Deborah Suess, Pastor of Congregational Ministries
Thanks for checking out First Friend’s website. Maybe you are investigating various faith communities in the Greensboro area and are thinking about visiting us for the first time. I know that for some, walking through the door of any new church or Quaker meetinghouse can be a bit unnerving. So–please know you are truly welcome and “among friends!”
I was in my early 30s when I was first walked through the doors of a Quaker Meeting and eventually became a “Convinced Friend.” After completing seminary, I served as a pastoral minister in West Branch, Iowa; Perth, Australia; and Spokane, Washington. In the summer of 2004 my husband Tim Jackson and I were delighted to move to Greensboro and make First Friends our church home. Some of “my favorite things” include good coffee with cream, spicy foods, traveling anywhere warm, dancing music, reading mysteries and stumbling upon a really satisfying movie. I also love to engage in conversation about our faith journeys. You are welcome to email me.
Sheila Hoyer, Pastor of Christian Education and Outreach
I have worked as the Christian Education Minister of First Friends since 2006 and I can hardly articulate what a gift it is to be part of this spiritual community. I’ve always valued the belief that we are all on a journey and that we need to respect and love each other no matter where we are at. This is lived out at First Friends. All are embraced, all are truly welcome here.
I grew up in a strict religious atmosphere. I spent my young adult years questioning beliefs and searching to understand God, the Bible and all that came with calling myself Christian. I discovered Quakers at age 18 and developed a deep love for the community of Friends. In 1996, while in college, I worked as a Youth Pastor for Sherwood Friends Meeting. A few years later I moved into the position of Program Coordinator for Northwest Yearly Meeting, a denominational headquarters in Newberg, Oregon. In 2004, I ran off to Ireland to study conflict resolution and work as a mediator. Though I thought I was done working in a church setting, in January, 2006 I accepted the call to work at First Friends Meeting and moved from Portland to Greensboro. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I never dreamed that by moving over 3,000 miles away, I’d find my spiritual home and family. But that’s exactly what happened. It is an honor and continual source of joy to be part of this beloved community.
I love getting to help create space for people to discover a healthy sense of theology and spirituality, encourage and participate in opportunities that invite others into social justice programs, and anything that gets our generations interacting and playing together. Being a child of the Northwest, I also love coffee and would enjoy getting to know you over a cup anytime. Please feel welcome to email me.
Monica Hix, Minister of Music
My journey with First Friends began in early 2015 as the Interim Minister of Music. Within just a few weeks, I felt like I had discovered my spiritual home. The diversity, the rich tradition and deep love of music, the contemplative spirit, the warm hospitality, and the gifted and compassionate staff are just a few gifts of this community that I cherish. It is a place where I can share my passion for sacred music as a vital and authentic way for us to encounter the holy.
I’ve been in ministry for more than 25 years. I was ordained as a Baptist minister yet have served in a variety of ecumenical settings. I grew up just north of here in Reidsville. My husband, Phil, and I have lived in Greensboro for 32 years. We have two children – our daughter, Lesley-Ann, and her husband, Blake, live in Charlottesville, VA, and our son, Reid, lives here in Greensboro. In addition to my work at First Friends, I offer Spiritual Formation opportunities for groups and individuals.
If you play an instrument or love to sing, I would love to share more with you about the opportunities here at First Friends.
Pam Reese, Treasurer
I am from Greensboro, and First Friends Meeting is the church my family was attending when I was born. I have been a Quaker all my life. I graduated from Rockingham Community College and Guilford College. I worked as the Director of Accounting for a large dairy cooperative for many years. My husband, Jim, and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 1995. After 17 years there, we moved back to Greensboro in 2012 in order to be living close to my family again. My work with the staff at First Friends began in 2013. I am also on the Hospitality Committee, and I work with the Food Pantry. I like to read, attend various sporting events, spend time with family and volunteer. I am glad to be a member of a church community where I feel welcome and very much at home. I am also happy to be working with such a wonderful and caring group of people.
