Pastor & Staff

  • Rev. Mario Bolivar

    Pastor and Head of Staff

    Mario Alberto Bolivar was born in Barranquilla [baraŋˈkiʝa] which is on the northern coast of Colombia, South America. He went to a Presbyterian High School in Colombia and later received his Bachelors Degree in Law from the Simon Bolivar University of Colombia in 2006. Mario later graduated with his Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH in 2012. Most recently, he has completed an Executive Training in Adaptive Leadership from McCormick Seminary. Mario was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament on September 18, 2014 by the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery (PCUSA.) 

    Mario and Melissa Bolivar were married in 2011 and together have two children. They are a bilingual family so you will hear them often speaking Spanish and English.  Mario became an American Citizen in 2017 concluding his process of naturalization with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services. 

    In his free time, Mario enjoys working on home improvements and playing competitive slow-pitch softball. As a family, they enjoy going on day trips and discovering God’s beauty while having an adventure. Throughout the year and church calendar, Mario enjoys using film and technology to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 


  • Laurel Climo

    Church Administrator

    Laurel was born and raised in Toledo Ohio. She graduated in 2002 with a BBA in business administration with a major in corporate finance and business law. She moved to Florida in 2003. She was married from 1998 to 2017 and over the years she had three boys now ages 17, 15 and seven. Laurel has held various management positions along with managing a church in Sanford for almost 3 years. In her free time her main passion is the water, whether it’s on a boogie board or boat. She loves to garden, do landscaping and have bonfires in her backyard. She enjoys playing (and watching) all sports with her very active three boys. She also is a classically trained pianist and plays the guitar and ukulele. Fun fact: she has not been to a hair salon in more than 14 years and enjoys doing her own hair.


  • Cheryl Matthews

    Church Secretary

    Cheryl was born in Ft. Lauderdale but as an Air Force brat had the opportunity to move and travel throughout the U.S. and Germany. She spent her high school years riding and competing in horse shows and cheerleading. Cheryl married her husband Blane in 1985 and they have five children between the ages of 13 and 38. They enjoy spending family time together especially in the outdoors on the boat. Cheryl spent the last 28 years in Early Childhood education, from teaching for nine years to working for a not-for-profit program in Tampa. Recently her family decided they wanted to see more of her so she left her hectic and demanding job to find a position closer to home doing what she enjoys, working within her community.  Cheryl makes it a point to bring a big smile and heart with her and tries to be a blessing to someone every day.


  • Cynthia Curtis

    Director of traditional music

    Cindy has been the director of Music at 1st Presbyterian Church since 1978, and has a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Central Florida, and has engaged in post-graduate studies at Westminster Choir College, Princeton. Cindy leads all of the choirs at First Church including our Chancel Choir, Gold Handbell Choir and Youth Ringers.


  • Joyful Holifield

    Worship leader, the crossing

    Joyful and her husband Tim have been leading worship at First Church since 2011. Tim and Joy are passionate about leading worship and reaching out to the underserved and the local community. They were married in April 2012, and now have two little boys, James and Elisha.  Joy is a licensed physical therapist assistant, who is now working out of the home taking care of James, as well as planning and preparing worship at The Crossing. 


  • Crystal Pierce

    Youth coordinator

    Crystal was born in New Hampshire and transplanted to central Florida when she was eight. She graduated with an AA in Education and has served as a chapter president for a youth non-profit SCUBA diving group. She was married in 2015 and blended her family of five with two more, raising their seven children with her husband, Adam. Crystal loves organizing and crafting just about anything. She loves hockey (Go Bruins!) and studied structural anatomy, conditioning, and injury prevention before being diagnosed with genetic heart failure. She used her experience to become closer to God and experienced God's love through the generosity of the church during her treatments. This led her to seek a better connection with her church family and give back in return.


  • Shannon walter

    director of children's ministries

    Shannon Walter is our Director of Children’s Ministries and has been active in our church for three years. She is married to Jeramie and enjoys homeschooling their daughter Lauren while also serving in MOPS leadership and maintaining a home-based crocheting business. 


  • Kayla Stever

    director of Mom's Morning out

    Kayla is a Florida native and lives in Mt. Dora with her husband and two children, Jon Jr. who is 7 and Kamiah who is 5. She's passionate about teaching children through hands-on activities and creativity while helping them prepare for preschool.  As the current coordinator for our Teen MOPS ministry, Kayla enjoys mentoring young mothers and helping them set and achieve their life goals.


  • Shawnie Cheatham

    Preschool Director

    Shawnie has been a Preschool Director for 18 years and is passionate about teaching children in creative and loving ways. She has been married to her husband Mike for 36 years and they have 4 daughters and 7 grandchildren. Her favorite things include M&M's, travel, reading and lady bugs!


  • Nancy MacDonald

    Nursery director

    Nancy has been the Nursery Director at First Presbyterian Church for over 34 years. Some of the little ones she's cared for over the years have had the privilege of bringing their own children to her now. Nancy is completely dedicated to the growth, nurture and well-being of all of the children in her care. A few years ago, in appreciation for her dedication and her hard work, the congregation dedicated the nursery in her name and in her honor. We are blessed to have Nancy on our staff and serving in ministry at First Presbyterian Church. 

  • Laura Bradley

    worship technology coordinator

    After vowing never to return Laura has landed back in her home county and at FPCE with over 10 years of experience in church media. Whether her angelic glow comes from her teacher’s halo or from the computer screen has yet to be determined. When she’s not busy shaping the minds of fourth graders or tripping on cables you can find her outside soaking up the sun; because like any Florida native, she’s solar powered. 


  • Laura Phillips

    Director of Marketing & Communications

    Laura Phillips holds degrees in journalism and education from West Virginia University. She owned a public relations and advertising agency in West Virginia for more than 30 years before retiring to Florida. She enjoys her work and writing, adventures, meeting people, reading, music, gardening, cooking, and all things outdoors, especially in/on the water. 


  • Brett Sutton

    Building supervisor

    Brett Sutton has been with First Church since 2010 and works as our Building Supervisor on a full time basis. Brett is a master stone crafter by trade and the owner of Sutton Enterprises DBA Quality Stonecrafters, his main business when he's not serving the Lord and the First Church family by doing a thousand things to keep our church campus looking great and running smoothly.  

  • richard paul


    Richard attended the University of Florida, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a major in accounting and earned the designation of Certified Public Accountant in March, 1965. Richard and his wife were married in the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis that same year. He says,"When I was little, I wanted to be grown up. One of these days I plan to do that." Here is a statement from Richard, "I consider the fact that I have been able to use my knowledge and skills as an accountant to help this Church bring the Word of God to our community a blessing from God for which I am forever grateful. I am not sure that my singing in the choir is a blessing."


  • Faye Thompson

    Financial Secretary

    Faye grew up in upstate New York and relocated to Central Florida in 1980. Faye spent 25 years as a computer programmer before going to work for a church and preschool in West Orange County.  She is married to Steve; they have 2 children and 1 granddaughter.  Faye also runs an embroidery and quilting business.

  • B. Grassel

    Volunteer Parish nurse

    B. is a trained RN and she also works for the Lake County Public School System in addition to serving for the past several years as our Parish Nurse. B. is a great resource and support to our Pastoral Care Team.