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Michael Wood
Michael Wood to Step up as Lead Pastor at First West

Michael Wood was approved to be the lead pastor by the membership of First Baptist Church of West Monroe in a nearly unanimous vote. The decision was made after Wood preached in view of a call on Sunday, May 4, 2014 in the church’s 9:30 and 11:00 services at the First West main campus and via video at the 10:30 a.m. at the First West Fairbanks campus.

Wood, a 33-year-old husband and father of two, has been serving as the Student Pastor for the past five years. He is one of the youngest lead pastors in First West’s history and the first ever to be promoted into a lead pastor role from within the church staff. “To know that we get to sink our roots even deeper, share our lives with people that we absolutely love and, most importantly, to be a part of what God wants to do through His church ignite great humility, gratitude and passion,” states Wood. A.J. Burns, chairman of the Pastor Search Committee stated following the service, “We're very excited to see that the heart of our church was in the same place as our own with the almost 100% vote to call Michael Wood as our new pastor."

Over the past years, Wood has endeared himself to both young and old alike. “I have known that he would one day pastor a great church and am so thankful that it will be First Baptist Church of West Monroe, states Lana Benson, a member of the Pastor Search Committee who has also worked with Wood in the Student Ministry. Kyle Coburn, a graduating senior who has been a part of the Student Ministry stated, “He's a great guy. I know his heart and I know he wants the best for this church. I think he'll do great things.”

Statistics show that the Millennials (20-35 year olds) have dropped out of church on a national level. The desire to reach this group with the gospel is part of what inspired the decision to recommend Michael Wood as the new lead pastor. “We came to the realization that who could better reach this age group that someone who belongs in it themselves” states Burns. Wood will take on his new responsibilities beginning June 15.

About Michael

Born on April 30, 1981, Michael Wood was ordained in May 2006 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Ministry from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007. He is a member of the Metro Youth Pastors Association and is a Student Ministry Subcommittee consultant for the Louisiana Baptist Convention 2020 Commission.

Chad Merrell
Campus Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Chad, call 322-5104 or email

Chad is the campus pastor of First West Fairbanks, our multi-site campus in the Sterlington/Fairbanks community. Chad and his wife Tanisha (who serves as First West's Global Ministries assistant) have 5 children: Christopher, Carrington, Madeline, Kendal and Ava. Chad earned his Bachelor's Degree from Liberty University and prior to joining First West's staff spent 17 years in industrial operations management. Chad serves as chaplain to the Sterlington High School Panther Football team, loves to hunt and fish and travel with family, but his passion is to “see Sterlington, Louisiana, impacted by individuals and families who make Jesus LORD in every facet of their lives!" He wants to be known as a man who can be described like Barnabas in Acts 11:23-24, "When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord."

Cody Keys
First West Student Pastor—Fairbanks Campus

To schedule a meeting with Cody, contact
Helen Payton, Student Ministry Assistant, at or 398.9174.

A native of Calhoun, Cody has served at Cedar Crest Baptist Church as the Student and Music Associate and at First Baptist Church in Bastrop for three years as the Student Pastor. He graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Christian Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Christian Education from NOBTS. Cody loves playing the drums and guitar. He has toured the Southern U.S. playing music for different bands along the way. In addition to serving as collegiate pastor, Cody is the Student Worship Director. Cody's wife Magen is a registered nurse at St. Francis Medical Center where she works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Cody and Magen enjoy watching Sterlington football and baseball and are also fond of relaxing at home in front of their DVR.

Mark Fenn
Global Ministries Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Mark, please contact Tanisha Merrell, Global Ministries Assistant, at or 398.9280.

A Morgan City native, Mark Fenn joined the First West team in April of 1992 as youth pastor, serving in that ministry for 10 years. Following a year as young adult pastor, Mark served as senior adult pastor. In 2008, Mark assumed the role of global ministries pastor where he gives leadership to both our community and global transformation strategies. Mark earned his B.A. in Family Life Studies from Louisiana College, M. Div. with Biblcal Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In the community, Mark is known as a P.A. announcer for West Monroe Rebel football, and he serves on the Board of Commissioners for the West Ouachita Recreation District. Mark enjoys time with his family, riding horses with wife Ann, bowhunting, fishing, watching sports, and reading. Mark and Ann have one son, Caleb, a student at ULM. Ann is a gifted pianist and a member of the First West Praise Team.

Dr. Dwight Munn
Education, Discipleship, & Median Adult Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Dwight, contact Amy Bowman, Education & Discipleship Administrator, at or 322-4257.

Dwight Munn is our Discipleship Pastor, giving leadership to the Christian Education Team. A native of South Carolina, Dwight came to First West after serving for six years as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Luling, LA, just outside New Orleans on the Mississippi River. Dwight also served in student ministry for seven years prior to pastoring. Dwight is a graduate of Wingate University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dwight's hobbies include hunting, fishing, and hanging out with friends and family. His wife, Lissa, is a 5th grade school teacher. He has two daughters, Marissa and Malia.

Terry Young
Family Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Terry, contact KayLeigh Seale, Family Ministry Assistant, at 318-398-9162 or

Terry Young, a Monroe native, came to First West from Calvary Baptist in Shreveport where he served as Executive Pastor of Next Generation since 2006. Terry is responsible for our preschool and children's ministries (birth through 5th grade) as well as our Men's and Women's Ministries. Terry's educational background includes a B.A. in Religion and Religious Education from Louisiana College and a M.Div. with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written adult Sunday School literature, Discipleship Now curriculum, and three children's coloring books. Terry's hobbies include hunting, fishing and golf. Terry and Jennifer are the proud parents of Ashley Elizabeth, McKenzie Grace, Carson Lee, and John Thomas.

