- About DPC
- Children & Youth
The Rev. Dr. Todd Speed has served Decatur Presbyterian Church since August, 2007 and has been an integral part of the Decatur community ever since. Dr. Speed formerly served First Presbyterian in York, SC, from 1997-2007 and Fourth Presbyterian in Greenville, SC, from 1993-1997. A former Certified Public Accountant, Dr. Speed graduated from from Rhodes College in 1987 with a degree in Economics and Business Administration and worked for several years for an international accounting firm in Atlanta.
Dr. Speed responded to a compelling call to parish ministry and graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1993 with a Masters of Divinity degree. In 2007, Dr. Speed completed a Doctor of Ministry degree, again at Columbia, with an emphasis on nurturing effective lay leadership. As a part of his personal calling and service, Dr. Speed regularly serves on local non-profit or education-related boards, has led or co-led over 20 mission trips in various cultural contexts, and has participated in learning seminars on five continents.
Married to Melanie Doxey Speed for 29 years, Todd cherishes family time with his wife and four sons: Hall, a graduate of the University of Georgia, John and Mac, twins who graduated from Presbyterian College and Davidson College, respectively, and Luke, a junior at the University of Georgia. When not serving as a pastor with the church family or in the community, Todd just might be found watching or playing soccer, working on a house project at home, or enjoying dinner with friends.
phone: 404.378.1777 x. 225
Rev. Alexandra Rodgers was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She grew up in a large Presbyterian church where she and her family were very involved. Alex has a degree in interdisciplinary studies from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and a master of divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
She has served as a hospital chaplain at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana. Prior to her call to DPC, she served for three years as solo pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Parsons, Kansas. Alex is married to Keenan whom she met while completing her seminary internship in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In their spare time, Alex and Keenan enjoy exploring Atlanta’s parks and restaurants, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
In ministry, Alex has a passion for pastoral care and building relationships inside and outside of the church. She believes that God is present at all times and especially in the mess of life. Alex is interested knowing peoples’ stories and seeing what God is doing in the lives of those around her. She believes that God’s grace meets each of us where we are and that none of us is ever far from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Alex is off Fridays.
phone: 404-378-1777 x. 227
Allysen Schaaf graduated from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Christian Education. Prior to that she received a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During her time as a seminary student, Allysen served as a seminary intern for Youth and College Ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, VA. Allysen loves using her creativity, compassion and excitement for youth to find innovative ways to provide pastoral care, education and fellowship for youth and their families.
Allysen also enjoys cooking, playing guitar, running, playing soccer, volleyball and ultimate frisbee and cheering on all the Tar Heel sports teams at the top of her lungs! Allysen is off Fridays.
phone: 404.378.1777 x. 257
Emily attended Middle Tennessee State University where she received her bachelors degree in Middle School Math Education. While working at the Presbyterian Campus Ministry she met her husband, Drew, who was the ministry’s worship leader. They moved to Decatur for Drew to begin seminary at Columbia Theological Seminary. She started there a year later and graduated in May. During seminary, she worked at Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody as the Intern for Youth and Children’s Ministries. Emily also loves cooking, watching superhero movies, singing, taking walks, playing baseball, and a good cup of coffee. Emily is off on Fridays.
Lori leads the Children’s Cricket, Carol, Chapel and Covenant Choirs, teaches music classes for our preschool (DPCC) and directs the music for our annual Bible & Music Camp.
phone: 404.378.1777 x-228
Matt has served as Organist and Choirmaster of Decatur Presbyterian Church since 1997. Prior to this appointment, he held similar positions in Philadelphia, Birmingham and Canton, Ohio. A native of Alabama, Matt received his undergraduate degree from Jacksonville State University and holds graduate degrees from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. He studied piano with Ronald and Ann Surace, Santiago Rodriguez and Steven DeGroote; and organ with James Farleigh, Joan Lippincott, and Jean Langlais.
While in graduate school, Matt was selected to give a solo organ recital broadcast on WQXR–New York Times Classical Radio Station’s “Young Artists Showcase”, which was met with critical acclaim. Matt has been presented in recital in the United States, Austria, France, Switzerland and Holland.
phone: 404.378.1777 x-229
Brandon Laird has served the Decatur Presbyterian Children’s Community since 2005 as a teacher in the 3 and 4 year old classes. Brandon assumed the role of the Director in summer of 2018. The Children’s Community is the church’s weekday preschool program for children from 9 months old through kindergarten for 5-year-olds.
