Staff & Ministry Leaders

Ricky Varnell

Lead Pastor


Ricky started preaching in 1969 at Rocky Ford Charge while attending Georgia Southern College.  In 1971, he was appointed to Geneva Charge in Columbus, where he attended Columbus College and graduated in 1974.  He completed Seminary and graduated from Candler School of Theology in 1977.  Ricky has been in ministry for over 50 years and has served more than 10 churches.  He served as the Dublin District Superintendent from 2003 – 2011.  Before coming to LifeSpring Church, he led Sylvania First UMC for 5 years.  Ricky and his wife, Jackie, have two children (son and daughter) and one grandson.  Ricky and Jackie have been married for 51 years.  In June of 2020, he retired from full time ministry and became the pastor of LifeSpring church.


Eric Hopfensperger

Finance Director and Production Coordinator


Eric first attended and became involved with LifeSpring Church in 2014 and officially joined in 2015.  He works full time with the Effingham County Fire Rescue Department and part time with Bulloch County EMS.  Eric completed a construction management degree from the University of Wisconsin Platteville in 2008.  He has also completed his advance lay speaker certification and plans to complete the lay minister training next year.  He works with the production team each week to run Sunday morning service as well as recording and posting services online.  Eric has been married to Katie since 2015.


Tara Dunn-Ofray

Financial Secretary and Lay Delegate


Tara started attending Langston UMC when she was 13 years old and officially joined in 2014.  She has been involved with and a member of LifeSpring Church since the church merged with Langston UMC in 2017.  She graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelors in accounting in 2013 and completed her masters in accounting in 2017.  She is an accountant with Dabbs, Hickman, Hill, and Cannon accounting firm.  Tara leads the announcements on Sunday mornings and volunteers in other areas around the church as well.   She is also the lay delegate for LifeSpring, in which she has the opportunity to represent the church at the Annual Charge Conference each summer.  Tara has been married to Luis since 2014.


MC Meeks

Trustee Director




Katie Hopfensperger

PPR/Human Resources Director


Katie began with LifeSpring Church when it first opened in 2009.  She has been a member since 2010.  Katie graduated from Georgia Southern University with her bachelors in education in 2006 and earned her masters in teaching and learning in 2008.  She is a history teacher at Statesboro High School.  She has served in many roles and volunteers in all areas of the church.  Katie is also an at large delegate for LifeSpring Church at the Annual Charge Conference each summer.  Katie has been married to Eric since 2015.


Marilyn Kearse

Church Hostess