Rev. Barrett Durham Abernethy


A native Texan, Barrett was reared in the faith in small Presbyterian churches across the Lone Star State. He received a Bachelor’s in History from Hardin-Simmons University and a Master’s in History at the University of Alabama. While in Tuscaloosa, he worked for First Presbyterian and it was through this experience that he discerned a call to ministry. In 2010, he enrolled at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and received his Master of Divinity in 2013. His first church took him back to Alabama where he served the First Presbyterian Church, Livingston. He began his call at Mount Vernon in August 2019. Barrett is married to Braegan, a librarian at Georgia State University, and they have a daughter, Evelyn.

Rev. Isaac Toney-Schmitt

Associate Pastor of Faith Formation

Isaac grew up in Athens, Georgia, and attended First Presbyterian Church of Athens with his family. He moved away from Georgia to attend Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he received a Bachelor’s in History and Religion. At Centre, Isaac learned what a seminary even is and discerned a growing push to share holy space with others. In 2016 he moved to Atlanta and attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he received his Master of Divinity in 2019. Isaac’s experience in churches before coming to Mount Vernon has shaped his call to listen for and lift up the voices of our youth. He served in a part-time internship during seminary at Shallowford Presbyterian Church which focused on youth ministry and worship leadership. Most recently he served as Youth Director at Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Isaac will begin his call at Mount Vernon in August 2020. Isaac is married to Christina, and they spend a lot of time rock climbing and hiking.

Matthias Young

Director of Worship

Having a passion for music, Matthias brings with him over two decades of combined experience in sacred music, composition, and education. Before coming to Mount Vernon, he served in several churches as a tenor soloist, guitarist, composer, and guest conductor. His compositions were often broadcast on stations such as Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters and WSB.

An avid guitarist, Matthias performs in Duo Catanza and is also the adjunct Professor of Guitar at Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, GA. He is endorsed by KNA Guitar Pickups and the German string maker, Hannabach.

Matthias’ collegiate education includes undergraduate studies at Berry College and at Georgia State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Music, along with graduate work at Boston University. He was recently selected as a Conducting Fellow for the Atlanta Summer Conducting Institute at Georgia State University.

Dr. Kenneth Sass

Principal Organist

Ken has been involved in music since he was in early elementary school, singing in the children’s choirs at school and church, as well as taking piano lessons. He was fascinated with the sound of the church organ, and with all of the knobs and buttons on the console. That led to beginning formal organ lessons at age 15 and his first church position as Organist-Choirmaster while a senior in high school.

He went on to receive his Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance, Magna Cum Laude, at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, studying with Joan Lippincott and Donald McDonald, and minoring in voice and choral conducting. He also sang with the famed Westminster and Westminster Symphonic Choirs, performing regularly with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras among others.

He went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he received his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Organ Performance as a student of Robert Glasgow. During that time, he also sang with the University Chamber Choir, highlights of which were performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, seven weeks as Chorus-in-Residence at the Opera Festival in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, and a three-week European tour.

Through those years and since, Dr. Sass has served as Organist or Director of Music-Organist, full time, part time, or as substitute in various churches in the communities in which he has resided.

Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church | We are a Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area filled with love and energy an inclusive congregation committed to spiritual growth through worship, study, fellowship, & service.

Steve Ray

Church Finance and Operations

Steve was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, attended Michigan State University, and graduated with a B.A. in Advertising.  Steve has worked in 6 different industries during his career in companies ranging from Fortune 500 to startups in fields spanning Business Development to Operations.  His wife, Shelly, and two sons, Ethan and Aidan, have been members of MVPC since 2000.  Both boys attend Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.  He served on the Executive Committee for the Board of Trustees at MVPS for 8 years and has been Clerk of Session for MVPC for the last 4 years. He is an avid Spartan and college sports fan, loves traveling with his family, and doing outdoor activities.  His favorite things are playing tennis, giving back to the community, and running his vizslas.

Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church | We are a Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area filled with love and energy an inclusive congregation committed to spiritual growth through worship, study, fellowship, & service.

Yvonne White

Financial Secretary

Yvonne White was born in Hollandale, MS. She graduated from Mississippi Delta College and later moved to Atlanta, GA for better career opportunities. Yvonne and her husband, Walter, were high school sweethearts and have 2 sons: DeVonta’ and Dalvin. She has worked with children for over 20 years serving as a Team Mom for her boys school and summer traveling sports teams. In her leisure time she enjoys watching her boys play basketball, attending church, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Debbie Nysewander

Administrative Assistant

Born in St. Louis, MO, then moved from the Midwest to New England and back to Dayton, Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University. She moved to Atlanta in 1983, married, and has two grown children. Jonathan is in Construction Management in Atlanta and getting married next April. Heather is attending Candler School of Theology towards her Masters of Divinity. She was appointed by the Methodist Church in June to a small church in Cherokee County. Her ultimate goal is to become a Navy Chaplain. Debbie grew up in the Presbyterian Church with a father who was very involved as an Elder and mother who retired from the Presbyterian Church in Highlands, NC as church secretary. Debbie loves the outdoors and her favorite hobby is baking/cooking.

Shari Freeman

Seminary Intern

Shari was born and raised in Michigan and moved to the Atlanta area after graduating from college. She retired from a career in Computer Software Engineering in 2019 and, having discerned a call to ministry, started in the Masters of Divinity program at Columbia Theological Seminary in 2020. She enjoys being active in church communities and has experience teaching Bible study, preaching, retreat leadership, small group leadership, and children’s ministry. Shari is also a Spiritual Director, certified in 2020 through the Center for Sustainable Faith. She lives in Alpharetta with her husband Richard and their fur babies Daisy and Sandy. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and playing guitar.