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. 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.

Congregational Care

Ceil Cowles, Director of Congregational Care

Ceil Alexander Cowles joined the staff in August 2008 as the Director of Congregational Care 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

Libby Smith, Children’s Ministry Director

Libby Marcom Smith joined our Staff as the Children’s Ministries Director in July 2012. She has her Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Special Education. She retired from teaching elementary students after 30 years.

Libby thoroughly enjoys working with the children ages birth-5th grade at First Presbyterian Church. She has two sons and daughters-in-law as well as 3 grandchildren who are also members of FPC.

Molly Richardson, Interim Youth Director

Molly Richardson joined the FPC Staff as the interim 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.

Laura Byrd, Director of Elementary Choir

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.

Ellen McClune, Preschool Children’s Music Teacher

Ellen McClune has been the Preschool Children’s Music teacher 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. Ellen is a member of FPC along with her son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.

Administrative Staff

Nelda Rhodes, Church Secretary

Nelda Rhodes has been on staff since 2001. Nelda has a long history with the church, as well as fond memories of Sunday School, Youth Group and Church League Basketball. Nelda has a Bachelor of Science Degree in computers from Lambuth University.

Vicki Pope, Financial and Educational Secretary

Vicki Pope has been on staff since 1992. Prior to serving First Presbyterian Church, Vicki was the Vice President at C&W Construction Company of Jackson, Tennessee. Vicki was born and grew up in Jackson. She came back to Jackson after attending Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. Vicki has one child who lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tamara Haynes, Custodian

Tamara Haynes has been on staff at First Presbyterian Church since 1985 when she began working as a nursery worker and then in 2001 Tamara became the church custodian, Tamara views her role as custodian as a way of providing a clean and welcoming facility for all of the members and guests of First Presbyterian Church.

Ernie Wilson, Maintenance

Ernie Wilson joined First Presbyterian Church in 2006 as is 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.

Sharyn Thompson, Website and Internet Coordinator

Sharyn Thompson joined the First Presbyterian Church staff in 2011. She maintains the website and social media sites to make sure it represents accurate and up to date information about all church programs for both members and visitors. 

Sharyn graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She and her husband, Chuck, have been blessed with 4 children. They have been members of First Presbyterian Church for many years and enjoy worshipping with others while also raising their children in the Presbyterian faith.

Jennifer Geraghty, Playschool Director

Jennifer Geraghty has been a part of Playschool since 2000. First, as a parent of a child at Playschool and then as a Playschool Teacher in 2004. She accepted the role of Playschool Director in 2012. Jennifer has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Family Development from the University of Dayton. Jennifer, her husband and son have been part of the Jackson community since 1998.

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