Staff & Leadership

The staff and leadership here at Young Harris UMC is comprised of men and women who love, care and pray for every single person in the church. If you have questions for any of our staff, feel free to reach out and email them or call our church office to speak with them.

  • Reverend Luis Ortiz

    Senior Pastor

    Pastor Luis was born and raised in Ohio.  One of his most memorable employments there was being the private chef for Don King, the Boxing Promoter.  He accepted Christ in 1984 shortly before moving to Georgia. In 1990, he accepted the call to ministry.  Pastor Luis received his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Piedmont College.  Then received his Master of Divinity with a concentration in Biblical Studies at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.   He has served as Senior Pastor in all his appointments. Pastor Luis was ordained as Full Connectional Elder in the North Georgia Conference in 2015.  He will complete his doctoral degree with a concentration in Christian Leadership and Renewal with the next three months.   

  • Reverend Angela Baza

    Hispanic Ministries Pastor

    Rev. Baza is from Peru.  She has lived in Athens for 22 years, enjoying family and friends.  She loves being part of the Methodist church because she has an opportunity to join families and friends, sharing and learning from each other. Testifying who we are within the body of Christ. 


  • Youth Director

    Blake Tabb

    Blake is father to two spunky children and married to Sara Tabb.  He spends most of his time at the Athens YMCA.  

  • Chris Phillips

    Chris comes to Young Harris UMC from previously attending Bishop Baptist Church.   He has been involved in church life from a young age and has traveled to many interesting places with his previous youth organizations and Boy Scout Troops.  He believes in ministry through hands on and music.  They are the way to reach the youth of today and plant the seeds that will grow into adulthood.  Chris resides in Watkinsville with his wife Erin, and their two children Aidan and Allie.

  • Jenn LaRue

    Minister of Music

    Jenn is a PHD student in ethnomusicology at UGA, with a passion for global music and worship.  When she is not researching music from different parts of Africa, she is working with various organizations to help provide primary school education for vulnerable children in Kenya.


  • Daniel Self


    Daniel is a lifelong musician performing extensively on both flute and piano for over 20 years.  He works for the Athens Clarke County Leisure Service Department when he is not performing.  In addition to piano accompaniments, Daniel double on the organ when needed and assists with the Young Harris handbell choir and church orchestra.

  • Patti Simpson

    Communications Administrator

    Patti is originally from Upstate NY.  Patti and her husband, Steve now call Winder their home.  She is a devoted believer and disciple of Jesus Christ and it shows in her passion for her care and compassion for the ministry of Young Harris.   When she is not at Young Harris she is attending muscle car shows with her husband, Steve or spending time with her grandchildren and dogs. 


Young Harris Memorial United Methodist Church

973 Prince Ave

Athens, GA 30606


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