Woodland Staff

In this chapter of Woodland’s life together, our church is engaged in an innovative partnership called the East Nashville Training Hub. Our team consists of both East Nashville Training Hub Partners and Woodland Staff. The Training Hub, made up of mostly young adults, carry much of the day-to-day responsibilities for the church, including preaching and worship planning, service and fellowship events, and children’s ministry.  We are grateful for the energy, creativity, and engaging wisdom of this team!

Abby Benson

Lead Training Hub Partner for Young Adult Ministry

Born in Knoxville, Abby moved to Nashville where she became a theology student at Belmont majoring in Christian Leadership with a minor in Ethics.

Her passions include writing for her blog, getting numerous tattoos, taking care of her many house plants, and continuing to study Koine Greek. She plans on attending a theological seminary after graduation to pursue being an ordained minister with a focus on political social justice. 

Mark DeVries

Lead Training Hub Partner

Mark served as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee for 28 years .

He is the founder of Ministry Architects and Justice Industries and the co-founder of the Center for Youth Ministry Training and Ministry Incubators.  Mark is the author of 12 books, including recently released Reimagining Young Adult Ministry.  Mark and his wife Susan live in Nashville and have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Anne Havard

Training Hub Partner for Community Engagement

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Anne studied religion and psychology and took classes at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Anne is a total nerd and spends most of her free-time reading, hanging out with her dog, playing trivia with friends, and traveling to Montreat, NC to hike, rest, and sit on her mom’s peaceful porch.

Joryán Hernández

Seminary Resident

Joryán is a high school cross country coach and second year M.Div student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he is concentrating in Chaplaincy and earning a certificate in Latin American Studies.  He earned a B.A. in Religion from the University of Florida and loves Gator football.  Born and raised in Cuba, he aspires to provide care to Latinx communities in various ministries.  If you ever want to go for a run or go hiking, definitely reach out to Joryán!

Paige Huggins

Lead Training Hub Partner for Children’s Ministry

Paige Huggins is a student at Belmont University and is studying Christian Theology and Psychology. She is on the Student Advisory Board for Belmont’s Theology department, loves reading and investing in friends, and also works at The Well Coffee House. Born and raised in Waco Tx, Paige moved to Nashville in 2017.

Ashlan Jackson

Training Hub Partner for Guest and Member Followup

Originally from Aiken, South Carolina, Ashlan attended Furman University and graduated with a degree in Health Sciences. She is passionate about global health and the eradication of disease. Ashlan also loves corgis and key lime pie.

Hannah Rae Melis

Training Hub Partner for Eastminster

Hannah Rae is from Houston, Texas and is currently studying Religion and the Arts, Writing, and Spanish at Belmont University, where she serves freshman students as a Spiritual Life Assistant.

She loves reading, piano playing, spending time with friends, and trying to find the best Mexican food in town.

Cory Martin

Onsite Project Manager

Cory Martin seeps empathy from every fiber of his being. He is quiet, pensive and loves to think deeply. 

Being from Texas he grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks. Since moving to in Nashville in 2008 he has added the Nashville Predators to the teams he cheers for. 

He loves horror movies and is obsessed with the director Wes Craven. 

Emily Martin

Lead Training Hub Partner for Woodland

Born and raised in Nashville, Emily graduated from Furman University where she earned a degree in Sociology & Studio Art, served as a mentor for middle school girls, and spent summers working with the youth group at First Presbyterian Church and Daystar Counseling Ministries.

For the last year, she has been working as an executive recruiter with Elevation Search Solutions helping emerging market companies build out their teams.

Jude R.

Training Hub Partner for Worship and Special Projects

Jude recently graduated from Middle Tennessee State University, where he studied English with an emphasis on contemporary global literature and women’s and gender studies. His passions include diverse representation in media, fiction and poetry writing, and cats that act like dogs. Don’t hesitate to recommend him your favorite book!

Scott Sauers

Lead Training Hub Partner for Eastminster

A recent transplant from his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland Scott has been a music ministry leader for the greater part of a  decade. With a B.S. degree of Music and a history of leadership and participation in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Scott looks to work with churches integrating change and building up new programs!

He currently works for the The Escape Game as a Guest Experience Coordinator and lives locally here in Nashville. Never failing to greet you with a joke and a warm hello, Scott is ready (at the drop of a hat) for good conversations over coffee and a good board game. 

Jo Schornikow

*Music Director

Jo is a pianist, choir director, music teacher & church organist with over 15 years experience. Born in Melbourne, she moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue music.

She attended the Victorian College of the Arts in 2002, and since has been the recipient of numerous awards and has worked alongside some of the music industry’s biggest names.

She was the principal organist & choir director at Strathmore Uniting Church (2000 – 2008) and Flushing Messiah Lutheran Church in New York City (2008 – 2014).  In 2014 she relocated to Nashville, where she has been making music and enjoying her family.

Sara Staats

Training Hub Partner for Digital Communications

Sara recently moved back to the Nashville area after graduating from The University of Tampa. She studied Marketing, along with New Media Production.

Sara currently works at Aroluxe Marketing in Brentwood as a Social Media Strategist and handles all things digital for Woodland. Don’t be alarmed if you see her taking pictures of you during service. It’s for the Woodland Facebook and Instagram pages!

Adrian White

Lead Training Hub Partner

Adrian White is a writer, Texan, and second year M.Div student at Vanderbilt Divinity School. They grew up in the PC(USA) and feel called to the work of bringing to life the church’s growing commitments to the inclusion and thriving of all children of God! They are proud to serve on the board of More Light Presbyterians.

When not working and studying, Adrian enjoys playing board games with their spouse Wynn and taking long walks with their dog Bex.

*Woodland staff member.