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 began his ministry as a camp counselor at Kirkmont Center and continued his ministry as a Youth Pastor and Seminary Intern with The First Presbyterian Church of Troy in Ohio. Mario was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament on September 18, 2014 by the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery. 

    Mario and Melissa Bolivar were married in 2011 and together have a child name Dante David Bolivar who was born in 2015. Mario and Mel are bilingual, so Dante is being raised to speak both English and Spanish. 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. 


  • Melanie Howard

    Executive director

    Melanie joined the FPCE staff in July 2010 as our church's full time administrator. Melanie has a BS from Bates College in Lewiston Maine and has done Master's work in Administration at St. Joseph's College, Maine. She's also earned a degree in Nursing. Melanie served for seven years as a Clerk of Session in the Philadelphia Presbytery, and has many years of experience as a church administrator. Melanie is also an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). 


  • Insert Your name here

    Youth coordinator

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  • 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. 


  • 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. 


  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • Tim Holifield

    Volunteer Worship leader, the crossing

    Tim is a graduate of Stetson University, with deep roots in the Eustis area.  Tim works full time in senior management at Entia, a technology company in Central Fl, and is also an ordained Elder at First Church.  We are doubly blessed to have Tim and Joy leading worship at the Crossing every week.


  • Alysa Hritzik

    Volunteer in communication & Marketing

    Alysa was born and raised in Central Florida. She and her husband Mike have two beautiful children, Gavin and Avery. Alysa has a B.S. in Communication from Florida State University and has been a licensed Realtor since 2002. She is passionate about helping women and children. She is an active supporter of various women’s ministries in Lake County. In addition to serving on the communications team at First Church, she works in marketing as a media specialist at Florida Hospital Waterman.


  • Derrick De Yarman

    Volunteer in youth, communication & Marketing

    Derrick, better known as “D” to all of our youth, relocated from Wisconsin in 2000 to become the church's Director of Youth and Children's Ministry. He has been trained through Tentmakers Ministry, and has spent nearly half his life doing youth and children's ministry. Over the years, D has volunteered with YARC/Younglife,  served as a church summer camp counselor, worked at the Tentmakers Leadership Development program, and was co-founder of Crossfire Ministries, now known as Center Street Kids. He has served as a youth and children's director for Presbyterian churches in both Wisconsin, and right here at FPC Eustis


    When not playing around on Facebook or hanging out with his youth, D loves live music, game nights with friends, football, and he is borderline addicted to paddle sports.   


  • 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.