by Meagan Bergem
Director of Junior High Ministries

  I was drawn to FPC because of the warm reception I received as a summer intern working with youth as a Networker (2010). My summer in California shaped the way I understood my call to full-time ministry and even opened doors for me to relocate to the west coast after graduating college. Eight years later, it is with great joy that I get to be a part of equipping and leading the next generation! We encourage you to find ways to invite them into your homes, lives and hearts, make room for them and see how God may grow you through them.

  These students are a visible reminder that there are people in our midst who are in need of an invitation to grow deeper in community here at First Pres. As we have the “Connect Time” between services this summer (9:35am-10:10am), be intentional about showing up, being open to meaningful conversations, asking good questions and enjoying the significance of our church community by becoming people of warm hospitality.

Kingdom Kids Children’s Ministry (Pre-School to 6th Grade)

Amelia Sanders:

  Përshëndetje! I'm from Clovis, California, although I've recently returned from living in Erseka, Albania. I am so excited to be one of the summer staffers! I​ am looking forward to challenging kids in their faith and seeing what we can find out about God together. My free time is usually spent reading, writing, praying, exploring, learning languages, or making music with my voice, flute, or ukulele. A crazy fun fact about me: I made a travel quilt for myself using airline blankets I took from my flights. (Emily Hartsell helped me fit them in my backpack.)

Emma Willis:

  I grew up in Fresno and am a Senior at Fresno State studying Child Development. I like to hike and read in my spare time. What I’m most looking forward to this summer is sharing Christ’s love with the kiddos through my actions and words and discipling them! One fun fact that I always share is that I can’t feel my chin and bottom lip so please tell me if I have food on my face because I don’t know it’s there most of the time!

IGNITE Jr. High Ministry (7th & 8th Grade)

Sheimeka Royster:

  Hello Fresno Presbyterian Church Family! I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am a graduate from Edinboro University with a bachelors in Criminal Justice and I plan on attending law school in the near future. In my free time. I enjoy watching funny movies, cooking & trying new foods, shopping, spending time with family, working out, and last but not least; I absolutely love  reading!

    It is truly a blessing and honor to be able to come and celebrate the gospel with you and share God’s word! I excitedly look forward to fellowship and spiritual growth that comes from learning not only about who you guys are, but also learn about who I am in Christ. Fun fact: I am terrified of heights!

David Steffen:

    I was born in Goshen, Indiana and raised right here in Fresno. My family and I attended a Mennonite Church where I was very active in the youth group all throughout junior high and high school. I attended Fresno Pacific University, where I graduated with a BA in Contemporary Christian Ministries, while continuing to volunteer with my home church's teens. After that, I worked as a youth director for a small church in Caruthers. This year, I have just finished the Pink House and I'm working at my home church managing the food pantry, preparing to become a substitute teacher, and excited to work at First Pres over the summer with junior high students.  In my free time, I enjoy reading and video games. I'm especially excited this summer to become a part of First Pres and the mission they have in downtown Fresno. I'm looking forward to meeting you all!

ROOTED High School Ministry (9th-12th Grade)

Annie Johnson:

  I am SO excited to be working with the high school students this summer! I was born and raised in Fresno and grew up coming to First Pres and was actively involved in the youth programs. My grandparents attended First Pres and my parents are active members. After graduating from Clovis West, I moved to North Carolina to attend High Point University. I graduated from High Point in 2016 with a Bachelors in Human Relations with a focus in nonprofit leadership. After graduating I moved back to California for work. I have done fundraising and PR for the Central Valley Community Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities. Currently I am enrolled at Fresno Pacific University to get my teaching credential for Mild/Moderate Special Education.

    This summer I am looking forward to getting to know the students. I am excited to learn and grow alongside them in their walk with the Lord. Some interest of mine include running, hiking, camping, cooking and baking, traveling, coffee, and spending time with family and friends. A fun fact about me is that I have run in 5 half marathons. Or at least I think it is fun!

Hector Chavez:

    I was born and currently live in Fresno, CA with my wife Clara and 2 month old son Samuel Sebastian. I am a member of Bethany Inner-City Church as well as their youth director. My favorite two things to do are traveling and eating new foods. One fun fact about me is that I was in the Army for 6 years and have now become a missionary here in Fresno's Lowell neighborhood. I am looking forward to learning from our mentors and walking along side High school youth as they deepen their understanding of who Christ is.

