Church Staff

Meet Your Staff

Rev. Dr. Michael Lea


The Reverend Dr. Michael S. Lea is a native of Ider, Alabama. He is a 2002 graduate of Samford University (Birmingham, AL) with a double major in Religion and Classics, a 2006 graduate of Duke University Divinity School with a Master of Divinity, and a 2017 graduate of Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology (Atlanta, GA) with a Doctor of Ministry degree. Michael has served as Pastor of First Baptist Church | West Jefferson since January 2008. Previously, he was Pastor of Bullock Baptist Church (Bullock, NC) from August 2002 to December 2007.

Michael and his wife, Natalie, have two children: John David and Ethan. They enjoy hiking, float-trips on the New River, disc golf at Ashe Park, Atlanta Braves games, and family vacations. Michael also enjoys coaching his sons' youth league sports teams, playing pick-up basketball with friends, and delivering meals for the Ashe Food Pantry.

Michael Furr began his work in ministry at his home church, First Baptist Albemarle, in Albemarle, North Carolina. He served as the Minister of Families ministering to children, youth and families. Prior to his service in ministry he worked in public education teaching high school biology and coaching multiple sports. After moving to the high country in 2017 he served with a church in Watauga County and also taught middle school science. Michael has a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Secondary Education from UNC-Charlotte and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry with a concentration in Christian Education from Campbell University. Michael is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys spending time hiking, fishing and tending his garden. He and his wife, Betsy, have two children, Madelyn and Emma.

Rev. Michael Furr

Interim Associate Pastor of Children and Youth

Rev. Margaret Vance

Music Ministry Director

Margaret Hutcherson-Vance is a Native North Carolinan born in Tryon NC. She has been educated at Westminster Choir College, Princeton N.J.; Limestone College, Gaffney, S.C.; Southern Seminary, Louisville, K.Y.; Garrett Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, I.L.; Methesco Seminary, Delaware, O.H.

Margaret was consecrated as a Diaconal Minister in the United Methodist Church in 1994 and ordained as a Permanent Deacon in 1997.

Rev. Vance has served in churches in N.C., K.Y., and S.C.

Her Son Morgan lives in Hartsville, S.C.

After 40 years she is back at First Baptisty Church in West Jefferson, which was her first church after seminary.

Vickie Yearick is retired from Fifth Third Bank with forty years of financial experience. She has been on staff at First Baptist Church since September 2022. She attends Bald Mountain Baptist Church.

Vickie and her husband Karlton have two daughters, Jessica and Kendra (Nick), and two grandchildren, Nora and Kyler. Vickie and Karlton enjoy biking, hiking, traveling and family beach trips.

Vickie Yearick

Financial Secretary & Administrative Assistant

Sylvia Zahner


Sylvia has been the church organist/accompanist at First Baptist since December 2017. Before that, she had been a church organist and accompanist in the Central Florida area since 1970. Before moving to the mountains, she was a staff accompanist at Florida Southern College for two years.  A Tampa native, Sylvia married Bob Zahner and moved to Lakeland in 2004. She is retired from Verizon Wireless. She has an Associate in Arts Degree in Music from Florida Southern College in Tampa.

The Reverend J. Kennith Morris had a long and distinguished service as pastor of First Baptist Church of West Jefferson from 1973-2006.  During his tenure as pastor, he served his community well and is commended for his untiring efforts on behalf of the less fortunate.  His compassion for the ill and the bereaved as well as his unsurpassed talent for lifting spirits in dire curcumstances have long been recognized both within this church family and the surrounding community and are integral parts of the legacy he leaves to our church.  Our congregation is blessed to have been served by such a dedicated pastor, who now serves as our Pastor Emeritus.

Rev. Ken Morris

Pastor Emeritus