our team

Meet Our Pastor

Rev. Nicholas Merchant

Pastor and Head of Staff 
nicm@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
Nic graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in applied mathematics, earned an M. Div. from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and is currently working towards a Doctor of Ministry at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He joined the team at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale on June 1, 2008 and for the next 10 years oversaw and grew the Youth and College Ministry by ensuring that participants nurture their faith in Jesus Christ. In May of 2018 Nic answered the call to serve our church as Associate Pastor for Spiritual Formation and served in that role through 2022. In August of 2023 he began serving in the role of Pastor & Head of Staff and is excited to continue serving this community where God has called him and his family. He and his wife Amy met at FPC Fort Lauderdale when they were in high school and have been married since 2012. They are parents to Hannah, Luke, James and Daniel and are grateful to be a part of the First Pres family.

Rev. Diane Shoaf

Bridge Pastor
Reverend Diane Shoaf, a Minister of Word and Sacrament/Ruling Edler in the Presbyterian Church (USA.), served churches and higher education institutions in South Florida from 1991-2016. Since her Honorable Retirement in 2016, she has remained active in local interfaith and social justice dialogue and action initiatives. Her current ministry of spiritual companionship and spiritual direction engages individuals and groups in meaningful conversation, deep listening, reflection, and discernment. Currently, she leads an antiracist book club using a group spiritual direction process and facilitated the creation of Advent and Lenten evening worship modeled on the music and worship of the Taize community. She and her husband Dave recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Their family, four adult children, 2 daughters and 2 sons, and five grandchildren, ages 7 to 18, all currently reside in Miami.

Meet the team

Evan Barber

AVL Technical Coordinator
evanb@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
With extensive training in a wide variety of disciplines in the Audio/Visual Field, Evan operates most of the A/V equipment on the church campus. Originally from Ohio and raised in south Georgia, Evan has a passion for film-making and music. His favorite scripture is Matthew 6:16-18.

Jonathan Bock

Young Adult Ministry Coordinator
jonb@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
Jon was born and raised in New Jersey. He moved to Florida in 2013. He has actively served our church in various capacities and areas of our church. Jon found freedom and purpose at First Pres and is proud to call FPC his church home. His passions include sports, traveling, his grandma, and impacting the lives of those around him through the grace of God. Jon’s favorite scripture is Matthew 11:28.

Susan Christian

Membership Coordinator
susanc@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9360
Raised in Broward County, Susan joined the finance team in November 2015 with 15 years in bank operations and 13 years in finance with our “Pink” sister church. She enjoys crafts, home improvement projects and opportunities to serve. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:6.

Gretchen Fasulo

Music Associate
Gretchen has been involved with the Music Ministry at First Presbyterian Church for longer than she can remember! When she is not working with the children’s choir, she enjoys playing with her kids and reading. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11-13.
Chandler Gelb
Director of Youth & College Ministries
chandlerg@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
Chandler has been part of the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale staff since September of 2016 and our director since 2018. She is passionate about supporting our students to be servant leaders and active followers of Jesus Christ. She is currently pursuing a Master in Divinity at Duke University.  Her favorite scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:2.
Reid Masters
Minister of Music
reidm@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9322
Joining the FPC family in 2021, Reid is eager to share his dynamic vision of music ministry. Known for his infectious passion, he has extensive experience directing community, collegiate, and professional choirs. In addition to music, Reid enjoys traveling the world with his husband, Allison. His favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13
Andy McBeath
Principal Organist & Music Administor
andym@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
Andy is excited to begin serving as organist and Music Admin at Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale. Previously, he served as the Director of Music at St Mark Lutheran Church in Lindenhurst, Illinois. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Music Degree from New York University.  He just celebrated his one year wedding anniversary with his wife Katie and they love living with their sweet pup, Piper.  Andy's favorite scripture is Psalm 150:1-5.

Karen Metzger

Accounting Assistant 
karenm@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9335
Bio coming soon.

Emily Owen

Vice Principal, Happyland Day School
emilyo@firstpres.cc  |  954-463-6051
Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Emily joined the team at First Presbyterian Church in August 2017. She grew up as a member of First Pres and has two daughters currently enrolled in Happyland, making it a ministry that has been close to her long before working there. Emily enjoys reading, cooking, spending time with family, and her favorite scripture is Matthew 6:21.

Mona Petersen

Director, Adult Education Ministry & Small Groups
monap@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9345
Mona has a steadfast goal: To have each church member plugged into a small group and ministry that feeds their spiritual growth. A Florida native, Mona joined the team at First Presbyterian Church in April 2012. Her favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6.

Mike Shaw

Facilities Manager
mikes@firstpres.cc  |  954-462-6200
As Facility Manager, Mike is tasked with managing the maintenance and operations of our beautiful buildings and grounds.  Mike is working on getting familiar with the workings of our campus. Born in Florence Township, New Jersey, he was raised in the Catholic faith.  On moving to Ft. Lauderdale 7 years ago, someone invited Mike to visit First Pres and he found it a place that was warm and accepting. He has been a member since 2018.  His favorite scripture is Matthew 4:19.

Michelle Shev

Executive Assistant to the Pastors
michelles@firstpres.cc |  954-598-9311
Michelle joined the FPC team in August of 2019 as Executive Assistant to the Pastors.   She brings forth extensive experience as EA to CEO’s in various industries such as Florida Panther Holdings, Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County and was also the Riding Academy Manager at Harley Davidson.  Michelle is originally from Michigan and enjoys spending time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula.   Her passion is interior design and favorite verse is 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you”.

Lillie Shuler

A Florida native, Lillie has been working at First Presbyterian Church since 2012. In her free time she enjoys fishing and Bible study. Her favorite scripture is Psalm 121.

Corey Thiel

Principal, Happyland Day School
coreyt@firstpres.cc  |  954-463-6051
Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Corey was a teacher for 17 years before becoming the Principal at Happyland Day School. She enjoys yoga and hanging out with her family. Her favorite quote is, “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun-not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” –C.S. Lewis

Cindy Vason

Director, Children’s Ministry
cindyv@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9341
With a passion for seeing children and families grow in their faith, Cindy started her work with the Children’s Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in August 2006. In her free time she enjoys running, crafts and spending time with her family. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13.

Steve Wofford

Church Administrator
stevew@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9333
Steve began his service as our Church Business Administrator in November, 2014, after serving two large churches in a similar capacity for many years. He is a CPA with years of public accounting and business experience prior to beginning his vocational church service. Steve and his wife Jane enjoy family activities with their children and grandchildren, and our beautiful beach.

Laura Ziegler

Director, Adult Activity Center (AAC) for Seniors
lauraz@firstpres.cc  |  954-598-9312
Laura joined the First Presbyterian Church team in September 2009 and currently is the Director and Program Coordinator of the Adult Activity Center for Senior Adults. In her free time she enjoys watching and attending sporting events , traveling, gardening and dining out at new restaurants. Her favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6.