by Dr. Julie Carter
Director of Worship and Music
   Many singers and instrumentalists from our church's music department presented a special concert to benefit the Evangelical Parish of Jühnsdorf in Germany (formerly East Germany) this past April. Last summer, the Reformation Choir sang at this same church and developed close bonds with the pastor and members. Their organ was destroyed during the communist regime following WWII and their congregation hopes to raise funds to rebuild and restore it in time for its 150th anniversary in December 2019.  Indeed, it was our hope to raise funds and send to them in support of our brothers and sisters in Christ there.
   The concert was a great success! It seemed appropriate to sprinkle the music of J.S. Bach, a German church musician, throughout the program. We enjoyed our organist, Dr. Margaret Licon, showing off our beautiful organ on several pieces. Other features of the concert included: Dr. Walter Saul shared two of his own compositions on piano as well as a piece by Bach; Jan Goyette, Dean Lloyd, and Walter Saul collaborated on a trumpet duet with organ; Chris Hatfield and Margaret shone on a Bach aria; Matt Maler sang a piece from "Messiah" with Dr. Julie Carter accompanying on piano; David White, our director of Full Court Pres shined on two spirituals accompanied by Walter Saul; Dr. Julie Carter, Max Hembd and Drew Quiring rocked on a Bach aria with trumpet and piano; the Chancel Choir reprised several favorites from this year including  "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" with brass and timpani and the spiritual "Ain't Got Time to Die".
   With the able assistance of Allan Knepper we were able to record the concert and share the link with Pastor Steffen and his church in Germany. All in all, it was a very special musical offering to show the love of Christ to Christian friends far away! I couldn't help but reflect that we're very blessed to have many strong musicians in our church and it felt good deep down to use our gifts to bless this wonderful German church. Soli Deo Gloria!  (To God be the glory!)
   If you were unable to attend the concert and would like to see the video, Click Here.
By Jeff and Catherine Lusk

   We are very excited about our future at FPC as members. I know many of you were thinking, "Weren't they already members?". In truth, we probably should have been a long time ago, but we never took the time to attend the classes.
   Catherine has attended FPC since she was an infant and I started going to FPC as a Networker (Summer Intern) in 2009. We were married in the sanctuary in September 2011. After we married, we jumped around churches between The Bridge (where I grew up) and New Covenant trying to find a place where we felt at home. While those churches were great in their own way, we never really felt like we connected with the congregations.
   A couple of years ago we started to attend First Pres again and I started helping out with the 5th-6th graders. First Pres felt like home, but we still did not jump into the commitment of becoming members. We were not against it, but never put much thought into it either. In today's culture, commitment is not valued and being passive church goers is easy. We see membership as a deeper engagement with the church which means investing our love, time, and energy to this body. We had talked about becoming members for a little while and then when we saw that a class was starting a few Sundays ago, we just went. 
   We have truly been blessed by our family at First Pres and felt God calling us to take our relationship with FPC to the next level. We really enjoyed the membership class because we learned more about what it means to be Presbyterian here at FPC. We also had the opportunity to get to know new friends whom we may not have met otherwise. We are not sure what God has in store for us, but are excited to join in the mission of FPC to further God's kingdom. 
Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this, that he began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."


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By Pastor Chris Popadich

   The incredible worship team was halfway through the second song during second service. For those unfamiliar with our second service routine, junior high students sit on the left and high school students sit on the right in the front two rows of the sanctuary.

   On this particular Sunday, the first row was packed! I mean it was elbow-to-elbow with junior high boys and girls squeezed into the first row. Then, a young woman arrived in a bright yellow shirt. Meagan, our Junior High director, was worshiping in the second row when she spotted the young woman approaching the very full row of students and invited her to join the second row.

   As one of the pastors who most often sits in front of these students, I knew she was new to the junior high. Something magical happened as the set of three songs finished and the students began to sit down. Like a giant centipede, one-by-one the guys inched over and a space opened up enough for this young woman to be called from the second to the first row.

   I could see it was clearly uncomfortable for most of them. Some of their arms were over the pew; some leaning forward to not bump shoulders; all were now squeezed next to their neighbors. But it didn’t matter. This row of 16 junior highers invited a new member into their community, despite the discomfort of adding a 17th person. It may have been awkward, but this is a powerful testimony to the incredible work of God in the lives of our junior high students. I am certain these things don’t come naturally, but only as a result of Gospel transformation that is occuring in the hearts of our students.

   Thank you Meagan Bergem and Jr. High leaders for discipling our students in the area of hospitality!


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By Jerry McKneely

I attend the Neighbors aRe Us (or simply “NRU”) dinners each month on the last Thursday because of my passion for serving. Since my childhood, I recall my mother was a woman that cherished meeting the needs of others through serving in small ways, purely as an act of love. It is this passion that I have carried with me during my life that led me to invite my friend, Larry. Though Larry does not attend FPC, he has joined me and the team of volunteers that help at the event in serving the adjacent community at NRU not once, but twice!

   Truly, the joy that stems from an experience where we can serve one another is thrilling and must be shared. We all find small ways to serve that brings us much; and now I have had the pleasure of experience the joy of serving the community alongside my friend.