Staff

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Rev. Tavares Stephens (He/Him)

Senior Pastor

Pastor Tavares' first Sunday with us is on 07/10/2022. Please feel free to send him an email welcoming him to Eastside Church!

tavares@eastsideatl.org

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Rev. Rachel Williams (She/Her)

Church Administrator
Reach out to Rachel for all things communications, social media, finance-related questions, hospitality + children volunteers, and HR.
rachel@eastsideatl.org

Rachel has the special distinction of being a "Key West Conch," a nickname given only to those born in Key West, Florida that fits perfectly with her strong-willed yet jovial demeanor. A United Methodist pastor’s kid, she earned her BA in international affairs from Florida State University and her MDiv from Candler. Between degrees, Rachel served as assistant director of ministry for the FSU/Tallahassee Community College Wesley Foundation. It was during her time in campus ministry that she first felt the call into formal vocational ministry. She is now a commissioned deacon in the United Methodist Church through the Florida Conference. In addition to her work at Eastside, Rachel maintains a close partnership with Candler, serving alongside the admissions team as a Methodist liaison. Rachel lives in East Atlanta Village with her partner Nick, their 1-year-old Austin, and their goblin-hound Hooch (when you meet him you’ll understand). She loves books and rereads the Harry Potter series annually— she’s even led classes at Eastside on the boy wizard and the gospel. In her spare time, Rachel also enjoys traveling, photography and watching TV show thrillers. Her true joy, though, comes from connection; she’d love to grab coffee with you and enjoy the beautiful outdoors
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Karina Aragon-Buchanan (She/Her)

Youth and Congregational Care Minister
Reach out to Karina for all things youth ministry, first time guests, justice ministry, and care ministry.
karina@eastsideatl.org

Karina, a born and raised Floridian, graduated from Flagler College with a Bachelors in Special and Elementary Education. Karina began exploring her call to ministry at an Episcopal parish in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Beginning as an intern and then moving into the role as Interim Youth Director, Karina realized that she felt a deep calling to being apart of the voices that are actively working to build a safe, inclusive, and loving space within Youth Ministry. In May of 2019, she and her partner Troi, moved to Atlanta in order for her to pursue seminary at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. She is a certified candidate on the Deacon track in the UMC, and is a second year at Candler. When she isn’t working, Karina loves exploring new parts of Atlanta, diving into her newest book purchase or crossing off another movie from her list with Troi!
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Troi Aragon-Buchanan (He/Him)

Worship Arts Minister
Reach out to Troi for all things music, visual arts, worship, tech and service planning.
troi@eastsideatl.org

Troi, originally from Stone Mountain, was born into a musical family. He grew up on various tour buses as his family followed his father’s music career. Troi’s family eventually settled in Saint Augustine, FL where he finished school and began his own career in music. After a few years of playing in weddings bands, bar bands, restaurant bands, and every other kind of band, he settled into the role of Worship Director for Campus To City Wesley (CCW), where he would go on to serve for 6 years. It was during his time at CCW that Troi experienced his call to ministry and felt God pulling his heart and his path deeper into the ways in which we gather together in the name of Jesus. Troi met his wife and partner-to-be, Karina, while living in Saint Augustine and they married not long after Karina graduated from Flagler College. After living and working in ministry in North-East Florida for 3 years Troi and Karina moved to Atlanta in May of 2019 to pursue a church where they could build the Kingdom together and so that Karina could attend Candler School of Theology while pursuing ordination as Deacon in the UMC. When Troi is not leading worship or playing music at a wedding you can find him at the closest movie theatre catching the newest flick, playing with his cats (Penny & Fluff), or eating Jeni’s ice cream with Karina.
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Angela Nichols (She/Her)

Building Manager
Reach out to Angela for all things related to the upkeep of the building and grounds or for inquiries on use of space or rental of the building or parking lot.
angela@eastsideatl.org

Angela grew up in Richmond, Virginia and Columbia, South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from the University of Georgia and a Master of Fine Arts degree also in Printmaking from Louisiana State University. Angela has taught Printmaking, Drawing, Papermaking and Book Arts classes at LSU and at UGA. She served as the Director of Exhibitions & Public Programs at the Gwinnett based non-profit Hudgens Center for Art & Learning for ten years. Prior to joining the staff at The Hudgens, Angela worked as the Visual Arts Curator at The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center in Madison, Georgia for five years. She was a founding member of The Atlanta Printmakers Studio and currently serves on their board. In 2020, Angela and her husband, Ryan Sterritt, formed the property management company, Harper Rose. The name of their small family business comes from their children’s middle names. Angela feels passionate about historic buildings and very much enjoys taking care of the beautiful building Eastside calls home. She lives in Kirkwood with her husband Ryan, their daughter, Clementine Rose and son, Grey Harper. When not exploring musty, dirt floor basements and humid attics, Angela enjoys camping, gardening, and various other creative endeavors.

Interns

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Andrew Sabonis-Chaffee (He/Him)

Candler Intern

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Andrew was born and raised here in Atlanta. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Andrew is exploring his call to ministry as a student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He feels passionate about bringing the arts into ministry, especially through the exploration of storytelling and shared communal experiences. When not studying, Andrew is an avid outdoorsman who loves hiking and exploring the forests of North Georgia. He also loves drinking tea, watching sci-fi films, reading poetry, being a part of his hilarious improve team, and exploring coffee shops with friends!
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Ellie Coleman (They/She)

Candler Intern

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Ellie grew up in a missionary family and spent a lot of their childhood in Peru. In the states, they call Texas (and now Atlanta!) home. They went to undergrad at Appalachian State University where they majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, focusing on Sustainable Development and Non-Profit. They are just starting into their 2nd year at Candler School of Theology. Some passions of theirs, not necessarily in order: sustainable initiatives and environmental activism, birds, their dog Lucy, Baggu, being outdoors, and kayaking.