Malinda was born and raised in Pelham, Alabama, and grew up at Helena United Methodist Church. You could say she was attending church before she was born since her mother was the church organist at Helena for 50 years. Malinda attended college at the University of Alabama where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication and Film; in layman’s terms that’s broadcasting. Malinda worked for a few years at NBC 13 here in Birmingham, finishing there as the 6:00am morning show producer before answering God’s call to ministry. She went on to attend Emory University in Atlanta where she received a Master of Divinity and also met her future husband while singing in the theology school’s choral ensemble The Candler Singers.
Malinda is married to Disney Weaver, her husband of eleven years. Disney teaches Economics and coaches tennis at Ramsay High School. They have two young daughters, Rose and Margaret, who are both social butterflies. Malinda enjoys gardening with Disney, being amused by her girls, and traveling with all three of them.
Malinda’s biggest passions in ministry are mission work and helping people find their place in the mission of the church. She believes God calls each of us to somehow be in service. From swinging a hammer … to serving meals to hungry people … to writing notes of encouragement to those who need them … we all have a part to play in the kingdom of God. Malinda will challenge you to find your place of service if you haven’t already.
Terri Hall became our Director in June 2018. Prior to that, she served as one of our Toddler 2 class teachers.
Terri has been married to her husband, Alan, for 14 years. They have three children, Kinley, Brooklynn, and Brody. She and Alan are active in their church here in Birmingham and serve in children’s ministry together. When she’s not at the ball park watching her children play softball and baseball, Terri enjoys reading, snuggling up to watch a movie with her family, or enjoying dinner with friends. Terri says, “I love this school and always look forward to serving the parents, children, and staff.”
Randi doesn’t have one hometown because her dad was an Air Force pilot. She was born in Hawaii and has lived in ten states and two countries. She moved back to Birmingham in 2005. She has more than ten years experience in educating students of various ages which allows her to meet the many varying needs of families in our congregation and community. She did her undergraduate work at Samford University and went on to receive a Master of Education from Vanderbilt University. Randi has been worshiping with us for a few years and became a member of our congregation in March of 2016. She loves our church and affirms the church’s vision of including all people into our community of faith. In her words, “I feel strongly about our church ministering to families whose dynamics vary from traditional nuclear families, as I believe it is our duty to welcome them with open arms and provide support to their unique situations.” Randi’s role is two-fold: (1) to provide quality learning and fellowship opportunities for the faith development of our children and (2) to offer meaningful avenues for all individuals and families, whether someone has children or not, to engage more fully in the life of the church (for example, through a small group or Bible study). Randi’s husband Ricky is an Inventory Supervisor at Greenbrier Rail Services. Together, they have twin daughters, Addison & Aubrey, and a son, Trenton.
Richard Byrd, a Birmingham native, is thrilled to be a part of the Avondale UMC community. He studied church music and organ performance at Birmingham-Southern College (Dr. Jim Cook) and Samford University (Dr. Jim Dorroh), and also nursing at UAB. Before coming to Avondale, Richard was Music Associate at St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church for 15 years. Currently, he works as a staff pianist for the UAB Department of Music accompanying voice lessons, choral ensembles, and musical theatre productions. Richard does regular work for Birmingham area theatre companies and educational institutions including Red Mountain Theatre Company, Virginia Samford Theatre, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham-Southern, Central Alabama Theatre, Spain Park High School, and Briarwood Christian School.
Our bookkeeper, Anne Smith Scogin, has almost 40 years’ experience in the field, having worked at her family’s company, Southeastern Meats, and currently at Engineered Process Equipment. She graduated in Mathematics from Samford University, after attending Auburn University.
Anne has a very long history with Avondale. She and her family started attending in 1957 when the Smiths moved to Forest Park. She joined in 1960 in a confirmation class. She married her late husband, Jim, at Avondale in 1967. Their two daughters, Stephanie Dobson and Laurie Halvorson, are now members at Avondale, along with two of her three grandchildren. Anne also has been a member at Grace UMC, Canterbury UMC, Helena UMC, and Christ Church United Methodist. She rejoined Avondale in 2017.
In addition to nine years as the church bookkeeper, she also does the finances for the Parents Day Out. In her spare time, she reads, sews and knits.
Mike Higginbotham is a lifelong resident of Alabama, having grown up in Leeds and attended Jefferson County schools. Mike received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and English (1992) and a Master of Public Administration (1995) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he remains an active alumnus. He worked in the Office of Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair while obtaining the latter and moved into Jefferson County’s Department of Environmental Protection to do Outreach and Education in 1999. Mike branched out into something completely different in 2005 by entering real estate and continued there until fall of 2018. He is delighted to now serve as the Director of Avondale Samaritan Place.
Along his journey, Mike has been involved in a number of public pursuits, serving on the Planning Committee when Vulcan was renovated, as a Neighborhood President for Five Points South, on a number of Visiting Allocation Teams for United Way, Board President for the Homewood Public Library, and in the 2007 Class of Leadership Birmingham to name a few. He was chosen by the voters of District 3 as a member of the first elected School Board for Birmingham City Schools, and Mike currently serves as a member of the Homewood City Council, where he represents West Homewood.
Mike is married to Lisa Higginbotham, who is the Program Manager for the UAB Benevolent Fund, and they were blessed with their only child, Joshua, in 2004.
Randy Thomas was born in Sylacauga, Alabama, and his family moved shortly thereafter to Birmingham where he spent his childhood and early adult life. Randy is a graduate of Fairfield High School where he was a member of the Fairfield Marching Band. He graduated with high honors from Auburn University in 1974 and then Dental School at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Randy was in private practice as a dentist for 35 years before retiring in 2012. Randy served Space One Art Gallery as Advisory Board President for several years and enjoyed his work in the visual arts community. He is a collector of art, mostly from Alabama and regional artists.
Randy first visited Avondale United Methodist Church on Palm Sunday in 2013. One year later, on Palm Sunday 2014, he moved his Methodist membership to Avondale. Randy is an avid reader of scripture who believes his devotion is not only to GOD but to practice the faith in outreach to others. Randy volunteers in the church office two days a week – on Tuesday and Thursday. He enjoys working near the Parents’ Day Out staff and the children who attend the church’s preschool. One of the volunteer duties for Randy is to send birthday, anniversary, and other greeting cards to members – this gives him great joy! In addition, Randy sends church bulletins on a weekly basis to members who are ill or unable to attend worship in person.