Our Staff

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

Pastor, Head of Staff

Rev. Joel L. TolbertRev. Joel Tolbert became our Pastor in April 2012.

Joel graduated from Mercer University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and served 12 years with several corporations in Engineering, Project Management, Marketing and Sales.

In 2002, Joel, his wife Jill, and their three boys sold their home and moved to Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, GA), where both Joel and Jill completed Masters of Divinity degrees.

He is passionate for the good news, a visionary and strategic leader, and an authentic preacher. Joel is loving us and leading us as we invite others into worship and relationship with God, build up disciples through conversations and study about God, and send us all out in service to God.

In his free time, Joel is first a devoted husband and loving father. After that, he occasionally gets to enjoy golf, soccer, tennis, and playing Wii and XBox 360!

Evan Carter

Director of Youth and Childrens Ministries

Evan CarterEvan Carter became the Director of Children and Youth Ministries in December of 2015.

She comes to us from Liberty United Methodist Church in Macon, having served at Jefferson Presbyterian while a student at UGA. She has been working with children and youth since she was a senior in high school when the youth director left and she and a group of other seniors stepped into leadership roles.

She loves finding new restaurants and listening to new bands in Athens, spending time at the lake with family and friends, and any sporting event…especially UGA football!

Sherry Sawyer

Church Administrator

Sherry SawyerSherry Sawyer joined the office staff at Oconee Presbyterian in January of 2014.

Sherry and her husband, Dan moved to Oconee County in 2004, after being longtime residents of Conyers, Georgia. The Sawyers’ have three daughters and their initial family of five has grown to a family of thirteen with the additions of sons-in-law and grandchildren! “After moving to the area, we spent a long time visiting different churches in Oconee and in Athens. Oconee Presbyterian was our first experience with a Presbyterian church since Dan and I had always attended Methodist churches. When we visited, we found ourselves warmly welcomed and invited in to what would become our church home.” In late January 2014, Sherry joined the staff as office administrator. “I feel very fortunate to worship and work at OPC.”

Dallas Bono

Director of Music Ministries

Dallas Bono

Dallas became Director of Music Ministries at Oconee Presbyterian Church in October of 2014.

He is a lyric tenor who has distinguished himself in several great opera houses in over forty leading roles. He has appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, and Weill Recital Hall in New York City. Dallas has also appeared as soloist for many oratorio works including Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and the Mozart Requiem Mass.

After fifteen years on the stage, he chose to leave the life of a traveling musician and moved to Athens. Prior to coming to OPC, Dallas served as the choir director at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia for seven years. He also teaches master classes on vocal technique and interpretation and is available as an adjudicator for competitions and seminars on the art of singing. His students have received numerous awards and scholarships, and many are enjoying careers in music.

His favorite role is that of husband to his wife, Kendall, and daddy to his daughter, Chiara and son, Logan.

Matthew Vu

Staff Accompanist

Lunara Goncalves

Nursery Coordinator

Lunara Goncalves is the Nursery Staff Coordinator at Oconee Presbyterian. She is currently in the United States as a PhD international student at UGA.  She and her husband, Paulo Santos, are originally from Brazil, where she worked in a Presbyterian church nursery for five years.  Now, she is able to do two things she loves: teaching Portuguese to students at the university and nurturing the children in the OPC nursery.

Volunteer Staff


Ben Young

Volunteer IT Director

Ben Young

Rev. Decatur “De” Rodgers

Parish Associate

De has been an ordained minister for 40 years, serving churches across the southern USA. In addition, he has served as a chaplain for community service groups, an adjunct professor of religion, and a soccer coach. He has represented the church at the General Assembly, and on two different state councils of churches. De and Barbara “retired” to Athens in 2014 to be closer to their daughter who is on the staff of UGA.”