Alumni News Class Notes

Alumni Updates: Fall 2019


William Jokela MDiv ’78, Retired Army Chaplain, MAJ, serving as a Parish Associate at First Presbyterian Church, Annandale, VA.


Mark Diehl MDiv ’80, completed his interim work as Head of Staff at Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, SC, and begins as Interim Head of Staff at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (in Detroit Presbytery) on November 17. His book God of Deliverance and Transformation: The Ten Commandments for the Twenty-First Century was published August 2019 through Amazon.

Ray Jones MDiv ’84, was appointed Director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism (TFE) at The Presbyterian Mission Agency.


Todd Jenkins MDiv ’90, is Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Greeneville, TN.

Keith Riddle MDiv ’91, is Vice President for Mission Integration at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, part of the University of Maryland Medical System in Towson, MD. He recently received the National Certificate in Catholic Health Care Ethics.

Susan Moorefield MDiv ’92, is Interim Senior Pastor, Unity Presbyterian Church, Fort Mill, SC.

Michael Poulos MDiv ’92, is Director of Mission Immersion for Asheville Youth Mission, working with fellow alumnus, Bill Buchanan.

John White MDiv ’93, graduated in April 2019, with honors, from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, with a PhD in Practical Theology. Dissertation title: The Trinity, the Incarnation and Practical Theology—An Inquiry into Ministry for a Lack of Assurance, Anxiety, and Shame — THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REV. JOHN MCLEOD CAMPBELL, D.D.

Mary (Becky) Stewart MDiv ’97, Retired in 2018 from active ministry, and moved to former hometown of Ocala, FL, and remarried.

Sarah Diehl, MDiv ’98, is a psychotherapist, who recently opened a full-time private practice in Baltimore, MD.

Csongor Kovacs MDiv ’98, is Pastor, First Hungarian Reformed Church, New York City, NY.


John Brown DMin ’01, was appointed Senior Pastor at Tuckston UMC in Athens, GA.

David “Oats” Dault MATS ’02, teaches full time at the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University, Chicago, IL. He continues to produce and host his weekly radio show, Things Not Seen, and produces a regular podcast for Commonweal magazine. He writes a monthly column for St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He and his family have recently bought their first home, in their long-time neighborhood of Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago.

Michael Williams MDiv ’02, is honorably retired by New Castle Presbytery after serving as Pastor at Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Georgetown, DE, for 17 years. He also served 13 years as a Church Educator prior to earning his MDiv in the class of 2002.

George A. Ashford Jr. DMin ’03, has a new book: Lose to Win: A Journey of Risking It All to Gain It All, is available for purchase on Amazon or www.georgeashford. org.

Wes Brandon MDiv ’03, is Minister at Buckie South & West Parish Church, United Kingdom.

Susan Takis MDiv ’03, serves as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wildwood, FL. In addition, Susan currently serves as Moderator of the “Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examination of Candidates” (PCC) which has the responsibility to write and administer ordination exams for the denomination.

Kate Roscoe MDiv ’03, is serving as Transitional Pastor, Woodstock Presbyterian Church, Woodstock, VA.

William Gafkjen DMin ’04, Bishop of the Indiana- Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was featured as the speaker at the Annual Festival Choral Eucharist for Reformation service at Wittenburg University.

Stuart Higginbotham MDiv ’05, Rector of Grace Church in Gainesville, is a co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming volume Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition. The book is being published by the Crossroad Publishing Company.

Melissa Archer ThM ’06, presented the 2019 Bible Lectures November 10-11, Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. Melissa is chair and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biblical Studies at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL.

Daviceto Swaby DMin ’06, is Lead Pastor, Apple Creek Seventh Day Adventist Church, Markham, Canada.

Hana Elliot MDiv ’07, is Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Bloomfield, IN.

