Rev. Dr. John Judson, DMin. Senior Pastor, has served First Presbyterian since June of 2009. He holds a B.A. in Business and Economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. Following college John served in the Peace Corps and worked in the petrochemical industry in Houston. His ministry career includes serving the First Presbyterian Church of Pampa, Tx (1988-92) and Covenant Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas (1985-87, 1992-2009). He is married to Dr. Cindy who spent 17 years as a public school teacher/administrator and then ten years as an adjunct Professor of Education at Oakland University, working with student teachers, from which she recently retired. They have two grown children and one grandson. John believes that God is doing great things in and through this congregation for the community, the national church and the world.
Rev. Bethany Peerbolte, MDiv., Associate Pastor/Youth and Mission, recently graduated from Ecumenical Theological Seminary and was ordained in October, 2018. She has a passion for youth of all abilities and mission work. If she isn’t at the church she can be found communicating with her more than 300,000 TikTok followers, creating an online digital church, dancing tango, playing disc golf, or watching American Ninja Warrior. She has a growing collection of turtles, and loves Starbucks Frappuccino’s!
Andrew Herbruck, MA, Director of Music Ministries, comes to us at Everybody’s Church after having served eight years as Director of Music at Grosse Pointe Woods Presbyterian Church. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan’s School of Music in organ and church music. Andrew’s background includes being a primary service organist, directing chancel and handbell choirs, managing a departmental program budget and building an innovative program for middle and high school students. Andrew is committed to FPC’s vision of inclusivity and to its outreach in metropolitan Detroit where he owns a home, and is a part of that community.
Jan Peters, Office Administrator, has been a member of First Presbyterian Church since 1972 and a member of the staff since 1984.
Her mission statement reads: “I try to serve and welcome all people who enter the church, be a listener to those in need, and provide assistance wherever and whenever possible to visitors, members of the congregation and staff.” Her duties are varied; coordinating the day-to-day operation of the church, supervising support staff and volunteers, scheduling inside and outside events, and providing assistance to Session, Deacons, and the Head of Staff. Jan and Jim Peters have two grown children, Libby and Jim, and two wonderful grandsons living in Ohio.
Heidi Wilkinson, Director, Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center, has been employed with the First Presbyterian Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center since 2001. Heidi is a graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a degree in Early Childhood. She is married with two children. She attributes the success of Hand-in-Hand to the qualified teachers, the learning-through-play curriculum and the wonderful families who attend. She is passionate about the development of the whole child and the hope that each child will develop a love of learning taught within the framework of a nurturing Christian environment.
Nancy Quigley, Educational Ministries Assistant, joined First Presbyterian Church in 2004 after moving to Birmingham from New Jersey. She has been our Educational Ministries Assistant since 2005. In this role, Nancy supports our children’s and youth ministries both administratively and during worship/special activities. She also assists with the All Abilities Inclusion Ministry (AAIM) and Alcott Elementary School Ministry programs. Prior to the move to Michigan, Nancy was an employee benefits consultant in Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey. Nancy and her husband, Peter, enjoy spending as much time as possible with their four adult children.
Larry Malover, Building Supervisor, is in charge of the day to day physical plant operations. This includes everything from cleaning, set-up, take down, to working with outside contractors. My wife’s name is Barb. We live close by in Royal Oak. We have lived in a home we love for 42 years, built in 1929. Keeping it up is a labor of love! We have three children, Mike, Tom, and Ally. I welcome the new challenges and appreciate working with such a friendly and enthusiastic crew!"
Cindy Merten, MA, Director of Christian Education and All Abilities Inclusion Ministry, came to First Presbyterian Church Birmingham in 1999 after serving in a similar capacity at another congregation for 11 years. CIndy is celebrated 20 years at FPC on August 1, 2019. Rooted in her conviction that we are better together and that faith formation must address the learning styles and needs of all people, she brought the Workshop Rotation Model of Sunday school to us in the form of CrossWalks. She is an Associate Certified Christian Educator and leads workshops, organizes conferences, teaches others about the “rotation” model and inclusion. Cindy is committed to working with staff and volunteers to provide programs for children through adults that reflect her conviction that worship, education and mission must be interwoven into the fabric of our faith and include all people. She holds a Masters of Education in Special Education with the Inclusion Specialty Certificate at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Cindy and her husband Forrest have three grown children and four grandchildren. Ask her and she will show you pictures.
Rev. Dr. Kathryn (Kate) Thoresen, DMin., Parish Associate, oversees the Foster/Adoptive Families Partnerships missions at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham.
On a community, state-wide level, Kate coordinates the Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care. This rapidly expanding ecumenical movement is a catalyst for congregations of all faiths to connect with the 13,000 Michigan children in foster care. They meet to hear inspiring stories, network together and find concrete ways to partner with service agencies on behalf of foster children. Together they all are making positive differences in the lives of foster children, families and aging out youth. The FCC meets in various locations in Michigan and has hosted representatives from over 100 congregations and 30 service agencies. For additional information and to sign up for emails, see www.faithcommunitiescoalition.org. There are many ways to help our foster children through in kind donations of needed items as well as personal involvement.
Kate is married to Tom Thoresen, a deacon at Everybody’s Church. They have served as respite foster parents, have three adult children and two grandkids.
Rev. Julie Madden, MDiv., Parish Associate, assists with pastoral care, visitation and worship. Julie received her Masters of Divinity from Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit. She is married to Ben Beale and they have two sons, Dan and Sam.
Rev. Ted Thode, MDiv., Parish Associate, assists with leading worship and the youth. He and his wife, Erica, have two young daughters. Ted became a Parish Associate at FPC in January 2016. Ted graduated from Princeton tehological seminiary in 2011. Ted runs a small e-commerce business when he's not volunteering at FPC.
Dawn Swarthout, Director of Communications, has been a member of First Presbyterian for 28 years and has been on staff since 2011. Dawn has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan. Dawn and her husband, Ken, have two grown sons, the youngest of whom is at Kalamazoo College. Dawn sings in the Chancel Choir and is a member of two book clubs.
Martha Smith, Financial Administrator, has been a member of FPC Birmingham since she and her husband, Wendell, moved to the area in 1995. She has a BA and MAcc from DePaul University, where she was also on the Part-Time Accounting Faculty. She worked as an auditor for Deloitte and as a commercial credit officer for legacy JPM banks in Chicago, Houston and Detroit for 18 years. After taking some time away from her career to raise her two children, she joined the FPC staff in 2015. She plays in the Bell Choir.
Sarah Merten, COVID Safety Coordinator, grew up at First Presbyterian Church in Royal Oak. She has a Master's degree in Public Health and is in Medical School.
Amy Zimmer - Membership Coordinator, grew up as part of the First Presbyterian Church family and has many fond memories of mission trips, choir, Skyline and youth activities through the years. You will see Amy’s parents, and other family members around church, as they are long-time members. Amy has a BA in Filmmaking from Southern Methodist University, and spent time at Vanderbilt University Divinity School’s Theological Studies Master’s program with a focus on Race & Gender Issues. Amy's work as Membership Coordinator includes meeting, greeting, and connecting with visitors and members to help people know more about and become more connected with Everybody's Church.