Pastoral and Program Staff

Available at (734) 662-4466 (Extensions listed below)

Looking for a list of contacts with emails and extensions? View the contact list on the main "Staff/Leadership" page.

Reverend Dr. Rick Spalding
Interim Pastor

Email: rspalding@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 361

Rev. Dr. Rick SpaldingRick comes to First Pres following eighteen years as Chaplain at Williams College, a distinguished small liberal arts college in the wilds of northwestern Massachusetts – where his work included offering pastoral care and encouraging inter-religious dialogue among students from many of the world’s great religious traditions. He was also much involved in organizing student volunteerism and community engagement, and led popular annual trips to build Habitat houses in Alabama and to share stories in rural Nicaragua.

Rick did his undergraduate work at Yale, and holds theological degrees from Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary (in New York City) and Hartford Seminary. He served pastoral calls at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, at Central Presbyterian Church in New York City, and at Church of the Covenant in Boston – each of which experienced significant changes in pastoral leadership during his terms of service. He has also taught at Trinity School in New York City, and at Andover-Newton Theological School and Harvard Divinity School, and contributed essays to the Feasting on the Word series of commentaries and the recent volume, College Chaplaincy in the 21st Century. Rick retired from Williams in 2018 and settled into a very old house in Ipswich, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, with Peter Bubriski, his partner of 45 years. But, as the invitation to help First Pres prepare for a new chapter of ministry during this interim period suggests, “retirement” can be a slippery word! He looks forward to returning eventually to kayaking, cooking and dog-parenting on the North Shore; in the meantime, he’s enjoying writing, singing bass in the Choir, and reveling in the lively artistic life of Ann Arbor.

Reverend Melissa Anne Rogers
Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care and Congregational Life

Email: mrogers@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 390

Rev. Melissa Anne RogersMelissa Anne, who rejoined our staff in the summer of 2005, brings both pastoral and clinical training to her work in pastoral care. In addition to her experience in ministry to small congregations in Oregon, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, she brings clinical training as a marital and family therapist, having worked as a family grief and crisis counselor for Hospice of Lansing, and as a therapist at Michigan State's Family and Child Clinic. She earned her Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy from Michigan State University in 2002. Melissa Anne previously served First Presbyterian as Interim Campus Minister, and was Associate Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Ann Arbor from 1995 to 1998. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. A morning person, she enjoys cross-country skiing, biking, good coffee, brewing beer, and spending time with her family and pets.

Reverend Jay Sanderford
Associate Pastor

Email: jsanderford@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 340

Rev. Jay SanderfordJay grew up in the mid-Atlantic and upper South, moving between North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After college, he worked as a carpenter for several years and considered the construction business as an option before heading to Yale Divinity School as a step toward ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Before arriving at First Pres in Ann Arbor in 2013, Jay served as pastor, associate pastor, director of a not-for-profit and new church development pastor in North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Maryland.

Jay embraces First Pres’ vision to be both a place for warm hospitality, faithful formation and vibrant worship and to be a force to pursue God’s good work for compassion, peace and justice in Ann Arbor, in the nearby universities and in the world and communities beyond. “Relationships fuel my work at First Pres. The incredible human resources of this church, our congregation, lay leaders and staff, provide the church with dynamic resources to influence our community with the gospel of good news.” As a learning community, Jay is inspired by the inclusive, positive and reflective theological project that is at the heart of our common life and service. He believes that as people of faith we are called to be redemptive, and not divisive in this cultural moment, and that our shared lives are shaped by practices of justice, mercy and humility.

Jay lives with his wife, Beth, in Dexter with an abundance of gardens, flowers and several lively Labrador retrievers. Jay and Beth share a passion for hiking, walking along the Huron River, good books, paddling, camping and family adventures with their two grown children. Their son Drew lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Gillian Hatch. Alyson, their daughter, lives in Ocala, Florida with her husband Daniel Bowen and family.

Rebeca (Beca) Torres-Davenport
Coordinator of Children’s Education and Family Ministry

Beca Torres-DavenportEmail: btorres-davenport@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 342

Beca was born in Ann Arbor, raised in Cedar Rapids, IA and came back to finish high school in Ann Arbor. All the while growing up in the Presbyterian church. Beca has been a part of choirs, handbells, Sacred Dance, Missions, child care, Sunday School, a Youth group chaperone, and anything else they would let her do. When not working, Beca loves to spend time with her husband, son and parents exploring as many places as possible - especially if it involves animals. When there is a free moment, Beca is found at the gym, dancing or reading.

Rev. Mark Mares
Minister of Youth & Families

Mark MaresEmail: mmares@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 353

Mark comes from rural upstate New York, where he served four churches as a Pastoral Fellow for Youth and Young Adults through the Regional Synod of Albany in the Reformed Church of America. Mark has Latin roots, which means his surname is pronounced with two syllables: MAH-rez.

