George Ragsdale - Senior Pastor
The Rev. George Ragsdale is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Belmont. He preaches, teaches, and helps lead the congregation as we seek to be more like Jesus Christ for our community and beyond. George is passionate about the church and hopes to connect the rich history and tradition of our faith to the struggles we face in the twenty-first century.
George earned his undergraduate degree at Duke University in Durham in political science and religion. In 2005 he received his Masters of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School. An Ordained Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, George’s ministry has included service in two rural churches in Yadkin County, North Carolina and churches in the British Methodist Church north of Manchester, England. Previously, he served for six years as the Minister of Discipleship at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. George has two daughters, Claire and Anne Louise. In what’s left of his spare time, he enjoys movies, biking, reading and the theater.
Kristen Surratt - Minister of Discipleship
Rev. Kristen Surratt works with learning, outreach and nurture ministries of the church encouraging and challenging members as disciples of Christ to grow in faith and faithful living. These include Sunday School, children's programs and activities, adult studies, fellowship and mission/outreach opportunities.
She holds an undergraduate degree in English from Queens University in Charlotte and received her Masters of Arts degree in Christian Practice from Duke Divinity School in 2016. Kristen was commissioned as a Provisional Deacon in the Western North Carolina Conference in 2018. Prior to her appointment at FUMC, Kristen served at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Children's Ministries. She and her husband, David, live in Lake Wylie and enjoy spending their free time in the outdoors.
Ellen Robison - Minister of Worship and the Arts
The Reverend Ellen Robison serves as our Minister of Worship and the Arts, with primary responsibility for all our aspects of our music ministry. Raised in Indiana with two sisters by a family of educators, Ellen was drawn to music early in life and she learned to play the piano, the organ and the cello. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. She taught high school in Indiana for six years and then moved to Wilmington, NC in 1989 to begin teaching at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While there, she served as music director at two churches, worked for four years on the “Matlock” television show, and directed over 100 musicals for the local professional theatre company.
In 2003 Ellen received a call to ministry and enrolled in Duke Divinity School. Graduating in 2006, her first appointment was at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte. She then served as the Minister of Worship and the Arts at the historic Riverside Church in New York City from 2016 until 2019.
In joining our staff, Ellen shares, “I am excited to be back in North Carolina and thrilled to be serving at First United Methodist Church in Belmont, where people take their discipleship journey seriously and are deeply engaged in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the community and around the world.”
Margie Ligon - Director of Youth Ministries
Margie Ligon leads our ministry with youth, overseeing all the ways we seek to help youth build community, grow as disciples and serve the community in Jesus’ name. Prior to FUMC, Margie served for five years as the Director of Youth Ministries and Spiritual Gifts Development at Philadelphia United Methodist Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Masters of Arts degree in Christian Practice from Duke Divinity School. She and her husband, Arthur, live in Fort Mill. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Janice Pennington - Business Manager
Janice is the Business Manager at First United Methodist in Belmont. She has been on staff since 2003 and a member of FUMC Belmont since 1986. She is married to Sam Pennington and they have two sons and two grandchildren. Janice enjoys trips to Blowing Rock as often as possible, spending time with her grandchildren, reading and chocolate.
Carole Bertino - Administrative Assistant
Carole Bertino joined our staff in June, 2016 as our Administrative Assistant. Her primary responsibilities are coordination and production of our weekly bulletins and monthly newsletter. Carole and her husband, Rich, moved to the Belmont area from Tucson, Arizona, where she served on staff at St. Mark's United Methodist Church.
Linda Smith - Director of Child Development Center
Linda and her family joined First United Methodist Belmont in September 1975. The Child Development Center opened May 1976 and Linda became our Director and has remained with us ever since. She has more than 40 years of experience in child development. She also has both Early Childhood and Business Administration Credentials. Linda has one daughter, Melanie, and one granddaughter, Aubrey, who live in Belmont. Linda lives at Lake Wylie and finds that to be a peaceful setting. She enjoys dancing and is a member of several Shag Clubs. The Beach is her home away from home, but most of all she enjoys spoiling her grandchild.
Amanda Sloan - Child Care Coordinator
As our Child Care Coordinator, Amanda Sloan helps to coordinate our nursery volunteers, welcome families and visitors to each week, and help us make sure our youngest members know they are loved and valued here at church. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services from Queens University in Charlotte and has seven years of experience in church childcare ministry. She lives in Charlotte where she works full time as a dental office manager. Amanda shares, “I am excited to serve as the Childcare Coordinator and to grow in faith and fellowship with the FUMC Belmont community. I am committed to fostering a safe and fun environment for children to flourish in their faith through play. I am overjoyed for this opportunity to work with this congregation and look forward to our journey."
Shelton Davis - Pastoral Counselor
Shelton is a Licensed Professional Counselor (L.P.C.) and National Certified Counselor (N.C.C.) with Sanctuary Counseling Group. Shelton works with individuals (adults and adolescents), couples, and families. She specializes in working with clients struggling with grief and loss, depression, anxiety, marriage problems, mood disorders, adjustment disorders, self-esteem, life transitions, faith issues, caregiver stress, and finding meaning in life. She also offers premarital counseling.
Shelton is an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church and formerly served as a chaplain at Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville and Gaston Memorial Hospital. She completed her undergraduate work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received her Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. She received her Master of Counseling degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. For more information, please go to www.sanctuarycounselinggroup.org.