Staff

Pastoral Staff

Profile image of Rev. Walter B. "Lucky"  Arnold III

Rev. Walter B. "Lucky" Arnold III

Senior Pastor

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Lucky was born in Coral Gables, Florida. He had a life-changing conversion experience while attending Florida State University.  At FSU, he received a B.A. in Religion, and then received a Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He was ordained to the Gospel ministry in 1978 in Grafton Presbytery, a United Presbyterian Church USA member. He served for three years with the Coalition for Christian Outreach at Salem College, Salem, WV. In 1980, First Presbyterian Church called Lucky to serve as their Associate Pastor. Later, he was elected to serve as interim senior pastor, replacing Dr. Jim Stout, and shortly thereafter was chosen to be the permanent senior pastor. During his 35 years in ministry, Lucky has served as a commissioner to the Synod and the General Assembly, served on the Southeast Regional Board of Presbyterians for Renewal, chaired the Tropical Florida Executive Presbytery Search Committee, served several terms on the Committee on Ministry, served as Moderator of the Tropical Florida Presbytery and Moderator of the ECO Florida Presbytery.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  Lucky lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with his wife and ministry partner, Penny. The Arnolds have two married sons, Garrett (Suzanne) and Colin (Amanda), and one grandson.

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Rev. Ron Hilliard

Executive Pastor

Office: 561-622-8818 Ext 102
E-Mail:
Facebook: ron.hilliard.18

Ron was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and received a B.S. in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University in 1983. He has two degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia—a Master of Divinity degree in 1987 and a Doctor of Ministry degree, with an emphasis in Christian Spirituality in 2003.

Ron has been on staff at First Presbyterian Church since 1978 and served as the Youth Director until 1984. After seminary, he returned in 1987 to serve as an Associate Pastor. His current areas of responsibility include Adult Education and Missions.

Ron is married to Catherine and together they have three grown children – John, Chris (married to Jackie), and Rebecca.

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Rev. Chris Southard

Assistant Pastor

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Chris Southard, better known as “Suds,” graduated from Guilford College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He served as Youth Director at First Pres from 2004 to 2012. Suds transitioned to Director of College and Family Ministries in 2012. His areas of interest in ministry include adolescent spiritual formation, specifically through dialogue with 12th century monasticism and the area of adolescent psychological well-being. In 2017, Suds transitioned into working with men’s ministry and evangelism. He currently serves as an Assistant Pastor and Director of Evangelism, Men’s Ministry & Families of Adolescents Ministries In addition to his above responsibilities, he was ordained within ECO in 2014 and is now serving as an Assistant Pastor. He has been married to Brenda since 1995, and they are the parents of three sons, Joshua, Caleb, and Keegan, and a daughter, Jaden.

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Rev. Timothy Gooley

Pastoral Associate

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Tim completed his undergraduate studies at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana, and received a B.S. in Public Administration.  He served for 6 years in managerial and director level positions with Young Life in Colorado and West Virginia. It was during those years that Tim heeded God’s call in his life and began attending Fuller Theological Seminary, working towards his Master’s in Divinity.  Tim served as Youth Director at First Presbyterian Church from 1990 until 1998 when he resigned his position to pursue an opportunity in sales, but in 2002, his heart led him back to First Pres where he now serves as Pastoral Associate. Tim and his wife, Joni, have four grown sons: Gabe, Jesse (Lila), Graham, and Taylor (Leah) and in 2009 they adopted three young siblings from Ethiopia: Behailu, Mita and Endale.

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Rev. Steve Gibbons

Minister of Visitation

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Steve graduated from Florida State University in 1975 after serving four years in the Marines. From 1975-1978 Steve served as Youth Director here at First Pres in North Palm Beach and then attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for three years.

Steve returned to Tallahassee to become Area Director for Young Life where he served for twelve years. Steve was a youth minister at Killearn Methodist Church for twelve year and was a teacher and consultant for Youth Ministry Resources, Inc. in the North Florida area. Then he worked for five years in a ministry that repaired homes for low income families in Tallahassee.

Steve and his wife, Margie, have two grown children, Robbie (married to Brook) and Amanda (married to Colin) and five grandchildren. Steve and Margie moved to North Palm Beach where Steve began serving as Pastor of Visitation since September, 2011.

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Rev. Elizabeth Nielsen

Assistant Pastor

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Facebook: elizabeth.nielsen.351

Elizabeth Nielsen has been worshipping at First Presbyterian Church in NPB since moving to the area in 1997 with her husband, Steve, and two sons, Eric and Tim. 

