Our Mission Statement

As a ministry, we are committed to partnering with parents and creating a safe environment for kids to experience the love of God and learn the truth of His word so that they take the next step in their faith journey.

Our basic beliefs include:

  • Jesus is our only source of forgiveness for sin - we want kids to know and understand this
  • The Bible is God's voice and message - we want kids to value this
  • The home is the primary tool God uses to teach spiritual truths - we want to support this
  • Kids learn to worship by watching others - we want to provide opportunities for this


Columbus Kids Staff


Michelle Witt 

Minister to Children and Families

Michelle Witt joined the family ministry team at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in November 2015 as the Minister to Preschool and now serves as the Minister to Children and Families. She holds a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Tarleton State University and completes a master's degree in Family Ministry from Dallas Baptist University in May 2021. She has over a decade of experience serving in preschool and children’s ministry in a variety of roles.

Michelle has a passion to serve families by equipping parents to disciple thier children, working diligently to ensure the safety of children on campus, sharing the love of Christ with children and families, and teaching children what it means to follow Jesus. She believes that it is never too early to start sharing God’s love and truth with children. Her sincerest desire is for parents to have confidence in knowing that their children are well taken care of spiritually, physically, and emotionally, so that they too are being poured into and encouraged as members of the body of Christ.

Michelle is the proud wife of Pete Witt and mom to Ashlee, Molly, and Hannah. She loves Jesus, coffee, and talking about feelings. Her favorite things to do are go shopping and cook with her daughters, read, and enjoy Sunday afternoon naps on the couch. Stop by the children’s building any time to serve alongside and get to know Michelle better!

254-752-1655 ext 9312


Kari Behm
Family Avenue Ministry Assistant

Kari Behm has been a member of Columbus Avenue since 2008 and joined the Columbus Avenue staff in 2013.  She grew up in Greenville, Texas, and moved to Waco in 1994 after she married her husband, Greg Behm.  They have three children and three grandchildren.  Kari enjoys listening to audiobooks, watching movies and spending time with her family.

254-752-1655 ext. 9134

Elizabeth Updegrove
Childcare Team Supervisor

Eilizabeth Updegrove first joined the Columbus Avenue Family as a Preschool Childcare Worker in 2012.  She is the oldest of four daughters and was born and raised in Corsicana, Texas.  Elizabeth received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Baylor University in 2015 and now works as a Speech Pathologist for Waco ISD.  She has a passion for working with children and serving their families.  In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys riding horses, reading, crafts, being outdoors, and playing with her cat Franklin.


Amy Patterson
Parent's Day Out Director & Preschool Ministry Associate

Amy has been a member of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church since 2009. She joined the PDO staff in 2019 as a teacher and has since become the PDO Director and Preschool Ministry Associate. Amy and her husband, Ryan, have 2 children, Emma and Noah, both graduates of the Columbus PDO program. The Patterson family enjoys cheering on the Baylor Bears!

(254)752-9000 ext. 9136


Ashley Johnson
Child Development Center Director

Ashley was born and raised just west of here in Early, Texas. She grew up on a large show goat operation. Being with her family and involved in the agriculture world has always been important to her. She says, “kids of all kinds are her passion.” Ashley has worked in childcare for over 8 years and has a true passion for it.  She loves the Lord and loves to serve. What better combination could there be for being the Director of the Columbus Avenue CDC? She is excited to feel “back at home” since Waco is home to a lot of her family. She is excited to grow Columbus CDC and Church together, to best serve this awesome community. Above all she thanks the good Lord above for giving her the ability to do what she loves the most.  She is the proud wife of Conner Johnson, a Waco Fireman. They are so excited to join the community and serve it well.

254-752-1655 ext 9127


Ruth Calero
Child Development Center Assistant Director

Ruth Calero was born in Dénia, Spain in 1979 and she is the youngest of her family. Ruth is the wife, daughter, and sister of a pastor. Apart from her architectural degrees, she also has experience working in preschool, children’s, and youth ministries in Denia's Trinity Baptist Church. Her passion is to serve God. She has been married to David Villarreal since 2009, and they have 3 precious children. Ruth has worked in the Columbus Avenue CDC since 2015 and was promoted in September 2016 to Assistant Director of the CDC.  She likes to cook, craft, and enjoys time with her family.

(254)752-9000 ext.1924


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