• Pastor (RETIRED) -- Dr. Howard Gates

    Dr. Howard L. Gates served as Pastor of First Baptist Church from 1987 through Jan 31st, 2018, when he retired but remained in the local area and as a member of First Baptist Church FWB.

    A native of Louisiana, Dr. Gates graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in 1970.  While a student there, he felt God's call into Christian vocational service.  After graduation, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, receiving the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees.  Prior to his tenure in Ft. Walton Beach, Dr. Gates served as pastor of Driftwood Baptist Church (Driftwood, TX), Manor Baptist Church (Manor, TX), Harris Memorial Baptist Church (Austin, TX), and First Baptist Church (Rosenberg, TX). Our pastor has also been active in denominational life, preaching at the Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference and chairing the SBC Committee on Committees.  He has served as Chairman of the Committee on Order of Business for the Florida Baptist Convention and as Vice- Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Baptist College of Florida located in Graceville. Dr. Gates has also written Sunday School lesson commentaries for the "Florida Baptist Witness." Dr. Gates has 2 adult children, Stephanie and Matt, and is married to his lovely wife Janelle.

    For Pastor-attention issues during our Interim Pastor timeframe please email:  pastor@fbcfwb.org

  • Associate Pastor -- Dr. Wes Yates

    Dr. Wesley Yates, First Baptist’s Associate Pastor and Minister of Senior Adults and Counseling, loves the Lord and loves to see others grow closer to Christ. He has been with First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach since 1982. During his service at First Baptist, he has also served as Youth Minister and Administrator. Dr. Yates is a graduate of Mississippi College where he received a BA in Religious Education. His education also includes a Master of Divinity (1973) and a Doctorate of Ministry (1989) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. As the Minister of Senior Adults, Dr. Yates strives to keep First Baptist’s senior adults very active, with an on the move Senior Adult Ministry. This ministry provides senior adults with opportunities to attend special conferences and trips throughout the year. Also a part of his ministry, Wes uses his counseling skills to assist others with various counseling needs including grief and marriage counseling. Wes and his wife, Polly, were married in 1964, in Jacksonville, Florida. They have one son, Nathan, who also lives in Fort Walton Beach. Polly, in addition to being a Registered Nurse is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She counsels from a Christian perspective. She has been serving as a counselor since 1992. Wes's favorite verse is Isaiah 49:15… “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

    Contact Dr. Yates at:  wyates@fbcfwb.org

  • Minister of Music -- Rev. Jeff Keeman

    Jeff, a native of Marianna, Florida has been serving First Baptist Church, Ft. Walton Beach, FL as Minister of Music since September 2012. Jeff has a Bachelor’s Degree in Church Music and Voice from William Carey College; a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from The University of West Florida and a Master’s Degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with concentrations in Christian Education and Music. Jeff has been serving local churches as Minister of Music since June 1981 and currently supervises a vast music ministry at First Baptist Church. He plans and directs the music for the 10:30am morning and evening worship services and personally directs the Celebration (adult) Choir, Church Orchestra, and Youth Choir while providing oversight and direction for other choirs and ensembles. Jeff was blessed with a beautiful and Godly wife, Renee, for 27 + years before the Lord called her home due to cancer in 2010. However, in 2013, the Lord blessed Jeff with another beautiful and Godly wife, Ying. Ying sings in the Celebration Choir. She also manages a local Thai Restaurant. Jeff and Ying enjoy a "grown" Brady Bunch marriage, in that, they share five children between them. They also share 8 grandchildren. The Lord has blessed beyond measure! Jeff's number one requirement for singing is, "willing and breathing". So, if you feel you can meet those qualifications, Jeff invites you to join a choir (see musical schedule for rehearsal times).

    Contact Jeff at 850-243-3163 ext. 234 or by email at:  jkeeman@fbcfwb.org

  • Minister of Youth and Adult Ministries -- Rev. Josh Manning

    A Florida native, Josh acquired his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida, and recently completed his Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.  He and his wife, Jialan (Kiki) Manning, have two boys and one girl.  Josh has been involved in Youth Ministry since he was a teenager, and enjoys seeing young minds grasp God’s ageless truths.  Josh enjoys traveling to China, fishing, vintage electronics, playing guitar, and reading theology.  Josh’s prayer for the Youth at First Baptist is that God will grow these students up into the image of His Son, and that they will stand firm in their faith out of high school, through college, and into adulthood.

    Contact:  youth@fbcfwb.org

  • Pre-school & Children Assistant -- Casey Webber

    Contact the church at:  850-243-3163

  • Manager, Christian Life Center -- Greg Black

    Contact the CLC at:  850-226-6905

  • Church Administrative Staff

    William H. Hughes (Bill), Church Administrator, bhughes@fbcfwb.org

    Lisa McLendon, Executive Financial Assistant, finance@fbcfwb.org

  • Church Support Staff

    Julie Haley; Youth Assistant, Bible Study & Membership Secretary, jhaley@fbcfwb.org

    Janet Baggett; Administrative Assistant and receptionist, jbaggett@fbcfwb.org

  • Music Ministry Staff

    Audio & Video Engineer, avengineer@fbcfwb.org

    Renate McDowell, Multimedia Specialist

  • Pre-School Staff

    Pre-school Coordinator:

    Cari Bartlett, preschool@fbcfwb.org

    Hong Miller and Chris Rigsby (Miss Chris), Pre-school workers

    Jim Cox

  • Church Facilities Staff

    Ralph Tabb

    Dennis Honeycutt


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