Meet the Northside staff and their families.
Pastor Stan Givens attended Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, Alabama, where he met his wife Annette and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Theology. He served in various ministry and pastoral roles for several years in Birmingham before taking the position of lead pastor at Northside in 2000. A native of Mobile, Stan actually attended Northside as a child under the teachings of founding Pastor David Jones for many years.
Pastor Stan is the Executive Director of 6:14 Ministries, a nonprofit organization that exists to encourage pastors and rescue churches in need of revitalization. He's also a board member of Agape Life Gardens and an active supporting member of Team Jesus Ministries. When he's not at church, you can find him bowhunting, playing guitar or spending time with his family.
He's married to Annette Hathaway Givens and together they have three children — Joshua, Caleb, and Mary — the eldest of which serves as Communications Director for both Northside and 6.14 Ministries.
Annette acquired her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Southeastern in 1982 where she also minored in biblical studies. She is currently a first grade teacher in the Mobile County Public School system and serves regularly with our women's ministry and nursery ministry.
Steven attended Southeastern Bible College from 1999-2003 where he focused on Theology and Biblical Studies and minored in Education. After Southeastern, he went on to work in the music industry for a while as a local DJ in the Gulf Shores area and slowly built up some experience and networking opportunities for himself. He later served as youth pastor at Clearview Baptist Church in Birmingham, where he worked closely with the junior high students and assisted with outreach, mission trips, camps, Safe Harbor, and other various ministry venues.
Steven was previously the owner of two successful entertainment production companies and is now working for All Pro Sound, owned by Sweetwater, where he does audio/video/lighting integration.
The original call to ministry came for Steven in 1998 after some deeply personal experiences and an intimate encounter with Christ, one which would place him on a long and hard journey as a prodigal. By 2008, he had moved to Mobile and was working with music artists before things turned around at the Home of Grace in 2018. From 2012-2015, he worked in recovery ministries at the Mobile Metro Jail and later served as interim pastor at The Cross At Clay in 2019.
Steven first met Stan after Memorial Day 2019 at a Testimonies On The Lawn event and told him that he really enjoyed the service at Northside because it didn't put him to sleep. "That was big for me," recalls Steven with a smile. "I immediately knew God was working at Northside when I showed up. I knew I wanted to be a part of what God was doing there. I told Stan I was looking for a church where I could dig in."
In his spare time Steven enjoys watching The Office, mixing music, and drinking venti caramel macchiatos. He is married to Rachael Gormandy Mathews.
Pastor Benjamin Akey accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in February 1975 at Westwood Baptist Church in Live Oak, Florida. Soon after, he responded to a deep and heartfelt call to ministry, spent a year working with Puppet Productions Inc. in San Diego, California before eventually deciding to trek across the country to attend the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama. It would be "UM" (as it is fondly referred to here in south Alabama) that would provide him with the ability to graduate with a degree in theology and business administration.
Ben would go on to serve several churches throughout the greater Mobile area while also attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
After several years working in the business world, he took a leap of faith and followed his longtime dream and desire to become a chef. Together in March 2018, he and his wife Erin — who he met in 2005 and married in 2006 — opened 1031 Meals Café. The restaurant is named in reference to 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." They are currently located in the Connie Hudson Senior Center and love serving and ministering to their clients, as well as the public.
When he's not pastoring, studying, teaching, shepherding, or cooking, Ben enjoys golf, watching true crime mystery documentaries with his wife, attending Christian concerts with his wife, playing card games with their five kids, and making homemade pasta. He has also become world famous for his horrifically awful dad jokes.
Saved at the tender age of five, Josh has grown up in and around church ministry his entire life. His childhood is filled with memories of A.W.A.N.A. Bible clubs, faith-based sports leagues, homeschooling activities and field trips, kids church, summer youth camps, missions trips, leading worship alongside his dad, and building lifelong friendships in various ministry venues.
