Leadership and Staff
Dear Covenant Partners and Friends at First Presbyterian,
I want you to know what privilege it is to be chosen as your Transitional Pastor. I look forward to getting to know you and seeing where God leads us in the next few months. A Transitional Pastor is just like any other Pastor. We preach, teach, lead, and provide all types of Pastoral Care. However, we also have the important task of helping a church prepare for the arrival of a new Pastor. Because of this, Transitional Pastors are a little like John the Baptist. We point to another who is coming after us, and one of our main tasks is to help prepare the way for them. To begin getting to know who I am a little, I offer the following condensed version of a biography I use from time to time:
I was born in Memphis, TN where I spent my early years. When I was 11, my
dad was transferred to the Atlanta area where I spent my teen years and
graduated from high school. After high school, I attended the University of
Pennsylvania from 1973-75 and then transferred to Duke University. While at
Duke, I felt a call to the ministry, and after graduation from Duke in 1978, I
received a M.A. from to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in
1980, followed by a D. Min from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond,
Virginia in 1983. I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church, USA at the Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC in 1983. Over the years, I served churches from small to very large in North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Minnesota, and Florida. In 2017, I retired from the installed pastoral ministry and moved from the Presbyterian Church, USA to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). I became a part of ECO’s Certified Transitional Pastor Program and have served three churches as a CTP: Haines Presbyterian Church in Haines Alaska from 2018-19, and Westfield Presbyterian Church near New Castle, PA from 2019-20, and First Presbyterian Church in Albert Lea, MN in 2021.
In addition to my pastoral ministry, I also had the privilege of serving as a
Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1987-2014. I retired as the Command
Chaplain for the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Command in Pinellas Park, FL.
Saving the best for last, I met my bride of 42 years Cyndi while we were undergraduates at Duke University. Cyndi graduated from Duke with a B.S. in Nursing and over the years worked in many areas of Nursing in both full and part-time roles. She retired in 2014. We have three married daughters: Nancy, Cathleen, and Melissa. We are also blessed to have seven grandchildren. Nancy has a boy and two girls, while Cathleen and Melissa have a boy and girl each. We both greatly enjoy our roles of Nana and Papa to our grandchildren.
In His Grip,
Pastor Chris Carlson
Pastor Chris Carlson
Certified Lay Pastor-1
Joining JFPC in 1997, Linda has served over twelve years as a deacon and elder. In 2010 she was elected to serve a term on ECO’s national Synod Executive Council which had just been created with the formation of the new ECO denomination. She has also served for many years as a member of the Ministry Partnership Team of the Presbytery of the West. In January 2020 she was commissioned as a Certified Lay Pastor 1 following a year of intense instruction under ECO’s newly formed leadership competency training and as such is qualified to administer the sacraments of baptism and communion under the authorization of JPFC’s pastor and session. She is happily married to Wilson Gray and is the proud mother of two daughters and three grandchildren.
Larry Greenwalt Karl Hays
Kenny Beem John Varadi
Dale Akberdin Valerie Varadi
Bonnie McDowell Irene Gibson
Denice Hays Michelle Lythgoe
Church Guard Dog
Helen Iverson Metzger
Kizzy's duties are to alert when someone is at the door, to keep tabs on what is going on, and give Pastor Dale all her love and adoration cause he gives her treats!