Gary Arner

Facilities Director

I was born in Alexandria, Virginia but moved to the northern Indiana town of Highland when I was five and lived there until I went off to college. I was the second oldest of six kids, so I grew up knowing how to take care of babies and what it means to live in community. I enjoyed a wonderful, classic, Americana-style childhood and adolescence; walked to school, played sports, was a Boy Scout, went to church (Presbyterian, of course) every Sunday morning and church youth group every Sunday evening . . . I was also blessed to have to fantastic parents and even having gone to college and having been out and about the world for many years now my dad is still the role model to which I most aspire.

Having done pretty well in school math and sciences, I went off to Purdue University to become an engineer.
One of the best decisions of my entire life was proposing to my High school sweetheart, Sandy. Thankfully she said “yes.”
As our careers evolved we moved many times around the state of Indiana. Along the way we were blessed to have our two sons, Neil and Eric. The boys are now both married and are blessed to have children of their own, so now I proudly wear the title of Grandfather to Ephram Lee and Evangeline Rose.

In 1989 a job transfer led us to Johnson City, Tennessee. We Big-Ten, Indy 500, unsweetened tea, non-sympathetic signaling (ask me about that one) people had a little adjusting to do when we came south; but many wonderful, welcoming people who love Jesus quickly made us feel at home here.

“Laura Jean was born in Tennessee” is the opening lyric to a Brian White song and bespeaks the reality of the blessing of our only daughter, Laura Jean, born at the Speciality Hospital in Johnson City. Laura is now a Senior in High school and will head off to college next fall.

In December of 2008 my world turned upside down when the company I had transferred to Tennessee with and for which I had worked for twenty years suddenly went out of business without warning. But, God is good all the time and within a few months I had the privilege of being invited to join the staff here at First Pres. Looking back, I can now see the fingerprints of God as he carefully prepared me for these days. I do not know what the years ahead have in store, but I know and trust our loving God to lead me there!

Abraham Bodkins

Contemporary and Youth Music

I was born in West Virginia. My family is originally from Ohio, but I have lived in Tennessee my whole Life. I attended and graduated from University High School.

I’ve worked in telecommunications for many years, and have also worked in factories, pizza places, super-centers, and for finance companies. I currently work at the Double-tree Hotel and enjoy taking care of individual’s needs.

I have grown up in this church, and have been honored to serve in the music ministry here at FPCJC.

Laura Champouillon


I was born at Fort Jackson Army Base in Columbia, SC, but my family soon moved to Burlington, NC, where I grew up. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance. Besides being a church organist for many years, I have also maintained an active piano studio in my home since my college days.

I am a member of the Northwest Tennessee / Southwest Virginia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. I have been on the Executive Committee for the and I have served as Dean. I am also a member of the Music Teachers National Association, and its local chapter, the Appalachian Music Teachers Association.

Janice Cunningham

Ministry Assistant

Mom and Nana, with 30 years in various aspects of church ministry and 23 years as ministry assistant with Knox County Association of Baptists, First Baptist Church, Knoxville and First Presbyterian Church, Johnson City.

Larry Dodd

Worship and Music

I was born and raised in a small town in Northern Indiana. There were three kids in the family, all boys, and I was the youngest. I became involved in music ministry at the age of 16, when my home church, the Community Christian Church in New Carlisle, IN asked me to be their music director. What faith those folks had…but, being sixteen…I of course knew I could do the job?!?!? I received my Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University in South Bend. I taught choral music in the Westville Public Schools and for the New Prairie Jr. and Sr. High Schools in Indiana. In 1985, our family moved to Florida so that Kathy and I could be closer to our parents, and so that our children would know their grandparents better. While in Florida, I taught music at Brigham Elementary…soon to be Brigham Academy as well as Dennison Middle School. In addition, I served as Lead Teacher and Technology Leader at Brigham Academy. For two years I served as a Technical Education Consultant or FIRNTEC for the Florida Information Resource Network, and was housed at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Throughout my educational career, I continued to serve as a part-time music and youth director in primarily United Methodist Churches.

I had always felt a call on my heart into full-time music ministry, but my practical side always felt that a full-time ministry would have to wait till I retired from the educational system. God had other plans! In the late 90’s, First United Methodist Church of Auburndale, FL asked me to consider leaving education and moving into a full-time ministry position with them their youth and music director. There was no way to turn my back on God any further, and I made the transition to full-time music ministry. I have since that time served the church in Auburndale, FL, First United Methodist Church in Gainesville, FL, and came to First Presbyterian Church in September of 2007.

Jennifer Jacobs

Director of Children’s Ministry

I am originally from Cleveland, NY, and have lived in Florida and Virginia before settling in Tennessee. I attended ETSU majoring in nursing when I realized this was not God’s plan for me. I have been with FPCJC since 2005 where I volunteered with the Children’s ministry until my good friends planted the seed for me to take on the job of Children’s Ministry Coordinator in 2008. I love working and playing with the children while teaching them about Jesus’ love!


Stacy Larsen

The River

I lived all over Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota while growing up and attended college at Gustavus Aldolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota – graduating with a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Women Studies, Art, and Social Studies. Following college, I moved to Jackson, Mississippi where I was a librarian while my ex-husband attended medical school. Sarah was born in Des Moines during her dad’s surgery residency and we moved to Johnson City when she was three. At that time I entered the E.T.S.U. Early Childhood Department and graduated with a Master’s in 2000. I was employed at ETSU (adjunct teacher, research assistant, Master Teacher, and Family Support Specialist) before becoming the Director of The River in the summer of 2004.

Terry (Tree) Lewis


Amy Sentell


I was born & raised here in beautiful Johnson City, TN. I went to ETSU and majored in Advertising & Fine Arts. Several years later I began graduate work at Carson-Newman College in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. I taught Kindergarten for several years in Jefferson City before moving back to Johnson City. I have two amazing children (Hi Zeb & Ramsey!) and a menagerie of pets.

I love this crazy life with my family & friends, a good cup of coffee, reading, adventures, home improvement projects and my church & preschool families here at 1st Presbyterian Church. I’m proud to be a part of this wonderful preschool program that has been serving our community for over 70 years!