Family Ministry

 
Mindy Watts-Ellis
Mindy Watts-Ellis
Director of Children, Youth and Families
 

Mindy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 with a concentration in art education. She continued certification to teach in elementary and secondary schools, and also was the Family Program Coordinator for First Presbyterian Church in Urbana for ten years before joining the staff at First Presbyterian Champaign. Mindy, her husband, and their two children live in Urbana.

 
Vacant
Sunday School Coordinator

 

Blaise Pascal Zamena
CYF Connections Assistant
 
Blaise Pascal Zamena joined First Presbyterian Church of Champaign as Children, Youth, and Families Assistant Director in June 2017. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics from I.S.T.A (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Mathematics and Technology from University of South Africa.
 
Currently, Blaise is completing a Bachelor’s Honours degree in Education (University of South Africa) and also attending Cisco Networking Certificate Program at Parkland College. Blaise works with Urbana School District #116 as an assistant teacher in Mathematics.
 
Blaise is married to Thethe Kidimbu and they have three children (Rayan Mfulama, Audrey Mfulama, and Blessing Mfulama).
 
Operations Team
 
 
Marcia Franks
Administrative Assistant
 
Marcia has been with the church for over twenty-five years. She attended Parkland College in the legal secretarial program. She is presently Administrative Manager and oversees the running of the church office among other duties. Her family includes two grown daughters, Erin and Laura, three granddaughters and a grandson. Marcia grew up in Philo but has since moved to Urbana.
 
 
Patty Farthing
Receptionist
 

Patty has been a member of this congregation since 1978 and has served as Director of Nursery and Childcare and is currently serving as Receptionist. Her formal training is in early child development and elementary education. She and her husband Bruce are certified parent educators and have been teaching parenting classes for many years in our church and community. Patty and Bruce have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

Ann Petry
Bookkeeper
 

Ann joined First Pres in 2015, having previously worked as a bookkeeper for an engineering firm in Urbana. She holds an Associates Degree in accounting from Parkland College and a Bachelors Degree in General Studies from Eastern Illinois University. Ann and her husband, Greg, have four grown children and seven grandchildren.

 

 

 
 
 
 
Ritchie Drennen
Facilities Manager
 

Ritchie grew up in Robinson, Illinois and moved to Champaign in 2000. He joined the staff at First Pres in 2011. This is where he met his wife who is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

 
 
George Almasi
Facilities Assistant
 

George works full-time in Facilities at First Pres. Previously he has served as sexton at the Chapel of St. John the Divine and as a custodian at Parkland College. George majored in Business Administration at Parkland College and is a 2004 graduate of the Safe House.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Robert Ferrer
Audio Visual Technician
 

Robert comes to First Pres from the University of Illinois, having retired following 25 years of service managing the IT infrastructure at Grainger Engineering Library. He holds three Masters Degrees: Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Information Science from Columbia University, and Education Technology from San Francisco State University. Robert is our staff’s newlywed. He and his bride, Patricia, who came all the way from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to marry Robert, were wed in July, 2020.

 

 
Missions
Jeanette Pyne
ESL Coordinator
 

Jeanette has worked with people from all over the world since she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. She holds a Masters Degree in teaching ESL and taught for two years at the Intensive English Institute prior to becoming ESL Coordinator at First Pres. She and her family live in Champaign. 

Rachel Matthews
Mission Coordinator
 

Rachel is our part-time Mission Coordinator, assisting our Mission Team, World Mission and Community Mission Deacons, as well as other groups in the church, to live out our call to serve others.

 
She holds a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, a Master of Arts in Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education and a Doctor of Ministry in pastoral counseling and psychotherapy from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.
 
She is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois.
 

When not working Rachel enjoys walking, gardening, reading and going to movies with her husband, Matt.

 
Music
Joe Grant
Director of Music
 

Joe has been Adult Choir Director at First Presbyterian Church since August 1996. Joe has a Doctorate in Education and recently retired as a faculty member at the University of Illinois School of Music. He and his wife Becky have three children: two daughters, Kelly and Erin, and a son Joe. Recreational interests include tennis and golf.

Brendan Barker
Church Musician
 

Brendan Barker has served as organist and conductor at churches in Pittsburgh, Ireland and Elhart, Indiana. He holds degrees from Duquesne University and Notre Dame and is currently working on a DMA in Choral Music and Conducting at the University of Illinois.

 
Contemporary Worship
Jason Pope
 

Jason has been leading the Gathering, our Contemporary Service, since 2018.Originally from St. Louis, Jason has been an educator and school administrator in Kansas City, Decatur, and Champaign for more than a decade. Currently he is the Principal of Bottenfield Elementary School. He also is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.

 
 
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT
 
The Church is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all persons on the basis of individual qualifications, without regard to race, national origin, sex, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, or any other status protected by federal, state, or local law.
 
Hiring and promotion are based on job-related requirements and on an individual’s qualifications to perform the job. This policy of non-discrimination of the Church applies equally to all phases of the employer-employee relationship, including, but not limited to, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, benefits, and termination.