Pastoral Staff

PASTORS

 

Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons, Senior Pastor

The Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons began his ministry as the tenth Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, on September 1, 2007. As the primary preacher and leader of the pastoral staff, Dr. Gibbons plans and coordinates the church’s consistent biblical teaching and worship.

A native of Scotland, Dr. Gibbons began biblical studies at Glasgow Bible College in 1982, where several years later he supervised the student placement program and lectured in Evangelism, Communications, and Practical Homiletics. During this time he initiated missions in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. While serving The Church of Scotland's Board of National Mission in Inverness, from 1997 to 2007 Dr. Gibbons served as a Regional Development Officer to eight highland presbyteries and then as the Moderator of the Presbytery of Inverness. Dr. Gibbons currently acts as co-moderator on the ECO denomination’s Theological Task Force.

Dr. Gibbons holds joint honors in Ecclesiastical History and Systematic Theology from the University of Glasgow and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Highland Theological College.

He and his wife, Ruth, have one adult son.





 

Rev. Dr. Shelton P. Sanford III, Executive Pastor

The Rev. Shelton P. Sanford III joined the First Presbyterian staff in 2016 as Executive Director, overseeing the church pastoral and lay staff; he became Executive Pastor in 2019.

A native of Macon, GA, he graduated from Mercer University with a B.A. Degree in Business Administration. Before entering the ministry, he was in the retail furniture business and served as a Deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Macon. He entered Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS, in 1975, where he received his Master of Divinity Degree (1978) and Doctor of Ministry Degree (1984).

Dr. Sanford served as Pastor of Thomson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Centreville, MS, 1978–1980; Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Brookhaven, MS, 1980–1984; and Senior Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Rock Hill, SC, 1984–2014, honorably retiring with Pastor Emeritus status in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is now an affiliate pastor in the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).

Dr. Sanford has served as a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, and Charlotte, NC; as chairman of the Mission to the World Committee of General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America; and on the Boards of Christ’s College in Taipei, Taiwan, and the African Bible College. He is a regular speaker at mission conferences and has made numerous trips to the mission field, including India, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Kenya, Ukraine, and Malawi.

Dr. Sanford and his wife Mary Ann have four adult children and five grandchildren.






 

Rev. Tim Leslie, Congregational Care Pastor

The Rev. Tim Leslie has served at First Presbyterian Church since January 18, 1999. He oversees ministries of congregational and community support, including prayer, counseling, support groups, Stephen Ministry, military, and emergency assistance.

After receiving a BA from Belhaven College in 1973, Tim continued his education at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, where he received his Master of Divinity in 1976. He served in pastorates in Alabama and Florida. During the Florida pastorate he began his pursuit of a Master of Theology in New Testament from Columbia Theological Seminary which he received in 1995.

Tim and his wife, Cathy, have three adult children and six grandchildren.






 

Rev. Stan Johnson, Visitation and Prayer Pastor

The Rev. Stan Johnson began serving First Presbyterian Church on November 8, 2004. He oversees the Prayer and Visitation ministries of the church. 

A native of Greenville, Stan graduated from Greenville High School in 1969 and Furman University in 1973. After receiving his degree in 1985 from Covenant Theological Seminary, he pastored for 14 years in Kentucky, then returned to Greenville to serve as chaplain at Greenville Memorial Hospital. Stan came to First Presbyterian Church as Pastoral Care Intern in September of 2003. 


Stan and his wife, Stephanie, have six children and one grandchild.

   




 

Rev. Brian Stewart, Evangelism & Missions Pastor

The Rev. Brian Stewart has brought his enthusiasm and heart for evangelism and missions to First Presbyterian since June 7, 2009. He oversees local, national, and international church missions.

A native of North Carolina, Brian is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and John Wesley College, with master’s degrees from Duke Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA.

Before coming to First Presbyterian Church, Brian served for seven years as the organizing pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Springs, a new church development in Barium Springs, NC, that was awarded the Sam and Helen Walton Award for Excellence in New Church Development in 2007. Prior to that, Brian was the organizing pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Jackson, TN.

Brian and his wife, Tracie, have two sons.






 

Rev. Charlie Buchanan, Associate Pastor of Student Ministries

The Rev. Charlie Buchanan joined the First Presbyterian staff in 2011 as our Junior High Youth Director. After completing all of his educational and presbytery requirements, Charlie was ordained as an Assistant Pastor in April of 2015. In March of 2017 he became Associate Pastor of Student Ministries.

A native of North Augusta, SC, Charlie graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in Psychology. He continued his studies at Erskine Theological Seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity in 2011. Shortly after graduating, Charlie was brought on staff at First Presbyterian Church.

Charlie and his wife, Carrie, have one daughter.

 






 

Rev. Claire Ripley, Associate Pastor for Membership and Women's Ministries

The Rev. Claire Ripley joined the pastoral team of First Presbyterian Church on December 1, 2015. Her primary responsibilities are leadership and oversight of New Member Assimilation, and Women’s Ministries.

The Rev. Ripley graduated from the University of South Florida in 1986 (B.S. in Finance) and worked in corporate lending for many years. After recovering from serious health challenges, and as a response to God’s gracious love and care, Claire left the banking world in 2003 to become a full-time Congregational Care volunteer at First Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC. It was here that she sensed God’s call into ordained ministry, serving as Membership Development Director (2004-2009) while attending seminary. Claire received a Masters of Divinity degree from Erskine Theological Seminary in 2010. A highlight was studying Reformation Church History at Martin Luther’s residence and Preaching Seminary in Wittenberg, Germany.

Prior to returning to FPC, she served Westminster Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, SC, as Associate Pastor for Spiritual Growth. Discipleship and Spiritual formation are her passions. Claire is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Claire and her husband, Todd, have one adult daughter.