Mel Howton


Pastor Mel and his wife, Annette, are Caledonia natives. Both grew up in this community and have been married since July 1985. They have two adult children, Maeghan and Jordy. Maeghan and her husband Josh have two sons, Hardy and Hayden. Jordy and his wife Jesse also have two sons, Arlington and Remington. Those four little boys are the highlight of Maw-Maw and Big Daddy's lives these days.

Bro Mel is a graduate of Trinity Bible College and Liberty University Seminary, but did most of his undergraduate work at Mississippi State University... so he is a DAWG! He has been our pastor since June of 2015 and previously served for more than twelve years as pastor of Ethelsville Baptist Church in Pickens County, AL.

Bro. Mel's favorite Bible verse is Nahum 1:7.

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."


Worship Leader

Ben Hurt

Ben joined the New Salem staff in August 2018. He has been married to his wife, Tara, for 21 years. They have four children who attend school in Caledonia: Abigale, Amelia, Isaac, and Ian. Ben has 16 + years of music experience which includes leading music for church as well as directing high school band. Ben is self employed and has owned his own business since 2010, Hurt Technology, Consulting, & Training. He also has a background as a school teacher. He taught  Chemistry, Calculus, & was an IT Director.


Youth Minister

Angie Harper

Angie and her husband, Charlie, came to New Salem in 2007, and she was called as Minister to Students in May 2010. Angie has been in the Student Ministry for a total of 17 years. She attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and Mississippi University for Women where she has a degree in Child Growth and Development.  Angie and Charlie have been married since October 8, 1994.  They are the parents of two children: daughter, Lauren and son, Thomas.

Angie partners with parents, grandparents, and teachers to help our students mature intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.  The Student Ministry at New Salem is intentional in growing young people as Christ-followers - able to make wise choices according to Scripture, equipped to share their faith, engaged in worship, and empowered to serve their world.

"In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."            Proverbs 3:6





Children's Minster

Maggie Giles

Maggie joined the New Salem staff in May, 2006. She and her husband, Rob, were married August 1, 1998. They have two children, Caleb and Caroline.

Maggie always had a strong desire to work with pre-schoolers and children. She attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University where she graduated in 1998 with a degree in Educational Psychology.

Maggie's favorite part of her ministry is partnering with parents to help guide their children in a relationship with Jesus!

"Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him."                 Psalm 12:7 


Ministry Assistant

Ruth Stewart

Ruth joined the New Salem staff in June of 2016.  She and her husband, Ralph, have been married for 24 years.  They have two children, Becca and Ryan. Becca is a Senior at Ole Miss majoring in Accounting & Ryan is a Senior at Caledonia High who will be attending Ole Miss in the fall of 2019. Ruth is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL where she received her degree in PE and Health Education for grades K-12. She is also the Branch Manager of the Caledonia YMCA.  

Her favorite verse is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."



Sam Dowdle

Sam began working at New Salem in June of 2017. He has been a widower since 2005. His stepchildren; Jeremy, Beth,and Ruth live in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

He has seven grandchildren.

Sam graduated from Multnomah School of the Bible with a degree in Bible and has degrees from New Orleans Theological Seminary and Southern Theological Seminary.  


Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."


Nursery Staff

Mary Hastings

Mary began working at New Salem in 1999 providing care for the children in the nursery. Mary also works outside of the church at East Mississippi Community College. Mary has three children: Katy, Holley, and Molley.


Nursery Staff

Amanda Taylor

Amanda joined the staff at New Salem on October 1st, 2017. She and her husband, Michael are natives of Arkansas. They have two children, Clint & Delilah, and have been together for 15 years. They came to Mississippi for Michael to attend The School of Architecture at MS State. Upon graduation, they came to call Mississippi home because Michael's job was here. They chose Caledonia for its small town feel, great family friendly environment, and school district. They visited New Salem many times.  It was the first church they recall feeling welcomed at in the area so they called it  home. 
After volunteering for several years at VBS and having a love to be around the smallest of our members, Amanda knew when the position came open she had an interest. After discussing it with Michael and their children, (and lots of prayer because she had been a stay at home wife & mom for the past 14 years), she decided to apply. She says it has truly been an honor to be entrusted along Ms. Mary's side with the safety & security of our church's youngest members so their parents can be in worship. 



Staff Musician

Marty Haynes

Marty joined and has served in the music ministry at New Salem since 2007. He joined the staff as an instrumentalist on guitar in 2015. He has also worked and played with the youth worship team and has taught/mentored several of the youth on worship guitar. 

Marty and his wife, Denise, were married September 2, 2006. He has a daughter, Shanna, and a son-in-law, David Cunningham. He and Denise have 2 grandchildren, Jonah and Gavin, who also attend New Salem.
    One of Marty's favorite things is playing with the praise band on Sunday mornings and leading others in worship.
"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation."           Psalm 95:1

Staff Musician

James Woods

James has been a member of New Salem Baptist Church since August 2003 and has been playing with the Praise Team most of that time. He joined the staff as an instrumentalist in 2015, primarily on the piano. He has been an instrumentalist for various churches and ministries since 1994. James has been married to his wife, Lisa, for over 20 years. They have four children: Connor (serving in the U.S. Air Force), Logan, Noah, & Anna Joy.