Elizabeth studied English Literature, earning a BA from Williams College in 1983 and a MA from Rutgers in 1986.  She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale in 2013. Prior to joining the staff at First Pres, Elizabeth spent time teaching high school, teaching and writing Bible studies, volunteering with Youth for Christ’s Parent Life program, and mentoring young single mothers.  

Elizabeth was ordained in 2014 and serves First Pres as an assistant pastor. She assists regularly in worship, preaches occasionally and leads the monthly evening prayer services.  Elizabeth serves on the board of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, wrote and facilitates a new curriculum for First Pres' Communicants’ Class and is currently co-teaching the Theology course of the Commissioned Lay Pastor education track.  

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Rev. Eddie Nabhan

Assistant Pastor

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Facebook: enabhan

Eddie grew up in West Palm Beach and graduated from Stetson University with a Business Management degree. He then attended Princeton Theological Seminary graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 2004. He has been operating a small business since 2004. In 2013, Eddie was ordained and brought on staff as a volunteer assistant pastor. Eddie serves on Sunday morning by teaching Sunday school, occasionally preaching at The Way and assisting during church services. He and his wife, Becca, lead and host a small group of young couples and singles in their home. Eddie and Becca have three daughters, Ellie, Selah, and Eden.

Administrative & Support Staff

Profile image of Gayle Coughanour

Gayle Coughanour

Administrator

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Gayle joined the staff in October, 2002, shortly after moving to Florida from Wisconsin. She was the bookkeeper at a large church in Milwaukee that utilized the same financial system that First Pres uses (Shelby Systems). She has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, majoring in finance at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. She was a credit manager in commercial financing for many years until she had her third child. At that time, she decided to devote her time to her children and later home-schooled them for many years. Once they started high school, she re-entered the workforce.  Gayle has two daughters, Kayla and Brenna, a son, Aaron, and six grandchildren who, along with her relationship with Jesus Christ, are the joys of her life. Gayle sings in both adult choirs and volunteers as the church librarian.

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Cindy Medlin

Coordinator of Congregational Care

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Cindy joined the staff of First Pres in August, 2000 working as an assistant in the preschool and Children's Ministry departments. She became the receptionist/secretary in 2005, and the Pastor's assistant on August 1, 2006. Cindy feels blessed in both her work and personal life.  Cindy now has the double duty of caring for our congregation as Coordinator of Congregational Care and caring for our pastors as the Pastoral Administrative Assistant.  

She is the mother of two wonderful daughters and is married to Jim, who has three children of his own. In her spare time, Cindy enjoys billiards, cooking, and reading.

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Laura Putman

Financial & Data Administrative Assistant

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Laura joined the staff in 2010. She brings ten years of work experience in management, ten years experience running a small business and ten years work in an investment firm. Laura is here at First Pres under God's leading.

Laura has a husband, Ken, a grown son, Charlie and two grandchildren. Music is Laura's passion and she sings and plays in the rock band at her church. She also organized a flute choir called The Tropical Flutes, which has played for our services at First Pres.

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Cindy Coleman

Food Service Manager

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Cindy has lived in the area since 1962. She joined the church in 1992 and has been leading our kitchen staff since 2003. Cindy's daughter, Heather, lives in Rye, New York, along with her husband and two children. Besides cooking, Cindy enjoys gardening, decorating, and music appreciation.

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Eddie Cajade

Communications Assistant

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Eddie began attending First Pres in 2007 and was a part of the Sanctuary Choir until he joined our Audio/Visual team in 2010. Eddie was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay and lived there until 1983 when he moved to America. Eddie is a very popular singer and his highest musical honor was to represent the US in the 1986 International Music Festival in Chile where he won the top prize. Eddie continues to perform at local Uruguayan and Argentinian restaurants and festivals. In his spare time, Eddie enjoys spending time with his wife, Beatriz, and their family, as well as composing, playing and recording music in his home studio. Eddie began serving as the Communications Assistant in July of 2016 and has become a valuable part of the administrative team here at First Pres.

Adult (60+) Ministry

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JoAnn Hayes

Coordinator of Adult (60+) Ministries

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JoAnn grew up in Michigan and was baptized, confirmed and married by the same minister at First Presbyterian Church in Saginaw. She met her husband, Woody, the summer before she started college at Central Michigan University, and they were married before JoAnn’s senior year. After she graduated with an English/Math degree in secondary education, JoAnn began teaching, which she had always wanted to do. Woody began veterinary school in Lansing, and after graduation, they moved to Florida to open a veterinary practice. They have been blessed with two amazing daughters, their God-given spouses and a wonderful granddaughter named Anna. JoAnn retired three years ago from her role as the Administrator at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church. She and Woody found First Pres and have been members for two years. When Woody was recovering from surgery, JoAnn began looking for more ways to serve God. She started volunteering in the First Pres Church office, and was soon offered the position of Coordinator of Adult (60+) Ministry.

