Pastor and Staff

Rev. Dr. Lonnie Darnell

Interim Pastor


Rev. Dr. Lonnie L. Darnell II serves as the Interim Pastor for our congregation.  Here in North Carolina, he has served churches in Eden, Kings Mountain, and Kannapolis, but he and his wife Robbie (and their little dog Bella) come immediately from Longmont, CO where he served as an Interim Pastor.  They have 6 sons, 2 daughters, and 7 grandchildren scattered between Colorado and Washington, DC..  Lonnie says the goal of his lifelong ministry has been to lead others into the joys of knowing and serving the Lord.  Never one to take himself too seriously, and always looking for silver linings, glasses half full, and up for stopping to smell the roses, Pastor Lonnie is committed to helping First Presbyterian Church be at their best to discern and welcome their next installed pastor.

Phone: (919) 734-5392 ext. 13


Chris Watkins

Director of Music

Chris was born in Greensboro, NC.   He attended Guilford College graduating Magna cum laude with a Master’s degree in organ performance and choral conducting.  He received a scholarship and assistantship to pursue his doctorate in organ performance and choral conducting at the University of South Carolina.  Chris has served churches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia.  He performed in the White House by special invitation of the President for two Christmas concerts for members of the Senate and their families.  He also performed for five Southern governors in their Executive Mansions including Governor James Martin and Governor James Hunt of North Carolina.  Chris’s hobbies include studying English history, painting, and cooking for friends.  He wants to use his talents to bring out the talents of others in order to give them back to God with a joyful heart and sound.

Phone: (919)734-5392 ext. 12


Mary Florence Taneti

Director of Christian Education

Mary Florence Taneti, a native of South India, has completed a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA. She is a PCUSA Certified Christian Educator. She had earlier received graduate and post-graduate degrees in the field of Accountancy from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. Before joining First Presbyterian Church, she has worked in the fields of microfinance, refugee resettlement, child development, and church administration. 

Mary's love for telling stories and teaching children dates back to her own childhood when she helped her schoolteacher mother. In her teaching, she uses innovative methods, such as Godly Play. Mary is grateful for the Christian nurture she received from her Sunday school teachers. She wishes to be a guide to young people, as they grow in faith. She enjoys reading, cooking, and gardening. In her spare time,  she is with Colt, her 2-year-old Aussie-Doodle, or watches Netflix with her husband, James, and children, Vismai and Vismitha. 

Phone: (919) 734-5392 ext. 19 


Nona Andrews

Church Administrator


Nona is a native of West Virginia. She began her nearly 35-year career with the federal government in Washington, DC. Upon relocating to North Carolina, she worked for the Department of Defense at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Her experience included administrative positions in Civilian Personnel, and the Base Chapel. Most of her experience, however, was in the Operations directorate and command, serving as Secretary to the Director of Operations and later as Resource Advisor for the Deputy Commander for Operations. She began her second career at First Presbyterian Church as Office Manager in 1996 and worked until 2001. Nona has an associate degree from Pikes Peak Community College and has studied at North Carolina Wesleyan College. She has served as Church Administrator since October 2012. Nona has a daughter, Rebecca, and two grandchildren, Patrick and Sarah.

Phone: (919) 734-5392 ext. 10


Ruth Smith

Assistant Church Administrator

Ruth is from New Bern, NC and has lived in Goldsboro since 1984. She is married to Eddie Smith and she is the mother of two daughters, Stephanie and Rebecca, and grandmother of three. She received a B.S. degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Business from Welch College in 1983. After teaching elementary classes and school librarian for several years, she was a stay-at-home mom before entering the business field. She then served as an Administrator for FEMA during the Katrina disaster. She is actively involved in her church at Faith Baptist. She has served as Assistant Administrator of FPC since January 2009.

Phone: (919) 734-5392 ext. 18


Jean Whitaker

Finance and Membership Administrator


Jean graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Carolina Wesleyan College in 1988, with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting. She also has been a Notary Public since 1994. She has lived in Goldsboro since 1972 and she is the mother of two children, Jennifer and Joseph. She has been a Financial Administrator here at FPC since July 2002.

Phone: (919) 734-5392


©2015 by First Presbyterian Church, Goldsboro, NC