Carrie Winebrenner and Brent Neuenschwander have joined the staff of First Presbyterian Church.

Despite COVID-19 limiting large gatherings, First Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Wayne St., has continued to grow online. To accommodate that growth, the church’s Pastoral Residency Program has enlisted Winebrenner as resident pastor and Neuenschwander as director of music ministries and organist.

The Residency Program is a new program First Presbyterian Church has started that offers pastoral graduates the opportunity to learn, grow and experience first-hand their future jobs. According to Winebrenner, this acts as an internship to equip young graduates.

Winebrenner had a career in business management before she felt called to ministry. On July 13, she became the first pastor to participate in the Resident Program. The program has given her the opportunity to learn what pastoral ministry is like as a woman, a pastor of a large church, and a pastor during COVID-19, she said. She credits the Rev. Annie Epling, to whom Winebrenner has been extremely grateful. Through her transition into ministry Winebrenner said she has also felt very called to minister to people struggling with grief and loss, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and PTSD, and those who need hospice and palliative care.

Neuenschwander is a former First Presbyterian Church attendee who was born in Berne. He has a bachelor of music degree from Salem College in North Carolina, and a master’s degree in music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After being a finalist in the Arthur Poister Organ Playing Competition in 2014, he became the music director of First Presbyterian Church in Findlay, Ohio.

The root of his passion for music is from taking organ lessons with local organist, Irene Ator, according to a news release.

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