Ministry and Discipleship Director
B.S. Lee University, Cleveland, TN
M.Div. Church of God Theological Seminary, Cleveland, TN
D. Min. Church of God Theological Seminary, Cleveland, TN
A fourth generation Church of God member. Ernie married Angeleea (Wright) in 1982. They have one son Mitchell (Cleveland, TN) and one daughter, Rachel (Russ Barker) (Tunnel Hill, GA) . Dr. Varner is the proud "papa" of Silas Barker (3 yrs) and Eli Barker (17 months).
For 28 years Varner has served as an exemplary church leader in the Church of God. He has served as a evangelist, pastor and educator. Dr. Varner has served as adjunct faculty for Lee University and has worked closely in the Pastoral Covenant Group initiative training facilitators in 6 states. Dr. Varner pastored the Red Bank Church of God, Chattanooga, TN from 1994 to 1997. He pastored the Sixth Avenue Church of God, Lenoir City, TN from 1997 to 2012. While pastoring at Sixth Avenue, Dr. Varner founded, El Faro (Hispanic outreach). As a Pastor Dr. Varner did extensive mission work having traveled to Brazil 17 times, building churches, training pastors, and preaching. Dr. Varner also preached and taught in Albania, Greece, Romania, Ecuador, Uganda, Kenya, and Trinidad. Dr. Varner has served on various boards and committees for the Church of God in Tennessee including the Home Missions and Evangelism Board (1992 - 1996), Youth Board (1998 - 2002; 2006 - 2008) and State Council (2002 - 2006; 2008 - 2012).
Dr. Varner has a burden to resource pastors and to strengthen the local church. Having served as an evangelist for 7 years of his ministry and while as a pastor doing the work of an evangelist, he also has a great desire to reach the harvest. Dr. Varner does not believe that evangelism and discipleship are at opposite ends of the spectrum, nor does he believe that preaching and teaching are at odds. He feels that evangelism and discipleship, preaching and teaching are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, his desire is to train, and to equip the ministry and the laity to reach the harvest.