S I N C E 1 9 0 9

We believe our Mission, moving forward, is to plant and to nurture Spirit-filled relationships in God through Christ-centered Prayer, Fellowship, Discipleship, Worship, and Service.

Our Leadership Team

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

  • Rev. Dr. 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 received his doctorate degree from Regent university in Christian Leadership and Renewal.

  • 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. 


  • Willard Smith - Interim Director of Music

    Willard began singing in church at age five and  has continued for the last 75 years. He has directed many choirs in the Atlanta and Athens areas and was introduced to Young Harris Church many years ago where he led the singing for revival services. He is excited about the opportunity to work with Pastor Luis, Daniel and the wonderful choir members and congregation of Young Harris Church in his capacity as interim director of music.

  • Daniel Self -Assistant Interim Director of Music

    Daniel has performed extensively throughout the Northeastern Georgia region as both a pianist and woodwind doubler. He has been a professional accompanist in the church settings for more than 15 years and has been serving as the principal accompanist at Young Harris Church of Athens for just over a decade. When he is not at the piano helping to facilitate worship at the church Daniel can be found working with the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services department where he serves as program leader for the local community theatre program.

  • Catie Cawley - Music Assistant

    Catie Cawley is a senior at UGA studying Music Education with a concentration in Voice and a minor in Human Development and Family Science. While in school, she has performed in various choral ensembles as well as given solo recitals showcasing lyrical soprano repertoire. When she is not assisting in worship, she is working with high school choir students to promote holistic development and responsibility within a community in the transition between adolescence and adulthood.

  • 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 Church of Athens.   When she is not at Young Harris Church she is attending muscle car shows with her husband, Steve or spending time with her grandchildren and dogs. 

  • Tawanda Johnson - Nursery Assistant

  • Karen Ciacedo - Nursery Assistant

Our Beliefs

This congregation has been, is, and believes she is being sent out to cultivate, nurture, and harvest with God for His Glory!  We are called to share the Love of God with anyone and everyone!  We believe that this is our task: to Grow with God by making disciples of Jesus Christ, to care for people, to be God's witness to people, and to serve God and God's people accordingly.  We believe we are being sent into the world to do this.  We believe Athens is the starting place that we do this, but we believe God is not calling us only to Athens, but, instead to both Athens and beyond  We believe Young Harris Church of Athens to be our home, our base, from where God is sending us out in ministry and mission.  We love this congregation, but it is not the end all, be all.  It is God's and not ours to hold.