The elders have called a congregational meeting at 12:30p on October 22, 2023 to present Stephen Owens, Norman Powell, and Bill MacPhail as ruling elders. To help familiarize yourself with each candidate, they have given us a bit of insight into their faith and personal lives in the responses below.

If you would like more information about any of the candidates—or if you have specific concerns—don’t hesitate to reach out to Atlanta Westside’s elders. They’d be glad to answer your questions.


Growing up, the church was the spiritual and social center of my family’s life. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was six, but there was no time I was “unaware” of who He was or what He had done for me. My wife Brie and I got married while we were in college (we were rule followers, but also eager!). We moved to Asheville for a while but came back to Athens, Georgia for my grad school. There we adopted our first child (Joseph). Soon after we moved to Atlanta and started to attend Westside. Through foster care and adoption, our family has expanded to six.

For years Brie was a wedding and event planner but shifted to unpaid labor via full time management of the household generally and caring for our newborn specifically. I’m the Education Director at a non-profit budget and policy think tank. We’ve been active in our community group and the children’s ministry. God has given me a passion for my family, laughter, and justice. I have a weakness for sports, the temptation to control other people’s perception of me and the belief that things should always be easy. I’m saved by grace. 

How would your friends or family describe you? 

Friends and family would probably say I’m a funny, smart guy who’s too interested in the approval of others. My wife would say I’m an adequate husband and father who is too critical of himself but also needs to stop asking her if she’s mad at him. 

What’s a book, article, or podcast you’ve recently encountered that impacted you personally or professionally? 

To Change the World by James Davison Hunter. While super boring, the author did a fantastic job of proposing a way for Christians to participate in the world. Hunter talks about several arenas, but as someone in public policy his discussion on the Christian’s stance around politics (“faithful presence”) has really stuck with me. 

Tell us about a non-work-related hobby or passion of yours. 

I spend a not-small amount of my time thinking through, researching, and writing about a Biblical argument for public education. Not just for its existence, but why we should be active participants in it, and the danger of white evangelicals retreating from (or destroying) public goods. 



I grew up in Argentina, where I started my career as a journalist in radio, television, and newspaper, first in the city of Tucuman, northwest of the country, and later in the capital, Buenos Aires. My parents were devoted Christians—very active in the local church where my siblings and I spend most Sunday mornings, afternoons, and evenings. At a very young age, I became aware of my need for Christ and began my faith journey. My faith in God’s plan for humanity has remained my foundation and guiding light. 

In the early 1990’s, I moved to the US to work in Washington, DC, at Voice of America, an international broadcasting service. During that very exciting professional time I conducted news programs aimed at the Latin American region. I have always seen my work as an opportunity to bring truth. 

One of the highlights of my almost ten years in DC, was to find a vibrant church in northern Virginia, McLean Presbyterian, led by pastor Stephen Smallman. That place of worship had a huge impact in my spiritual life.

In 2000, my career path took me to Atlanta. Christ Church Presbyterian, in Buckhead, lead at that time by Pastor Al LaCour, became my church. It was another blessing experience, where I met Walter and Anne Henegar and other dear friends, whom soon after started planning to plant our current church, Atlanta Westside Presbyterian, which I joined about two years after its inauguration. Since then, I have been actively involved in small and community groups, as well as other activities. 

Why do you want to be an elder at Atlanta Westside? 

I think if the Spirit put in the heart of some of our members the idea I could be an elder of our church, I should be open to that possibility. I am aware it is a huge responsibility, so I pray that if I become an elder, He will guide and equip me for this position. 

Which of your unique gifts or skills do you believe would be valuable to bring to our session? 

The fact I lived and worked many years in Latin America, especially in my country of origin, gives me some broader perspective of spiritual needs and possible avenues of future mission work in that region of the world. I also think that I bring with me the experience of age and of my profession that could be valuable for the tasks of the session. 

Tell us about a non-work-related hobby or passion of yours. 

I really like to travel, especially to cities. I need to see New York City at least once a year! One of my big passions also is to fly. I enjoy flying small planes, but this is something I am not currently doing. 


Although I’ve lived in Atlanta for 37 years, I know that the values I learned at home in rural America (West Tennessee) are the foundation that led to my faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.   

While I was working toward my degree in Agricultural Economics and Business at Mississippi State University, I was blessed to meet my wife, Valeria – my full partner in all of life. As I was completing my degree, my path took an unexpected turn and rather than farming my family’s land, I received a master’s degree in computer science, which took Valeria and me to the Washington, D.C. area for several years before moving to Atlanta. 

Valeria and I have three daughters in whom we take great delight. The addition of two sons-in-law in 2021, and the arrival of an “almost perfect” granddaughter in January 2023, and another grandchild expected in December 2023, has given new meaning to my “full heart”. I’ve had a lengthy career in the financial services industry and currently serve as chief information officer of a multi-state wholesale distribution company. I enjoy photography and spending time with my growing family.  

How would your friends or family describe you?       

I have been greatly encouraged when I have been told by those who mean the most to me that I am “steady as a rock”, generous, and patient.  

Which of your unique gifts or skills do you believe would be valuable to bring to our session? 

I am hoping that my professional experience in strategic thinking, planning, and problem-solving will be beneficial as Atlanta Westside grows and the session seeks to provide sustainable leadership for the church body. 

Tell us about a non-work-related hobby or passion of yours. 

I have been taking pictures of people and places since I was 18 years old. Some of my most prized possessions are photos of people who are no longer with us. One of my greatest joys was to gift a painting of one of my photographs of my late father-in-law to my wife. 

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