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All the Members of the Congregation
Bradley Walker, Pastor
Rev. Dr. Bradley Knox Walker answered the congregation’s call to become senior pastor for First Presbyterian in August, 2008. Since his arrival, he has been working alongside many members to discover what it means to be a missional congregation in the 21st century.
Brad was born in Texas, but grew up in Atlanta, GA. He attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he studied Philosophy. After college, he considered a career in restaurant work before following God’s call into ministry as a church youth director. It was during this time that he met his wife, Lee. Continuing to hear God’s call he attended Columbia Theological Seminary where he graduated with his Master of Divinity degree in 1989. Brad served congregations in Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama before coming to First Presbyterian in Topeka. He completed his Doctor of Ministry degree in May of 2012, again from Columbia Theological Seminary.
Brad and Lee have been married 25 years. Their son, Lane, is a student at Centre College in Kentucky. Brad enjoys golf, music (mostly, rock, jazz, and classical), reading, running, biking, car racing, sharing good meals, and being outdoors. The Walkers also share their house with a Cocker Spaniel, and two cats (or vice versa).
Sandra Stogsdill Brown, Designated Associate Pastor
The Rev. Sandra Stogsdill Brown began her work here as our Designated Associate Pastor in the summer of 2014. A native of the Kansas City area, Sandra studied music at the conservatory at University of Missouri, Kansas City before beginning her theological education. Sandra has lived in Southern California and holds an M.A. in Religious Education from the Claremont School of Theology in addition to a M.Div. from Central Baptist Theological Seminary; she also studied at Princeton.
Ordained in 2007, Sandra served as the associate pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Lee’s Summit, Missouri through June 2014. She is delighted to join in the mission of FPC Topeka—“sharing God’s love from the heart of Topeka”—and is excited to strengthen and support the good ministry that is already happening here. Sandra is a wordsmith who has a deep love of seeking the places where God’s word connects with everyday life, as well as helping people discern how God is working within them; she is also passionate about education, stewardship, team-building, creative worship, and “radical hospitality.”
Sandra and her husband Rod have been married since May 2014. They live in Meriden and have three daughters between them: Rachel Bell, age 14, Tabor Brown, age 12, and Madeleine Bell of Overland Park, age 19.
Laura Messer, Coordinator of Children and Youth Ministries
Laura is the daughter of members, Renee and Don Messer and has been an active member of FPC since 1993, participating in (and later volunteering with) Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation and youth group activities. As a member of the youth group, she went on four mission trips, was a member of youth council and PNK council, participated in PNK youth rallies, youth ski trips and attended the Montreat youth conference. Laura graduated from Westminster College in May with her Bachelor of Arts in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. At Westminster, she was an active leader in the Spiritual Life program. She is looking forward to pursuing further theological education in the next few years. Laura looks forward to joining the staff and serving the congregation as the Coordinator of children and youth ministries.
Kevin Kellim, Director of Music
Dr. Kevin Kellim has served as Music Director at First Presbyterian Church since 1990, where he conducts the Chancel Choir, supervises the scheduling of soloists and guest musicians, and serves on related committees at the church.
Kellim received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southwest Baptist University, a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from Kansas State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from The University of Kansas.
In addition, Kellim has been the choral director at Washburn University since 1992, where he conducts the Washburn Choir, Washburn Singers, and Women’s Chorus, and teaches courses in advanced conducting and private voice. Under Dr. Kellim’s direction, members of the Washburn Choir have toured Europe extensively and performed to enthusiastic audiences throughout South Africa.
Kellim is celebrating his 26th year as Music Director of the Topeka Festival Singers, a select choir of adult singers, performing a wide selection of choral literature ranging from Bach to Broadway.
An active conductor and adjudicator, Kellim has directed several honor choirs, festivals and music clinics throughout the region. He and his wife, Pam, are the proud parents of three amazing young adults and three wonderful grandsons.
Norma Pettijohn, Organist and Bell Choir
Norma Pettijohn, Organist and Bell Choir Director, has been at First Presbyterian Church since 1997. She was born in Illinois and educated in Topeka schools. Norma holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music degree from Kansas University, where she majored in Organ Performance and Music History and Literature. While there she was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, honorary music fraternity and Phi Alpha Theta, honorary history fraternity, and was an officer in Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity and Sigma Kappa Sorority. Norma had a private piano and organ studio in her home for 48 years and taught organ at Washburn University for 22 years. Previous organ and director positions in Topeka were at Westminster Presbyterian, Central Congregational, and First United Methodist. Norma has served on the boards of the Topeka Symphony, the Topeka Symphony League, Panhellenic, PEO, Topeka Community Concerts, Topeka Festival Singers, and is currently Sub-Dean of the Topeka American Guild of Organists and President of Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae. She is widowed, has two married daughters, Kathy Davies and Sharon Murdock, and three grandsons, Ben, Josh, and Andy Murdock.
Robert E. Jacoby II (Bob) has served as assistant organist at FPC Topeka since the fall of 1975. Recently retired as Family Practice physician after 37 years practice in Topeka, he has been an avid amateur organist since his first lessons with Richard M. Gayhart, organist at FPC Topeka (1947-1999) beginning in eighth grade (1960). He continued his organ studies (as a chemistry major) at KU also with Mr. Gayhart. He was organist at his home church, Central Presbyterian in Topeka (1965-1967), and while attending medical school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore he served as organist and choirmaster at Seventh Baptist Church (1969-1972). He was winner of the Young Artists competition of the Chesapeake Chapter AGO in 1969. He enjoys sharing playing duties with Norma Pettijohn, normally playing ten Sundays a year and frequently accompanying the choir on piano.
Coleen Akers, Financial Secretary
Francie Forrestt Riley, Communications Coordinator/Receptionist