Rev Mark Barden - Pastor

I am thrilled to serve as senior pastor of Central UMC, Shelby. With a loving congregation, dedicated staff and a history of impressive ministry, I am honored to journey in faith as God leads us into the future.

I am no stranger to ministry and mission. Son of a United Methodist pastor and grandson of Methodist missionaries, I grew up in parsonages throughout the Western North Carolina Conference and became deeply involved in the church from an early age.

After obtaining my education, Oral Roberts University (B.S. in Telecommunications) and the University of Mississippi (M.A. in Radio-TV), I taught broadcast journalism and television production. While teaching at Murray State University (Ky.), I felt God calling me into a new area of service: the ordained ministry.

While completing seminary at Duke Divinity School, I served as a local pastor, which began 15 years in parish ministry. In 2000, Bishop Charlene Kammerer appointed me to the conference staff as Director of Mission/Outreach. After six years, I moved to the position of Director of Communication until returning to parish ministry in 2011.

Following graduation from Duke, I married the Rev. Barbara Shores Barden who currently serves as one of the clergy at Myers Park UMC in Charlotte. We have one son, Chris, a graduate of UNC-Charlotte. When I do have free time, I enjoy traveling, photography, music and going overboard decorating the parsonage for Halloween and Christmas.

[email protected]

Rev. Fawn Mikel - Director of Discipleship and Outreach

Moving to Shelby and becoming a part of Central United Methodist are great blessings for my husband, Glenn, and I.  We truly feel at home in this inviting church and community.  Growing up in Texas, my Bachelor’s degree was obtained at Sam Houston State University.  Following careers as a social worker, librarian, and self-employed business owner, I began to hear God’s call to connect the church and the world – the calling of an ordained deacon. I attended Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and began this ministry in the Texas Conference over 25 years ago.  Seventeen years were spent serving a congregation in south Florida, before 2017, when we were thrilled to be welcomed into the Central UMC family.

I am passionate about people… all people… as we discover how we have much more in common than we have different.  The more I study God’s word, the more I come to know God’s creation and especially God’s people, the bigger God becomes – and the more I long to know and follow God’s ways as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I am honored to be able to grow and serve with this staff and church family and I love experiencing God’s invitation to join God’s creative calling for Central UMC and the Shelby community.

When I am not at the church or about town, you may find me at home gardening, reading a good book, cooking a new recipe, or discovering NC with my husband of more than 40 years.  When Glenn and I can get away, we love to travel, especially to visit one of our 3 sons and their families (with 10 brilliant grandchildren) in Texas, Wisconsin or Florida… or a brief day at our small mountain retreat house in Burnsville.

[email protected]

Savanna Craig - Director of Youth and Children's Discipleship

I am extremely passionate about Children and Youth Ministry. Children and teens are in the perfect stage of life to begin planting good seeds of growth that will continue to be impactful from this point forward. I am excited to have the opportunity to have a part in doing this at Central United Methodist Church! 

I grew up in the mountains of Waynesville, North Carolina. Currently, I live in Boiling Springs, NC and attend Gardner-Webb University. While there, I am working on a Masters of Divinity degree with a concentration in Biblical Studies. I graduated from Gardner-Webb in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology as well. Needless, to say, Boiling Springs and Shelby have quickly become a second home to me. When I am not studying, I enjoy hiking the trails nearby, reading books of all kinds, writing, drawing, and painting. I am truly honored that God has led me to CUMC, and I am excited to be a part of the family here.  

[email protected]

Danny Buckner - Director of Music Ministries

I serve as Director of Music Ministries for Central United Methodist Church. My wife Jennifer and I live in Shelby with our two daughters, Emma and Mary Jane. When I am not planning or leading worship and rehearsals, I can be found spending time with my family and tending to our farm. The Buckners are happy to worship and serve at Central.

[email protected]            

Gina Blanton - Director of Communications

My life in one sentence: I am a Marine brat married to a United Methodist Pastor. While I have lived the world over and graduated high school from Kubasaki High School on Okinawa, Japan, I have spent the majority of my life in North Carolina having lived as a child in Havelock and Jacksonville, graduated from UNC-G, and married a native North Carolinian. My degree is in Elementary Education and I have taught preschool in a variety of settings. I have also worked for a medical office, rental car company and as de facto church secretary. I felt the call into ministry in college but never imagined that would mean being a pastor’s wife. My husband was appointed to Aldersgate UMC the summer of 2016 and we love Shelby already. I have two daughters, Madeleine and Lillian. Madeleine attends Wake Forest University and Lillian is a sophomore at Shelby High School. My home also belongs to a pound puppy, Chance, and a Leopard Gecko, Pip. It is a blessing to be in Shelby, at Aldersgate UMC and at Central UMC.

[email protected]            


Dianne Whisnant - Financial Secretary

I’m one of the 6 Dianne Whisnant’s in Cleveland County. I was born and raised in Shelby a Presbyterian (much to one of my grandmother’s displeasure because according to her, only Methodists went to Heaven). I currently worship as a Baptist and work in the Methodist Church. I’ve been married to Woody Whisnant, Jr. for 46 years. We have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. I enjoy reading, crocheting and short road trips.

[email protected]         

Stacey Watkins-Griffith, DMin - Counselor

I serve as the Pastoral Counselor here at Central.  I am a therapist and a life coach with Spirit Song Counseling Group.  I have office hours by appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  I received my Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and I completed my clinical training at the Carolina Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training.  I am an Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

I am married to Scott Griffith, and we have three children, Laurie, Amanda, and David.  For more information about counseling services here at Central or to schedule an appointment, please call (704) 810-4344 or email [email protected]


Shelley Rempson - Kid’s Place Director

I have served as Director of Central’s Kid’s Place Preschool for many years and enjoy helping prepare children for “big school”. I attended UNCW and UNCC before becoming a wife and mother. I am married to Eddie Rempson. We have four daughters, Zee, Zanna, Zoe and Zella and one son, Zane. We enjoy family trips to the beach and to Lake Norman. I love being part of Kid’s Place and the opportunities to teach children school readiness skills and most importantly, about our wonderful, loving God.

[email protected]            704-487-6357


Libby Alexander - Organist

I have served as organist for Central since 2001. I hold an undergraduate degree from Greensboro College and a Masters in Organ Performance from Northwestern University. I am also staff accompanist at Gardner Webb University. I am married to Dr. Michael Alexander and have two children: a son Daniel, who lives in Raleigh, and a daughter Julia, who lives in Greensboro.