Our Staff

We have ministry available for all ages – from Nursery and Pre-school age all the way to our senior adults, and our staff is eager to help you find your place to “Encounter, Grow and Serve.”

Dr. Clayton Speed

Lead Pastor

I have been the Lead Pastor at First Baptist Hartselle since August 2015. My pastoral role revolves around preaching, leading, and establishing the vision for the church. My hope and passion is to help people experience the gospel of Jesus in every aspect of life and then to live into the calling that Jesus Christ has given each one of us. In other words, to “live the Gospel OUT LOUD” every day!

I grew up in Selma, Alabama. I’m a West Point graduate and later got my doctorate at Beeson Divinity School.

My wife, Mary, and I have been married since June 1993. I definitely “out-married” my coverage in every way! We have been blessed with four children – Clayton, Jr., Isabelle, Josh, and Gabby. We came to Hartselle in August 2015 after serving on staff at FBC Trussville. We absolutely LOVE living in Hartselle – the City of Southern Hospitality. It may be the best-kept secret in the State of Alabama! Although I know that I’m biased, I believe that FBC Hartselle is the best church ever – we love our family of faith here. Hang time equals family time in my life. I like cars, gadgets, anything that goes fast; and, of course, Army football!! Go Army!!

I’m also a “dog person.” We have three big dogs at our house – a yellow lab (Nick), a Bernese (Leo), and a French Mastiff (Teddy); and one small Corgi (Lillabet) who rules them all!

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Rex Looney

Minister of Worship and Adult Discipleship

I have been the Minister of Worship and Adult Discipleship at FBC since Spring 2021. Before coming to Hartselle, I served several churches in other towns in Alabama. In total, I have spent more than 30 years in full-time ministry.

I am a native of Alabama having lived here all my life. I graduated from Hartselle High School in 1980 and attended the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama. 

Mitzi and I have been married since 1984. Our three grown children are Kyle, Katherine and husband Matthew, and Sarah Beth and husband Paul. Our two granddaughters are Emma Ryan and Ruby Christine.

My hobbies and leisure time activities include hunting, playing golf and riding ATVs. I love to play guitar and write songs. I am a member of ASCAP – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

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Janice Cross

Senior Adult Associate

I have been a member of FBC since 1989 and began my work as the Senior Adult Ministry Associate in March 2020. Before coming on staff, I served in many capacities including Music Ministry, Mission Committee, Missionary House Committee, Women’s Missionary Union, Youth Leader/Chaperone and even the Bus Committee!

I am a native of nearby Cullman and have degrees from Cullman College (A.A.), the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Certificate/ Physical Therapist Assistant), and Athens State University (B.S./Health Science). I had more than 40 years’ experience in the medical profession serving in the field of physical therapy. There I had the opportunity to minister to all ages, but always had a special place in my heart for the “Seasoned Adult.” 

My work with the “Seasoned Adults” here at FBC includes Pryme Tymers’ regular monthly meetings, weekly chair exercise classes, game days, occasional picnics and road trips. Most importantly, I make visits, phone calls, and work to keep our senior Adult Ministry members informed by newsletters, emails, and cards.

My husband, Dwight, and I have been married since 1995; and we have one son, Matt. The queen of our house is Sophie, the spoiled Dachshund. When I’m not at church, you’ll find me spending time with Dwight riding around in his truck usually traveling to historical sites.

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Trent Nolen

Student Minister

I have been the Student Minister at FBC since October 2021. Before coming to Hartselle, I served in ministry in Montgomery and Demopolis.

I am an Alabama native and lived in Dadeville all of my childhood. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who loved and modeled faithful service to the Lord and His people. I have also been blessed with more mentors and friends along my journey than could be mentioned; all of whom have made an impact on my growth in faith and ministry.

My Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotions was earned from Auburn University. War Eagle! My Master’s degree is in Religion, concentrating on Christian Leadership and is from Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary.

My family includes wife Kasie, (pronounced “Cassie”) and our four children: Joseph, Sarah, Hannah, and Matthew. 

