Tasha grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, where she was raised in the Presbyterian Church. She earned her undergraduate degree at Illinois College and a Master of Divinity at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She also received a Masters of Theology degree from the University of Edinburgh’s New College in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has served in ordained ministry since 2002, working as an associate pastor in Springfield, Illinois, until 2012 before becoming co-pastor here at FPC, Fort Smith. Tasha and her husband and fellow co-pastor Phil have two children, Calum and Alena. Tasha loves reading mysteries and watching bad tv.
The Reverend Phillip Blackburn was born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1997 and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2001. Following his graduation, he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland and received a Master of Theology from the University of Edinburgh. He has served in ministry in Indianapolis, IN, Lincoln, IL and now Fort Smith, AR. He has been married to his wife, Tasha, since 2001 and they have two children, Calum and Alena. He enjoys sports, reading, chess and tennis.
Keley Simpson is a native of Fort Smith, AR. She attended Arkansas Tech University and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. Keley’s work experience includes program director for sexual assault and domestic violence services at the Donald W. Reynolds Crisis Intervention Center (formerly known as the Crisis Center for Battered Women and Crisis Center for Women) and Investigator for Crime Victims Reparation at the Office of the Attorney General Keley is a member of the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee with the city of Fort Smith. She is also a board member for 3 local non profits. She became a Master Gardener in May 2015.
Barry was born in Fort Smith but grew up in Ozark, AR. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas and a Masters in Opera (minus a thesis) from Oklahoma City University. Before coming to 1st Pres. he served in churches in Maumelle, Batesville and two other churches in Fort Smith. He has been married to Gini since 1997 and they have three children, Victoria, Cameron and Evan. They also have a granddaughter, Allison. He enjoys visiting historical places, reading historical books and anything else about American history.
Gini Law was born and raised right here in Ft. Smith. She has been playing in church since the tender young age of 13 and has had a steady playing gig ever since. She has served as a church musician in Ft. Smith, Conway, Maumelle, and Batesville, AR and is very excited to expand her ministry career as the organist here at First Presbyterian Church. She has been married to Barry since 1997 and they have three talented kids- Victoria, Cameron, and Evan, and an equally talented and adorable granddaughter Allison. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, shopping and going to the movies.
Cindy Riddle joined the staff at First Presbyterian Church in March of 2012. Cindy was born in Mena, but was raised and has lived most of her life here in Fort Smith. She is now happily raising her two daughters here as well. In 2008, Cindy graduated from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.
Rebekah Martin loves being a part of the First Presbyterian Staff. After receiving a BA in Theater Arts from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, Rebekah lived and worked in New York for multiple theater companies. Majority of her family was from Fort Smith which eventually led her back here. She is married to her best friend, Stephen, and a proud Mommy of two amazing little boys, Sebastian and Weston. Rebekah currently also teaches an after school Drama Program to multiple schools throughout the area with the Academy of the Arts and is the Residential Lighting Designer and Costumer. She looks forward to using all these talents here as well at First Presbyterian!
Tamara Ochoa was born and raised in sunny Southern California. She attended college close to home, and played for her schools soccer and tennis teams . College sweetheart Michael had family in Fort Smith, which is what led Tamara to AR just a few short years after college. They are married, have a wonderful son named Grant, and a toy poodle named Wesley. When Tamara isn’t doing administrative work at First Presbyterian Church, you can find her at home baking delicious homemade treats for her family, while chasing her toy poodle, and answering the question “why” for the billionth time!
Terry comes to serve at FPC—Ft. Smith after retiring from full-time active ministry serving in churches in the Dallas, TX area. His role will be participating in pastoral visitation with members and occasional preaching and teaching assignments, as needed. Terry’s career in ministry comes as the last act of a three act play which included significant work in hospital management and in engineering.
Terry and his wife Kay returned to Ft. Smith after retirement to be near family and to reconnect with friends, many of whom are members of FPC. The McLellan’s were members and Elders here between 1982 and 1992. They are enjoying seeing so many familiar faces.
When not serving the church or taking care of elderly relatives, Terry enjoys golf, travel, and doing artwork such as pencil, pen and ink, and pastel drawings. Kay and Terry have one son, Chris, who grew up in FPC’s youth group. He and his family live close by in Fayetteville.
Kesha McCain is from Fort Smith. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and received a Masters in Biblical Studies in May 2015. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Biblical Studies. She has been married to her husband Timothy for 4 years. She has 2 children, Sierra and Keshaun. She is the praise team leader at her church and serves in other various ministries.
In 1978, K.C and his wife converted to Christianity (Church of Christ) while they lived in a refugee camp in Thailand. K.C. came to the United States in 1979 from Laos. “My family and I had to leave our country because we could not live under the communist regime.” When K.C. and his wife arrived in Fort Smith, they joined Westark Church of Christ. In 1982, K.C. established the Laotian Fellowship at Westark Church of Christ and led one of the two Laotian congregations in Fort Smith. In 1992, K.C. learned of the Presbyterian Ministry from a relative. As a result, K.C. and some of his loyal followers joined First Presbyterian Church of Fort Smith. The Laotian fellowship has grown from 7 families in 1992 to 27 families in 1999.
Lay Academy Training, Little Rock, AR
Southeast Asian Lay Academy, Austin, TX
Serves in General Assembly, Synod and State Level
Serves in various local community organizations