stop and greet new faces or knit hats for children in need. Yet Ellen insists her full-time job is to spread the word of Jesus Christ through recreation and sports, like spring soccer or Upward Basketball in the fall. Lucky for Asbury and parents all over Shelby County, she’s been doing that job—plus all the others—for 18 fabulous years. “I love children and watching them grow,” Ellen says. “It’s always interesting to watch a child who is very shy at the beginning of the season grow in confidence as the season continues.”
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Ellen graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor of arts in nutrition. She and her husband Joe have called Birmingham home for the last two decades she enjoys spending time with her two children and three (soon to be four!) grandsons. “I live for my grandchildren,” she says.
Email Ellen or visit the Sports & Camps page for details on Spring Soccer, Summer Camps or Fall Basketball and Cheerleading.
Jackson Hodges, Associate Director of Children’s Worship
…is used to a little chaos; he’s the oldest of six. So when he signed up to be a group leader at VBS two years ago, he felt right at home. Then when he decided to teach Sunday School to second and third graders, that felt right too. Now he’s part of Asbury’s staff and the role suits him well. “Working with children comes naturally to me and helping them grow and gain confidence is a passion of mine,” he says.
On Sunday mornings, Jackson teaches Children’s Church during Uptown at 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. and Downtown on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. From leading games and fellowship to taking time to talk to each child about his or her week, Jackson is interested in what Asbury’s kids are doing and eager to be a part of their development.
In his free time, Jackson is the vice president of a community development corporation known as Project Life, which provides after-school care to children of working parents. He also serves on the board for The Right Place, an organization that provides transitional housing to the homeless. His fiancée, Liz, also attends Asbury and volunteers in children’s music ministry.
Questions? Email Jackson!
Andrea Lowery, Childcare Director
For the last 20 years, parents have seen the same dedicated supervisor greeting them in Asbury’s nursery area: Andrea Lowery.
Originally from Nashville, Andrea graduated from the Atlanta School of Fashion and Design and began her career in retail but found her true calling while working with special needs children in the nursery at Asbury.
Week after week, year after year, Andrea and her staff work to achieve the same goal: create a safe, loving environment for children so that parents can worship without pause. For Andrea, the work comes easy. “I love watching our children grow," she says. “They come as babies and leave as little people.” It’s a good sign when those same children find their way back. “I’ve hired many workers over the years that were once in our nursery!” she says.
Elizabeth Vise, Children’s Choir Coordinator
Elizabeth lives for music. On a full-time basis, she directs the choir at Pelham Park Middle School and has her Alabama public school teacher certification in K-12 choral music. She’s a professional singer. She’s directed and produced several plays and musicals. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find her singing in the Traditions choir at 8:30 a.m. And on Sunday nights, she oversees the direction for Asbury’s children’s choirs—and has done so for the last 13 years.
How and why does she do it all? “The answer is pretty simple,” she says. “I love God, I love music, and I love children.”
Originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Elizabeth received her degree in Musical Theatre from Birmingham-Southern College. She has been married to her college sweetheart, Rick, for 26 years. Together, they have three young adult sons: John, Jason and Joseph. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys (surprise!) music, dancing, theatre, cooking, and fitness.
Liz Drugan, Music Ministry Intern
The first thing you’ll notice about Liz is her smile. And the second thing you’ll notice is…her smile. To say Liz is cheerful is an understatement. Whether she’s leading the hymns on Sunday mornings, singing in the chancel choirs, or enthusiastically directing the Sonshine Singers on Sunday and leading music at Downtown on Wednesdays, the energy Liz radiates is positive and endearing.
That’s largely because Liz says she’s found her place here at Asbury over the last four years. “My family is definitely here in this church,” she says. “My favorite way to praise God is through music and I love sharing that with children.”
Born and raised in Naples, Florida, Liz attended Birmingham-Southern College and obtained her a bachelor's degree in vocal performance. While she loves to travel and take long road trips, Liz also loves being home watching sports and reality TV shows with her two cats—Demarcus and Cricket. Her fiancé, Jackson, also works in the children’s ministry.