 

Student Ministry

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Kimberly Sanders

Director of Student Ministries

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Kimberly grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Flagler College where she studied Spanish, education, religion and youth ministry. She and her husband Wayne married in 1982 and have three adult children: Colin, Chase and Ashley. Kimberly has been a member of our church since 1988 when she was on the Youth Staff here at First Pres. In August 2013, Kimberly joined our Children’s Ministry Team as part-time assistant before moving to the role of Youth Associate to work with the middle school ministry. In June 2015, Kimberly was promoted into her current role as Director of Student Ministries, and works with enthusiasm and dedication as she serves the youth of First Pres.

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Josh Grotke

Student Ministry Associate

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Josh is from Sebastian, Florida, and moved to West Palm Beach in the fall of 2013 to pursue a degree in ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Josh started working in our Youth Department in January of 2015 as an intern and is now on staff as a Youth Associate. He and his wife, Emma, who is also involved in our youth program, were married in June of 2016. Josh is currently working on his Masters of Divinity at Palm Beach Atlantic.

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Piper Crisafi

Student Ministry Associate

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Piper Crisafi has been part of our First Pres family her whole life. She and her husband Nick have served as deacons, taught, led and created many wonderful artistic and musical events for our church. They have four very talented children, Briley, Cade, Jacen, and Evrynn. As an assistant in our Student Ministry Department, Piper helps lead our middle and high school programs and coordinate special events.

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Noah Haislah

Student Ministry Associate

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Noah Haislah was born & raised in Kent, Ohio and moved to South Florida to play lacrosse & attend college. He recently graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with his Bachelor’s degree in Ministry and is enjoying newly married life with his wife, Hannah.
 
Noah has a passion for small group teaching, discipleship training, & preaching. He currently serves as the College & Young Adult Student Ministry Associate.

Children's Ministry

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Cary Koepke

Director of Children's Ministry

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:
Facebook: carykoepke
Twitter: @CaryKoepke

Cary came to South Florida in 1993 from the Daytona Beach area. Her first glimpse of First Presbyterian Church was at Vacation Bible School when the helicopter landed in the back field. Her son, Kevin, was then only four years old. First Pres quickly became her church family and in 1998 she began teaching in the church's Preschool program. After teaching for ten years, Cary began serving as an assistant to the Director of Children's Ministry and in 2008 took over as Director. Cary is married to "Mr. Rick" and her son now attends Florida Atlantic University studying Commercial Music.

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Diana Wise

Director of Preschool and Childcare

Office: 561-622-8818 Ext 120
E-Mail:

Diana graduated from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada with a Bachelor of Physical Education with minors in Health Education, Biology, and Elementary Education, and a Nova Scotia Teaching Certificate.

She began working for First Pres in 1995 as Childcare Coordinator. In 1997, she was called to start the First Pres Preschool and has been the Preschool Director ever since. Diana has her Florida Childhood Development Associate (CDA) and her National CDA.

She is married to Blaine Wise and they have four grown children and three grandchildren. Diana enjoys the family's large get-togethers and reading, but most of all, spending time with her children and grandchildren.

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Kath Doerr

Children's Ministry Assistant

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Kath Doerr has been a member of the Children's Ministry Team since 2009. She is originally from Pennsylvania, where she taught Special Education for 28 years. She has been married to her husband Ron since 1977. They currently reside in Jupiter. Kath is also a member of the choir and bell choir.

Congregational Care Ministry

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Sara McDonnell

Membership Coordinator

Office: 561-622-8818
E-Mail:

Sara has been a member of First Pres since 1986 and has served the church through the years as a Stephen Ministry leader, a deacon, an elder and an adult Sunday school leader.

Sara retired in 2006 after teaching in the public schools in West Virginia and Florida for 26 years. Sara's educational training includes a Bachelor's in History and Master's degrees in Sociology and Education.

Sara looks back to see God's training and equipping for her present position welcoming new members and visitors through the Bible teaching at First Pres, Stephen Ministry training and in Bible Study Fellowship. Sara enjoys traveling, gardening, photography and her extended family in West Virginia.

