Rev. Dr. Charles SvendsenTransitional Pastor
Charles is here “to help lead this historic, influential, and gracious congregation with thoughtful preaching, leadership development, and pastoral care. As Transitional Pastor, I will work with our pastoral team, elders, and deacons in bringing healing and hope for our next chapter of service for Jesus Christ.”
Charles earned a BA at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL; M. Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA; Th. M. at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ; and D. Min. at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. He is a Certified Specialist with the Interim Ministry Network. He has “retired” from twelve years of teaching Interim Ministry Education at Zephyr Point and Montreat.
Charles’s sister Elisabeth makes her home in Salem, Oregon; his sister Mary lives in Monrovia, California; and his brother, John, serves the First Baptist Church of El Segundo, California.
- Favorite thing about Portland: My lovely home and a walkable city.
- Favorite books to read: American church history
- Favorite hobby: Traveling to new destinations.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: I’ve never met a vegetarian burrito I didn’t like!
Rev. Dr. J. Spencer ParksExecutive Director, Menucha Retreat and Conference Center, Associate Pastor
Spencer’s main responsibility is the oversight of the church’s ministry at Menucha Retreat and Conference Center.
Spencer earned a BA in History from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, and his D. Min. from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia.
Wife (Sarah), Son (Christopher), Daughter (Jessica). Kids are grown and live in Tennessee.
- Favorite thing about Portland: I really like the eclectic nature of the city. It has been very nice to live in a place with such rich diversity.
- Favorite books to read: I have been a long time fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but also enjoy several other genres as well. I love to read cookbooks.
- Favorite hobby: Woodworking (I especially like woodturning), cooking (I’m a BBQ fanatic (please note that BBQ is a noun not a verb)), and reading.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: This is another thing I love about the Portland area. There are way too many good restaurants from which to choose. Among the top (at least this week) would be Jake’s (the original), Higgins, and Bryant St. Station.
Rev. Dr. Dick WiggersPastoral Associate
Dick’s primary responsibilities are pastoral visitation and preaching once a month.
Dick entered the ordained ministry after a 13-year career in corporate restaurant management. After receiving his D Min degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, he served as an Associate Pastor in Mobile, AL, and then as the Organizing Pastor of a new church development in Pensacola, FL. From 2000-2009, Dick served congregations in Southern California; Portland, Oregon; and Reno, Nevada. After completing his fourth interim in October, 2009, Dick was honorably retired and he and his wife, Jeni, moved back to the Portland area to be near family.
Dick and Jeni have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren.
- Favorite pasttimes: Photography, travel, reading, and playing the guitar.
Rev. Fran EltonPastoral Fellow
Fran’s responsibilities include assisting with pastoral care and in-home visits, as well as preaching at worship, facilitating prayer chain requests, and teaching Disciple classes.
Fran has a degree in Music from the University of Delaware, a degree in Psychology from Portland State University, and a Masters in Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Fran has two sons: Bracy (Abby) with daughters Gloria and Lillary; Matt (Stephanie) with sons Jordan, Jameson, and Jonathan.
- Favorite thing about Portland: The weather!
- Favorite books to read: Detective stories, anything about the Universe.
- Favorite hobbies: All things baseball! Playing with grandchildren, reading, walking puzzles, and music.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Pambiche
Greg HomzaDirector of Music Ministries
Greg works closely with the clergy and staff of FPC to provide opportunities for spiritual growth for the congregation. More specifically, he assists in planning worship services, prepares members of the music ministry to lead music for worship, and of course, plays the organ/piano and leads the choirs. He does this all for the glory of God, and in service to God’s people…and loves it!
Greg has a Master’s degree in Organ Performance (2002), and Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance (1999), both from Indiana University Bloomington. He also earned the “Associate” certification (AAGO) from the American Guild of Organists in 2004.
Greg has an amazing wife (Leah), two amazing parents (Eli and Mary Jean) in Gainesville, FL; an older brother in FL (Drew), an older sister in GA (Amy), and three cats – King Julien XIV, Church Kitty, and 17-year-old Poquito.
