Stephen Ministers help pastors and congregations provide quality caring ministry for as long as people need it. This ministry trains lay caregivers (called Stephen Ministers) to provide one-on-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge.
Meet your Stephen Ministers! The Stephen Ministers pictured below are members of our congregation trained to listen, care and provide one-on-one confidential support when someone is going through a difficult time. We hope when you get to know us a little, you will not hesitate to call the pastors, church staff and/or a Stephen Minister to meet with you privately.
Note: Photos for the newly commissioned Stephen Ministers will be added to this page in the very near future.
Contact a Stephen Minister Leader at First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg:
The “Laying On of Hands” ceremony on May 7, 2017 when 8 of our new Stephen Ministers were commissioned.
If you or a friend is in need of someone to walk along side of you/them during a challenging time, please contact Ginger McCoy, Sherry Oliver, Pastor Will or the church office for more information.
Chris, a St. Pete native, attended FPC as a child. After years of experiencing life in other cities and states, she returned to St. Pete and rejoined FPC in 1992. She has served on many church committees and has been an elder and is currently a deacon. The St. Pete Free Clinic has been dear to her heart where she continues to volunteer after twenty plus years. Chris feels blessed to have been surrounded by her loving FPC church family during the joys of her daughter’s wedding and granddaughter’s Christening, and the sorrows of her husband’s illness and passing. She also has a son who lives in Minneapolis. Chris is ever thankful for God’s grace, forgiveness and love.
Sandi is a nurse who specialized in maternal-child and family health. She taught in various nursing programs, established and ran a birthing center and served as a perinatal nursing consultant. She moved to St. Petersburg in 2002. She has also served on the Board of the Foundation for International Missions since 2004 and provides leadership for the annual mission trip to Honduras where she performs PAP smears for Honduran women in remote villages. She is a past board member of the St Petersburg Free Clinic where she still serves on the Medical Advisory Committee. She sings in the church choir, is an elder and serves as a leader for the Stephen Ministry Program. She has been a Stephen Minister for over 15 years. Sandi is married to Dick Averitt. They have three children and eight grandchildren, a ninth on the way.
Lynell grew up in Louisville, Ky., graduated from University of Virginia. After she married Robert Bell, Lynell spent most of her life in Asheville, NC. In 2002 they bought a place here in St. Petersburg. They both love it here and found a church home in FPC almost immediately. Lynell taught a couple of years as an elementary school teacher, and while raising the family spent time with neighborhood bible studies, civic organizations, and other church activities. She still loves studying and teaching the bible. She is also active in the Museum of Fine Arts and enjoys attending some of the various entertainment opportunities available in the area. And, she also loves the Rays!
Robert is a native of Asheville, NC but moved here in 2002. He is married to Lynell and the father of two sons, and four wonderful grandsons. He is still active in various business ventures but spent most of his career as an executive in a food distribution company. For a number of years, Robert also worked as director of World Medical Missions, and traveled extensively in Africa as well as in parts of Europe, Russia, and Latin America. The Bells have two sons. One stayed in Asheville, and one lives here in Tampa. Each of them has a lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
Ellen and Tom joined FPC in 2006, two years after retiring to St. Petersburg to be with their daughters and their families. Careers have taken them to many cities and Presbyterian churches where Ellen served as both a deacon and an Elder plus working in a variety of volunteer positions. As a Stephens Minister, Ellen finds that working with the people of FPC is both rewarding and very fulfilling. 9 Stephen Ministry
Charlie was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, moving to Florida in 2008. He continues life with Jo, his high school sweetheart, of more than 45 years. He has been in Saint Petersburg and a member of First Pres since 2013. He grew up in church with strong Christian parents, and has served as a Deacon and their Chairman, Sunday School Teacher, Bible Study Leader, Youth Minister, etc., and has served on just about every church committee. His professional career includes time working in the Government, Banking, and Business. He has spent many years Coaching and assisting CEOs in both their personal and professional lives. Currently he trains and certifies talented business consultants around the world in the art of Coaching and Leadership Development for the top Business and Civic Leaders. He believes that his calling is to help leaders improve, succeed, and in turn benefit others. He has never met a stranger – just friends he has not gotten to know yet.
Jo was born and raised in Maryland, moving to Saint Petersburg and joining First Pres in 2013. She continues life with Charlie, her high school sweetheart, of more than 45 years. Her life’s work has always been working with others. She has taught school, been the administrator of a private school, as well as a director of the largest senior living community in the east. The daughter of a Baptist Minister, she served as a missionary in rural West Virgina, finding it to be a very fulfilling experience. She has also served as a Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, leader in a mission church start-up, as well as serving on many church committees. She has enjoyed serving in the Welcome Center for First Pres. She says that becoming a Stephen Minister is a natural next step in serving. She now has several volunteer positions including St. Anthony’s, Bridget’s Cradles, Linus Project and is a member of 100 – Women of Pinellas County. Jo enjoys serving others and is always energized by the relationships.
Petra was born in the Netherlands and lived and worked in Austria, England and Norway. She became a Presbyterian in 1974 at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. She got married in 1975 and her daughter was baptized in that church. Petra has been active as a deacon in 2 churches in New Jersey. Unfortunately health problems have prevented her from being an active member in this church. Having recovered, thanks to many prayers and the love from many members of this church, she is eager to return to the love she has received and to use the experience of working as a biofeedback and stress management therapist.
Ann has been a member of First Presbyterian Church since 1990. She and her husband, Kyle, were married there in 1993 and they have two daughters, Abigail, 21, and Rebecca, 18, who were baptized there also. Ann is an elder and has been an active member, singing in the choir for many years, playing handbells, and serving on various church committees, such as the Day School Board, Worship Committee, Mission Statement Committee and Nominating Committee. Having experienced some challenging times in her own life, Ann is grateful to be a Stephen Minister and have the opportunity to, with God’s guidance, walk along side others during difficult times.
