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 a local news station 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. He teaches Economics, Sociology, and World History at Ramsay High School, and he coaches the school’s tennis team. 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.
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.
Jeanne Baker is delighted to serve in the role of Bookkeeper for Avondale United Methodist Church. Recently retired after 30 years, Jeanne worked for the Jefferson County Department of Health, first as a Nutritionist for the W.I.C. program and the past 12 years as District Nutrition Director of that program. She lives in Avondale with her husband, Neal, also retired and her two golden retrievers, Lucy and Olive, and two cats, Eva and Kieran. Jeanne loves to work outdoors, enjoys crafting, and is an avid reader.
“One of my happiest places is being a church musician. I always feel honored to be a choir director and to lead the music portion of worship at the piano. My music degree from Birmingham-Southern College was a time filled with gifted teachers in choral technique, piano, and voice, and I have been involved is hopefully passing those gifts on as a piano teacher, choir director, vocalist, and pianist my entire adult life so far. I have had other “jobs” along the way but have been able to stay grounded and actively engaged in my heart’s desire…music.
My husband Seymour and I have been married for 17 years and we happily blended three grown children who have blessed us with seven grands. We work together as full-time Keller Williams Realtors and have been dedicated to helping people with their real estate needs for 16 years as The West Team. As a couple, we love travel, movies, and spending time together and with family. As a hobby, I love to garden and am a Master Gardener; as a spiritual being, I cherish my practice of Centering Prayer. For me, Music, Gardening, and Contemplative Prayer are a wonderful trinity for life, with each being a big part of who I am and what defines me.”
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.
Leigh Ann Sisson has lived the majority of her life in Birmingham, with only short stints living away in Ohio and Tuscaloosa. She was raised in and remains an active member at Canterbury United Methodist Church. Her attachment to Canterbury is strong … she was baptized there, confirmed there, “lived there” during youth group years, was married there, her four children were baptized there, and her husband asked her on their first date the day his father became the senior minister there! (and yes, Tommy and Leigh Ann have even purchased columbarium slots there😊). Leigh Ann graduated from Birmingham-Southern College twice—with an undergraduate degree in International Business as well as a master’s degree in Public and Private Management. She worked at SouthTrust Bank, Birmingham-Southern College, and then moved into pharmaceutical sales and marketing for 10 years. During the pharmaceutical years she and Tommy welcomed the gifts of Ann and Miller (twins), John, and Hamp. All four were born in four years, so Leigh Ann spent a few years at home loving and raising them. She finds so much joy in her children—they are now 26, 24 and 21, and she has added a daughter-in-law as well. More blessing! As her children became more self-sufficient Leigh Ann went back to part-time work, pursuing her passion for outreach with Carpenters Hands Ministry. The Lord really revealed to Leigh Ann during this time of raising children and working in outreach that she has a love and longing to feed people—from family and friends to those for whom food insecurity is a daily challenge.
Leigh Ann was fortunate to be connected through Canterbury to Avondale Samaritan Place (ASP), and she began volunteering with ASP’s “brown bag project” several years ago. Shortly thereafter, she and a key church leader with Avondale UMC followed their collective dream to move that ministry to a food cooperative ministry, which provides a sense of community, dignity, and ownership for the member families. Subsequently, she worked with other community partners such as Alethia House, UAB, and Avondale Elementary School to develop programming at ASP that would further its mission to continue to build deep relationships with people in Avondale and to further ASP’s vision to become a true community hub for Christian service. Leigh Ann is thrilled to be on staff as the Director of Programming. She will work diligently to ensure that ASP is a safe place with intentional programs that serve the needs of our Avondale neighbors!
Jenna is a student at Samford University studying nursing with a minor in nutrition. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and chose Samford because of the community, the faith-based education, and the beautiful city of Birmingham! She is so excited to be a part of the Avondale community.