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Our Staff 2017-04-10T17:17:04+00:00

Dr. Rhett G. Payne, III, Senior Pastor

Dr. Rhett G. Payne, III, Senior Pastor

Dr. Rhett G. Payne, III, a native of Jackson, AL, did his undergraduate work at Oral Roberts University. Rhett received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Bible from Oral Roberts University in 1977. From there, he received two masters’ degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO – a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies in 1981 and a Master of Divinity in 1985. Finally, Rhett received the Doctor of Ministry degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, in 1995. Rhett began in student ministry, serving four different churches over eleven years. The last of the four was the Central Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, MO. He even co-founded EPC youth ministry (now “Student Ministries”) in the late ‘80s. Rhett began his pastoral ministry as a church planter in Marshall, TX, serving as the founding pastor of EPC of Marshall, from 1985 until 1991. In 1991, he moved to Dallas, TX, to take over a “stalled” church plant, which at the time was called “Grace Church.” Rhett served as the reorganizing pastor of Grace Church, which later changed its name to CrossPointe Community Church, from 1991 until 2002. In the summer of 2002, Rhett became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Meridian, MS, where he has served ever since. Rhett has served in the Presbytery of the Central South his entire pastoral ministry. He has chaired both the Nominating Committee and the New Church Development Committee. And in 2006, he served as the Moderator of the Central South Presbytery. Rhett and his wife, Donna, have been married for 40 years. They have three adult children and four grandchildren.

Rev. Bo Kyle, Assistant Pastor

Rev. Bo Kyle, Assistant Pastor

Before Bo’s arrival at FPC in August 2015 he served for seven years as the Director of Middle School Ministries at the Chesterfield Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO. Initially, Bo came to St. Louis to attend Covenant Theological Seminary, where he studied from 2007-2010, completing his Master of Divinity Degree.

Bo and his wife, Lindsay, met in college at LSU, and following graduation (2006), they moved to St. Louis. So they are both Southerners and are excited the Lord has moved them back South. Bo grew up on a 1,200-acre rice farm in Welsh, LA. As a youngster,  he loved hunting deer and ducks, and enjoyed camping and hiking with his father and his two older brothers. He loves just about all sports, and he says his favorite hobby is fly fishing. Lindsay is a licensed professional counselor and will be utilizing her extensive gifts and skills in that area through our church and community. Bo and Lindsay have two daughters, Cora and Carolyn.

Chip Cowsert, Director of Student Ministries

Chip Cowsert is a native Virginian who grew up playing soccer, basketball, and loving the Washington Redskins.  He began following Jesus late in college through the influence of a rugby teammate at Virginia Tech.  After graduating in 2009, he joined the staff team of Campus Outreach Lynchburg, the college ministry of Rivermont EPC in Virginia.  Chip spent seven years investing in staff and students at Virginia Tech, Radford University, and Lynchburg college.

Chip is passionate about teaching the Scriptures and developing young people.  Chip married his wife Katie in 2012 and they now have a daughter, Lottie, and a son, Charlie.  Chip enjoys running, reading, playing with his kids, breakfast food, being a weekend warrior, and watching intense crime shows with Katie.

Karen Lewis, Director of Children’s Ministries/Administrative Assistant

Karen Lewis, Director of Children’s Ministries/Administrative Assistant

Karen graduated from Meridian Community College in 1997 with an associate degree in Graphic Communication and worked in the graphic design field for 11 years. In 2008, she became Director of Children’s Ministry here at First Presbyterian, and in 2013 her responsibilities were extended to include being the Administrative Assistant as well. She loves planning activities for the children and watching them grow in their relationship with Christ.  Karen’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband, Michael, and their two daughters.

Alan Gartrell, Facility Administrator

Alan Gartrell was born in 1946 in Meridian and graduated from Meridian High School in 1964 and from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1968. He served in the Air National Guard in Meridian and received an honorable discharge after a six-year tour. Alan worked in the automotive aftermarket field as an owner and manager in both the engine rebuilding and the engine parts businesses. He retired in 2012 but still retains ownership and board membership in his company, The Internal Engine Parts Group, Inc. He also serves on the Rush Foundation Hospital Board in Meridian. In 1994 Alan and his wife, Andrea, joined First Presbyterian Church of Meridian. Since then he has served one three-year term as a Session member and is currently serving his third term as a Deacon. He is active in Sunday School and the church adult choir. After retiring Alan volunteered to serve as the facility administrator for FPC.

Jesse P. Noote, Music Director

Jesse P. Noote, Interim Music Director

Jesse received a master’s degree in 2013 and is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (ABD),  both from the University of Southern Mississippi in the field of choral conducting. He came to FPC in April 2015. Jesse earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Belhaven College (now Belhaven University) in 2003. He has directed choirs at Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, MS, and French Camp Academy and Elementary School in French Camp, MS. The Mississippi Music Educators Association named him the Outstanding Young Music Educator of the Year for 2006-2007.

When he’s not conducting, singing, arranging, or composing music, Jesse spends time with his wife, family, and friends. He also enjoys traveling, playing soccer and tennis, watching football, and drinking coffee.

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