First Baptist affirms that all members of the congregation are 'ministers', keeping with the historic Baptist conviction that God works through all of the gathered people, not just a select few. The church staff are therefore persons who implement the ministries of the church on behalf of the whole congregation. Our coordinating minister is full-time, and our support staff are employed at quarter time, all working together to help First Baptist congregants bring about their vision for ministry and mission.
THE PASTORAL STAFF
Tom Hiltsley joined our staff in December 2013 will spend the next two years at First Baptist as the church's interim minster. Tom holds a Master’s of Divinity degree. He has been an American Baptist Church ordained minister since 1970. He has spent the bulk of his time in small city churches in New England both as a Pastor and as interim. Both Tom and his wife Deirdre have Bachelor’s degrees in Music, and Deirdre has been an organist and choral director. Tom describes himself as having the “…desire to serve short-term or long as a shepherd/guide in a congregation of persons who seek to share a similar journey in a worshipping community of mutual ministry in the all-embracing love of Jesus.” Deirdre and Tom have two grown children.
THE SUPPORT STAFF
Danielle Eschelbach our playroom supervisor joined the staff in July 2012. Ms. Eschelbach provides care for the worship hour for our children (up to age 7).
John Harwood, III, is the Sexton. The longest serving present staff member, John has been at First Baptist since 1996, providing care for the facilities and keeping the building humming.
Melissa Hepler joined our staff on August 30, 2010. As the office manager, her duties include financial and property management and coordinating office workflow and organizational communication.
DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
Charles Olegar serves as the Director of Music at FIrst Baptist. He serves also at the Director of Music and Choir Director for the First Congregational ("Old First") Church of Old Bennington, Vermont.
As a career church musician, Olegar has served a variety of congregations in the Northeast, South, and Midwest, including cathedral and college positions. During the 1980s and ‘90s his work in the English choral tradition earned international recognition. More recently, his “Bach and Beyond” organ recital series in Great Barrington drew a large following as it yielded three CD recordings, one hailed by the prominent journal “The American Organist” for Olegar’s “poetry and passion.” Other accolades include some half-dozen first prizes in international choral competitions and festivals, including two consecutive wins in England’s Elgar Festival, and an honorary degree from England’s Wessex Theological College for his work promoting English church music in America.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Olegar’s initial professional church music training was at the University of Akron and Cleveland Institute of Music, largely informed by the influence of the School of Sacred Music of New York’s Union Theological Seminary, which at the time was providing the majority of America’s church music practitioners and educators. Olegar’s post-graduate studies took him to England’s Royal School of Church Music, where he received tutelage from renowned choral musician Sir David Willcocks.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION TEACHER
Shanely Marmolejos became our Christian Ed teacher in October 2014. She attends Southern Vermont college. Sunday school classes are held for our children seven and above.