In recent years, casino companies have been donating money to various charities. One such charity is the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterians receive donations from different casinos in order to support their work with the poor and needy. In addition to this monetary donation, the casinos also offer discounts to their customers, which you can look here , who donate to the Presbyterian Church. This arrangement has resulted in a larger donation total for the Presbyterians than ever before. The churches use these donations for various purposes, including helping those who are in need, supporting missionary work, and building new churches. The church has been very grateful for the donation and has used it to improve the quality of life for its parishioners. The donations from the casino chain have allowed the church to provide scholarships for needy students, fund repairs on aging infrastructure, and more. This donation is an excellent example of how businesses can help make a difference in society. By supporting charitable organizations, companies are giving back to their community and helping to improve people’s lives.
Meet Our Pastors
Rev. Dr. Greg Stovell
Head of Staff
Rev. Dr. Greg Stovell has joined The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York as our new Pastor/Head of Staff effective September 1, 2020. Dr. Stovell is originally from Mexico City, and split his formative years between London and Mexico City. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Dubuque and a Masters in Divinity from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Dr. Stovell also earned a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary.
Dr. Stovell has a diverse theological background, serving churches in New Jersey, and Illinois, before being called to First Presbyterian in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His West Chester church boasted a vibrant 1,200-member congregation that Dr. Stovell shepherded for the last 10 years as the Lead Pastor.
Dr. Greg Stovell joins the First Church family along with his wife Susie, daughter Susie, and son Harry.
Rev. Dr. Barbara E. Davis
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Davis is the Executive Minister at First Church. Her ministerial areas of focus include spiritual formation and pastoral care.
Barbara hails from western Pennsylvania, where she was deeply influenced by her upbringing in the Methodist Church and netting tadpoles in the pond near her house.
She graduated from Thiel College in Greenville, PA, where she majored in religion, with minors in English and Classical Languages. She then moved from rural to urban living to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she completed her M.Div. Her call to ministry led her to First Church in 1998. Barbara is a member of the Metro Association of the United Church of Christ (UCC), from which she was ordained in 2004. In 2016, she finished her doctoral work in Religious Education at Fordham University where she wrote about the “Unresolved Conflict Over Revelation in American Protestantism.”
Barbara has served on the board of the Religious Education Association and is currently part of the Boundary Awareness Training Team for the Metro Association of the UCC. The mother of two amazing daughters, Barbara has been a leader in the parent body at their Quaker school in Brooklyn. An avid reader, essayist, sketcher, sky watcher, nature observer and proud Brooklynite, Barbara can often be found cycling the city’s streets.
Rev. Dr. Mark Hostetter
Associate Pastor for Stewardship & Mission to the Corporate World
Mark Hostetter is Associate Pastor for Stewardship and Mission to the Corporate World. This is an unpaid and unique part-time position where Mark serves as a liturgist in worship, occasional preacher, and frequent teacher. Dr. Hostetter is CEO of Vinik Asset Management, a Tampa investment firm; is active in the leadership of Auburn Theological Seminary’s Board of Directors; and continues his work with the national Presbyterian Church (USA), most recently as Moderator of the Way Forward Commission of the General Assembly. Mark received his B.A. degree in Economics at Harvard University, his J.D. from Columbia University, and his M.Div. and D.Div. degrees from New York Theological Seminary. He has been a member of the board for several organizations, including The Actors Fund, Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, and Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center in New York. He is co-founder of the Summit Preparatory School in Kalispell, Montana which he began with his partner Alex Habib. Together they are parents of three children, Lani, Lea, and Kai.
Rev. Emily Brewer
Interim Associate Pastor for Mission and Social Justice
Emily is an imperfect practitioner of nonviolence who is inspired by people and movements committed to nonviolent social transformation. She has been shaped by her upbringing in East Tennessee, a year of living in Guatemala, and—for the last decade—New York City. Emily is a daughter, parent, spouse, sister, friend, and lover of the outdoors, coffee, and baked goods. Before coming to First Church, Emily served as the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. She has degrees from Union Theological Seminary (MDiv 2015) and Maryville College (BA 2009).
Director of Youth and Family Ministries
Jenny Bennett is the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at First Presbyterian Church, bringing over 14 years of diverse experience working with youth in various settings. With a strong foundation in the Presbyterian church, Jenny’s passion for nurturing young hearts and minds has been fostered through her past experiences as a youth counselor at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, a full-time educator in both New Orleans and New York, and a volunteer church school teacher.
Her enthusiasm for teaching, building relationships, and exploring challenging spiritual questions is contagious. Dedicated to meeting children, youth, and families where they are on their spiritual journeys, she aims to create purposeful events, encourage biblical inquiry, and nurture meaningful connections. Jenny’s ultimate goal is to empower young people and their families, enabling them to discover their own faith and embrace the love of God. Jenny is married to Cody Bennett and enjoys catching Broadway shows, walking the city streets with a podcast, and playing with her cats, Dove and Bobby.
