Rev. Dr. Brent Ward
Senior Pastor

Brent is from the great state of Iowa and the city of Newton. As a child he attended church until the age of five, but did not make a committment to Christ until between his ninth and tenth grade year at a camp called Summer Games. The camp was envisioned by a local United Methodist minister (the late Rev. Stan Wierson) who eventually became his pastor and then mentor for the next thirty years.

Following high school he attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, and then in relationship to the call to ministry he experienced there, went to Boston University School of Theology. His goal was to become an Ordained United Methodist Minister and PhD trained in the field of Psychology. This ultimately led him to the North Georgia Annual Conference and Georgia State University where he completed a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling and a PhD in Counseling Psychology.

He has served five North Georgia church appointments and founded a Christian youth camp called Summer Games Georgia. The churches include the Lamar Circuit (Barnesville, GA), Pomona UMC (Griffin ,GA) Griffin FUMC (Associate), Jodeco Road UMC (Stockbridge, GA) and most recently, St. John UMC (Atlanta, GA).

In 1996, while serving Pomona UMC, he married Laurie. They met at Norcross UMC in 1990 through a singles ministry and dated for several years before marrying. Laurie is an Atlanta native and graduate of Brenau College. Her background in classical ballet led her to work as a choreographer for many years before ultimately going full time with her work in the field of antiques. Brent's nephew, Hunter, came to live with them in 2006 while Brent was serving Jodeco Road UMC. He recently graduated from Riverwood International Charter High School and will be attending the University of Georgia this fall. He plans to major in accounting, and then after working for a few years, pursue an MBA.

Rev. Dr. Tara Paul

Associate Pastor

Tara was born in Wisconsin and slowly made her way down to Georgia via every state in the Midwest and Florida arriving in Atlanta to start her freshmen year of High School. She went to Lithonia High where she played basketball and tennis and from there would go to many fine institutions of higher learning only to graduate from UGA with a degree in Religion. From UGA, she went to Candler School of Theology where she earned her Master of Divinity and then onto to Columbia Theological Seminary where she earned her Doctorate of Ministry. She has served at Dacula 1st, Mountain Park and Avondale Pattillo.

Tara is married to Jim and they have two children: Hannah and Carter.

When I'm not at church or with my family, I enjoy... watching movies, reading, running, buying kitchen gadgets that will probably never get used and playing Words With Friends.

Favorite Movies: Princess Bride, The Breakfast Club, and all the Die Hards.
Something quirky about Tara: hates mayonaise so much that she won't even say it's name (it's the Voldemort of condiments).
Most listened to music: Indigo Girls, U2, David Crowder Band, and Jack Johnson.
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8: 38-39

Rev. John Wolfe

Pastor Emeritus

John is Pastor Emeritus and has been serving with his wife Judy at Birmingham UMC since 1993.

After high school John played football for one year in college and 3 years in semi-pro football. With little college and a new wife he began a career as a builder. This plan was interrupted when he was drafted into the US Army. When his duty was complete he returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and began a career as a real estate and insurance broker. When it began to succeed, he responded to his call to ministry. With his wife Judy and their three children he returned to college and spent the next eight years in school and serving student appointments. Wolfe says that the first Sunday he was to preach at his student appointment (Bethel UMC in Tallahassee Florida) he had the deep assurance that he was in the very place on the planet where God wanted him to be, and it has never changed…even a little!

In 1993, John was appointed pastor of Birmingham United Methodist Church. Birmingham’s average Sunday attendance at that time was fourteen and grew to over 800 under his leadership. In 1995 John received the coveted Foundation for Evangelism Denman Award for Evangelism at the North Georgia Annual Conference.

In 2001, John led the church to purchase an additional five tracts of land, totaling 61 additional acres contiguous to its present campus. Birmingham’s new Worship Center and Educational Building were completed in September 2005.

After pastoring for 40 years, with 15 years at Birmingham, John officially retired in 2008 and was appointed Pastor Emeritus.

For the past 20 years, John has also served as president of Methodist Hour International, a weekly radio broadcast that reaches some two million people in the U.S.

John’s wife, The Reverend Judy C. Wolfe, served for 10 years as Oncology Chaplain, at Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia. In 1998 Judy established a program of grief counseling and wrote and taught two courses on grief, called “Helping Yourself and Others Who Grieve” and “Children, the Forgotten Griever.” In addition to speaking, counseling, and leading workshops all across the Southeast, Judy played a key role in the remarkable growth of BUMC. She served as the Associate Minister for 10 years. Married for over 50 years, the Wolfe’s have three married children and eight world-class grandchildren. They currently live in Canton, GA.