Pastoral, Program & Support Staff

Dave and his wife, Yuri, riding the Katy Trail.

Pastor — Dave Carlson — I’m a second-career pastor; maybe third, but who’s counting!  From journalism to public relations/marketing and, finally and happily, to ministry. My love of ministry began in the 1990s when I developed and facilitated a small group for people who were unemployed and co-led a class on spirituality in the workplace. Today, that desire to come alongside people and help them to find a touchstone to what’s really important to them — God’s love, sense of family, belonging and caring — is present in all that I do. Along the way, I was blessed to study and serve at Princeton Seminary, where I earned my Master of Divinity degree in 2006 and facilitated small groups for Contemplative Prayer and health and wholeness.  My earlier studies include a Master’s of Marketing & Communications and a Bachelor’s in Journalism, both in Ohio. I am married to Yuri Ito, a wonderful wife and best friend with a heart for ministry. Yuri is a substitute librarian and maintains a flute studio at home, teaching private lessons to the community’s young people, as well as sharing her musical talents in worship. The other members of our household are Tabitha, our beloved feline, and Lacey, our corgi extraordinaire. Yuri and I enjoy mountain biking, hitting the gym, taking in movies, and travel.  During quieter moments, I can be found happily passing the time with a good book or tackling a project around the house.

Bonnie (right) and her sister-in-law Mary enjoying a Nebraska game.

Bonnie (right) and her sister-in-law Mary enjoying a Nebraska game.

Director of Christian Education – Bonnie Ratcliff - Bonnie is very excited to be serving on a great team of ministry leaders at First Presbyterian Church of Independence.  Previously, she worked at churches in Missouri, Nebraska and Georgia, developing, leading and facilitating their Christian Education ministries.  Bonnie has been a professional Christian Educator since 2008 and is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, where she completed their Dual Degree Program earning a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in Christian Education in May 2015.  Bonnie enjoys her role teaching and nurturing the faith in children and youth and people of all ages, even as she continues to develop new skills and insights as a Christian Educator in ministry alongside others.  Bonnie is married to Will Ratcliff, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tarkio.  “Being a Christian Educator is more than just having a love of children and youth.  To me, it also requires a heart for God and calling to share with others the love that God has put in my heart.”

David leads the choir in an Anthem of praise to God.

David leads the choir in an Anthem of praise to God.

Music Director and Praise Leader – David Sanchez – Music has always been a very integral part of my life.  Even as a youngster, I can remember how much joy singing and playing around on the piano brought me.  Throughout high school, I could always be found in choir, speech and debate, or on stage acting in every production that my school funded.  I’ve always loved contemporary Christian music, and have more than five years experience as a Praise Team Leader.  I am now a graduate student in music and voice at UMKC, having earned my undergraduate degree from William Jewell College.  As I continue my study of music, I hope to one day sing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.  The future is still a mystery for me, as it is for anyone who wants to perform for a living, but I know that there is no denying God’s plan for me now.  I sensed that the divine power of the Lord guided me when I joined in ministry at First Presbyterian Church.  Together we continue to support and enhance the liveliness of the service, lifting up an inviting and soulful experience for all, with our Lord at the center.

Resident Organist Glenna Hagelin – I have been working regularly as a church organist since September 2000, when First Presbyterian hired me as their associate organist. There was a period of about a year when I worked at another church, but in December 2009, I returned to First Presbyterian, this time as resident organist. Playing for services and accompanying the choir are satisfying activities, and I enjoy contributing to the congregational worship. My music training includes music performance degrees in flute (Bachelor of Music, Wichita State University; Master of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music) and organ (M.M., UMKC Conservatory of Music, 2003). A few of the things that I enjoy doing in my free time include walking/hiking, reading, biking, and playing games at the computer.

Church Secretary – Debbie Sullivan – God has truly blessed me with an incredible life.  I’ve been married to my husband and best friend for 32 years, we have two young-adult children, a son and a daughter, who are my world, three beloved cats and an adorable black Lab. I stay very busy with working at my dream job,  projects around the house, my pets and spending time with family and friends.  Some of my many passions are going to my church, animals, hockey and all genres of music.  I also enjoy cooking, gardening, shopping and going on hikes or long walks with my husband.  When time allows, I like to just relax and watch true-crime shows on TV or browse on the Internet.

About Our Nursery: Our goal in the nursery is to care for our wee ones in a safe, comfortable environment, and at the appropriate ages begin to introduce them to a little bit of structure – Bible stories, coloring pages, and enjoying snack time — all for the purpose of teaching them not only about Jesus, but also to be able to spend some time in quiet. Then their transition to Sunday School classes at age 3 is made a little easier for them and their future teachers. We are proud that members and visitors alike can rely on a safe, enjoyable and constructive nursery experience for their children.

Merry with her dog, Paris

Church SextonMerry Oliphant – I have been employed with First Presbyterian Church since November 1999. I enjoy working for the church and its members and appreciate the opportunity to do so. I love my family, animals, riding my motorcycle and new-found-love of kayaking.

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