Profile image of Nick Cheek

Nick Cheek


Office: (803) 773-3814, ext. 102

I am the lucky husband of Rev. Ashley Cheek. Together we have three children, Lydia, Nicholas and Ada. As a family, we enjoy riding bikes, recreating at the neighborhood parks and going on adventures all over the east coast together. It’s not uncommon to see us dancing in our house or in the car to our favorite songs. I grew up in New Hampshire as an altar boy in the Greek Church. Traveling to Queens University of Charlotte for my undergraduate degree, I spent many Sundays visiting different churches. I’m continually intrigued by the many creative ways people worship. I have a particular passion for creative and engaging worship. During my time in Charlotte I worked to create and grow new and alternative worship experiences. After serving on the staff at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte for eight years, I received a call to Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Maryland. There, Ashley and I worked together to transform their family ministry. We have a heart for growing faithful families and we have a heart for loving people.

I believe the mission of the church can be boiled down to one of Jesus’ final commands. Around a table as the disciples and Jesus are breaking bread together, Jesus invites them and us to “Love one another.”

I tell you what, if we can just do that and do it with arms wide open, then the church will continue to grow and be a source of light and hope to a world that needs it.

If you’re looking for a church home I invite you to stop on by First Presbyterian Church. Here you will find folks who love God and love others. See you soon!

Nick completed his undergraduate degree at Queens University of Charlotte and his Master of Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary, Charlotte. Nick enjoys spending time with his family, baking, writing music, playing the piano and guitar and going for random runs around town.

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Ashley Cheek

Family Pastor

Office: 803-773-3814

My greatest privilege is to be married to Rev. Nick Cheek and to be the mother of our three wildly independent, out spoken, creative children- Lydia Grace, Nicholas and Ada Lee. They are my first call, and they are the reason I feel so blessed to serve as Pastor for Family Life here at First Presbyterian Church Sumter. It is my belief that family ministry is essential for a healthy church. It is what the church is called to be- brothers and sisters in Christ. It is in the church that we discover God’s call and claim on our lives – marked as God’s own. It is the church that empowers its family to radically love the world, serve the community and proclaim the gospel in real and tangible ways. First Presbyterian Church Sumter seeks to be a place where we journey together, explore our faith together and live into the covenantal promises together. I am thankful to be a small part of what God is doing here at First Pres!

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Neil Ross

Business Administrator

Office: (803) 773-3814 ext. 105

Neil came on board as Business Administrator in June, 2012. He was born and raised in Sumter, is married to Joyce, and together they have been blessed with two children (and two grandchildren!). They are members of Alice Drive Baptist Church where Neil currently serves as   a deacon and life group leader.

Neil earned his B.S. in Accounting from the University of South Carolina and holds memberships in both national and state CPA associations. His professional background as a certified public accountant includes 35+ years in public accounting practice, from which he retired in 2010. As Business Administrator, Neil is responsible for the day-to-day business and financial affairs of First Presbyterian, as well as oversight of the church's buildings and campus.

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Joni Brown

Director of Music Ministry

Office: (803) 773-3814 ext. 103

Joni Mabry Brown is originally from Lee County, Virginia. She received her Bachelor's of Music Education degree from Western Carolina University and her Master's of Music Education degree from the University of South Carolina. She taught at T.C. Roberson High School in Skyland, North Carolina and at Gibbes Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina before taking a position at Bates Middle School in Sumter, South Carolina. Joni directed the Bates Middle School Band from 1981 until her retirement in 2010. She accepted her current position at First Presbyterian Church in 2012, having sung in the Chancel Choir for many years.  Joni is an active adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor of instrumental ensembles throughout the Southeast. She also serves as one of the music directors at Sumter Little Theatre.  She is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and Handbell Musicians of America.

Joni is married to David R. Brown, a retired CPA and Chancel Choir member. They live in Sumter with their SPCA rescue dogs: Toby, Joe, and Sasha.

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Shirley Wood

Administrative Assistant

Office: (803) 773-3814 ext. 109

As Administrative Assistant, Shirley updates and maintains the church’s database systems, in addition to producing the weekly newsletter and bulletin. A part of the  FPC staff since May 1989, Shirley provides all administrative support to pastors, staff, committee chairs, groups and events. She is the FPC mainstay in membership knowledge.

Married to Jimmy, a professional photographer for 30+ years, they live in Sumter with their dog, Charlie. They enjoy sailing, and visiting their three children and nine grandchildren (two sets of twins!) as often as possible.

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Marian Carnes

Preschool/Kindergarten Director

Office: 803-773-9027

Marian Carnes is a Sumter native and lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church. Upon graduating from The University Of South Carolina with a BA in Early Childhood Education, she taught Kindergarten at Crosswell Drive School for fourteen years. Marian has been the Director of our Preschool and Kindergarten since the summer of 2000.

Marian is married to Mike Carnes and is the proud mother of two wonderful sons, Matthew and Mark. Marian is honored and blessed to serve our wonderful teachers and families.

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Harold Gadson


Office: 803-773-3814

Harold began working at First Presbyterian in 2011 after a career at Camden's Wateree Factory.  He's the proud grandfather of a three-year old grandson, Brendale!

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Betsy Windham


Office: 803-773-3814

Betsy has been with the First Presbyterian Custodial Staff since May 2010.  her previous career was with the Office Staff of Plowden Construction Company.

Betsy is married to Roland, and together they have five children and eight grandchildren.  A member of Concord Baptist Church, Betsy enjoys singing, when she can, with the choir, and loves her pastor and church dearly.

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Markita Gadson

Nursery Care Worker

Office: 803-773-3814

Markita is our newest Staff member, joining the Staff as our Nursery Care Worker. Markita attended Central Carolina Technical College to earn her certificate in early childhood education.  Her experience working at Glasscho Childcare and Care Alot Day Care Center, not to mention rearing her three-year old son, Brendale, uniquely qualifies her to care for our littlest ones in the First Presbyterian nursery!


Preschool Staff - Pajama Day! (Not pictured: Cindy Brown, Teacher Assistant)

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