Click a tab below to view our various leadership staff.



  • Rev. Bob Brearley
    Interim Pastor

    Rev. Bob Brearley retired from active ministry in 2018 after serving twenty years as the pastor of St. Simons Presbyterian Church on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  He grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, graduated from Presbyterian College, and received a Masters of Arts in English from the University of South Carolina. After graduating from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond in 1979, Bob was called as pastor of Concord Presbyterian Church in Sumter.


    He is married to Mary Ann, a retired elementary music teacher. They have three grown children:  James, David and Kate, and five grandchildren.


    Bob enjoys playing golf, going to Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, and being with friends, and fishing. 

  • Jessica Bettinger
    Childrens Choir Coordinator

    Jessica is a Sumter native. She received her BME in K-12 Music from Winthrop University and her Master’s of Education in Teacher Leadership from the American College of Education. She currently teaches general music and choir at Willow Drive Elementary in Sumter and directs the children’s music at First Presbyterian Church. She plays trombone in various ensembles as well as sings in the church choir at First Presbyterian Sumter. She is an active member of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, National Association for Music Education, and Palmetto State Teachers Association. She is married to Joseph Bettinger, a middle school band director. They have three children: Gwendolen, Sebastian, and Vivian.

  • Joni Brown
    Director of Music Ministries

    Joni Mabry Brown is originally from Lee County, Virginia. She received her B. S. in Music Education from Western Carolina University and her Master’s of Music Education degree from the University of South Carolina. She taught band and choir in Skyland, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina before taking a position as band director at Bates Middle School in Sumter.  After her retirement, she accepted her current position at First Presbyterian Church in 2012. She directs the Chancel Choir, Joy Ringers, and instrumental ensembles.  She is an active member of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, American Choral Directors Association and Handbell Musicians of America. She is lives in Sumter with her SPCA rescue dog, Emmie. 

  • Marian Carnes
    Director of Preschool & Kindergarten

    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 Elementary 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.

  • Barry Gholson

    First Presbyterian’s Head Custodian, Barry Gholson, has been with us since 2019. Barry was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Sumter.

    He is married and has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. His wife, Twayna, works at the VA Hospital in Columbia. His son, Brandon, drives for Amazon in Charlotte, NC, and his daughter, Schienita, is the mother of twins, and a Counselor in Rock Hill.

    Barry formerly worked at Bi-Lo and was encouraged by our own Neil Ross to interview for a job opening here and we are blessed to have him working with us. Barry says this job was an answer to his prayers. He loves First Presbyterian Church and all the people he comes in contact with here…”I enjoy my work and think First Pres is a great place to worship!"

  • Neil Ross
    Business Manager

    Neil joined the First Presbyterian team as business administrator in June 2012.  A native Sumterite, he is married to Joyce; they have two children (out of the nest) and two grandchildren. A graduate of USC Columbia with a B.S. in accounting, Neil is a certified public accountant holding memberships in state and national professional associations.  His professional background includes 35+ years in public accounting practice, from which he retired in 2010.  Neil has a two-fold responsibility with the church, managing its day-to-day business and financial affairs and, as property manager, keeping oversight of church buildings and campus physical needs.  In that regard, he supervises the church’s custodial staff.  In his role as business administrator, Neil understands how critical it is to maintain integrity, fiscal responsibility, and accountability to the church in all financial and business affairs.  Neil enjoys spending time with family and friends, and especially long weekends in the NC mountains where hiking trails are in abundance.

  • Shirley Wood
    Office Administrator

    Shirley is originally from upstate New York and feels blessed to be a part of the staff of FPC since May 1989. As Office Administrator, she maintains the church calendar and membership database, in addition to producing the weekly newsletter and bulletin. She also provides support to the pastors, staff, and committee chairs. She is married to Jimmy Wood. They enjoy visiting their three children and eleven grandchildren as often as possible and camping whenever they get the chance.

  • Debbie Jackson
    Director of Faith Formation and Fellowship

    Debbie Jackson is our current Director of Faith Formation and Fellowship. Debbie grew up in Sumter and has been a member of First Pres since 1985. She worked at Bates Middle School for 37 years before retiring. Debbie likes to work in the yard and walk around her neighborhood enjoying beautiful yards and talking with neighbors. She and her husband, Joe, love the beach and Charleston. Debbie has 2 “bonus” daughters and 5 grandchildren. She loves her job at First Pres, thinks the staff is fun, and she enjoys learning something new every day!



“The pastor of a congregation shall be the moderator of the session of that congregation … The moderator possesses the authority necessary for preserving order and for conducting efficiently the business of the body.  he shall convene and adjourn the body in accordance with its own action…” (Book of Order, G-3.0104) 


“The session is the council for the congregation.  It shall be composed of those persons elected by the congregation to active service as ruling elders, together with all installed pastors and associate pastors … The session shall have responsibility for governing the congregation and guiding its witness to the sovereign activity of God in the world, so that the congregation is and becomes a community of faith, hope, love, and witness … Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt.20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life.” (Book of Order, G-3.0201, G-2.03)


Class of 2024

Gus Blum

Liza Cooper

Chuck Fienning

Linda Hogon

Glenn Woodrum

Class of 2025

Norma Abbott

Bonnie Disney

John Jackson

John James

Bill Richardson


Class of 2026

Jim Alexander

Margy Carpenter

Kimberly Land

Becky Owens

Bob Smith







The ministry of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress … Deacons may be … organized as a board of deacons … their ministry is under the supervision and authority of the session. (Book of Order, G2.0201, G-2.0202)


Class of 2024

Gary Bratton

Lark Haynie

Kathy Lyons

John Michael Osteen

Suzanne Wates


Class of 2025

Virginia Hutchens

Debbie Jackson

Valerie James

Harold Nixon

Susan W. Osteen


Class of 2026

Mike Blanding

J.D. Dunn

Jimmy Ezell

Kenny Jordan

Joe McElveen