Our church is governed by its members, who commit to sharing faith and ministry together in this church and who elect leaders from among us each year to lead us in ministry and community.
Hal Shafer, Pastor
The proverb from Laozi, ”A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,“ began with my mother offering me to the Lord as a baby to work with Him. As the first born I grew up in the First Presbyterian Church of Salem, Ohio, I was given indications throughout my life that my journey started with my love for Jesus and the church as a young boy. I sang in the choir and was given the opportunities to solo in my church growing up. Throughout my journey as a child, I grew up knowing God loved me, as going to church was never an option it was what we did as a family. I loved my Lord and chose at a young age to be a Christian. Growing up I went to the public schools until my dad on the PTA said to me,” Find a private school to go to, you won’t be going to Salem High School. Finding Culver Military academy and wanting to go to Annapolis Naval Academy I was accepted into the summer Naval Academy program at Culver Military Academy (CMA). in 1972, then the ROTC Battery Division that fall. I was very fortunate to have learned to study at Culver. Having the discipline to do so early in my life saved me in college graduating from Mount Union College (MUC) in 1980 as a Legacy. Both my parents were also graduates of Mount Union College— now Mount Union University.
I grew to love classic automobiles early in my teens working many hours on my 1936 Plymouth my dad and mom purchased for me. Dad loved horses and bought a farm in 1973 to raise trotters and pacers. The Plymouth enabling me to learn the Auto Body trade, a skill I grew up learning. I graduated MUC with a BA in the Liberal Arts and a degree in English, with minors in Art and Business. During the Summer months I worked as a carpenter’s helper building houses. After Boston I started a job as a Ceramic Tile Sales Rep in the Bay Area Living in California. Met a beautiful girl and married her—Tici. Tici and I raised our family. But before our first-born son Matthew I attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco—as a sculptor, illustrator, and airbrush artist. I did my art as an automotive spray painter learning how to paint in Boston after graduating Mount Union College (MUC) in 1980 knowing God was still calling me into the ministry. I spent 18 years in Business running from that call like Jonah did. At the age of 39 I found myself back in my hometown of Salem, Ohio, returning from California with my family, my beloved wife Tici, our son Matt and daughter Katie in 1994.
That single step of thousand miles found me at the gates of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary when I returned. I was accepted in 1997 and graduated in 2000. I began my journey with that single step into the ministry and have been moving on that journey of 1,000 miles since graduation from Seminary as my servanthood, love for Jesus, my family, and the church, have grown. Praise the Lord, he has given me the Gospel and First Presbyterian Church of Lapeer to protect!
Linda Warren, Office Assistant
Linda Warren joined our staff in Nov. 2019. She has lived in the Lapeer area all her life. She has been a long-time member of the church. She married her high school sweetheart, and together they had two children, four grandchildren, a chocolate Lab named Holli and a crazy cat named Cooper. She graduated from Lapeer High School, owned two businesses and then went into marketing where she was in supervision. When not working you can find her either working in her gardens or camping with her family. Linda feels blessed to be in this position, to be back in the Lapeer area and to work within her church family.
Jonathan Korpi, Music Director
Jonathan was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the small mining town of Ishpeming. He earned a B.S. in history with a double minor in music and religious studies from Northern Michigan University. Jonathan then received my M.A. in history from Central Michigan University. Research interests include Christianity in the Middle Ages; primarily the start of the Benedictines, the Cistercian Reforms, and the preaching of the crusades, the theology of mutual ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, and music history.
In the field of sacred music Jonathan studied organ under Dr. Nancy Redfern at Northern Michigan University, Nathan Knutson and Patrick Burkhart at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette, MI, and Sue Pohlman at Bethel Lutheran Church in Ishpeming. He took one master organ class at CMU under Dr. Steve Egler and is currently studying under Dr. Mary Lou Nowicki to learn more on Anglican liturgical music. He has served as Bell Choir/Assistant Director of Music at Bethel Lutheran Church in Ishpeming; Pianist, Organist, and Orchestra Director at St. Joseph Catholic Church; and substitute Organist for area churches. Previously he had performed and guest conducted in several musical groups in Marquette County.
After moving to Mount Pleasant/Lansing areas, he has served as the Director of Music and Liturgy for St. Mary University Parish, Director of music and pulpit supply for Rosebush Presbyterian where he was ordained and installed as an elder, and Director of music for Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing. Outside of church music Jonathan is a music and social studies teacher for Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy in Lansing, Mi where he works with 135 middle school students.
Katherine Nold, Organist
Katherine Nold became the organist at First Presbyterian Church of Lapeer in Fall of 2018. Her love and passion for church music started in elementary school, playing piano for children’s church. Katherine finds nothing more exciting than leading the congregation in song and praise to the Lord. Katherine studied church music from International Academy of Music and is certified in piano pedagogy through the Music Teacher’s National Association. Katherine studied the pipe organ with teachers Leslie Wills and Doris Hall and was the top recipient of the American Guild of Organist-Detroit Chapter scholarship awards for three consecutive years. Katherine shares her love and passion through her music to students, maintaining a private studio in Oxford and is also an accompanist for Detroit County Day School. She is a board member for Michigan Federation of Music Clubs, a national organization that promotes awareness, scholarship awards and festival events to students of any instrument. Katherine takes great pride in her work at First Presbyterian, bringing together young and old, making a ‘joyful noise unto the Lord’!
Our session consists of church elders elected by the congregation to discern the will of God for our church and faithfully lead us in worship, witness, and service of God’s kingdom. Elders are elected for three-year terms and typically serve as committee chairs, and together as a session they work to empower others in faithful ministry across our church, community, and world. Our committees and the ruling elder appointed to them are:
List of Church Elders
|Barbara Dick ’22||Personnel & Nominating|
|Linda Hamilton ’22||Health Ministry|
|Barbara Skirmants ’24||Finance|
|TJ Craven ’22||Christian Education|
|Sharon Galbreath ’23||Worship & Music|
Mike Mosher ’24
Bob Rowden ’23
Lauren Emmons ’23
Kathryn Lawter ’24
|CJ Merriman||Clerk of Session|
Deacons have a Biblical mandate to a ministry of compassion, witness, service, and sharing the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by injustice, or anyone in distress. From visiting people recovering from injury or illness to providing financial or emotional support to those in distress, the deacons are elected to three-year terms by our congregation to lead our efforts to show God’s love in word and deed.
List of Deacons Officers
|Margaret Fansler ’22||Communion|
|Carol Jaeger||Toni Emmons ’23|
|Francis Pitts ’22||Darlene Placeway ’21|
|Nancy Pitts ’24||Deb Moore ’21|