When not at church, you can find me with family, students, or friends. For hobbies I enjoy golf, hunting, and trying to be a handy man at home for Kasie.

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Dawn Zanda

Preschool and Children’s Director

I joined First Baptist Church in September 2006. I became the Children’s Ministry Director at FBC Hartselle in June 2011. I consider it a blessing to watch the children grow and learn about God’s love for them! And the best part is I get to continue to grow and learn with them. There are so many highlights to working in Children’s Ministry, but my favorites are Vacation Bible School and Student Life Camp.

I moved to Alabama from Michigan when I was in the 4th grade. I graduated from Decatur High School. I then continued my education at Arizona State University where I graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and a B.A. in Sociology. 

I have four children – 1 girl and 3 boys. Madeline graduated from Jacksonville State University and is now working on her Masters degree through Texas Woman’s University. Addison and Keegan both attend the University of Mobile. My youngest, Gavin, is at Hartselle High School. I also recently gained another son; Madeline and Hunter were married in April 2022.

In addition to my role at FBCH, I am a Paraprofessional at Hartselle Intermediate School. When I’m not at church or school, you will probably find me at a soccer field! I also enjoy being near the water and going on road trips, I just don’t get to do it enough.

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Lauren Hibbs

PALS Director

First Baptist Hartselle has been my work home since 2017.  After working in the church office for 3 years, I moved down the hall to serve as Director of our PALS program.  Before becoming the PALS Director, I served as a children’s leader for 3 years. 

I grew up in good ol’ Caddo, Alabama and graduated from East Lawrence High. I hold a degree in Accounting and a certificate in Child Psychology.  Church life has always been my thing as my dad is a Pastor – yes, I grew up as the pastor’s kid!  Working within the church is something I’ve always known I was called to do. 

I met my husband, Corey, at church camp at a young age.  We married and moved to Hartselle in 2016. We have two children; Avery Kate, and soon to join us, Annie Ruth.  Our sweet German Shepard, Arlie, should be included in that as well, so I suppose we have 3 children!  We’ve had a few other precious babes travel through our home over the last 3 years through the foster care system.  You just never know how many kids you may find us with!

I love spending my “spare” time shopping (if you see me strolling the aisles of Target peacefully, I’m in another world), reading, and binging whole seasons of the latest show on Netflix.  Any other time we’re hanging out at home listening to our record player and all my favorite old records – mainly Elvis or the Eagles.

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Susan Bennich

Administrative Assistant

I began serving on staff at First Baptist Hartselle in June of 2004 as an administrative assistant.  I served as the Office Manager for 15+ years.  In January of 2022, I chose to become a part-time administrative assistant in order to spend time with our grandson. 

I grew up in Flint, AL and graduated from Hartselle High School in 1981.  I obtained my degree in medical assisting from Calhoun Community College & UAB. I formerly worked for several physician’s offices, owned a children’s clothing store, and was a stay-at-home mom.

I have been married to Larry “Sport” Bennich since November of 1987.  We have two adult children, Tyler Bennich & Chelsea Vest and husband, Slayton. We have one grandchild, Bennett, born in November of 2021. I love being his NANA!

I like to spend time outdoors with my husband and family. We have two dogs – an Australian Shepherd – Charlie and a Border Collie – Sophie. I also love to watch the Atlanta Braves & Crimson Tide. 

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Jamie Cleveland

Office Manager

I joined the staff at FBC Hartselle in November 2020 as the Membership Secretary. In

January 2022, I assumed the position of Office Manager.  A Hartselle native, I graduated here in 1996.  I then graduated from the University of North Alabama with Bachelor’s degrees in both biology and geology.  Prior to First Baptist, I have been the Office Manager at a real estate office, a stay-at-home mom, and an Environmental Geologist concentrating on underground petroleum spills.

I married my husband Eric in 2003. We have 2 daughters, Anya & Alora.  Our live-in supervisor is a huge black cat (Shadow). I enjoy music, reading, substitute teaching on Fridays, being both a Drama and Band parent, and cheering on both the Hartselle & Auburn Tigers.

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