Meet the Staff


Donny Acton


Senior Pastor

Reverend Donny Acton was born in Birmingham, AL. He has always lived in the state except when he was away for college and seminary. Donny has been active in the Gospel ministry since his days at Bethel University. Donny started preaching at a local church his freshman year. He continued preaching through his years at Memphis Theological Seminary. Once he completed his education, Donny returned to the Birmingham area and worked with the family construction company. He also began working in a local congregation where he served in various capacities. Donny has taught youth, singles, and adults. His primary gift is preaching the Word of God.

Pastor Donny has served at New Hope Church since early 1995. During this time, he has seen the congregation grow in size and spiritual development. Donny endeavors to continue to grow the church as he maintains a small church feel where everyone is “family.”

Donny believes very strongly in being involved in the local community. He is a chaplain with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and with the North Shelby Fire and Rescue. In addition to this, Donny has been an active volunteer at the local YMCA and was named “Volunteer of the Year” in 2009. Donny believes that, if we are to reach the community with the Gospel, we must first go where they are.

Donny has been married to Reverend Mindy Acton, Associate Pastor at New Hope, for twenty three years. They have three sons.



Rev. Mindy Acton

Associate Pastor

Reverend Mindy Acton has lived in the Birmingham area since she was a young child. Mindy has been active in the ministry since her time in public high school where she led students, teachers, and administrators in morning devotions. She continued sharing the Gospel throughout her years in college at Samford University. Mindy went on to gain her ordination through Memphis Theological Seminary’s off campus program. Since then, Mindy has worked in various capacities of ministry including children, youth, singles, adults, missions, outreach, Christian Education, worship, and administration. Over the past eighteen years that Mindy has served at New Hope, she has served many capacities. She is currently focused in evangelism and outreach while continuing in various pastoral responsibilities for the congregation.

In addition to that, Mindy serves on various Boards, Ministry Teams, and Councils for the Cumberland Presbyterian Denomination and Grace Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Mindy carries on the belief that we are to be involved in our communities in order to share Christ with them. In light of that, Mindy serves as a chaplain with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office where she builds relationships with the deputies and administration to be available for them during difficult aspects of law enforcement duties.

Mindy is Pastor Donny’s wife. They have been married for 23 years and have three sons. Donny and Mindy have chosen to educate their sons through homeschooling.



Rev. Sherrlyn "Shep" Frost

Associate Pastor, Director of Discipleship & Director of LifeWater Biblical Counseling Ministries


Shep is a full time Associate Pastor at New Hope where she has served in many capacities since the year 2000. She began her ministry as Director of Adult Christian Education and Church Administrator. She was then ordained in 2005 after completing the Program of Alternate Studies provided through Memphis Theological Seminary and at that time became a full-time Associate Pastor of New Hope.

A native of Birmingham, AL, Shep grew up in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  However, as a young adult, Shep had her faith and belief in Jesus Christ challenged in many ways. She discovered first-hand the despair and destruction that can overtake us as we are separated from God through sin and darkness.  After a long season of separation, Shep cried out to God and reclaimed her faith in Jesus Christ.  At that time she rediscovered her belief in the Bible as the inspired Word of God and in Jesus Christ as the only way to true peace and eternal life.  Her experiences ultimately led her to her ministry calling and to establish LifeWater Biblical Counseling Ministry at New Hope Church in 2002.  

It is Shep’s  passion to help people find salvation through Jesus Christ, to help them find healing from the wounds and traumas of life and to help people find life-changing power through the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, so that they may mature in faith and discover God’s perfect plan for their lives.

In addition to Shep’s ministry at New Hope, she has served at the presbytery level as Moderator, Chair of the Board of Christian Education and is currently serving as Chair of the Committee on Probationers, which assists and mentors candidates for ordained ministry. She also serves in various committee and ministry work at the denominational level.  

Shep is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has been married to her husband Greg for over 23 years.


Larkin Sumerlin

Associate Pastor

Larkin has worked with the youth group at New Hope for over six years now.  He began as an intern under Debi DeBoer, and was hired as the youth pastor upon graduating from Southeastern Bible College in 2012.  Since that time, Larkin has received his M.Div from Beeson Divinity School, as well as become an ordained minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  He became the Associate Pastor in January, 2018.  Larkin and his wife, Jessica Sumerlin, welcomed their first child, Lucy Grace Sumerlin, on August 3, 2016.

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  • Phone: 334.357.0007 (cell)


Jessie Dunnaway

Church Secretary, Clerk of Session & Fellowship Coordinator

Jessie Dunnaway retired from public works in 2009 to serve the Lord at New Hope.  She serves as the church secretary on a part-time basis and is also an ordained elder.  She has served as clerk of their session since 1990.  She has been married to her husband Dale for over 47 years and they have 2 children and 6 wonderful grandchildren.  She has lived in Shelby county all her life.

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Ali Thornton

Director of Children's Ministry & Nursery

Ali Thornton is our new Director of Children's Ministry.  She has attended New Hope since she was three-years-old, and God used New Hope to shape and prepare Ali for the future He had planned for her.  She graduated from UAB in 2015 with a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, but God had her put her teaching on hold.  Shortly after graduating, God called Ali to participate in the World Race, which is an 11 month mission trip around the globe.  After traveling and serving for seven months, Ali returned home for medical reasons.  She continues to trust God to guide her through this season of life and ministry.  She is also engaged to be married to Zak Jones, our worship leader, in December of 2018.

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Avery Acton

Youth Minister

Avery Acton was born and raised in the community surrounding New Hope.  He has spent most of his life in the shadow of the steeple!  He is the oldest of three sons of Rev. Donny Acton and Rev. Mindy Acton.  Avery is a candidate for ministry in Grace Presbytery, which New Hope is a member of.  He is currently pursuing his Bachelor's Degree from UAB as a full-time student.  Also, Avery serves as a manager at the Oak Mountain Chic-Fil-A in Pelham.  Avery will be working together with our other youth minister, Matt Thornton, to help lead and instruct our youth group in the Word of God.  On special occasions, Avery has had the opportunity to fill the pulpit for his father, and lovingly shares his passion, strengths and gifts with our New Hope family.

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Matt Thornton

Youth Minister

Matt Thornton is candidate for ministry in Grace Presbytery, which New Hope is a member of, and he is also pursuing his Bachelor's Degree while working a full-time job.  Once he has completed his degree, Matt plans to attend seminary to pursue his Master's Degree so he can become an ordained minister.  He has a heart for both local and global missions, as well as passion for leading our young people.  He has voluntarily been serving with our youth ministry for over a year, and he too has filled the pulpit here at New Hope on special occasions.  Matt is excited and passionate to train up the next generation of believers to love Jesus and serve His church.



Zak Jones

Worship Leader

Zak Jones is our new worship leader here at New Hope.  He is from Holtville, Al, and moved to Birmingham to attend UAB, where he is majoring in Physical Education.  He will graduate in May, 2019.  Zak began leading worship after high school for the youth ministry at Redland Baptist Church in Wetumpka, AL.  He has also had the opportunity to lead worship for the Baptist Campus Ministries at UAB.  Zak is engaged to Ali Thornton, our Director of Children's Ministry, and they will be married in December of 2018.  Zak brings a heart to worship God, as well as a passion to instruct people in ways to worship God in spirit and truth.