Karen Ware Jackson MDiv ’08 and Rob Jackson MDiv ’08, are Senior Co-Pastors at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, NC, as of September 2019. Karen, Rob, Grace (8), Jake (6) and Abby the dog have bought a new house in Greenville and are loving life with their whole family in one congregation. Karen continues her studies at Columbia Seminary in the Doctor of Ministry program and Rob is working on a Masters of Business Administration through LSU Shreveport’s online program. Karen co-edited a book When Kids Ask Hard Questions: Faith Filled Responses for Tough Topics published by Chalice Press.


T.J. Shirley MDiv ’10, is the Contemporary Worship Leader and Communications Director at First United Methodist Church, Rocky Mount, NC.

Marcel van Bulck MDiv ’10, is Associate Pastor for Family and Campus Ministries at Oxford Presbyterian Church, Oxford, OH.

Matthew Ruffner MDiv ’10, Pastor of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas, was the featured preacher Oct ber 13 on “Day 1” radio program accessible at

Kyle Walker DMin ’11, is the Transitional Minister at Midway Hills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Dallas, TX.

Nathaniel “J.R.” Dunlap MATS ’12, began serving as Administrative Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, Phenix City, AL, in April 2019.

Travis Allen MDiv ’11, accepted a call to First Presbyterian Church, Kinston, NC as Solo Pastor in July 2019.

Sydne Allen MDiv ’10, (also a Minister of the Word & Sacrament) is now Transitional Director of Christian Education & Formation at First Presbyterian Church, Kinston, NC. Together, they are raising 3 sons: Barrett (5), Henry (4), and Eli (14 months).

Mike McCracken MDiv ’13, received his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary in May. His course of study was completed as a part of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) DMin in Preaching program. His thesis was: Preaching in Transition, Making the Most of the Pastoral Honeymoon Period. Mike is serving as the Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church of Laurens, SC.

Katherine Blankenship MDiv ’14, married Mr. David Johnson on July 13, 2019 at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, NC.

Kelly Couch MAPT ’15, was accepted as an Artist in Residence with the New Orleans non-profit Kid SMART for the 2019-2020 school year. She will work with students and teachers in self- contained special education classrooms integrating art into the curriculum.

Allison Wehrung MDiv ’15, moved to Oxford, MS, two years ago. She is the convener of UKirk, a student ministry by Presbyterians.

Laura Morrison MDiv ’16, was installed as Pastor at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Salisbury, NC on March 3, 2019.

Chad Wright Pittman MDiv ’16, is Associate Pastor for Care and Outreach at First Presbyterian Church of Anderson, SC.

Dominique Robinson DMin ’17, is Dean of Chapel at Wiley College, Marshall, TX.

Lauren Patrus-Betzel MDiv ’17, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of San Leandro, CA.

Sarah Smith MAPT ’17, is a Member at Large, PCUSA, living in Atlanta, GA, after serving as a pastor in Banbridge, Northern Ireland.

Michelle Mehan MAPT ’17, is serving as a Palliative Care Chaplain for BayCare Health Systems in Clearwater, FL.

Katherine Saxbury MDiv ’17, accepted the call of Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Onida, SD.

Ross Boone, MATS ’18, is a freelance artist and writer who gives talks to help people find their calling. He owns a small business selling prints of his art work and books. Ross partners with churches to help them engage their congregation through art and story. (


In Memoriam

Richard G. Laurens, Sr. BD ’52 . . . . . . . October 19, 2019
Roy W. Hicks, BD ’53 . . . . . . . . . . .November 14, 2019
Maxine Hicks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November 20, 2019
Cecil Moore BD ’62 . . . . . . . . . . . . . October 18, 2019
Dorothy D. Smith BRE ’63 . . . . . . . . . . August 21, 2019
Jerry Glenn Robinson BD ’60 . . . . . . . . . .July 15, 2019
Michael Murdock ’90 . . . . . . . . . . . . . August 2, 2019
Margaret Fowler DMin ’09 . . . . . . . . . August 26, 2019
Mary Howson DMin ’03. . . . . . . . . . . October 13, 2019