Clergy Bios

Learn more about our pastors

Rev. Cindy Blocksidge

Senior Associate Pastor

Cindy Blocksidge was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and grew up as the middle child with four brothers. Cindy completed her undergraduate work at Georgia State and her graduate studies at the University of Georgia. She graduated in 1995 with a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work plus a certification in Marriage and Family Therapy. She became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker after receiving clinical experience and supervision through Georgia Highlands Mental Health Center and Georgia Association for Pastoral Counseling. She declared her candidacy for the order of Deacon at Due West United Methodist Church, where she had served as Associate Director of Programs for eight years. Cindy completed her theological studies at Candler School of Theology in December 2000 and was commissioned for ordination as a Deacon in the North Georgia Conference in June 2001.

Cindy began her ministry career in St. Charles, Missouri, in 1982 as the Director of Youth at Faith United Methodist Church, where her responsibilities quickly grew to Director of Programs. During this time Cindy felt God leading her toward a commitment to Christian service, which in turn prompted her to begin theological studies at St. Paul United Methodist School of Theology. She was certified by The United Methodist Church in Christian Education and Evangelism in 1991. She began to pursue her degree in counseling after moving to Kennesaw, Georgia, in 1992.

Cindy is married and has two grown children and six grandchildren. She is an active leader in the North Georgia Conference, serves as a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, contributes to the Christian Educators Fellowship, and is a published author. Cindy joined the staff of McEachern Memorial UMC in April 2000. Being both pastor and counselor has allowed her to fulfill her ministry call, which is to assist other people in their life and faith journeys.

Rev. April Briant

Associate Pastor of Church Operations & Communications

Pastor April Briant serves as our Pastor of Church Operations & Communications. A provisional elder in the North Georgia United Methodist Conference, she has a background in both profit & non-profit organizations (legal, software, food service, food purchasing, property management, franchise corporations, students, boards, community service). Pastor April has been blessed with varied backdrops. Each one has presented the opportunity to further develop and sharpen key strengths that help her discover the need, determine the solution & work with others in setting the short and long term steps necessary for goals to be achieved. Her passion is to help encourage, equip, & guide individuals & organizations on their way to success.

Pastor April has a big-picture, no-drama approach with strong focus on details. She develops processes to increase efficiency & accuracy, engages in strengths-based leadership and creative problem solving. She is a life coach, adult interview prep resource, math & English tutor, mentor, organization & study strategies coach, creative marketing strategist, teaches hospitality as a service & assists in the development of mission statements. She loves the team approach as she administers programs, analyzes societal impacts, facilitate communications and inspires leadership through service. She calls, equips & trains leaders that call, equip & train other leaders.

Pastor April loves to spend time with her two daughters, her church family & the strong friendships God has blessed her with. She rides horses as often as possible. She volunteers caring for horses & teaching riding lessons as time permits. Pastor April loves running, biking & walking in nature, especially with her friends & family.

Rev. Dave Hinson

Senior Pastor

Raised in Ohio and southwest Georgia, Rev. Dave Hinson came to McEachern in June of 2016 after serving at Providence Statham, Wesley Chapel in Putnam County, Lincolnton, and Eatonton First. Dave is married to Donna, and their children are Tyler, Emily, and Shelby. Tyler’s wife is Sondra, and they live in Macon. They are the parents of Dave and Donna’s superstar grandson, Henry, also known as Hank. Emily and her husband, Bo, live near Augusta, and Shelby is a ministry student at Toccoa Falls College.

Dave and Donna are both graduates of the University of Georgia, and Dave did his seminary work at Erskine in South Carolina. The Hinsons love to vacation at the beach, and they enjoy the north Georgia mountains, too. Dave is part of the Walk to Emmaus community, and he serves on the North Georgia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. A former radio disc jockey and public school teacher, Pastor Dave enjoys running, playing the drums, and listening to all kinds of music from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. He is also no stranger to Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts, and the Varsity as he seeks to reach people for Christ wherever he goes! Pastor Dave’s greatest international missions passion is for the people of North Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

“One of the main reasons that God accomplishes His work in the world is by working through us. By stepping out in faith and using our gifts to bless others – giving the gifts away – we find an incredible way to live life… full of joy, full of purpose.”

Rev. Tony Phillips

Lead Pastor at Higher Ground

Tony Phillips is the lead Pastor at Higher Ground, a modern church plant of McEachern
Memorial UMC. Tony launched Higher Ground in January of 2018 after graduating from
seminary. Tony had a 20 year business career in global marketing prior to answering his call to
ministry.

His business career began in New York City where he worked in large global advertising
agencies and then started his own entrepreneurial marketing firm. Tony also worked for The
Coca-Cola Company as a Global Brand Manager. He launched the Coca-Cola Interactive
Vending Machine and won a Gold Cannes Lion Award in France for Global Innovation.

Tony played varsity lacrosse for 4 years at the University of Pennsylvania and uses his sports
background in ministry. He is active with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and coaches travel
basketball and varsity high school lacrosse.

In 2006 Tony graduated from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School with an M.B.A. in
Global Leadership and Marketing. In 2017 Tony graduated from Emory University’s Candler
School of Theology with a Masters of Divinity. Tony is the proud father of 4 boys, some
biological and some adopted…but all of them are his!