Bill Davis, Clerk of Monthly Meeting
I was raised in the small town of Murphy, NC. From there, I took advantage of our state’s excellent opportunities through the N.C. School of Science & Math, followed by four years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Finally, I attended Duke Law School, relying on part time jobs and student loans to fund my studies. Since completing my education, I have practiced law for over sixteen years as an Assistant Public Defender in Greensboro. I have represented thousands of clients in both District and Superior Court ranging all the way from infractions up to First Degree Murder.
I was raised in the Methodist Church and found the Society of Friends after meeting my wife, Dawn, who was already a member at First Friends. We were married in 2001, and I became a member of the meeting the same year. This community has been a blessing in my love life (i.e. Dawn), in my faith journey, and in nourishing my development into leadership. I am a member of the choir, and at various times have been involved with Christian Education committee, Music Committee, Hospitality Committee, Ministry & Counsel, and teaching Sunday School.
Outside work and church, I am an avid music fan, and look for opportunities to engage in various fun and creative pursuits, including guitar lessons, occasional creative writing, and playacting.
Jim Kimel, Clerk of Personnel & Long Range Planning Committee
I was born and raised in Winston Salem, NC and grew up in Winston-Salem Friends. I am a proud UNC graduate and have practiced law for over 40 years. My wife Cathy and I have two grown children Ben and Catherine. I enjoy golf, reading and of course Carolina basketball!
I transferred my membership to First Friends Meeting about 1978 and have been involved in this community in many ways. I have taught adult bible study for over 20 years, was the former clerk of Monthly Meeting for eight years, clerked Peace and Social Concerns, Finance, Ministry & Counsel, Nominating and Enablement committees. Currently I am the librarian clerk of Quaker Quest and Personnel and Long Range Planning committees as well as serve on the Christian Education and Peace & Social Concerns committees.
Beth Joyce, Clerk of Ministry and Counsel
I am from Knoxville Tennessee (Go Vols!) and grew up a Southern Baptist. After my husband and I lived in 3 different states and attended several types of churches, we settled in Greensboro and found our way to First Friends Meeting. I look back on that Sunday as one of the best days of my life. First Friends is a welcoming community to all, whether you are new to a spiritual life or are already far down your religious path. We are a meeting that loves to read, grow together as a community–and eat!
I am currently the Clerk of Ministry & Council, on the Personnel & Long Range Planning committee and serve on the Quaker Lake Board. I am also on the Board of Trustees for Friends Homes and chair their Marketing Committee.
Ellen Ramsey, Office Manager
I was born in New London, Connecticut. During my formative years I spent many summers with dear family friends who happened to be a well-known Quaker family of Ledyard, Ct., Priscilla Watrous, Helen Watrous. The Watrouses offered me my first introduction to the Religious Society of Friends.
I attended Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut and worked at Kaman Aerospace in Bloomfield, Connecticut before relocating to Greensboro. After relocating to Greensboro I was employed by the Center for Creative Leadership for 26 years. During that time I also became involved in church support, designing web sites and publishing bulletins for various churches. Over the years, I became of member of a United Methodist Church, a Baptist Church and presently, a Bible Church in Kernersville.
Being office manager for First Friends has been one of the warmest experience of my life. I know that I am among true and supportive friends, and feel as though I have now come full circle.
Feel free to email me if you ever need assistance.
Ryan Gordy, Child Care Provider
My name is Ryan Gordy and I provide childcare in the nursery. I am originally from Cranbury, New Jersey which is right next to Princeton University. I moved to North Carolina in 2007 to play baseball and attend college. I am an avid sports fan and root for all Philadelphia and Duke teams. I graduated from Guilford in 2012 with an English degree, and have since returned to obtain a teaching degree so that I can become an elementary school teacher. I help to provide a fun, safe, and welcoming environment for all children that come to the nursery. I work to ensure that every child’s needs and concerns are met and accounted for. I may seem shy at first, but I am outgoing person who enjoys playing and working with children of all ages.