WHO WE ARE
8:15am & 11:00am Traditional
worship with us!
Thank you very much for taking a few moments
to learn a little about some of the exciting
worship, ministry, and mission opportunities
at First Presbyterian Church of Ocala!
With a rich and fruitful history (since 1857!)
and a hopeful and growing vision for our future,
we like to think of ourselves as a friendly,
caring, and mission-minded family of faith
that's small enough to know you
and large enough to serve you.
Should you have questions about FPC
or if we can be of pastoral help in any way,
please call on us.
CHOOSE A SUNDAY SERVICE
Find a Worship Service and experience our community at one of our Sunday services.
8:15 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary
9:30 a.m. Contemporary Worship in the Fellowship Hall
11:00 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary
6 p.m. Kaleo Youth Service in the Youth Lounge & Cafe
As Presbyterians, we believe that God created the world
and is ultimately sovereign over all creation.
We believe that through human choice (Adam's, Eve's and all humans since)
we rebel against God's will and are in need of forgiveness, direction and re-direction;
That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to set the example of the Christian life,
to give His own life as an atonement for sin, and to be resurrected and thus live again,
that all may accept the promise of a more abundant life on earth and eternal life when we die;
That God sends His Holy Spirit to comfort us when we are perplexed
and to perplex us when we become too comfortable in our faith; and
That the church is God's family on earth where we worship,
fellowship, grow, serve, help, and reach out to others in the Lord.
To be an inclusive downtown community of faith that seeks to embrace
everyone in growing spirituality.
First Presbyterian Church is a 900 member congregation;
a member of the National Society of Historic Places, having been established in 1857;
and belongs to the Presbytery of St. Augustine of PC(USA).
We are located in the heart of the historic district in Ocala, Florida.
Worship ranges from casual to traditional.
We follow a structure which calls us to worship; invites our praise; provides a special time for children;
challenges and comforts us with the Word read, preached and demonstrated through the sacraments;
sung through the anthems and hymns; and leads us in prayers of thanks and petition.
In 1857, only 37 years after Florida ceased to fly the flag of Spain,
the Rev. Joseph Brown headed a commission to organize
the First Presbyterian Church of Ocala. There were eleven charter members.
In 1885, 40 members purchased property and built a sanctuary
seating 300 on the corner of Fort King Street and Watula Avenue.
This building no longer stands, but the "manse" or pastor's home
built next door has been renovated into an office building.
In 1926, a visionary congregation of 239 purchased land on Third Street
for an inflated Florida Boom price of $40,000, and built a sanctuary seating 400.
The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, July 10, 1927,
and the building was formally dedicated on June 10, 1928.
To spread the gospel of Jesus Christ
to our community and the world.
STATEMENT OF FAITH
WHO WE ARE
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
We welcome our interim pastor—Cindy Benz!
The Interim Search Committee has completed its work and our Session has approved hiring the Rev. Dr. Cynthia M. Benz as our Interim Pastor. Dr. Benz is a PC(USA) Teaching Elder with extensive experience as an Interim Pastor. She possesses a natural, graceful approach to life and ministry. Cindy lives in South Jacksonville with her husband Steve Benz, the Transitional Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of St. Augustine. They have two daughters, Julie, 37, who lives in California and Bethany, 34, who is the Pastor of Peace Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville. Cindy received her Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary and her Doctorate from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has 16 years of ministerial experience—most of which has been spent helping churches move through the searching process as they sought new pastoral leadership.
Dr. Benz began her service among us on Monday, June 20, 2016. Her primary duties include preaching and providing pastoral care, but she also helps guide us during the selection of a PNC (Pastor Nominating Committee), help us gather information as we move forward in the discernment process in calling a new pastor and provide spiritual support and leadership among our church staff.
The Rev. Dr. Darren Bess
Pastor Darren, a native Floridian and life-long Presbyterian, was born and educated in Deland, Florida. He received a nursing degree from Daytona Beach Community College in 1991 and then worked eight years as a critical care registered nurse, while also owning and operating a small business. In 2002, the Bess family moved to Dubuque, Iowa for Darren to pursue a call into the ministry. Darren received his Bachelors in Religious Studies in 2004 from the University of Dubuque, and then a Master of Divinity in 2006 from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
The Bess family moved to Ocala, Florida in 2006. Darren was ordained and installed as the Associate Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, where he has served since. In 2016, Darren completed his Doctorate from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For fun, Dr. Bess enjoys kayaking, an occasional round of golf, riding his motorcycle and the affection of Maggie, his Rottweiler K9 companion.
Darren met his wife Carol when they were in the Children’s choir at the First Presbyterian Church in Deland, Florida. He says, “I was in the 4th grade and she was in the 2nd grade. She turned around and spoke to me. She said she liked my voice. My heart melted and I’ve never gotten over it.” They have four children, Briley (26), Hayley (22), and twins Caleb (14) and Chloe (14).
Of course, he enjoys the whole of Scripture, but when pressed for a life verse, he often refers to Ephesians 2: 8-10. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s [poems] created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
David Bedenbaugh . director of music
My philosophy of music in worship is that music draws the soul to God, sharpens our spiritual senses, and prepares us to receive God’s Word. My personal goal is simply to be the best musician I can be, help others to do the same, and to genuinely worship God from my heart. I am happy doing this through whatever musical style or song choice best meets the needs and goals of the church and worship service. My approach in leading worship is to listen to the needs and goals of the congregation and to follow the direction of the pastor and worship committee.
