Meet Our New Staff Members

employment, job, team

Dear Church Family and Friends,

I’m very excited to introduce you to some new additions to our Avondale UMC Team!  We’ve had hiring teams for Music Ministry, Nursery, and ASP who’ve worked diligently over several months to interview candidates for several positions that we had open.  Their dedication paid off, and I believe we now have a solid Avondale Team in place that will help us continue to live into who God is calling our congregation to be on our street corner in Avondale.

If you’d like to learn more about any of our current staff members, click here to go to the staff page of our website.




~ Mary Jo West ~

Mary Jo says,

“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.”

Mary Jo’s first Sunday in worship will be December 5.




All of our childcare workers have passed background checks and have completed or will complete pediatric CPR and First Aid training.

~ Jenna Haaland ~

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.


~ Davis Pendley ~

Davis is a student at Samford University studying Business.  She’s originally from Houston, Texas, but recently her family moved to Madison, Wisconsin! Davis says she chose Samford because she loves the Christian community, education, and location.




~ Leigh Ann Sisson ~

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!

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