Southern Hills has a dedicated ministerial team which challenges, encourages and equips the church, and a fantastic support staff which carries out many day-to-day functions in the church office and beyond.
Keith came on board as Discipleship Minister in early 2016. He is passionate about helping members of the body of Christ grow in their spiritual maturity, discover the gifts God has given them, and discern how to put those gifts to work for the sake of the church and the sake of the world. He loves one-on-one conversations and small group discussions--about life or faith or music or sports or nearly anything else--that open up the possibility for meaningful spiritual friendships. He is compelled by the story of Jesus to try to live every day as though God's new creation is already a reality. The opportunity to live into that reality with his wife, Mindy, and his sons, Carson and Charlie, is a gift like no other. Together, they enjoy playing games, going to concerts, and hanging out with friends.
Stephen has been on the ministry team since 1999, serving as the High School Youth Minister from 1999-2006, and as the Communications Minister from 2006 until now. Stephen helps coordinate and utilize various communication channels to publicize events and emphases at our church. He relishes collaboration, enjoys the creative process, and feels at home with a video camera in his hand. His desire is to help make Southern Hills more simple, more creative, more cohesive and more effective. Stephen also loves teaching, and is grateful for the opportunity to do so in the young families Bible class. More than all that, he is thankful for his wife, Tiffani, and their two sons, Kyal and Kolby.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; And when he is old he will not depart from it." After working with severely mentally ill for over 8 years and becoming a mother herself, this has been Tara Gilmer's motivation in life. Tara became the Nursery Coordinator for Southern Hills in August 2015, after finding out being a stay at home mom was not completely for her. She finds purpose and pure joy in working with the families and babies of Southern Hills. Tara has a passion for Jesus and His love of little children and hopes to bring that joy and love into her role at Southern Hills. Tara believes that a strong faith foundation begins in infancy/early childhood. Through her experience working with the less fortunate and mentally ill, Tara has become more passionate about faith in children, the family system, and the impact this will have in the future. She can mostly be found in the nursery area with a baby on each hip. Tara is the mother of 2 adorable children, Nathan and Emma and the wife of Ron. When she is not working at the church, she enjoys her role as the class Mom for Nathan's class, taking care of her family, shopping for her own baby doll, Emma, and having date nights with Ron. She also enjoys participating in Refit, a dance fitness class aimed at the body, mind, and soul.
High School Youth Minister
Josh joined the Student Ministry team in the Fall of 2016 as the High School youth minister. He and his wife Whitney were both raised in Abilene and met in the 6th grade band hall at Franklin Middle School! They have one son, Knox, who you will probably see running around with the "big kids" in the gym on Sunday mornings. The Hardcastle family enjoys being outdoors and playing games together. Josh is passionate about walking alongside of students and their families through the tough times and the fun times. He also believes in the power of finding community and connecting students with one another. That passion for student ministry is fueled by 1 Thessalonians 2:8, "We loved you so much that we shared with you, not only God's Good News, but our own lives too."
Charla joined the staff in October 2016. She is the ministry assistant to Ryan Maloney and is excited to work with the Children and Family Ministry. She is passionate about helping children, the Bar Church Ministry, being with family and spending time with her grandchildren. Her motto is “Choose Joy” and one of her favorite scriptures is “the joy of the LORD is my strength” (Neh. 8:10). She graduated from ACU with an elementary education/special education degree and retired in 2016 after 25 years of teaching. She is widowed and has two grown children. Christi & Brian Stark and their three children attend Southern Hills, and Charla can be found sitting with them on Sunday mornings. Alan and Aubrey Hilligoss live in Abilene, also.
Brenda joined the staff in January 2004. She is the ministry assistant to Jarrod Robinson and Holly Racca. She is responsible for the weekly bulletin and other worship info. Summer camp and Senior Sunday are busy youth times along with retreats, mission trips and other weekly events. She is the person you will talk to if you need to book the building for a wedding, family reunion, shower, birthday party and also any church activities that are at the building or if you need to reserve a vehicle. She is in charge of our yearly Giving Tree which helps several agencies and individuals to have a blessed Christmas. Brenda is married to Fred. She has two grown children, Cole and Kelli and their spouses Kelsey and Cole D and her two step-children Parker and Creede.