Josh received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications with a track in broadcast journalism from the University of South Alabama in 2010 where he also minored in classic English literature. In 2008, he spent a year at Valdosta State University in Georgia studying international media and public relations, as well as marketing, digital media, and web and graphic design. While in Valdosta, Josh was blessed to serve with Northside Baptist Church, playing on the worship team and working with the student ministry.
At Northside, Josh is responsible for designing and managing our weekly worship service and sermon media, our website, social media accounts, Faceboook livestream, blogs and our podcast. He also serves as lead acoustic rhythm guitarist for our worship band on Sunday mornings.
He is also the full time Communications Director for 6:14 Ministries, a church revitalization nonprofit organization he and his dad founded together in 2018. At 6:14, Josh designs and maintains the official ministry website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and digital media presentations, as well as all marketing and promotional materials, and helps several churches and pastors with their various digital and social media needs.
Josh writes regularly at his official blog site The Josh Givens Blog, covering all things Church Communications. If you'd like to request Josh to speak at your next conference, seminar, or retreat event, you can fill out the speaking request form on his site by clicking here.
In his spare time, Josh enjoys playing guitar, reading, watching classic films, nature walks, and drinking grande vanilla lattes.
Originally from the Northwest, Anastasia grew up in a military family and was blessed to travel overseas to Okinawa and the Philippines as a child. She subsequently came to Alabama to visit her dad and fell in love with the south. In June of 2002 she moved here and hasn't left. She met and fell in love with her husband in 2003 and through him found a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before eventually being baptized in February 2005 at a small church in Chickasaw, Alabama. Anastasia is proud to say that she has been seeking the Lord ever since!
In 2011, she felt a call from the Lord to plant a garden, a ministry which would soon turn into a vision much larger than she could have ever imagined. Anastasia started an outreach called Tender Gardener committed to helping those who want to grow their own food but may not physically be able to do so, as well as those who simply don't have the time, knowledge, or money. The organization is dedicated to helping these individuals plan, plant, tend, and harvest their gardens.
Anastasia is also the Project Director for Agape Life Gardens, a local nonprofit organization all about feeding people spiritually and physically just like Jesus did. She enjoys gardening and showing others how they can grow their own food. Through her program Gardening God's Way, Anastasia teaches biblical principles and fulfills her own personal ministry calling to love Christ and His people through the efforts of teaching and gardening.
At Northside, Anastasia serves faithfully as our Administrative Assistant (a.k.a. Cricket Herder), handling secretarial duties, answering calls and e-mails, managing multiple projects, overseeing internal staff communication, keeping our pastors in check, and going above and beyond the call of duty on multiple occasions. We are blessed to have her as part of our regular staff.
Jessica is the Children's Director here at Northside, teaching young children in the Light Bearers ministry all about Jesus and how to follow Him.
After having what she remembers as a personal "mountaintop experience" with God in 2012, Jessica turned her life around and has been following and serving Him ever since. In 2015, she began ministering at the Wings of Life, a local residential faith-based recovery program for men and women in Mobile. Just five short years later in 2020 she would meet her future husband Robbie during a prayer meeting with Agape Life Gardens.
Jessica is passionate about ministry, serving the local church, and spending time with her family. Some of her favorite activities include snuggling up with her Bible and a good cup of coffee in the morning or watching her favorite TV action drama series in the evenings. Perhaps the most meaningful and rich part of Jessica's life, however, has come in the form of spending quality time with the amazing and precious children in the Light Bearers ministry at Northside, a gift for which she is grateful beyond words. Reflecting on her hours spent with the kids, Jessica says, "Sometimes they end up teaching me more than I ever teach them."
Hailing from the tiny town of Woolmarket in south rural Mississippi, Ethan Buckalew brings nothing but Jesus, joy, and a heart for children and teens everywhere he goes. Stroll into Northside on any given day, strike up a conversation with him, and you won't mistake his trademark smile, authentic laugh, and one-of-a-kind personality. Seriously, we dare you.
