Rev. Tommy Willingham, Senior Pastor

Tommy is a graduate of the University of West Georgia and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Before coming to Dalton First, Tommy served as Senior Pastor of McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs, GA. Tommy has been blessed to serve in a variety of ministry settings from small country churches to county seat first churches. He is the founding pastor of Hope UMC in Dallas, GA, and has served on the Bishop’s Cabinet as the Director of New Church Development.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Dee, and they have three grown children, three wonderful children-in-law, and ten “perfect” grandchildren—perfect in Pop’s eyes, at least.

 Tommy’s heart’s desire is that Dalton First UMC might provide a place where every person can experience a relationship with Christ and become all God created them to be – at home, at school, in the workplace - in their daily world.

 Tommy loves the outdoors – running, cycling, and the occasional backpacking trip as ways of staying healthy and enjoying God’s creation. As well as chasing that little white ball from sand trap to sand trap with an occasional birdie to keep him coming back.


Rev. Randy Kanipe, Outreach Pastor


I’m Rev. Randy Kanipe. Just call me Randy. I’ve been in ministry since 1990 here in North Georgia, but I was raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Hendersonville to be specific. I’ve been working on my Doctorate since the Lord rested on the Sabbath Day, or so it would seem. I will finish in 2016. Focus is on Spiritual Formation. In ministry, I love preaching, leading small groups, worship, retreats, family camping and just about anything going on with outreach and evangelism. I love to sail, and have done so for years. Keep a sailboat, that is almost as old as Noah’s Ark, on lake Hartwell S.C. Her name is “Storm,” and I love taking folks out for a sail when time allows. I learned to fly in the mountains of WNC, and was current until a few years ago. But hope to get current again soon.