about us title: Who We Are
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link to history page
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link to the officers and committees page




Meet Our Staff 

Rev. Ray Fancher
Interim Pastor
Phone: (803)773-3814, ext. 102
Email: rayfancher@fpcsumter.org

After receiving his Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas, Ray served congregations in Texas and Iowa. For ten years he then served as the Associate Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with the primary responsibility for the development and expansion of an ecumenical retreat and conference center in the greater Kansas City area. Since 2002, Ray has served intentionally in Interim Ministry, both as an Interim Pastor and for three and a half years as the Interim General Presbyter for the Presbytery of Wabash Valley in Indiana. As Interim Pastor he has served churches in Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina. For the past eight years he has also served as a faculty member teaching Interim education for ministry leaders in St. Louis, Princeton, and Washington State. While he was raised in the Church of Christ tradition, Ray is Presbyterian by choice. When describing his decision to join the Presbyterian Church (USA), Ray said, "I fell in love all over again. It was as if I had come home!"

Ray has shared his life and ministry with his wife of thirty-three years, Sheryl, who has a graduate degree and a degree in counseling. She serves as the Director of Ministry Development Service for the Presbyterian Psychological Service in Charlotte, North Carolina, now on a part-time basis since their move to Sumter. Ray and Sheryl have two grown children and three grandchildren, as well as a two year old rescue dog, Riley (Boxer-mix).

Rev. Janie McElwee-Smith
Associate Pastor for Youth
Phone: (803)773-3814, ext. 104
Email: janie@fpcsumter.org

Janie was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She went to North Carolina for college at Wake Forest University graduating with a degree in Religion and Political Science. She then went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, completing her degree in May, 2009. She also served as Youth Director at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church outside of Nashville.

While at Wake Forest University, she met Brad Smith and they married in June of 2007. They love cooking (and eating) with friends, movies, traveling, spending time with their two children- Sophie (a seventy five pound shepherd mix) and Loki (a nine pound Maltese).


Joni Brown
Director of Music Ministry
Phone: (803) 773-3814 ext. 103
Email: jonibrown@fpcsumter.org

Joni Mabry Brown is originally from Lee County, Virginia. She received her Bachelor's of Music Education degree from Western Carolina University and her Master's of Music Education degree from the University of South Carolina. She has taught at T.C. Roberson High School in Skyland, North Carolina and at Gibbes Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina before taking a position at Bates Middle School in Sumter, South Carolina. Mrs. Brown directed the Bate's Middle School Band from 1981 until her retirement in 2010. Mrs. Brown continues to teach clarient privately and performs with the Palmetto Concert Band and the Sumter Community Concert Band. She is an active adjuticator, clinician and guest conductor throughout the Southeast. She has also directed several musicals at Sumter Little Theater.

She is married to David R. Brown, accountant for Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five. They live in Sumter with their SPCA rescue dogs: Toby, Joe and Sasha.


Hamilton Stoddard
Email: Stoddard@sumter17.k12.sc.us

Hamilton has served as organist at First Presbyterian Church since 2002. She began serving as an organist at the age of 12 years old for the First Presbyterian Church of Mayesville, SC. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC, and a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Hamilton has a wonderful family - two sons, Hugh and Robert, and a very sweet new daughter-in-law, Jennifer&her husband Hugh is a wonderful support for all her musical activities. She is also the music teacher for Millwood Elementary School.


Marian Carnes
Preschool/Kindergarten Director
Phone: 803-773-9027
Email: marian@fpcsumter.org

Marian Carnes has been the director of First Presbyterian Preschool and Kindergarten since the fall of 2000. She is from Sumter, SC and is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church. Marian graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA degree in Early Childhood Education. She taught kindergarten for 14 years at Crosswell Drive Elementary prior to accepting the directors position. Her husband Mike, and two boys Matthew and Mark, are avid USC fans. In her free time she tries to keep up with her very active familys schedule of basketball, baseball, football and tennis. She most enjoys watching them in whatever they are involved in playing.


Neil Ross
Business Manager
Phone: (803) 773-3814 ext. 105
Email: neilross@fpcsumter.org

Neil came on board as our business manager in June, 2012. Neil was born and raised in Sumter. He is married to Joyce and together they have been blessed with two children and two grandchildren. They are members of Alice Drive Baptist Church where Neil has served as deacon and as a member and chairman of the stewardship team.

Neil earned his bachelor of science in accounting from the University of South Carolina and holds memberships in both the national and state CPA associations. His professional background as a certified public accountant includes 35+ years in public accounting practice, from which he retired in 2010. As business manager, Neil is responsible for the day to day business and financial affairs of the Church, as well as oversight of the Church buildings and campus. He is ready and willing to serve and support our congregation in our life in Christ.


Shirley Wood
Administrative Assistant
Phone: (803) 773-3814 ext. 101
Email: swood@fpcsumter.org

As Administrative Assistant, Shirley provides secretarial support to the Ministers as well as committee chairs and the membership in general. Her duties include receiving and greeting visitors, members, and all others who come into the church office Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Shirley also maintains the churchs activities calendar and coordinates scheduling and use of church facilities. She is responsible for publishing the weekly newsletter and worship bulletins. She has been a part of the FPC staff since May 1989.

Marvin Brunson - Facilities Manager


Mae Barnes
Childcare Provider

The young children of First Presbyterian are in good hands  those of Mae who has helped show many what a fun time going to church can be. She is a professional childcare provider and has been caring for the children of this church since the mid 80s. She provides childcare on Sunday mornings and evenings as well as during special services and programs. Mae also works for the First Presbyterian Preschool & Kindergarten.