Ethan attended D'lberville High School as a teen, graduating in 2019, and would go on to pursue diesel college academics in Nashville. But, shortly into his schooling, he realized that the college life wasn't for him, particularly since the Lord was already stirring the beginnings of a deep-seated call to children's and youth ministry in his heart and life. His earliest passions for youth leadership at Northside go back to 2015, despite his on again/off again relationship Jesus. In his own words: "Eventually my hardheadedness caught up with me and, although I made a lot of mistakes along the way, I knew that I needed help and desperately needed to have a real relationship with Christ."
Through a series of situations and circumstances that only God Himself could ordain in His divine sovereignty, Ethan would soon come into contact with Agape Life Gardens founder/director Ryan Lantaff, who also eventually became one of his closest and most trusted friends. Ethan gladly took Ryan up on his offer to live in one of the Agape discipleship transition homes and has been striving toward ministry and a personal pursuit of Jesus ever since.
At Northside, Ethan serves as our Youth Leader, teaching and discipling our students on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. He also serves as a vocalist in the Celebrate Recovery worship team on Thursday evenings, and could not be prouder to see his father Zach playing drums for the CR band.
When he's not at church, you can find Ethan at 1031 Meals where he works for Ben & Erin Akey as second chef, which isn't a bad gig considering that cooking happens to be one of his other greatest joys and passions in life.
A native of Mobile, MGM high school graduate, and 29-year automotive parts retail management veteran, Darlene grew up in church as a little girl and knew about Jesus, but did not have a true relationship with Him until 2000. She has been faithfully working full-time for the same company for as long as she can remember. You might think that's impressive in and of itself. But when she's not going full speed with her job, you can find her spending time with her family or serving passionately at Northside as Missions & Outreach Coordinator. Darlene has taken a total of four international missions trips with Northside, all to the Dominican Republic.
She also wears a few other hats around here, not the least of which include worship team vocalist and volunteer cleaning crew member. Darlene also doubles (er, triples?) as finance committee member at Northside and serves as a board member for Agape Life Gardens, the nonprofit ministry run by Assistant Pastor Ryan Lantaff. We're not sure how she does it all without a cape, but somehow she manages.
She is married to Mark Givens and together they have two children — Dallas and Rachel — as well as two dogs: Cowboy and Henry. An avid music lover, Darlene has always had a zeal for singing and would even dabble in piano with an innate desire to one day learn to play keyboard. It was this love for music that would eventually lead her to our praise team.
In her spare time, which is a rarity, Darlene enjoys relaxing at home and "absolutely loves" cutting her grass. We can't quite explain the latter phenomenon, particularly in Mobile's torrential heat, but our sources have verified it as true. If she comes across bugs, insects, or snakes in the process, she'll handle them like a pro. Lizards, however, are a different story. Also, she's never seen a Star Wars movie and knows nothing at all about them, other than the fact that, "there's a princess with funny hair buns on the sides of her head." Normally, we would give her flak for this. However, she does know the firing order of a Chevy 350 and we believe that will suffice.
A native of "The Bayou," Kendall hails from Louisiana and has been with Northside as an elder, teacher and shepherd for a number of years. With theology degrees from Springhill College and Oklahoma Wesleyan Christian University (formerly Bartlesville Wesleyan College), Kendall is well-versed in an array of biblical subjects ranging from New Testament church history to New Testament contextual theology. His insight, knowledge and wisdom has become an indispensable part of Northside's ministry. He is married to Sarah Rogers and together they have two children.
Brother Al is a longtime teacher of the Merry Makers seniors ministry class on Sunday mornings and also works as an administrative financial accountant with the Mobile County Public School system.
A retired Chickasaw, Alabama police officer and U.S. Army veteran, Robert has been a dedicated member of Northside since its early “tent days" and serves faithfully as an active board member, shepherd and missions team member.