My training in classical music began at Stetson University where I studied piano with Michael Rickman, voice with Craig Maddox, and conducting with Duncan Couch. I have served as a church musician for over a decade in Florida and Nashville, TN. In addition to classical studies I've completed a full length album of CCM songs for indie label Slingshot Records, and recently an album of worship songs written for our FPC congregation, recorded by Cross & Crowns, our contemporary service worship band.
David joined us at FPC in August of 2011.
LISTEN TO DAVID'S MUSIC!
LISTEN TO FPC'S MUSIC!
Thomas Ingui . organist & pianist
A scholar with many interests, Thomas Ingui is in his fourth year of study at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, earning both a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. For most of his life, Thomas has been involved with church music; since age eleven, he has held organist and choir director positions at various churches in Florida.
While his main focus is organ performance as a scholarship student of Dr. Boyd Jones, John E. and Aleise Price Professor of Organ at Stetson University, Thomas strives to pursue excellence in piano performance as well. His eleven years of piano study have led him to Dr. Michael Rickman, Steinway artist and piano professor at Stetson University. In recognition of his artistic and academic achievements, Thomas is the recipient of Stetson’s Duckwitz Talent Scholarship and Finsley Scholarship, and has been named a William & Nina Hollis Scholar.
Some hobbies he enjoys are competitive card/video games, mixology, cooking, and baking. He attributes his success in computer science and other liberal arts partly to his early study of music.
LISTEN TO THOMAS' MUSIC!
interim director of children's ministries
Hello First Presbyterian family!
My name is Sarah Overfelt. I am your new Director of Children’s Ministries! I would like to share just a little about myself.
I guess I should begin at the beginning; I was born and raised here in Ocala. I accepted the Lord Jesus as my savior in 1999 at a VBS, which makes that particular part of this ministry extra special to me. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. I am currently a 3rd grade teacher at Victory Academy. I love each of your children, and I see why Christ delighted in having the little children come to him.
Andrea . business & financial administrator
Heather Roberts . administrative assistant
Heather is responsible for the monthly newsletter The Spire; the weekly internet page Inspire.net; daily email "Thought for Today", administrative support for pastoral staff, program staff, Session members; church publications; forms; church mailings and various tasks as needed. Heather is accountable to the Business/Financial Administrator.
Heather attended FPC in Gainesville, Florida where she grew up, then FPC Ocala when her family moved to Ocala in the early 1970's. She returned to Ocala in 2002 and happily shares a cottage on one of the many lakes in The Forest.
Neidy Avila . administrative secretary
Neidy is responsible for the weekly Sunday church bulletin and specialty bulletins (e.g. funerals and weddings). She also maintains the church member database, coordinates materials for the bi-monthly Inquirers' luncheon and assists the Business/Financial Administrator. She also assists the program and pastoral staff as needed.
Dana Rodgers & Evelyn Yorlano
. nursery attendants .
Dana has been with us for 15 years.
Evelyn has been with us for 13 years.
Dana Rodgers & Evelyn Yorlano
. nursery attendants .
Dana has been with us for 15 years.
Evelyn has been with us for 13 years.
Alan Wilson . kitchen manager
Alan joined the staff in 2013.
Danny Arango . sexton
Danny started as Sexton in June 2011.
Daniel Adkins . custodian
Daniel Adkins has been our custodian for many years.
interim director of youth ministries
My name is Thomas Drake and this summer marks ten years of connection with First Presbyterian church. I started by volunteering as a helper in VBS. I began attending the youth group here, graduated high school and interned as a student leader. Between VBS and trips to Montreat my summers have been rich with relationships formed here at First Presbyterian. I left for Tulsa to attend school and graduated with a Worship Arts degree. I'm passionate about inspiring students to live courageously, to know and fully understand that they are loved by God.
I'm the oldest of five children and my only sister is currently living in Ecuador as a missionary. I've watched Star Wars more times then I can keep track, I'm a part time Starbucks barista. I'm honored to be a part of our First Presbyterian church family.
THE SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE //
applications are now being accepted for $500 college textbook scholarships.
members of first presbyterian church, ocala, florida, and their member
dependents or children may apply for scholarship assistance. applications are
available in the church office. you may contact elaine cox for further
information – (352) 843-7889, or email@example.com.
OUT TO DINNER GROUP // Thursday, May 18 at Las Margaritas
plan to attend! please make your reservations by noon monday, may 15,
by calling marybeth olson at 352-304-5469. everyone is invited
to participate in this evening of fine food and superb christian fellowship!
come on, newcomers and long-time members, join us!
VBS // June 19-23
this year’s vbs will be june 19-23 (8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.).
registration is now open for 4-year-olds (and potty trained) – 5th grade
children and volunteers. the cost for each participant is $20.
register online here.
Sunday Morning Bulletins
Follow our worship program each Sunday morning with us. Find meaningful liturgy, prayers for your personal devotions, and follow those listed in need of prayer.
Follow our weekly words to the congregation at FPC.
Included are thoughts from the Pastor's desk
as well as week to week notes from our program staff.
Words to lift your heart.
Encouraging instruction from God's Word.
Rev. Dr. Darren Bess
Sun 8am - 11am | Mon-Thurs 8:30am-4pm
COME CHECK OUT A BOOK
Keep up-to-date on our catalogue!
~ List of Books by ~
We've added some wonderful books to our shelves this past year:
We have works of fiction by
Beverly Lewis, Lauren Snelling, and Liz Higgs
and the DVD, "Courageous", just to name a few.
Suggestions for new books and DVDs are always welcome.
FPC has a well stocked library for your reading enjoyment.
Our library is a treasure of information and quiet coziness.
Come visit and read a bit. We have 3266 Books, DVDs, CDs in our library!
Our library is located behind the conference room and staff offices.