Our Purpose

To gather, nurture, and equip disciples of Jesus Christ for ministry and mission in the world


Like every human being on the face of the earth, you were created for community. You are destined to be a part of something greater than yourself - God's family, the Church.


We are better together. We each bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. Each of us has different God-given gifts and talents to be used for the benefit of all.


God is good. God lovingly pursues us and desires to be in relationship with us. God's love is most clearly shown in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our Core Values

At Berkley First, our core values are grounded in God’s unconditional love. Everything we do represents our Christ-centered response to God’s grace. We strive to:

Children and youth are not merely the church of tomorrow; they’re a vital part of the church today. Excellence in children’s programming is one of the essential pieces of DNA we are carrying over from our sister church, Birmingham First.

Our Leaders

In addition to the many volunteer leaders at Berkley First, our staff includes:

Pastor Zack Dunlap

A true word smith, Zack seeks to bring Scripture to life and ensure that every person is valued as God’s beloved. When he’s not preaching and leading in the church, you might find him connecting with the community, networking through Cub Scouts and the Pattengill Elementary Dads Club, antiquing, hunting, or fishing. Zack is married to Rachael and they have four kids and a rescue dog named Molly.

Katie Kirkpatrick

Often spinning “a million” plates, Katie is queen of the Berkley First calendar. Her charismatic presence and ability to treat every day like Christmas make all feel welcome. Additionally, Katie can sing – and we mean sing! Whether you’re being whisked away to the coffee bar, welcomed at a special event, or enjoying her voice on a Sunday morning – we are blessed to have Katie as part of the staff.

Rachael Dunlap

Protective and tender, this ‘Mother Bear’ of Berkley First ensures that people feel safe and loved. You can often find Rachael combining her love for children, nature, and the arts in dreaming up crafts and activities. In addition to leading ministry for infants through elementary age children, Rachael facilitates the GRIP group for Moms and is active in youth ministry.

LaSonya Buckines

Driven, yet friendly and warm, LaSonya does much more than keep the coffee bar stocked. She puts together bulletins and helps maintain our database, but more than that, she oversees hospitality, makes sure that volunteers are recognized, and brings insight to her devotions and Scripture readings. LaSonya is a caring mother to her two children and many others.

Chris Freeman

A man of many talents and one of the world’s best networkers, Chris is a 40-year old with the mind of a middle school boy. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Chris oversees music and worship tech with a kind and supportive leadership style. He is deeply thoughtful and enjoys drawing from monastic traditions as we do “old things” in “new ways” at Berkley First. Chris also plays the sitar.

Don Jackson

Don is the man – he always goes above and beyond in making sure that the Berkley First facility is at its best and folks are free to worship without being distracted by spills and smells. Though he’s rarely in the building during regular office hours, Don is very much a part of what makes Berkley First what it is – a great and growing church campus.


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History and Beliefs

Berkley First is old and new.  We’re just getting started as a brand new church campus, but we are a sister church of Birmingham First and part of the United Methodist Church.  We seek to draw from the deep well of Christian tradition as we apply the timeless truths of Scripture to the everyday realities of life in the 21st century.

Learn more about United Methodist history.

Learn more about United Methodist beliefs.

Link to our sister church, Birmingham First.