Staff

Tim Coop

Associate Pastor of Education
 
Melinda and I were so excited when East Mountain Baptist Church extended God’s call to us, and we joined the staff as Associate Pastor of Education in September, 2017. We married June 12, 1993, and since that time have served together in ministry in a variety of settings and capacities. I really can’t imagine doing ministry without Melinda. She is the most wonderful partner I could ever hope for. She encourages me daily and faithfully walks with me through this adventurous and demanding life of ministry.
 
We are extremely proud of our wonderful children, Andrew and Emily. We are aware of what a gift of grace they are from the Lord, and their love for Him shows clearly in their lives.
 

Gara Handorf

Youth Pastor
 
Gara joined our staff as Youth Pastor in December 2010. He & his wife Amie have three sons, Caden, McClane, & Jack. Gara taught a junior high boys’ Sunday School class at age 19 & soon realized God was calling him to student ministry. His goal is to reach an ever-changing world with the never-changing gospel of Christ. Some of Gara’s favorite verses are Romans 5:8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” and Acts 4:19-20, ‘”But Peter and John answered them,”Whether it is right in the sight of God [for us] to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
 

Rob Bowen

Children’s Pastor
 
Rob has served as Children’s Pastor since 2004. He & his wife Kristy have two children, Hailey and Chandler. Rob began teaching & subbing in Sunday School in 1990. He also worked bus routes for 15 years, has led children’s church at East Mountain since 2004, & has worked in the AWANA program for five years. Rob graduated from LeTourneau in 2003. He enjoys playing golf. His favorite verses are Romans 8:37-38, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 

Sam Wheat

Interim Minister of Music
 

Sam joined the East Mountain family again in August 2019.  After 40 years in full-time church ministry, he retired and moved to the East Mountain community with his wife, Patti, an East Mountain native.  Sam’s hometown is Anniston, Alabama.  He is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Alabama where he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Math Education.  After teaching high school math for 5 years, he surrendered to full-time ministry in 1979 and attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  After receiving his M.R.E. degree from Southwestern, he was called to East Mountain Baptist Church to serve as Minister of Music, Youth, and Education in 1982.  It was there he met and married his wife, Patti Ford, daughter of Royce and Louise Ford. 

He served the last 13 years as Minister of Education at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ruston, Louisiana.  Prior to that he served as Minister of Music and Education at Calvary Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, Woolmarket Baptist Church, Biloxi, MS, and First Baptist Church of Hughes Springs, TX.

His wife, Patti, is a physical therapist and currently works with Christus Home Care in Tyler.  Sam and Patti have one son, Adam, who works in admissions at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Coming back to East Mountain, he is bringing his wife, Patti, home, as they have built on Patti’s family homeplace in East Mountain.

E-mail: samwheat51@gmail.com

Jodi Darden

Ministerial Assistant
 
Jodi became the Ministerial Assistant in June 2011. She says she “grew up” at East Mountain Baptist, joining as an eighteen-year-old newlywed. Jodi is blessed to be the mother of one daughter, Katy, & the grandmother of three beautiful girls, Madeline, Alexis, & Lindy. She was also recently married to Danny Darden. Jodi has always had a love for planning, organizing, & learning new things & believes that her life events have uniquely prepared her to serve the church she loves, in this position. Her favorite verse is Romans 8:29, 31a, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son… What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”