Pastor James Ross began serving as our Pastor in December, 2017. James grew up in Starke, Florida in a non-Christian family and gave his life to Christ during a youth outreach event at the age of 14.
He struggled a lot in his walk with Christ in high school and wrestled with the calling to serve as a Pastor. After moving to Jacksonville, Florida and achieving some success in the corporate world, he finally surrendered to the call that he knew God had placed on his life. He moved to Graceville, Florida where he earned a B.A. in Christian Studies from The Baptist College of Florida and began serving in youth ministry.
In 2007, he planted Mosaic Church in Crestview, Florida. He served as lead pastor for ten years before coming to First Baptist Church of Niceville. James also has a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, a Master’s of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
James has been married to his wife, Christie, since January, 2006. They have four children - Cameron, Nathan, Lillian, and Judah - and they also serve as a foster family!
Associate Pastor - Adults
Chuck Hartness is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. A gifted preacher, teacher, and musician. He entered the Lord's work as the Minister of Music and Youth at Parkway Baptist Church, New Albany, Indiana in 1976 and stayed there for three years. He received the Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mercer University Atlanta and the Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Upon completion of his Seminary degree, Chuck served for a number of years as a Church Planter and Pastor in Western New York with the North American Mission Board.
In 1990 he returned to the south to Pastor Calvary Baptist Church in Dawson, Georgia, a position he held for 10 years. In September 2000 he was called to FBCN as Associate Pastor, Senior Adults. That position was expended to include Adult Ministries in 2007.
Chuck is married to Sue, a pianist and organist at FBCN and piano instructor at FBCN's School of Music. They are the proud parents of four adult children; Stephanie, Jonathan, Rachel, and Leslie, and grandparents to Westin & Joel.
Michael Van Sant
Associate Pastor - Children & Students
Michael began serving at First Baptist in spring of 2011. He grew up in Lilburn, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Michael attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia where he majored in Mathematics Education, and met his wife, Dana, who was also a mathematics major. After graduating in 2004, Michael and Dana got married on Berry's campus at Frost Chapel in March of 2005. They have two daughters, Sadie (2010) and Josie (2012).
The Lord called Michael into full-time vocational ministry in March 2001. He and Dana both have a heart and a passion for students and discipleship. During a 2006 youth mission trip to Mexico, Michael and Dana both heard God's call for them to serve in student ministry. When they returned home, Michael began his studies in the spring of 2007 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A month later, he was called to be the minister of Students at Calvary Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia.
After serving four years at Calvary, the Lord called Michael and Dana to Niceville. Michael oversees the ministries for our students from middle school through college. He and Dana serve with a tremendous team of volunteers who are committed to investing into the lives and hearts of students. Our church believes students are uniquely created and gifted individuals, who are loved by God. It is our desire, and our mission, to partner with parents and families to see young people become life-long students, who follow Christ with obedience and passion.
Associate Pastor -Worship & Creative Arts
Justin, a native of the Atlanta, GA area joined the staff team of First Baptist in September, 2018. Justin studied Music Performance and Education at Berry College in Rome. After completing his degree, Justin served with the International Mission Board as a Journeyman and continued working in missions in South Korea.
Justin graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in Worship Studies and moved to the Florida Panhandle area in 2009 to serve on staff at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Crestview, Florida. In the fall of 2018 God led the Wyatt family to join the staff team of First Baptist Church of Niceville.
Justin and his wife Christy, also a native of Atlanta and Berry College alum have been married since 2006 and have six children. They are both passionate about discipleship, community, connecting people, and adoption and foster care.
Steve Renna, Administrator
Charlotte Smith, Director of Administration
Debbie DiFrancesca, Finance
Jackie Fauth, Records Specialist
Angie Linder, Student Associate
Brenda F. Cook, Receptionist
Robbie Pickler, IT Specialist/Webmaster
Amy Shaw, Children's Ministry Direct
Dana VanSant, Childcare Coordinator
Lissa Corley, BEE Director
Kathy Bloor, BEE Assistant
Alice Hagans, Hostess
Ward Van Steenburgh, Property Manager
Katlyn Huddleston, Worship & Creative Arts Asst.