Before coming to Decatur Presbyterian, Brandon received his BA in Journalism and MA in History. He taught high school social studies before moving to Decatur with his wife Tracey who is a professor at Agnes Scott.
phone: 404-378-1770 x. 233
Vernon Gramling attended Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1971. He spent three years as an assistant pastor in Wallingford, PA but his primary training has been in Clinical Pastoral Education. He has served as a hospital chaplain in Osawatomie, Kansas, Philadelphia, PA and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA. During his stint at Grady, Vernon helped found one of the first Hospices in the state and served as President of the Georgia Hospice Association for two years.
Since 1985, Vernon has been in private practice as a Pastoral Counselor. He particularly enjoys working with couples but his practice has included a wide range of human dilemmas—working with abuse survivors, addiction problems, depression and anxiety.
Vernon has been a worshipper at DPC for over twenty years. He sings in the choir, teaches Sunday School leads the Faith In Real Life small groups and writes a weekly blog seeking to integrate biblical stories with our stories.
Vernon is married to Betheda Gramling and between them, have five children and six grandchildren. They love travel and adventure. They were last seen zip lining in New Zealand.
Vernon is an unpaid staff affiliate who provides pastoral counseling on a fee for service basis. He is available Tuesdays, Thursdays and half of Friday.
Keenan began serving as the Website & Social Media Supervisor at DPC in June 2016, after moving to Decatur in March of that year. In this role, he maintains the church’s outward facing presence online. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback related to the church website or social media presence, he invites you to contact him!
Keenan graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 with a degree in Advertising. He previously held a variety of communications and operations related roles for Phillips 66 Company while living in Oklahoma.
Keenan lives in Decatur with his wife, Rev. Alex Rodgers. He enjoys a good run, sharing time with friends and family, and playing music whenever the time allows.
R.G. (Roy Gaston) Evans III was raised Southern Baptist in Birmingham, Al. He graduated from Samford University there, where he majored in math, and where he also met his wife, Lynn.
After serving in the US Army, and a tour in Vietnam, R.G. joined his father in business. Together they built a successful Master Distribution Company, Evco. R.G. became president of the company which imported and sold hardware and tools to the industrial trade. After retirement, R.G. and Lynn lived for several years on Lake Tuscaloosa. They then moved to Atlanta to be close to children and grandchildren.
The search for excellence in church music led Lynn and R.G. to Decatur Presbyterian. At DPC, R.G. is responsible for minor repairs and maintenance of the physical plant, and for interfacing with contractors who take care of the major things.
Ellen began at Threshold Ministry as a volunteer in the spring of 2015. She felt motivated to volunteer after noticing more and more people in DeKalb County who seemed to be homeless. She appreciates how Threshold both extends hospitality and assists people to find help that they need. As coordinator, she is especially interested in helping Threshold strengthen its relationship with community organizations that offer assistance.
Ellen received an M.Div. from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. in 1992. She has worked as a university chaplain and as a director of Christian education with children and youth. Ellen also has an M.A. degree from Gallaudet College. She has worked as a teacher of students who are deaf, assisted a man who grew up in an institution with his transition to independent living, and coordinated a respite care program for foster parents.
Ellen lives in Decatur with her husband, Jon Herman, a professor of religious studies at Georgia State, and her daughter, Carly, a student at DHS. Her other daughter, Molly, attends Elon University. A dog, two cats, and a few fish complete the family. Ellen enjoys bicycling, gardening, hiking, and reading. She also enjoys watching HGTV and the Food Network with her daughters.
Ann Beesley joined our staff in the spring of 2013. Away from the office she can be found playing indoor recreational soccer. Ann is in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays.
phone: 404-378-1777 x-224
Denise has served DPC as Program & Ministerial Secretary since May of 2002. She maintains the membership database and serves as the secretary to the Session, the programs of the church, and the ministerial staff. She enjoys the staff and congregation and considers it a blessing to work at DPC.
phone: 404.378.1777 x-226
Sylvester Poole has served as the custodian for DPCC, our pre-school, for two decades, focusing on the Bradley Building and nursery section of Sycamore House. He also provides custodial services for the church, primarily vacuuming the sanctuary and lawn mowing and landscaping work on our property. Sylvester is usually on duty Sunday mornings making sure the buildings are open and welcoming for Sunday School and the worship service.