REV. TASHA BLACKBURN
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.
REV. PHILLIP BLACKBURN
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. During her free time, Keley enjoys reading and writing poetry.
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 has enjoyed adding organist to her resume since coming to First Pres. She is the proud mom of three talented kids- Victoria, Cameron, and Evan, and Gigi to Allison. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys shopping, watching crime TV, and going to the movies.
Sarah Mings knows First Presbyterian strives to be the heart, soul, mind and strength of the community and she joyfully joins in on that mission. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in Public Relations, but has always called Fort Smith home. Her and her husband, Michael, have three beautiful children together, Miriam, Judah and Phoebe. Sarah loves God and she loves people, and she is thankful for the opportunity to get to love and interact with His creation here at First Presbyterian.
FINANCE AND FACILITIES DIRECTOR
Cindy Sherrod 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.
Jean Perdue was born in Fort Smith and has lived here all her life. She attended Westark College, taking various business classes. Jean worked doing Medical Billing for 45 years prior to coming to First Presbyterian. She has two grown children, Amber & Blake and two Grandchildren, Cody Ryan and Charley Mae. Jean enjoys reading and sewing in her time away from work and watching Hallmark movies with her cats curled up on her lap.
DIRECTOR OF HOBSON PRESCHOOL
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.
Maria Martinez just completed her Masters in Social Work in May from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has experience in both individual and group counseling, working with children, and music therapy. Maria is also fluent in both English and Spanish. She has called Fort Smith home for most of her life and has two school-aged children.
The Wellness Facilitator will be focusing on emotional and mental wellness. The work will mostly be outside our church walls: working with children and parents at our preschool Hobson, working alongside helping agencies in our community, helping to fill the tremendous gaps we are seeing in mental health care in our community.
LAOTIAN LAY PASTOR
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.