- Favorite thing about Portland: Natural beauty, environmental awareness, music (and craft beer!) everywhere
- Favorite books to read: Ones that are recommended to me by people I know and trust.
- Favorite hobbies: Hiking, kayaking (the relaxing kind – not the crazy-rapids kind!), really anything that gets me out in nature.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Anywhere with a vegetarian-friendly menu (and an extensive craft beer list!)
Sue Van StelleDirector of Child/Youth Faith Development
Sue joined the staff of First Presbyterian Church in September, 2010. Sue provides oversight and support for faith formation at FPC for children ages birth to 18. Her dream is that every graduating senior at FPC would be equipped to be a life-long disciple of Jesus. She is also involved on the Presbytery Youth Team and with the Christian Educators, and is the dean of the Presbytery’s 5th/6th grade summer camp.
Sue is a graduate of Dordt College and is currently under care of Presbytery and working toward an M Div. through George Fox University.
Sue is married to Paul, a clinical therapist, and mom to two daughters.
- Favorite thing about Portland: Spring begins blooming in February.
- Favorite books to read: Anything from Sandra Boyton to Russian novels. I also read several blogs.
- Favorite hobbies: Reading (see above), being outdoors, hiking, photography, gardening and quilting.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: There’s a variety of great restaurants and food carts!
Sally BowderChurch Business Administrator
As a Certified Church Administrator (CCA) and Fellow in Presbyterian Church Business Administration (FPCBA), Sally oversees the business aspect of all church ministries.
Husband, Jack; four sons; one daughter; four granddaughters and one grandson.
- Favorite thing about Portland: I love the downtown area
- Favorite hobby: Travel
- Favorite pastime: Watching soccer games especially my granddaughters’ games!
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Jake’s Crawfish and Henry’s
Dena oversees all outside rentals and events for FPC. She is also responsible for scheduling and planning weddings and receptions.
My parents, younger sister, brother, sister in law, two nieces, and three nephews live in the Seattle area. My youngest nephew, Liam, was just born on July 30!
Dena graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Northwest University.
- Favorite thing about Portland: Biking
- Favorite books to read: Memoirs and historical nonfiction
- Favorite hobby: Gardening and cooking
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Pok Pok
Iva processes payroll, reconcile bank accounts and credit card statements – and pays the bills for FPC and Menucha!
Iva was born and raised in Billings, Montana, and moved to Portland 26 years ago. She has 3 children (one son and 2 daughters), and 5 grandchildren – all boys!
Iva attended Eastern Montana College in Billings, Montana. “I really have to attribute my accounting knowledge to the wonderful accountants I have worked with through the years. On the job training!”
- Favorite thing about Portland: It’s a great city for those of us that like to people watch! I also love all the hiking trails. I even like the rain! I love the diversity this city offers!
- Favorite books to read: I’m an avid reader. I believe you can tell a lot about a person by their library. I read everything except Harloquin romance novels!
- Favorite hobby: I enjoy making jewelry. I love gardening in other peoples gardens.
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Abaruchi’s and all things Northwest cuisine! And let’s not forget Voodoo donuts!
Jennifer manages all of the church publications, from the weekly bulletin to the monthly Spire newsletter – and everything in between!
- Favorite thing about Portland: The proximity to mountains and ocean
- Favorite books to read: Anything!
- Favorite hobby: Writing, traveling, music
- Favorite Portland restaurant: Riffle NW
Additional Church Staff
Ann van Bever, Music Administrative Assistant
Larissa Poppen, Young Musician’s Choir Director
Paige Unangst, Financial Assistant
Gail Rogers, Receptionist
Bruce Campbell, Facilities Maintenance
Jimmy Lee, Sexton
Max Snodderly, Sexton
Peter Tuscano, Custodian
Zenebew Legesse, Custodian
Julia West Staff:
Cathy Harris, Operations Director