Aileen graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BA in Sociology. Her degree is in Criminology, with a background in Psychology. She plans to return to college and pursue a master’s degree in psychology. Aside from her commitment to her education, she enjoys traveling to new places, trying new foods, and meeting new people. Aileen is a travel enthusiast who hopes to visit at least one new place each year.
Director of Music
Michael Shake was called as the sixth director of music for the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York in June 2019. At First Church, he shepherds the musical life of the community as a keyboardist, conductor, and team member in creating weekly worship and broader worship and music opportunities.
Michael previously served King of Glory Lutheran Church and Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas; and, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, hailed by USA TODAY as one of the “ten great places to be enthralled by heavenly music.” He has been a solo and collaborative artist, and clinician for regional and national events, including the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the 2013 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, the 2017 Southwest Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists, the 2017 East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, and has been featured on American Public Media’s Pipedreams. He is a former dean of the Dallas Chapter – American Guild of Organists
A native of Florence, South Carolina, Michael holds degrees in organ and sacred music from Erskine College and Emory University. He has been a conductor at the Choral Institute at Oxford, a collaborative program of Westminster Choir College and St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, and a conducting fellow of the Voices of Ascension Conductor Academy with Dennis Keene. The recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Erskine College, Michael is married to Laura Bowden and enjoys learning about aviation, cooking, and travel.
Director of Finance and Facilities
Director of Communications
Sophia Yacca is the Director of Communications at First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York. Her areas of focus include video production, live streaming, photography, and marketing.
She received her BS in Sociology and Film Studies from Hunter College and is currently continuing her studies at Hunter College in the MFA in Integrated Media Arts program.
Sophia began at the church to create a system to bring those at home back to church – virtually! Her passion for video editing and videography is much attributed to her love for putting puzzle pieces together and solving problems with a creative solution. She is committed to making creative video content which captures the essence of the community. She rejoiced to be returning to a church setting after being a deacon at her home church of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Sophia will never let go of her theatrical background in her acting work, but finds new ways of incorporating it into her life; by photographing Off-Broadway shows and cabarets as well as participating in them! Her favorite productions which she has been involved include performing in the Off-Broadway productions at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian of Nude with Violin and Blithe Spirit.
Hannah Faye Allred
Staff Associate for Congregational Care
Online Streaming Coordinator
Sophia Canfield is the Online Streaming Coordinator. Her areas of focus include video production, live streaming, photography, and communications.
Nursery School Director
Kathleen Cook has served as the Director of the First Presbyterian Church Nursery School (FPCNS) since her appointment in 2013.
Family Music Ministries Coordinator
Jon Harris sings and worships with the children of First Church every week, as the church’s Family Music Ministry Coordinator.
Director of Finance and Facilities
Director of Music
Michael Shake was called as the sixth director of music for the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York in June 2019.
Director of Engagement
Nicole Stansifer is the Director of Engagement at First Church. Her areas of focus include oversight for the Outreach & Service Ministry and helping people get engaged in the full life of the church.
Assistant Director of Finance and Facilities
Associate for Hospitality and Visual Arts
Audrey Webber is the Associate for Hospitality and Visual Arts. Her areas of focus include hospitality, new relationships with the church, communications, and programming around the visual arts.
The Session is the governing body of the church. First Church, like all Presbyterian churches, is a representative democracy.
We are governed by elders who are chosen from and by the entire congregation. Governance and authority over church matters resides with these elected leaders. Elders serve a three-year term. Meet our elders and the program and/or committee they lead below.
Rev. Dr. Greg Stovell
Head of Staff
Clerk of Session
Rev. Dr. Barbara E. Davis
The role of the Deacons is one of “sympathy, service and witness” to the love of God as shown in the life of Jesus Christ. The origin of “deacon” is the Greek diakonos, “servant.”
At First Church we have an elected Board of Deacons who minister with compassion to anyone in need, whether they are members of the church, visitors, neighbors or other members of the community. Deacons meet on a monthly basis to determine how best to meet those needs. They receive care and prayer requests from those who themselves, or whose loved ones, are ill, or have other special needs, and can refer people for pastoral care.
Each month, two Deacons for the Month are appointed by the Board of Deacons to act as specific points of contact for those in need. Any Deacon, however, can assist. Requests for Deacons should be directed to the Deacons of the Month or if urgent, to the Pastoral staff.
Eileen Choi and Wendy Williams
Alexis Schutz and Suzanne Mecs
The Board of Trustees holds and manages properties and, as authorized, conducts business for the church. They oversee investments and work with the Session and the Joint Finance Committee to develop a sustainable church budget.
Nicky Moody Ordway
David N. Biette
Alyssa Puccinelli Browne
Martha Ferry and Amy Cooper
Reade H. Ryan, Jr.