Carey Amos
Worship Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Carey, contact Dawn Holder, Worship Administrator, at

Carey Amos, a native of Crowville, Louisiana, joined the First West team as Worship Leader in November 2013. He studied music at The University of Louisiana at Monroe and received a degree in Music Theory and Composition. Carey’s passion is to see people have a Christ-centered life and to use the power of music and worship to experience the love and grace of God. Carey and wife Shelley have two beautiful children, Isabella Marie and Adrian Charles.

Dr. Woods Watson
Senior & Single Adult Pastor

Woods Watson

To schedule a meeting with Woods, contact Sue Russell, Senior and Single Adult Assistant, at 388.0906 or

Woods Watson serves as the Senior Adult and Single Adult Pastor. Prior to coming on staff in the spring of 2004, he served for four years as senior church consultant with Cargill Associates, a church capital stewardship company. Woods has served for 30+ years in the local church ministry—15 years as senior pastor. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Woods received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University, the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; he also studied at the Torchbearer Bible schools in England (Capernwray) and Sweden (Holsby Brunn). Woods and Anita have six children. In his spare time, Woods likes running, reading, writing, helping Anita (who is principal at Northeast Baptist School), or playing with his boys at home.

Todd Sherwin
Young Adult Pastor & Director of First West Counseling Center

To schedule a counseling session with Todd, call the First West Counseling Center at 322.1427.
To schedule a meeting with Todd, contact Amy Bowman, Young Adult Assistant, at 322-4257 or

Todd serves as the Young Adult Pastor and the Director of First West Counseling Center. He brought his family to First West in 2007, where he began serving as Assistant Director at First West Counseling Center. Todd is a Marriage and Family Therapist with degrees in both ministry and counseling. In the past, he has served as an interim pastor and teaching pastor at other churches. His heart is to see people grow in healthy relationships with Jesus and others. He enjoys being outdoors and spending time with his family. Todd and his wife Becky have two wonderful children, Karissa and Duston.

Richard Gates
Local Ministries Pastor

To schedule a meeting with Richard, contact Ashley Roark, Local Ministries Assistant, at 322.5029 or

A member of First West since 1982, he joined the staff in May, 2009 after a 37-year career in wood product sales. Richard and his wife Paula have four children and five grandchildren. They are committed to community transformation, especially in the lives of children, as seen in their long time involvement in F.A.N. Club and Kids Hope. Richard is a graduate of West Monroe High School and ULM. He enjoys the outdoors, especially if it involves a golf course! Please pray for Richard as he leads our local ministry leaders and others to a closer relationship with Christ.

Chris Trombatore
First West Student Pastor—West Monroe Campus

To schedule a meeting with Chris, contact
Helen Payton, Student Ministry Assistant, at or 398.9174.

Chris first joined the staff of First West in August 2012 as the Family Ministry Associate and later became our Middle School Pastor. Chris now serves as the Associate Student Pastor where he helps lead high school and middle school students who are almost all taller than he is. He grew up in Oberlin, Louisiana (Cajun Country), but he and his family are originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, where Chris spent the first 8 years of his life. Chris has enjoyed the challenge of serving in student ministry since he was a freshman in college. He first sensed the call to ministry when he was 16 years old at Oberlin Baptist Church where he became a leader in the student ministry. Chris is fluent in Spanish and takes many mission trips helping serve as a Spanish/English translator. Chris earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2011 from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. He is currently furthering his education and hopes to receive a Master of Theological Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chris' passion in life is building intentional relationships with students and seeing them live out the Gospel faithfully. He loves meeting new folks, too, so be sure to get to know him. He enjoys trying new foods (especially aged cheeses), growing an epic mustache, and thrift shopping for vintage clothes. Chris and his wife Dani, a registered pediatric nurse, are proud new parents to their beautiful daughter Finley Tate, born November 2013.

Hayley Gaston
Girls Ministry Associate

To schedule a meeting with Hayley, contact
Helen Payton, Student Ministry Assistant, at or 398.9174.

Hayley Gaston, a native of Summerfield, Louisiana, serves as the Girls Ministry Associate. In March of 2014, Hayley graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor's degree in Family and Child Studies and joined our team as the Girls Ministry Associate. She began her work at First West as a volunteer in our Student Ministry and then came on the team as the Student Ministry Intern in December of 2013. Hayley's passion is to see girls transformed by the Gospel to live in their new identity while worshipping the Lord with reckless abandon. In her spare time, Hayley enjoys being outside, spending time with her family and friends, going to the beach, and eating chocolate chip cookies.

Mark Parrish
Community Transformation Pastor

Mark Parrish, Community Transformation Pastor, started coordinating First West's community transformation activities on a volunteer basis in 2008. Since then, he has organized several community project days, started Broaden Horizons (summer and after-school programs for teenage youth from the Riverbend neighborhood), and organized our ministry to hurricane evacuees. He continues to encourage members to find a place in the community where they can serve and help to transform an impoverished 50-block area in the vicinity of First West's buildings. Mark owns the company Ajasent, which hosts computer servers for about 800 businesses throughout the United States and Canada. He enjoys hunting, fishing, gourmet cooking, and working with law enforcement (he is a West Monroe Police Department Auxiliary Officer). Mark and his wife Skye have been married 33 years and have three children.

Contact Details
Company: First West
Street: 500 Pine St
Postal/City: West Monroe, LA 71291
Phone: 318.322.5104
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