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
Study God’s Word.
Grow in Faith.
Live as Disciples.
The Spirit gives us the gift of faith, and our faith deepens when we practice our faith in classes, discussion groups and special programs for adults, youth and children.
Through May of 2019, First Presbyterian Church’s formation classes for adults, youth and children will provide us with the opportunity to study God’s word together, to grow in faith together and to live as disciples together.
“Christ came to take away our sins…not our minds,” quips one of my favorite public theologians William Sloane Coffin, Jr., and encapsulates my fascination with the interplay of faith, understanding and practice. Ours is a thinking faith that informs a life of discipleship. First Presbyterian is a vibrant congregation that embraces both the life of the mind in service to God AND scripture’s mandate to do justice, love kindness and walk with God. I am excited to join the pastoral staff at First Presbyterian as a Parish Associate focusing on Faith Formation where the discipleship begins at Baptism and is sustained throughout the Christian Life.
I am deeply committed to the Church, the way God is at work through the ministry of Christian education and formation, the gift of community, the joy of worship and sacraments, and the value of children. I am a native of West Virginia, a graduate of Marshall University, and hold degrees from Union Theological Seminary, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and a Ph.D. from Union-PSCE in Richmond, Virginia.
When I’m not in the heart of the city you’ll find me at Union Presbyterian Seminary on the Charlotte Campus where I serve as Associate Professor of Christian Education. Before going to into full-time academic teaching at Presbyterian College in 2010, I served the church for twenty-five years as pastor and educator in congregations in Alabama, Texas, Florida and here at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. While my primary passion is faith formation and teaching a close second is child advocacy – working towards a world where all God’s children can grow into the fullness for which God created them – especially those who are most vulnerable. This led to a call to serve on staff of the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC and as contract staff for the National Council of Churches (USA).
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.
I’m from Pinehurst, NC, two hours east of Charlotte. I attended UNC Chapel Hill, where I studied sports journalism and political science. I grew up going to Montreat and middle school conferences and I’m excited about being able to help middle schoolers understand they are a living and breathing part of the church.
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 a son, Landon, and 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.
Adult Formation provides a framework in which to study God’s word and to grow in faith so we might live as disciples and witnesses to Christ.
How you approach this spiritual adventure is your choice. First Presbyterian Church offers classes on Sundays at 10 a.m., through small groups and in mid-week programs, and at special events throughout the year. Learn more below.
Have questions or want to receive our weekly electronic newsletters directly to your inbox? ontact 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.
Want to know more or to receive emails? Contact Tanya Gaspar, Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor, for information.
The youth ministry of FPC Charlotte exists to engage faith in community, to nurture belonging, and empower discipleship, so that youth and their families live the Christian life.
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.
Willard & Special Programs
Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest and founder of the world’s largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program, will be deliver the next Willard Lecture on March 15, 2020. At a Jesuit parish in East Los Angeles, Father Greg served the poorest Catholic Church in the city, in the middle of the territories of numerous gangs. In 1988, Father Greg began to work with parish and community members to develop positive opportunities for youth who were involved in gangs, including a jobs program. The jobs program became an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.
This program now offers a way out for for young people stuck in a cycle of violence and incarceration.
Funded by an endowment, our annual Willard Lecture focuses on matters of social justice, human dignity and inclusion, and other relevant issues of our time. These conversations of faith are open to all. They also reflect the common goal of nurturing and deepening our relationship with God and one another.
Through the month of June, you can view the 2019 Willard Lecture with Dr. Jonathan Haidt, speaking on Rise Up: Becoming a Healer for an Ailing World.
For other special programs, keep your eyes on Now at FPC, which updates weekly with details about special programs designed to be relevant and thought-provoking, including:
Forums, films and discussion series that offer food for thought 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;
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.
Welcome to Voices from Church and Trade, a podcast produced by the Formation Ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte (located at the corner of Church and Trade streets). Each episode is hosted by Garrell Keesler, director of adult formation. You can find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify, or you can listen here.