The staff of First Presbyterian believes that a vital way they serve Christ is to offer assistance and support for the ministries of the church and her members. Please contact staff by phone or email. An emergency contact is available for members when the offices are closed at (740) 407-1514.
Pastor Matthew Richardson
Rev. Matthew comes to First Presbyterian after serving pastorates in Pennsylvania and Illinois. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and Yale Divinity School. Since arriving in Lancaster he has been instrumental in the founding of Sharing Hope: Bridges Out of Poverty for Fairfield County and LovingLending.org, an alternative to payday lending. He has served on the Editorial Board of the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette and is currently on the Board of New Horizons Mental Health. In 2013, he was recognized as the Friend of the Year by the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board.
He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Lancaster with their three sons.
Director of Family & Children's Ministry
Originally from the Cleveland area, Doug graduated from Ohio University in 2008 with a degree in education. He joins us after serving five years as Director of Christian Education at Second Presbyterian Church in Newark. Doug lives in Athens with his wife Carolyn, who is attending graduate school.
Doug works directly with the children and families of First Presbyterian. He came to Christ while working with Urban Mission Ministries in Steubenville. He believes mission, service, and evangelism are essential to following Jesus, and points to the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 as a call to action.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Director of Worship and Music
Nate was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio and attended First Presbyterian as a youth and attributes the youth and music programs as the origin of his love for church music of all styles. With studies in voice and music education at Capital University and The Ohio State University, he has toured the US and Europe with numerous singing groups. He is the Assistant Music Director of The Alliance Chorus, an internationally competitive men's chorus based in Worthington. He is also a longstanding member of the Lancaster Chorale, a 32-voice professional group. Nate also offers private voice and guitar lessons throughout central Ohio. He lives in Lancaster with his wife, Kylie.
Music has always been central with Nate's walk with God and he draws inspiration from the song of spiritual victory in Psalm 98:1-6:
O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. (NRSV)
Director of Youth Ministries
Matt was raised in a Christian home but made a decision to commit his life to Christ as a fourth grader through the ministry at First Presbyterian Church. Raised in Pleasantville, he now lives in Lancaster following his graduation from Ohio Christian University with a BA in Youth Ministry. Matt is a vocalist and is a multi-instrumentalist who believes music and art need included in a Christian's expression of self and connection with God.
Matt gives his favorite Scripture as Psalm 37:4,
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Jenny Leitnaker, Administrative Assistant
Over twenty-five years ago, Jenny joined First Presbyterian. She and her husband, Mark, have raised their three children in the church. She is a native of Lancaster, earned a BA in Business Administration from Taylor University and entered the workforce in Retail Banking and Banking Operations Management.
Jenny has been busy with civic groups including TWIG 1, PTA and various Athletic Booster groups holding offices in all. Her church involvement has included Sunday School teacher at all age levels, VBS teacher, Camp advisor, Children's Ministry Committee and is currently involved with the Youth Leadership Committee.
Jenny made a commitment to follow Christ at the age of thirteen and has depended on that decision to carry her through life's experiences. She states, I have found that I have used Ephesians 2:10 as a guide and stay for my mission and purpose—
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ed Pool, Ministries Advocate
Ed is a lifelong resident of Fairfield County. He and his wife, Martha, tell others that they never met, having known each other from an early age. While they live near their home places, their son and three daughters have spread across the country and the world.
Ed retired with over thirty years as an Industrial Arts and Technology teacher. He received his BS at Ohio University and a Master Degree in Counseling from Liberty University. He has been on staff since retiring in 2005.
Currently he facilitates many of the ministries and functions of the church and is active with the WD-52 team, Wednesday Together, Shoebox Mission, Growth Team, Building & Grounds Team and serves as the Clerk of Session.
Ed started his faith journey as a young child, making a deliberate decision for Christ listening to gospel radio programs as a teenager and joined the Presbyterian Church soon after college graduation. His driving force in life is to remain a disciple in the original definition of learner. He states,
Becoming a disciple is an ongoing process. It is something we must continue through our days as we never truly attain the fullness of the journey in this life. I invite others to join in this lifelong adventure. It is worth the effort!
Jodie Phayer, Finance
As the overseer of finances, Jodie is intricately involved with the day-to-day operations of the church and works with many individuals and committees. Jodie adds much to the abilities of the staff to meet the needs of the congregation. She began her ministry for the church in April 1990. During this time she has witnessed many changes in the church, pastors and staff. During her tenure she has also successfully raised four children to adulthood and reports that they are all wonderful children. She enjoys immensely her four grandchildren.
Recently, she has reduced her hours available to us as she has started a private accounting firm, Arbuckle & Phayer, which takes a great deal of her time.
Jodie recognizes the truth in and receives God’s Word from Ephesians 2:4-10:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
Director of the Early Service Choir
Cathy was born and educated in Columbus, Ohio, graduating from Upper Arlington High School, and then later from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music Education. She taught elementary music in the public schools for 30 years, and for most of those years, also directed various church choirs.
Her work at First Presbyterian began in 1998 and still is built around directing the Early Service Choir, and assisting in the music program in various capacities, including accompanying the Children's Choir.
The small Early Service Choir presents a variety of musical styles in its weekly anthem contribution, and considers choral participation a calling and privilege for that service.
Choir directing has always been an important part of Cathy's life as well as a passion for the music program of the church. Sharing music and song in worship is a privilege. Cathy quotes Romans 5: 2,
"Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory." To me that verse speaks not only of our final destination, but all the day by day, week by week worship we do before that happens. I am humbled to be part of that great plan.
Cindy is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian and married her husband, Don, here in 1983. They have one adult son. After schooling at Ohio University-Lancaster, Cindy worked in purchasing for two local corporations for several years.
Cindy has been an active part of the church having filled many roles as needed. She has been an integral part of the ministry to children having worked as Assistant Director of Children's Ministry, Nursery caregiver, and a constant at most children and family events. She is currently a caregiver for the Play-N-Learn program and Church Housekeeper.
On her personal faith walk, Cindy states,
I have been a member of First Pres. all my life. I have always felt called to minister to and work with our children. My goal and desire is to serve God in any way I can.
After attending Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and while attending Trinity Lutheran College in Washington state to earn a degree in Youth and Family Ministry with a minor in Counseling, Caryn spent time living in Australia to complete her required internship. She was also active in Crosscurrent, a music ministry that traveled the country to lead worship services, youth events and concert.
Caryn was raised in Pickerington but she and her husband, David, now live near her place of employment in Columbus. Caryn works at Stanton's Sheet Music in the Piano Department. She has filled her spare time involved with many music-based activities including piano and voice at Capital University and many church and community choirs.
Caryn states, It is always my prayer that the music I play will touch the hearts of people and grow them in closer relationship to the Lord. She shares her two favorite Scripture verses:
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
Merrill lives in Lancaster with her husband, Kevin and has three children and five grandchildren. She has served in Women's and Young Adults Ministries at her church. She truly appreciates the opportunity to work with the staff, serving among other Christ followers.
Merrill states, Through difficult struggles in life, God gives me the strength and courage I need to carry on.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31