Ministry Staff

 

Donovan Drake, Pastor and Head of Staff

The Reverend Dr. Donovan Allan Drake is the Pastor and Head of Staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was called in August, 2010. Donovan holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and also a D.Min. from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.

Donovan has received recognition for his preaching. He has been featured on the radio program called Day1 and has enjoyed writing for newspapers and church-related publications. While his primary interest has been in the areas of preaching and teaching, Donovan has served with non-profits that deal with the issues relating to homelessness. His areas of interest and experience in ministry include preaching, teaching and pastoral care.

Donovan is married to Beth Beran Drake, the only other Presbyterian that he found on the campus of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. The Drakes have two children - Michael and McKenzie. In his spare time Donovan enjoys playing golf, racquetball, bike riding, reading and spending time with his family.

 

Carson Salyer, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care

Carson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in the Decatur/Avondale Estates area. A graduate of Georgia State University, Carson also holds M.Div. and D.Min. Degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary. Carson studied at the National Institute of Church Business Administration, the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and subsequently was certified as a Fellow of Church Business Administration by the National and Presbyterian Associations of Church Business Administrators. He has served churches in Summerville, Georgia, and Knoxville, Tennessee His primary areas of interest and experience in ministry include stewardship, Christian Spirituality, and pastoral care. Carson’s wife, Janet, is a licensed professional counselor and works at Trinity Presbyterian Church. The Salyers have two married daughters and two granddaughters, Amelia Rose and Adelaide Pearl. Carson enjoys fly-fishing, woodworking, reading, and gardening.

 

 

Guy D. Griffith, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Spiritual Nurture

Guy Griffith is of Welsh ancestry and was reared in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Guy enjoys playing racquetball, tennis and golf as a recent addition. He is an avid reader and says that he is nurtured by nature and the arts. He attended Columbia Theological Seminary, Thompson Scholar for Evangelism; Princeton Theological Seminary; and the American University, School of International Service. He holds M.Div and D.Min degrees, B.A. in International Relations, and Minor in philosophy/religion. His wife, Amy, a native of Greeneville, Tennessee graduated from UT Knoxville and has a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration. They are the proud parents of twins, Benjamin and Leah.
 

Polly Brecht, Organist

Before coming to Westminster, Polly was an associate professor at MTSU for twelve years. She is the staff accompanist at Blair and teaches harpsichord and organ.  Polly has one daughter, Gretchen, two Welsh Corgis and three cats.

 

 

Claire Harris, Director of Youth and Member Care

Claire grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Seminary.  She has recently completed her Master of Social Work from the University of Tennessee.  She is currently living in west Nashville. Claire serves as the Youth Director for the middle school age group as part of the youth ministry team as well as Member Care ministries.

Claire enjoys the wonderful music concerts in the area, attending sporting events and jogging.

 

Sophie Maness, Director of Christian Education

Sophie comes to us from Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida where she had been the Director of Christian Education since 2001. Her responsibilities have been with children and adults and she is looking forward to focus all her energies with children and their families here. Prior to Riverside, Sophie was DCE at First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury, North Carolina; Highlands Presbyterian Church, Winston Salem, North Carolina and The Presbyterian Church, Bowling Green, Kentucky. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sophie is an alumna of Randolph Macon College and the Presbyterian School for Christian Education. She is a Certified Christian Educator and has served the church in leadership at the Montreat Youth Conference, Triennium, and Recreation Workshops. 

Sophie is married to Roger Maness, a leader in recreation ministries within the denomination. She has boy/girl twins who are attending college; Jerry is attending Florida State and Sophie is attending Tulane.

 

John Semingson, Director of Music Ministries

John Semingson is the Director of Music Ministries for Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he oversees a multi-faceted music program, involving nearly two hundred (200) children, youth and adults.  Prior to this, John served as Minister of Music and Organist at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina; Director of the University of North Carolina-Asheville Community Chorus; the Carolina Chamber Singers; and was Centennial Summer Director and Organist for the Montreat Conference Center.  Since his childhood days in the Illinois Boy Choir, John has performed as a singer, organist and/or conductor in this country, Europe, China and Japan. John has a great love for liturgy and music, but especially for the integration of music as proclamation, prayer and praise within the various offices of worship.  A native of Illinois, John has studied at Southern Illinois University, Westminster Choir College (where he was the winner of the Alexander McCurdy Organ Competition and a Clark Foundation Scholar), Scarritt Graduate School (Presidential Scholar) and Northwestern University. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Alabama in August 2002.


Nancy Sutherland, Director of Westminster School for Young Children

Nancy is a well known and well respected early childhood educator with over 25 years experience as teacher of child development, preschool classroom teacher, resource coordinator and preschool director.  In May 2007, she retired as director of St. George’s Kindergarten after serving there for 10 years, and for the past two years she has been working as an educational consultant to area preschools, including Westminster. 

Nancy has been a member of the Nashville Area Association of Education for Young Children (NAAEYC) Board and has served as chairperson for directors support groups and accreditation study groups. She also served as the Chairperson of The Tennessee Episcopal Schools Association and had served on the Fannie Battle Board.

Nancy and her husband Steve have lived in Nashville for 40 years and are the parents of three grown sons: Michael, Ben and Phillip. They have two grandsons and one granddaughter. 

 

Paul Webb, Church Administrator

Paul is a native of Crossville, Tennessee. Except for his service in the Air Force, he has lived all of his life in Middle Tennessee. A graduate of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Paul is a CPA with experience in public, corporate, government, and not-for-profit accounting and business administration.  Paul is married and has three sons Austin, Jason, and Adam. His wife Pat is a practicing CPA in Brentwood. The Webb’s make their home in Brentwood, and are members of East Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where Paul has served as an elder. The family enjoys camping, gardening, and baseball.  Paul is also quite active in his community: He is a current member and past chair of the Brentwood Library Board, has coached little league baseball, Y-soccer.