The Stephen Ministry program is a special calling for Ginger McCoy. Through her personal life, she has experienced great losses, fears, depression, confusion, self-doubt, huge anger (big surprise to her!), and a sense of being completely overwhelmed - In other words, experiences and feelings that we have all had. It took acknowledging these problems to herself and to trustworthy people in a safe place, and having great faith in God to, not just survive it all, but to enhance all areas of her very being. It has allowed her to be someone who can walk lovingly with another who is living through the same or very similar times. Ginger has lived in St Petersburg for 66 years. Raised in the Episcopal church since age six, she has been a member of FPC for 18 years. She has been involved in many volunteer efforts in this church, in St Petersburg and Pinellas County all of her life. Professionally, Ginger is a former Special Education teacher and Mental Health Counselor. She has Master Degrees in both professions. She feels blessed.
Marilyn was born in Texas, raised an Air Force “brat” and has been a Presbyterian since the third grade. She acknowledges that, like all of us, she is a sinner and blessed Child of God. Marilyn has a meaningful full time job matching people to home caregivers. Divorced, she has a full life filled with involvement with New Hope Christian Fellowship, Westminster Adult Church School class, and Stephen Ministry. She says she has lived through serious depression and relies on God for life’s direction.
Sherry Oliver has been an active member of FPC St. Pete since 1971, serving in many roles including elder, youth group advisor, capital campaign co-chair, and moderator/member of numerous committees. She has been a Stephen Minister since 2012 and a Stephen Leader since 2015. After 25 years in public education, she retired and now enjoys seasonal employment with Road Scholar at Eckerd College. Sherry is married to Gene Oliver, mother of two sons and now enjoys three grandchildren. She has experienced life’s ups and downs, and is grateful to God and others for helping her through the hard times.
Susan graduated from high school in Greensboro, NC and went to college at Montreat Anderson in Black Mountain, NC. She moved to St. Petersburg from Greensboro in 1979. Most of her working career has been in the administrative capacity of the medical field from office management in Home Care to medical transcription in a large orthopaedic practices. She met her husband Terry in St. Petersburg and they have been married almost 33 years. She was raised in the Presbyterian Church as a child. Therry and Susan have been involved in other denominations but are now members of First Presbyterian Church, St. Petersburg. Her hobbies include walking on the beach and on occasion enjoying cross stitch and other types of crafts. They have two dogs that they enjoy. She also enjoys going on vacations to the mountains and going to places with beautiful scenery. She likes to hike and explore specialty shops that are native to the city where she is visiting. One of the things she feels like God has called her to do in the church is pray for others and praying for the ministries of the church.
I am a native of St. Petersburg. In the summer of 1996 I had a life changing experience which altered forever my relationship with God. As a result of this, I dedicated my life to serve the Lord wherever and however He needs me to. Becoming a Steven Minister is continuing the call to ministry in service to God and our church.
Bill Shelton believes serving in the Stephen Ministry program will pave a rewarding and humbling path upon which he can walk with friends needing a partner during suffering. He and his wife Gretchen Letterman, transferred to First Presbyterian Church, St. Petersburg, in 1983 after leaving Wichita, Kansas. As a long-time elder, Bill taught children’s Sunday school, served on or chaired many of our sessional committees, including a pastor nominating committee. Bill recently retired from teaching first grade and kindergarten, a career that followed decades of newspapering and public relations. Gretchen, who retired after more than 30 years with the Tampa Bay Times, now coordinates Pinellas County’s three journalism magnet programs. Gretchen and Bill’s daughter, Annagrace, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in fine arts photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design, lives in St. Petersburg. Her brother, Liam, who graduated in May, 2017, with two degrees in communications, is a new second lieutenant in the US Army, reporting to Fort Benning, Georgia, in January for armor training. Both Annagrace and Liam were baptized at FPC, with Dr. Art Ross officiating.
Judie moved to St. Petersburg and became a member of First Presbyterian Church in 2014. Before relocating from Long island, NY to Florida, she and her husband John had careers that kept them mainly around the New York metropolitan area. Judie has served as elder and deacon at previous churches, and is currently on the board of deacons at First Presbyterian. She worked for many years in fashion merchandising and also served at various volunteer organizations. Outside of work, she loves animals and flowers, and spends time reading, walking, and doing yoga. Judie believes that life is amazing, but knows that that doesn't mean life can't be difficult. That is a big reason that Stephen Ministry has a pull for her. She thinks it is good when someone may be able to offer someone else a place where they can pause, take a breath, speak without being judged, and maybe figure out what to do next for themselves. She enourages people ot remember to take life one day at a time and to never forget that we are not alone.
Dottie is a transplant to this welcoming community and was looking to find an area of service. The opportunity to serve as a listening Stephen Minister has opened doors and she is excited to serve in this way. A native New Yorker who has transplanted numerous times, she is accustomed to changes in life. Her career was varied from teaching and library work to corporate data administration. The joy of fellowship with members of FPC, study and service to God’s church community continue to nurture and sustain her.
Ken is a retired Presbyterian USA pastor, hospital chaplain and mentor for West Care Rehabilitation Services. He is married to Dottie. Together, they raised four children and 10 grandchildren. The children are grown and they have adult grandsons here in Florida. Ken was at one time owner/proprietor of the Hobby Shoppe and Back Door Ice cream. Ken and Dottie have been 6-month residents of Florida now for 8 years.