Originally from Holland, Michigan and a graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, Mark joined the traditional Tulip Time March in Dutch shoes while playing in the high school band. You may recognize Mark as he was once a barista at a Starbucks in Ann Arbor, and occasionally attended First Pres in Ann Arbor when his wife Jenna was a graduate student at U of M. Mark enjoys soccer, so much so that he named his dog Lio (short for the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi!). He is also a Detroit Tigers fan and visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown twice while in New York.

Mark enjoys the energy that working with youth brings. At his previous position, he led local pilgrimages with youth, where they looked at local history and challenges for the people at that time. They then explored the spiritual practices that sustained them. When you meet Mark, you will find one of his greatest skills is listening thoughtfully. He is not intimidated by tough conversations: One of his more meaningful moments as a high schooler was participating in gatherings that would bring rival gangs together.

A lifelong learner, Mark was influenced at a young age by multi-generational and multi-cultural approaches to liturgy and worship. Mark will be leading an intergenerational team to develop and nurture our ministry with youth and their families at First Pres.

David VanderMeer
Minister of Music and Fine Arts

Dave VanderMeerEmail: dvandermeer@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 347

Dave completed his undergraduate studies at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and received a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology (Worship Concentration) in 2017 from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He comes to us from Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia where he served as the Minister of Music and Fine Arts since 2001. While there, Dave conducted the college-age/adult Chancel Choir and three handbell choirs (youth, intermediate, and advanced), oversaw the graded choir program and supervised a music staff of four musicians. He planned and participated in weekly worship planning and monthly Taizé Prayer services, oversaw the Liturgical Arts Guild, served as Staff Resource for the Worship, Music, and Arts Committee, and was curator of the Tull Hall Art Gallery for Central Presbyterian.

Dave is a Certified Church Musician through, and current President of, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM), an organization that provides resources, conferences, publications and a network of members engaged in worship, music, and the arts worldwide. He has served as the Conference Director for PAM Worship and Music Conferences at Mo-Ranch in Hunt, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Montreat, North Carolina. He is a member of the Hymn Society of America and Canada, Choristers Guild, National Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, American Guild of Organists, Handbell Musicians of America, Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM).

Dave is married to Brent Ivey and has a daughter, Caryn, who lives in Dallas, Texas, and who will be married in April of 2020. Together, they enjoy cooking, travel, arts, nature, reading, and entertaining.

Paul Haebig
Interim Organist

Paul HaebigEmail: phaebig@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 351

Paul Haebig has been organist and choir director for Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Jewish congregations and has directed and accompanied community and school choirs. In 2005 Paul moved to Ann Arbor for graduate study at the University of Michigan School of Music. Fun fact: for several years Paul was the music director for Mr. Rogers’ home church in Pittsburgh.

Sandy Talbott
Wellness Coordinator / Parish Nurse

Email: stalbott@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 350

Sandy Talbot, Parish NurseSandy has been a nurse practitioner for over 30 years and brings an abundant blend of nursing skills, knowledge, and experience to the position. Women’s Health, College Health, clinical studies, private practice and clinical informatics are some of the areas she’s served. As a member of First Presbyterian Church, she has worked in youth and campus ministry programs, traveled to Haiti with our mission team, and served as co-moderator of the deacons. Sandy married childhood friend, Mark Lindley, in 1997, and joined First Pres later that year. The blended family of four (Bryan, Katie, Alexa, and Clare) are now grown and scattered across the nation. She enjoys puzzles, cooking, travel and reading – especially when any include her family.

Rev. Evans McGowan
Campus Ministries Coordinator

Email: emcgowan@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 346

Evans McGowanAfter serving as a Resident Minister from 2011 to 2013, Evans McGowan spent the last four years in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. There he taught social studies and math at a private middle school, Pu‘ukumu, and preached regularly at a small local UCC congregation with a big name, Church of the Pacific. Evans notes that he is excited to be back working at First Pres Ann Arbor with college students and young people, especially the Confirmation class and the High School Group, Keystones. He will work 25-hours a week in his role as the Campus Ministries Coordinator.

Evans’ education includes a BA of Political Science from Davidson College in North Carolina and an M. Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary in California. While in the Bay Area, Evans worked as an Adult Ministries Intern. He was born in Austin, Texas, schooled in Delaware, and in 2005 lived abroad in Kenya as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer.

Evans and his wife Emily Presley recently celebrated nine years of marriage. She grew up in Northville and attended Greenhills School. Evans shares that he enjoys going up to Walloon Lake where his in-laws live, getting outdoors for sports, hiking, biking and paddling, reading up on current events, working on his own creative writing projects, and staying involved in the education of our young people.

Andrew Frazier
Resident Minister

Email: afrazier@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 348

Andrew FrazierAndrew grew up an active young Presbyterian in Carrollton, Georgia. As the son of two singers, Andrew’s childhood was filled with music: taking piano lessons, sitting in on his father’s opera rehearsals, and singing in numerous state-wide choirs. After a particularly formative summer as a vocal major in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, Andrew decided to pursue a piano performance degree at the University of Georgia (UGA). He quickly realized how much he missed singing, so he switched degree programs and earned his BMus in Voice Performance in 2009.

