Church Staff


Pastor John White

Pastor John White joined the staff as Pastor in January of 2003. Prior to serving First Presbyterian Church, John was Pastor at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, South Carolina.

John is a graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, and of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is married to the former Susannah Gordon of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and together they have four children and one granddaughter. John is an avid sports fan and enjoys reading, bicycling, hiking, and all kinds of outdoor activities. He also enjoys archeology and history, particularly Civil War history.

Associate Pastor

Associate Pastor for Youth Courtney Bowen

Pastor Courtney Bowen joined the staff as Associate Pastor for Youth in January of 2020. She graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2018 and served as Pastor for the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Elizabeth, IN. While in seminary, she served for three years as Student Pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville, IN, primarily focusing on families, young adults, youth and children. She has also worked as a Chaplain Intern in the Trauma Center at the University of Louisville Hospital. Courtney is originally from Birmingham, AL. She enjoys hiking, knitting, and is an avid reader. She and her husband, Lane, have two children.

Congregational Care

Ceil Cowles, Director of Congregational Life

Ceil Alexander Cowles joined the staff in August 2008 as the Director of Congregational Life with the primary responsibility for visitors and new members. Ceil graduated from Rhodes College and received a Masters from the University of Memphis. Ceil comes from a long-standing family history at FPC having been born to parents and grandparents who attended First Presbyterian Church. She was baptized, confirmed and grew up at FPC. Ceil was married here in 1992 to Ty Cowles and they happily raised their 2 children at First Presbyterian.

Children’s Ministry

Anna Poole, Children’s Ministry Director

Anna Poole is the new Interim Children’s Director. She and her husband Perry have 2 kids: John Henry, 4, and Joy, 8m. They have been married for 12 years. Anna and her family joined the church when her son was 6m old and have been very active since. Anna retired from her career as an RN to join the ministry this year. She was a nurse for 10 years. She is dedicated to reaching each and every child and looks forward to growing with the children and their families in the years to come.

Laura Byrd, Director of BLAST Learning (K-5th grade)

Laura Byrd joined the staff at First Presbyterian Church in 2016. She has been working with children and youth for over 10 years. Laura has a Bachelors in Education and a minor in Music from The University of Mississippi. In college, she enjoyed studying English, Vocal Performance, and singing in various choirs and ensembles. Laura and her husband, Bryan, have 2 children and are active members of First Presbyterian Church.

Molly Richardson, Youth Director

Molly Richardson joined the FPC Staff as the Youth Director in December 2016. Molly has a degree in Child Development from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, Early Childhood Education from Trevecca Nazarene University and English as a Second Language from UT- Chattanooga. Molly and her husband, Wesley, have 2 children. Molly has been active with the youth for many years and loves working and watching the Holy Spirit grow in their lives. 

Music Ministry

Helen Redding, Director of Music

Helen Redding retired after 30 years of teaching vocal music in public high school. She and her family have lived in Jackson since 1990. Helen began teaching at Jackson Central-Merry High School and then became the vocal music teacher at Madison Academic Magnet High School.

Helen has been an organist and musician for many churches and is now serving as Director of Music for FPC since 2015. She and her husband, Bob, have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.

Dr. Terry McRoberts, Organist

Terry McRoberts is professor of music at Union University, where he teaches piano, organ, and related courses.  Prior to moving to Jackson, he taught at Blue Mountain College in Mississippi, and has served as a church organist for thirty years.  He holds degrees from Ball State University, Youngstown State University, and Manchester University.  He has served as president of various professional organizations, and enjoys reading, walking, and traveling in his spare time.

Ellen McClune, Director of Children’s Choir (Age 3-PreK)

Ellen McClune has been the Director of Children’s Choir (Age 3 – PreK) since 2014. She is from Maryville, Tennessee and attended Maryville College where she majored in music education. She received her Masters at UT Knoxville in Deaf Education. She has lived in Jackson and taught elementary music in the Jackson-Madison County School system for 41 years.

Lindsey Patterson, Director of Children’s Choir (Age K – 5th Grade)

Lindsey Patterson is the director of choral activities at Madison Academic Magnet HS.  She has served as a choral director with the Jackson-Madison Co. school system for 17 years.  During this time, she also served as director of children’s choirs at First United Methodist Church for 7 years and director of music at Grace United Methodist Church for 10 years.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Milligan College and has completed graduate work in vocal pedagogy.  Lindsey is passionate about music, children, and ministry.  Lindsey grew up in Jackson and continues to reside here with her 3 children.

Administrative Staff

Emily Morrow, Administrative Assistant to the Pastor

Emily Morrow graduated from MTSU in 1998 with her Bachelor of Science in Communications and Journalism. She has been a visual journalist and illustrator for most of her career, working for various newspapers, magazines and websites across the country. Emily, and her husband Josh, have been married for 22 years. They have a 12 year old son, Henry, who is in middle school at Jackson Christian. They recently moved to Jackson from Middle Tennessee. She is excited to be part of the First Presbyterian staff!

Machelle Daniel-Hall, Financial and Educational Secretary

Machelle Daniel-Hall began working at First Presbyterian Church in February 2019. She was born and raised in Chester County. Machelle has two sons, Tyler and Cody who are both attending college in Oklahoma. She enjoys playing with her two dogs, Nico and Mia. Machelle also spends her free time reading, traveling, and volunteering with her service dog (Nico). She also works on the weekends at her family’s restaurant, Snookum’s.

Mechika Taylor, Custodian

We’d like to welcome Mechika Taylor to the First Presbyterian staff. Mechika is our new custodian, filling the position left by Tamara Haynes’ retirement. Mechika comes to us with considerable experience in business, commercial housekeeping, as well as, a background in computer technology. Please help us welcome Mechika to the FPC family!

Ernie Wilson, Maintenance

Ernie Wilson first joined First Presbyterian Church in 2006 as our “Facilities Maintenance” guy, aka “Mr. Fix It”. Ernie works closely with the staff and the Property Committee to keep our facilities in good working order.

Stephanie Swims, Playschool Director

Stephanie Swims joined FPC Playschool after being a public school teacher for 30.5. She has taught PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st-grade students and holds a Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership. Stephanie is not new to Playschool – she was a Kindergarten student at First Presbyterian and both of her children went to Playschool! Additionally, her mother, Penny McRee was a director of FPC Playschool. She has been married for 32 years, has 2 married children and 4 precious grandchildren. As FPC Playschool enters its 50th year, Stephanie is looking forward to continuing the legacy of learning through play!

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