Sara has three grown daughters, Reagan, Ellen and Claire, and two grandsons.

 

Music Ministry

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Jay Arnn

Director of Music Ministries

Office: 561-622-8818 Ext. 131
E-Mail:

Jay was born and raised in Danville, Virginia. Prior to coming to West Palm Beach, he was the Director of Music Ministries at Watkins United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, for five years. His musical resume includes numerous engagements with the Choral Arts Society of Saint Francis in the Fields, the University of Louisville Collegiate Chorale, the Louisville Chamber Choir, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Kentucky Opera.

Jay holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Western Kentucky University and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Louisville, where he was a graduate assistant for Dr. Kent Hatteberg in the choral department. During this time, he appeared in numerous tenor roles including Rodolfo in La Boheme and Alfredo in La Traviata for university and community opera theaters. He is a past member of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, and the American Choral Directors Association.

While continuing to work as a musician, Jay has also maintained a presence in the business community. Presently Jay is the Assistant General Manager for MV Transportation in West Palm Beach.

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David Block

Organist

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David was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr. Block performed extensively in his native country in solo recitals, chamber music concerts as well as with leading orchestras.

He was awarded top prizes at national piano competitions in Argentina, such as the "City of Parana National Piano Competition" (First Prize, 1988), Finalist at the "Radio Clésica/MasterCard Piano Competition, "Franz Liszt Memorial National Piano Competition" (Second Prize, 1986), and Musical Promotions Piano Competition" (First Prize, 1985) among others.

In Buenos Aires, he studied with Ms. Lia Cimaglia-Espinosa and received advice from renowned artists such as Nikita Magaloff, Alexis Golovinne, Abbey Simon, Gerard Oppitz and Buno Gelber among others. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree with specialization in Piano Performance from the National Conservatory of Music of Buenos Aires in 1987 under the direction of Haydee Loustaunau. Shortly after his graduation, the Polish government awarded Mr. Block a full scholarship to continue advanced piano studies in Poland, where he moved to in 1988. After completing further piano studies under Swigniev Sliwinsky at the Gdansk Academy of Music, he traveled to the US to continue studies with Ms. Rosalyn Tureck at the Tureck-Bach institute in New York City. Mr. Block continued to perform throughout New England as a soloist and in chamber music concerts.

In 1990 he was engaged to play for the Hartford Ballet Company's production of "Ballades", a ballet by Kirk Peterson set to the music of Chopin's Ballades for piano, as well as soloist for their performance of "Allegro Brillante", a ballet set to Tchaikovsky Third Piano Concerto choreographed by George Balanchine, at the Bushnell Theater and Performing Arts Center in Hartford, CT. In 2006, Mr. Block completed his Masters of Arts Degree in Music with specialization in Piano Performance at Florida Atlantic University under the direction of lrena Kofman.

Locally, Mr. Block has given piano recitals in venues such as the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, the Baldwin House at FAU and the Dorothy Schmidt University Theater, as well as numerous local churches as part of their concert cycles. He is a founding member of the Vivace Chamber Music Society, performing many chamber music recitals through the area.

He was Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Boynton Beach while also conducting and rehearsing the Chancel Choir as well as the 5 octave Chimers Bell Choir. In addition to his tenure at First United Methodist Church in Boynton Beach, Mr. Block was also the accompanist for Temple Israel in West Palm Beach. He performed weekly at their Friday Night Shabbat services, as well as Bar Mitzvahs and High Holiday services, and offered piano and keyboard accompaniment for the Temple special concerts and choir rehearsals throughout the year.

Mr. Block also has an interest in recording and composing/arranging music in his home recording studio. He is well versed in music recording and editing software such as Logic, Sound Forge and the Sibelius notation software, and is able to produce professional recordings for vocalists, soloists and ensembles with his portable set-up. Mr. Block also teaches piano in his studios in Boynton Beach and Lake Clarke Shores.  As of May 2014, he joined the staff here at First Pres as our full-time organist.  

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Victoria Chaplain

Worship Leader

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Victoria began visiting First Pres in 2011 and soon after became a part of our intern program. She served with our Youth Department for 3 years. Victoria is from Ft. Meyers and returned there in 2015 when she graduated from PBA with a Bachelor’s in Ministry. There she served as the Worship Leader at Fairway Church in Naples. When she is not singing, Victoria enjoys Netflix and napping. Victoria began serving as our Worship Leader at our contemporary service, The Way, in April of 2016. She married her husband, Brandon Chaplain, in April 2018.