Blake Daniel


Blake began work as pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Sylva in the summer of 2015. Blake studied English and Spanish at the University of Georgia and attended seminary at Duke Divinity School. He is married to Erin and they have three sons, Luke, Isaac, and Asa, and a pup named Penny. 

Email: blake@sylvapres.org


Judy Henderson


Judy is a life-long Presbyterian who loves her church and the God it serves. She has had many jobs along the way, from teacher to engraver, but her favorite calling has been to be a wife to Bruce and mom to her three children. Now Judy can add "Meema" to that list. "I have been co-treasurer and then treasurer for over 25 years and am glad that my love of numbers has been of use to the church."

Email: judithehenderson@gmail.com


Courtney Umphlett

Children's Ministry Director

Courtney is a person of many hats. She lives on a small farm, loves exercising but also ice cream, likes to make things from scratch, plays a variety of musical instruments, and loves to read a good book. But her favorite thing is working with and developing the lives on children and young adults. Courtney is married to Drew Umphlett, who is the band director at Smoky Mountain High School. They have recently welcomed their first child into the world, a little girl named Cecilia.

Email: FPCSylvakids@gmail.com

Margaret Hale


Margaret loves playing the organ for First Presbyterian Church. No matter what kind of music she plays, or how many mistakes she makes, the congregation members make her feel appreciated. Margaret also loves working with the First Presbyterian Church Choir. "The choir members are dedicated, faithful, hard-working, marvelous singers who take seriously their call to lift up our hearts in worship through their music."

Email: camelotmarg@yahoo.com


Emily Fields

Administrative Assistant

Emily is a recent graduate of Western Carolina University with a degree in Psychology. Usually with a cup of coffee in hand, she love all things organizational and all things chocolate. In her spare time Emily enjoys painting, working out at CrossFit Swerve in Sylva, and a good marathon every now and then (and by marathon, she means movie marathon). "Church has always been where I've felt most at home, so this is a dream job."

Email: emily@sylvapres.org


Amanda Murajda


Email: amurajda@hotmail.com


Katherine Collings

Child Care Attendant

Katherine loves living in the paradise that is Sylva with her wonderful husband, Michael, and her four and counting children. She enjoys quilting, crafting, cooking, homeschooling, and most of all, learning more about our amazing Savior and Creator and walking daily with him in all of life's joys and challenges.

Email: mikatcoll@yahoo.com



Michael Collings

Music Director

Michael's passion for music has lead him to many strange, dangerous and exotic places: from the treacherous jungles of public universities to the terrifying dungeons of inquisition called concert stages. But his strangest and most perilous calling has been to direct music at "the Local Church" or more specifically, First Presbyterian Church of Sylva in the mountains of North Carolina. Here, he and his family have been warmly accepted by the natives and together they are attempting to discern the sounds and postures of the cloud of witnesses who worship God in the heavenly realms.

Email: mikatcoll@yahoo.com


Grace Reed

Financial Secretary

Email: gracereed33@gmail.com


Sara Beth Foti

Child Care Attendant

Sara Beth was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Her family later moved to Sylva, North Carolina where she has lived most of her life. Sara Beth and her dog, Poe, live happily in her grandmother's house. She's a former elementary and Pre-K teacher. Sara Beth loves God, children, and the beach. "I feel that God has blessed me with this opportunity to serve as the preschool attendant."

Email: fotibeach@aol.com

Elders & Committee Assignments

Class of 2018

  • Heidi Buchanan - Clerk of Session
  • Betty Foti - Mission Committee
  • Mary Gelbaugh - Transition House Committee

Class of 2019

  • Roger Murajda - Christian Education
  • David Noland - Finance Committee
  • Tommy Thompson - Worship Committee

Class of 2020

  • Ali Large - Personnel Committee
  • James McManus - Property Committee
  • Frances Hess - Hospitality Committee

 A word about Elders:

“As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people, so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people. Accordingly, congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith, having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit. Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt. 20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life.”

— Presbyterian Book of Order, G-2.0301


Class of 2018

  • Rady Large
  • Peg Shafer - Co-moderator
  • Gloria Stockton

Class of 2019

  • Besan Nash - Co-moderator
  • Cyndie Royce
  • Nancy Zachmann

Class of 2020

  • Jae Crawford
  • Toni Knott
  • Pat Mikula

A word about Deacons:

“The ministry of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress. Persons of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly and sisterly love, sincere compassion, and sound judgment should be chosen for this ministry.”

— Presbyterian Book of Order, G-2.0201