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.

  • Assistant Pastor 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. 


  • Jeff Unger -Director of Music

    Jeff Unger is a graduate of Reinhardt University with a degree in vocal performance currently pursuing a masters in music education with a concentration in choral conducting at the University of Georgia, where he sings with the Hodgson Singers and studies voice with Dr. Gregory Broughton. Originally from St. Mary’s, Georgia, Jeff is the son of a Navy submariner and is engaged to be married to Hope in the summer of 2023. He loves golf, the Atlanta Braves, and UGA football. Jeff is excited to serve the Lord by leading this congregation in worship as Minister of Music.

  • Willard SmithCo Director of Music

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  • Alyssa Cagle - Accompanist

    Alyssa Cagle is a master's student in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Georgia where she also serves as a graduate teaching assistant in Aural Skills and Music Theory. Well-versed in both classical and sacred styles, Alyssa regularly performs as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and chamber musician in addition to teaching private lessons. Alyssa feels very blessed to join in worship as Young Harris' pianist.

  • Karen Harpole - Church Administrator

  • Heather Hogan- Youth Director


  • Tammy Elkins-  Children's Director


  • Alex Barlowe - Audio/Video Director


  • Brittany M. Bone - Media/ Communications Director

    Brittany Bone is from Oglethorpe County, a small town right outside of Athens. She was raised and grew up at Winterville First Baptist Church. She is currently pursuing her Associates Degree in Marketing Management at Athens Technical College. She will graduate spring of 2023. Brittany and her husband, Thomas Wheeler were married December 2, 2022

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.