Get to know our ministers (we think they are wonderful!).
Pastor – Rusty Edwards
Rusty Edwards has served as Pastor of University Baptist Church since October of 2011. He is married to Jenny Bilderback Edwards, a kindergarten teacher at Benedict Day School. They have one daughter, Addison, who keeps their lives full of wonder and mystery.
Rusty is proud to be a preacher’s kid–twice over. He grew-up in Murfreesboro, TN where his father was a Baptist pastor and now his mother is a United Methodist preacher in Nashville, TN. Rusty received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Baptist history from Carson-Newman College, a Master of Divinity from Truett Seminary, Baylor University, a Master of Theology with a concentration in liturgy and Christian formation from Duke Divinity School, Duke University, and a Doctor of Ministry in preaching, also from Truett Seminary.
When not busy with life at UBC, Rusty enjoys jogging and riding bikes on the Long Leaf Trace, working in his yard, and hanging out in Hattiesburg with his family. Jenny keeps him well informed about college sports, particularly anything having to do with the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Associate Minister – Kathryn “Kat” Spangler
Kat has served as Associate Minister since September 2013. Kat grew up in Shelby, NC before receiving her Bachelors of Arts from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She then went on to earn her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Prior to joining UBC, Kat served in church ministry in South Africa and worked as a chaplain at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC and Hospice of Cleveland County, NC.
Kat enjoys food and fellowship, reading and staying active.
Minister of Music – Taylor Hightower
J. Taylor Hightower is originally from Knoxville, TN, and began serving UBC as Music Minister in April of 2010. He is also an Associate Professor and the Undergraduate Coordinator of the School of Music at the University of Southern Mississippi. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance from Furman University and both his Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees in voice performance from Indiana University.
Taylor is married to Kerrin Dunbar Hightower and has three children: Graham, Jackson, and Grace.
Church Administrator – Russell Lott
Russell grew up in Stone County, Mississippi. He is married to Gena Jones Lott and they have two grown daughters, Leigh Ann Jones and Laura Beth Lott, and four grandsons. Russell received both undergraduate and Masters degrees in Business Administration from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. After a teaching and administrative career at Northwest Mississippi Community College for thirty-two years, Russell retired in May, 2008. He and Gena then relocated to Hattiesburg to be closer to their family and roots. They joined University Baptist Church in August of that year. He accepted the Church Administrator position at UBC in April, 2010.