Andrew spent the six years between college and seminary waiting tables, and he says of that time: “I learned about myself in ways I would not change, even though the lessons were often painful, and it was through those experiences that I was called back to the church and to seminary.” Andrew became a member of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas in March of 2014 and spent the next year volunteering with the senior high youth group before enrolling in Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the fall of 2015. During his four years in Austin, he became interested in the intersection of faith, worship, music, the creative arts, lament, doubt, and hopelessness.

Andrew feels particularly called to pastoral care and congregational life. His gifts of vulnerability, compassion, incarnational presence, and authenticity were affirmed during his CPE internship as a hospital chaplain, and it was through this work that he realized his desire to walk with people through the sorrows and joys of their lives. Andrew is excited to begin serving and learning from the First Pres community, particularly because of the significant transition period the church is currently in. Andrew says: “I believe we grow the most during transitions – times when we’re invited to draw nearer to God and to one another – and I’m excited to grow in faith and love with the First Pres community.”

Rev. Khayla Johnson
Resident Minister

Email: kjohnson@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 354

Khayla JohnsonI was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. I was born into a large family and raised in the Presbyterian tradition. I am the oldest of three children with a younger sister and  brother. My family means a lot to me, and they are a daily source of encouragement in my life. As far back as I can go within the family roots is to my great grandmother’s parents. My great grandmother was the matriarch of the family and everyone knew that. She was born on a farm to a family in Charleston, South Carolina. She was one of seven children; one of her six siblings is still alive today.

For as long as I can remember, my family has been a part of the Presbyterian faith tradition. At one point in my life I was worshiping in the same church as my great grandmother. She has since passed away, and I am still worshiping in that church. On any given Sunday you can see four generations of my relatives worshipping together. My family is a unique Christian family that understands the values of the faith tradition and teaches them to their children and grandchildren. I grew up in Saint James Presbyterian Church USA in Charleston, South Carolina. My mother and grandmother introduced me to church and helped nurture my relationship with God. When I was younger, I was always involved in the church, so I was taught a lot about who Christ is and what he did for us. My grandmother made sure that we went to church every Sunday and most days took us to Sunday school as well. As I grew older, I began to understand who Christ is to me and how much I loved him. This led me to Columbia Theological Seminary, where I graduated in May.

Before entering into seminary, I thought I was called to work in youth and young adult ministry. I knew how much relationships at that point in my life meant to me, and I knew I was wired to do that work well. I am still passionate about the need for the right person to do that work long term, especially in a time when we see a gap in the ages of those who attend church. After spending the last three years being pushed and learning about my leadership skills, I am beginning to see my ministry expand. I am passionate about the work of social justice and advocating for those around me. I am passionate about the importance of teaching in the church and how that will help individuals deepen their relationships with God. God has called me to lead. God has called me to preach, teach, and build up communities. I am called to proclaim the Word of God in a variety of places.

My hobbies and interests include photography, drawing, and sports. Photography gives me a chance to capture authentic moments of people whether it’s good or bad - seeing people in ways they don’t see themselves and giving people these memories to look back on with friends and family. I enjoy spending time behind a camera, rather than being in front of one. I have used photography in seminary to create the We Are Columbia photo exhibit. Drawing takes me back to my child-like imagination of just drawing whatever I want and expressing myself. Sports are more like a stress reliever to run around and play like a kid enjoying the company of other people. I’ve spent my seminary career coaching six-year olds in soccer each week with the YMCA. In addition, I find these are ways to build relationships with a variety of people. I am interested in the ways we can express ourselves, instead of just sitting in a room talking.

Rev. Amy Ruhf
Resident Minister

Email: aruhf@firstpresbyterian.org, Extension: 355

Amy RuhfRev. Amy Ruhf arrives in Ann Arbor by way of Messiah College, California University of Pennsylvania and Princeton Theological Seminary. After completing an undergraduate degree in sports medicine, Amy served as the athletic trainer for Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, school district from 2008 to 2016. In that time, she provided medical care for 600 student athletes. At Princeton, she completed her Master of Divinity degree in May 2019. In 2016, Amy received a commission in the US Navy Chaplain Candidate Program at the rank of Ensign on April 20, 2016. She was promoted to the rank of LT- JG on April 20, 2018. Upon leaving Ann Arbor in two years, Amy will serve as a Navy Chaplain, wherever that might be.

She was ordained in her home church in Ambler, Pennsylvania on June 30 of 2019. Prior to attending seminary, Amy served as a deacon, a small group leader, and a teacher and has been active in the music ministry of the church. She’s organized successful fundraising events to benefit children with severe disabilities. While at Princeton, she completed a meaningful program in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Residency at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital that prepared her well for the challenges of pastoral ministry. Amy enjoys anything that gets her outside: backpacking & hiking, running, playing softball and fly fishing. She’s a reader, a singer and a hand bell player. Amy says “my greatest interest in ministry is relational living. I seek to live in healthy relationships with God, with other people, and with nature and seek to help others do the same.”