Children & Family Minister
If you see a flash dart by on Sunday morning, it’s probably Ryan, who registers 6 miles of walking in our building every Sunday. He’s high energy and gets excited about supporting and encouraging our children and young families in their spiritual formation. Ryan married his high school sweetheart, Lisa, 18 years ago and they have 5 year old twins, Ellie and Luke. Ryan is a choir nerd and has been a part of barbershop quartets and choruses in several venues. He also trained as a master gardener, so if he’s not mucking around in the dirt, you’ll find him jumping in muddy puddles with his kids.
Bar Church Ministry Leader
Shannon Martin joined the ministry team in July of 2012, first serving as Southern Hills' Worship Ministry Coordinator while also serving a vital role at Bar Church. In 2016, Shannon transitioned to the role of Bar Church Ministry Leader, helping coordinate and plan Bar Church Abilene services and recovery meetings. Shannon is passionate about worshiping God through music, as well as taking Jesus to those who would not normally attend a traditional church. Shannon is married to Clay, and they have four children, Grayson, Garrett, Brittany and Gatlin. When not attending to church and family events, Shannon and Clay own and operate a small Persian/Himalayan cattery based out of their home.
When Robert finished his graduate degree at ACU, he told God he would go anywhere except for Abilene, TX. So the Oglesby's spent two years doing youth ministry in Temple, TX before moving back to Abilene. Robert and Jenny built the youth ministry program from 1984-1999 while they raised their family in this community of faith. You will still find Robert and Jenny cooking at banquets, encouraging our ministry staff, and teaching adult and parenting classes. Robert teaches in the bible department at ACU. He has been able to teach over 700 ministers at ACU including several of our current ministry staff. Jenny teaches AP English and the Bible as literature at Cooper High School. Yes, they are still here in Abilene, and the Lord has blessed them beyond their imagination at Southern Hills. Robert Oglesby is currently a part-time family minister that helps our members with referrals to professional counselors in town and coordinates our pre-marital counseling program at S. Hills.
Middle School Youth Minister
Holly Racca has been the Middle School Youth Minister since 2013 and thinks she has the best job in the world. She spends her days working with and for teenagers and their families, you can’t beat that! She is passionate about helping students experience grace and then find a place to belong in a faith community. Holly is married to a fellow nerd, Wes, and they have two dogs, Brooks and Scout. In Holly’s free time you might catch her binge watching Netflix or reading a good book at a coffee shop. In her life she hopes to live out her favorite verse, Acts 20:24, which is, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Minister of the Word
Jarrod joined the Southern Hills ministry team in August of 2014. As Minister of the Word, Jarrod is passionate about helping others experience the life-changing love of God. Jarrod has a deep desire for the Southern Hills church family to be a community where all are welcome regardless of where they come from. He wants our church to be a church for those who – for whatever reason - don’t feel like church is for them. Jarrod’s favorite scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:17. His favorite food is pizza (hold the mushrooms). His favorite movie is The Natural. His favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. His favorite way to unwind is to spend time with his wife, Lauren, and their two daughters, Rylee and Reese.
Mark and Jenn joined the ministry team as co-campus ministers in August of 2016 and have been members at Southern Hills since 2005. Jenn's heart is in loving and serving others. She feels an extreme calling to reach out to the marginalized and bring them feelings of love, support, care and empowerment. She doesn't do anything in life without an incredible support system of people who love her yet challenge her - including her husband, Mark, and their three children, Haelyn, Hope, and Hunter. Jenn appreciates the vision of Southern Hills and cherishes the privilege of seeking the kingdom alongside college students.
Mark and Jenn joined the ministry team as co-campus ministers in August of 2016 and have been members at Southern Hills since 2005. Mark has a passion for young people and, as his wife will argue, is still a kid at heart. He loves teaching and serving others. He also serves on the praise team. Mark would be living in an alley alone if it weren't for his amazing wife, Jenn. They have three kids, Haelyn, Hope, and Hunter.
Cindy is a lifelong Abilenian graduating with an Accounting Degree from ACU. She is a CPA and worked for several years in public accounting and industry before coming to Southern Hills where she currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer. She married her best friend and high school sweetheart. She and her husband, David, have two grown daughters that are their pride and joy. Cindy and her husband have been members of Southern Hills since 1984 long before she started working at the church. The job at Southern Hills came along in 1999 and was an answer to a prayer. She loves Southern Hills and doesn’t know how people make it through life without a church family like hers. Cindy really enjoys spending time with her family and friends doing anything from talking to hog hunting.