Sarah Merideth

— My church shopping began in college when I realized the church in which I was raised wasn’t meeting my spiritual needs. After sampling three or four other denominations first, I attend First Presbyterian. It was the church that felt right for a variety of reasons. I felt welcomed here but not in a suffocating way. The worship service was similar to what I was accustomed to, yet with differences that seemed fresh. More than anything, the friendliness of the members drew me here, and it’s been a wonderful church home for almost 20 years.

Alisa & Ken Simpson

— Ken was raised in the Presbyterian Church; Alisa in the Methodist Church. We married in 1983 and attended Methodist churches for the next 11 years. When we moved to Carbondale in 1994 we decided to visit First Presbyterian Church, in part because of Ken’s heritage and in part because of the participatory nature of Presbyterians. The first day we visited was memorable for a couple of reasons. First, the children of the church were called up and we assumed it was for the children’s sermon, so we sent our daughter up to hear the message; what we did not realize was that the children going forward were members of the youth choir! Before we knew it our daughter was standing in front of the congregation singing along with the youth choir with a big, surprised look on her face! Our first visit and she had already “joined” the choir! Luckily, she knew the music from our previous church. Second, several church members talked with us about the church; we recall one of them telling us that First Presbyterians know how to worship together and have fun together.

We also found First Presbyterian Church appealing because of the music and the adult education opportunities. In addition, as we came to know the church members, we found that they appreciated exploration and development of faith—not just blind acceptance of ideas or opinions.