The United Methodist Women honor four recipients each year, who have positively contributed to the community. Here you can learn a little bit about each recipient.


IMG_7933Ronald Garay received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Christian University and his doctorate in mass communication from Ohio University. While a student at TCU, Ron met Mary Sue Sanders, and the two were married in 1970.

Ron worked several years as a broadcaster in Lamesa, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas. He joined the LSU faculty in 1971 and retired as professor emeritus in 2009. Along the way Ron served eleven years as associate dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication. He held the F. Walter Lockett, Jr. Endowed Professorship from 2001 until his retirement and in 2005 was awarded the Erich and Lea Sternberg Honors Professorship. In 2013 he and three former colleagues received the Manship School Founder’s Award.

Ron has published numerous articles, essays, and book chapters. He has published five books, his most recent—as well as a history of Baton Rouge First United Methodist Church in A Cross at River’s Edge.

Ron and Mary Sue joined FUMC and the Rings ’n’ Ivy Sunday School class in 1972. Both of them sang in the Motet Choir for roughly 15 years. At various times Ron has served FUMC on many committees, including: Worship, Long-Range Planning, Care Team, FUMC 175th Anniversary, the TV Ministry, the Vision, Budget, and Executive. He served on the Administrative Board for several years and since 2011, he has served on the Church Council. He chaired the Council in 2014. Ron has taught Sunday School, served as FUMC delegate to Annual Conference and to the Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues Board of Directors.

Ron currently meets with a covenant group founded by Walter Brock, and he meets for Monday lunch at the Chimes Restaurant with three Rings ’n’ Ivy friends (Bill Avery, George Burgess, and John Wilder) in a gathering the group modestly refers to as the “Table of Wisdom.”


IMG_7925Margie Kemp joined First United Methodist Church in the late 1950’s. She taught 3 year old Sunday School for 17 years.  Margie also became a UMW member and assumed various officer leadership positions including Circle Leader and President of the First United Methodist Local Unit in the early 1970’s. She has remained in United Methodist Women and is now a member of Lowery Circle.  Margie has attended Cursillo, is a Disciple I and II graduate, has been an long-time member of the Good News Sunday School class, and belongs to the Friday Covenant Group.  Sunday mornings, Margie enjoys serving as a heart-warmer to our newest members.

Not only has Margie been active in her faith community, but she has also served in the civic community as well. Margie has been Room Mother and PTA President at her Children’s Elementary School. She is a member of the Music Club of Baton Rouge and is a supporter of its Scholarship Program to the LSU Music School. Margie is also a members and supporter of the Nature Conservancy, the Salvation Army, and the LSU Vet School’s Wildlife Hospital.  Recently, she was rewarded with her 3,000 hour volunteer pin at the Baton Rouge General Hospital Bluebonnet Campus, where she volunteers mostly in the Surgery Waiting department. Out of all her accomplishments, one of her fondest memories happened in the 6th grade – Margie had the honor of serving as “Mayor for a Day!”


IMG_7950Sheri Marley Loy has been a member of FUMC since 1984. She was a member of the Radiance Youth Choir and the Youth Group. She traveled with the youth group on several mission trips including the Appalachain Service Project and Jamaica. Sheri began teaching in East Baton Rouge Parish in 1992. She taught for ten years before staying home with her young boys. She began teaching at the University Laboratory School in 2006, where is currently teaches first grade.

Sheri has been very involved in the life of FUMC, being involved in many different ministries, including: The Stephen Ministry, Children’s Council member and President, VBS co-chair/chair and has been involved in some way each year, Sunday School teacher (first and third grade, presently a Godly Play facilitator in first grade) and is a member of Cornerstone Sunday School class. Sheri has also volunteered with the Junior High Myster Mission Trip for two years, Wilderness Trek adult leader, Mission Day Camp Leader for two years, Children’s Sermon team member, she is a gradute of Disciple I Bible Study, as well as the Spiritual Academy.

First Methodist has been part of Stephen Loy’s life since he was baptized as a baby. He grew up in the Youth Group singing in the Radiance Choir, being a puppeteer in FUMC’s Puppet Ministry, serving on Youth Council, the Administrative Board and participating in the Appalachian Service Project. He and his wife Sheri worked together with the Friends of Family program and helped found several Adult Sunday School Classes. His biggest joy is working with the television ministry which Col. Tom Jackson introduced him to when he was in middle school.

Stephen Loy is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Technology Park, which is the hub for emerging, high-tech companies in the Baton Rouge region, providing them with the resources to bring their products and services to market faster and more effectively.

Stephen and Sheri have three sons who are active at First Methodist: Tucker 17, Hayden 15, and Parker 15.
They also share their home with two unmannered yellow labs, Roux and Rex.


smithJohn F. Smith, was born in Monroe, Louisiana.  He obtained a BS degree in Pre-Med, Zoology with a minor in Chemistry from Southern University.  Mr. Smith worked many years as a Special Laboratory Technician for ExxonMobil.  In addition to his research responsibilities he was also critically involved community relations and involvement activities. Most recently he was the Director of Community Affairs for Hollywood Casino and now a consultant for The Godfrey Center for Creative Strategies.

John is a graduate of Leadership BR and serves on several community and civic boards and committees. These include St. James Place and St James Place Foundation, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Dream Teachers, Up Alliance formerly known as  The Greater Baton Rouge Literacy Coalition, the Greater Baton Rouge Youth and Planning Board, First United Methodist Church Council and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, Inc. His involvement in the 100 include serving as past President and currently as Vice-President of programs.  He was also most recently awarded the Angle Award by BlueCross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. During the afternoon during the school-year, John can be found volunteering with FUMC’s After-School program, HYPE (Helping Young People Excel), where he is the Lay Coordinator. John also serves as an usher for the Sanctuary Worship services.

He is the proud father of one daughter, who is a product of the EBR public school system, and a graduate of Dillard and Tulane Universities.