May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love; may you have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
The Spirit gives us the gift of faith, and our faith deepens when we share life together by coming together to listen for what scripture tells us about God and ourselves.
In Christian Formation at First Presbyterian Church, we practice our faith in classes, discussion groups and special programs for adults, youth and children.
Through May of 2018, the theme of Life Together explores how God calls us to community to explore our faith together. Time spent with neighbors, experiences shared with friends, meals around a table with loved ones–this Life Together is the life God envisions for us.
I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and have a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary. During seminary, I interned at Trinity Presbyterian Church in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta as well as Metro State Women’s Prison. Those two communities taught me a lot about what it means to be a child of God and to be part of a family of faith.
In 2010, I was ordained at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian (the same church where I was baptized as an infant), and I served as associate pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church in Charlotte for four years before being called to First Presbyterian in 2014.
All of these experiences have nurtured my love for teaching and learning, and my passion for Christian Formation comes from a deep belief (and gratitude!) that God’s Spirit is always at work in us. I believe that everything we do as a faith community—worship, serve, pray, care for each other —helps us become more of the people God has created us to be.
I’m married to Andy Cooke, also a Presbyterian pastor, and the stepmom to two boys Miller and Mattox. They keep life interesting in the best kind of way.
As a multi-decade member at First Presbyterian Church, I joined the staff in July 2013. I didn’t expect being a math major at Wake Forest to lead me to a church, but I have found a home here twice—first as the Membership Coordinator in the late ’90s and now as Director of Adult Formation. I brought to my current job a devotion to the church, 25 years of studying the Bible with many insightful and supportive women, and experience in catering and event planning.
In addition to my husband Lee, and children Andrew (25) and A.C. (19), my loves include yoga, cooking and wine study.
My deep commitment to Youth Ministry began as a young person growing up in the Presbyterian Church, and over the years it has found many forms of expression. I graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, with a B.A. in Religion/Christian Education. Following graduation, I joined the staff of White Memorial Presbyterian Church to serve and direct Youth Ministry.
In 2013, I relocated to Charlotte with my husband, Kyle, to serve in youth ministry here and begin my masters of Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary. My call in serving is to join youth, families and adults through their faith journey and the joys and challenges that accompany adolescence. I’ve also had the opportunity to spend several summers planning and co-directing Montreat Youth Conferences.
Kyle and I have two cats, Kailey and Riley. When I’m not on retreats and hanging out with youth, I like to read, relax, run, spend time outside and watch college football (Go Pack & War Eagle!) with friends and family.
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where much of my side of the family still resides. My paternal grandparents were tried and true Presbyterians who, along with the Holy Spirit, nudged my sister and me to attend their church. Once there, I discovered what a church family is and how God calls us to serve.
Listening to that call, I was led to First Presbyterian Church in August of 2015, the fourth congregation I have served in educational ministry. My husband Joel and I are moviegoers who will see just about anything that gets a tomato and true tourists who want to visit the museums in every city we travel to.
Formation for adults at First Presbyterian Church happens throughout the week.. We offer a wide range of Sunday morning classes as well as small group studies that meet throughout the week, We also host special programs throughout the year, like our Willard Lecture Series, our Wednesday evening forums and ongoing special events. All that we do in Christian Formation serves to deepen our relationships with God and with one another.
If you want to know more about Adult programs or to receive emails, contact Garrell Keesler, Director of Adult Formation.
Young Adult Ministry
Whatever your background, faith journey, career or lifestyle, young adults in their 20s and 30s welcome you into First Presbyterian’s vibrant center-city faith community. As we gather, we grow spiritually, have fun, worship and meet great people at First Presbyterian.
The Good Samaritan Sunday Class is wonderful place to meet people, study the Bible and learn how our faith applies to our everyday lives in a world that is in the midst of great change and growth. The class meets from 10-10:45 a.m. in the Fresco Lobby.
Midweek, the Wednesday Night Young Adult Group meets from 7-8 p.m. in Room P201 (off the Fresco Lobby). This group also meets on a social basis. Most are in their 20s and 30s, but all are welcome.
Youth Ministry at First Presbyterian Church serves as a spiritual bridge between youth, their families and the greater community. Our mission is to equip and nurture Christ-centered relationships by strengthening, stretching, encouraging, enriching and influencing young people for Christ. This ministry helps prepare youth to articulate and live their faith now and throughout their faith journey.
Opportunities for youth to gather and deepen their faith journey include:
Middle School (grades 6-8) Formation meets every Sunday morning, P301, 10-10:45 a.m.
High School (grades 9-12) Formation meets every Sunday morning, P321, 10-10:45 a.m.
Presbyterian Youth Connection (PYC) is time for youth to gather for food, fellowship and discipleship. PYC meets most Sundays during the school year from 6-7:45 p.m. For a complete schedule of the school year, visit the Resources page at the bottom of this page.
Additional programs for youth include:
assisting in worship
and being in relationship with others as we practice walking in faith together.
For more details, contact Tammy Winchip, Director of Children’s Ministries, or Debbie Shirkey, Executive Director for First Presbyterian Church Schools.
Our most recent special event was the 2018 Willard Lecture, delivered by Dr. Walter Brueggeman. You can download the program from the event, which includes Dr. Brueggemann’s suggested reading list on his topic. You can watch Dr. Brueggemann’s talk on God. Money. Neighbor. The Economics of Compassion here.
Keep your eyes on Now at FPC, which updates weekly with details about special programs designed to be relevant and thought-provoking, including:
The Willard Lecture Series, an endowed program that brings in guest lecturers to broaden our perspective. Past lecturers have included philosopher and activist Cornell West; Dr. Craig Barnes of Princeton Theological Seminar; New York Times columnist and PBS host Bruce Feiler; and in 2017, author and NPR host Krista Tippett.
Wednesday evening forums offering food for thought as well as a shared dinner multiple times throughout the year. Topics range from education on mental health issues, questioning our faith, the stories of those who may seem very different from us on the surface, and more.
Enneagram, offered in the fall
First United Presbyterian Church/First Presbyterian Series, annual spring discussion series on issues around race hosted jointly with First United Presbyterian
Special classes including Lenten and Advent studies
First Presbyterian Church has a long history of creating a Christian environment for nurturing children in the heart of Charlotte. First Presbyterian Church Schools include Child Development Center and the Weekday School.