Graydon Tomlinson, Director of Modern Worship
"It is undeniable that music has a unique impact on our heart, mind, and soul. We use it reconnect with our past, to define our present experiences, and to inspire our future. I have a passion to see the power of music leveraged to teach, inspire and encourage people to claim their identity as a Child of God and to live in the freedom of that identity.
The words from Psalm 100 have served as a guide and consistently grounded me to this core mission of music in worship. Psalm 100:1-2 commands us to come before the Lord with joyfulness and thankfulness, and paints a very vivid expectation of worship. If the goal is to be joyful and humble in worship, then how do we do that? The very next verse of Psalm 100 instructs us to “know that Lord is God” and remember that “it is He made us and we are His.” Claiming who God has called us to be is how we can enjoy greater depths of freedom and intimacy in worship.
For me, that means I have to practice the discipline of remembering the foundational aspect of what defines me is that I am a child of God, just as it says Psalm 100:3. I am not primarily defined by my ministry calling or role, but it’s my identity as one who has been made and claimed by God that serves as my foundation for worship. With that identity in alignment, a spirit of freedom takes over that allows for steps of faith to be taken in ministry, culminating in rich worship expressions of thankfulness and joyfulness to God.
Every time I have an opportunity to be in front of people leading music in worship, my prayer is to help facilitate an environment of freedom and confidence to worship the One who made us and claims us as His own."
Graydon has been singing since his days in the choir loft as kid, and began leading modern worship teams and congregations professionally in 2005. He graduated from Clemson University in 2007 with a degree in Finance, and spent his non-academic time immersed in music; leading, composing, and performing around the country with Clemson University a capella group, Tigeroar, while writing, recording, and performing original music with his band. Most importantly, he met his wife, Heather, while they were students at Clemson, and together they are blessed with three children, Mallie, Lincoln, and Tucker. Prior to serving on staff at First Presbyterian Church, he served at NewSpring Church in Greenville, SC and Mauldin United Methodist in Mauldin, SC. He enjoys all things Clemson, all things Greenville, travelling near or far with his family, and the much too sporadic night out with Heather eating a unique, delicious meal.
Dustan Chevalier, Director of Instrumental Music
"As a church musician, I often ask myself, Why music? What value does it add to a worship service? A friend recently asked me why I spent my time working to make beautiful music rather than feeding the needy. I asked him to consider that bread is not all the needy are hungry for.
We have been made sick and endlessly hungry by sin, and God’s offer of salvation is a promise to make us well and full again. We come together on Sundays in part to share and receive food for the whole person and community—truth from God’s Word for our minds, the practice of goodness for the love of our neighbors, and the experience of beauty for the revival of our souls. Sacred music helps us combine these missions of truth, goodness, and beauty into one act of faith: we love and feed our neighbors by robing truth in beauty and sharing it with each other.
God has told us to 'shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs' (Psalm 100:1-2 NIV). A joyful song is the right response to this good news: the crucified and risen Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, has been enthroned as the true Lord of all. Music mirrors God’s work in our hearts by breaking down barriers, guiding our hearts toward vulnerability, helping us see the humanity around us, and provoking us toward hope for a greater reality.
Will you pray for the Music and Worship Arts Ministry at First Presbyterian? C. S. Lewis observed that 'every poet and musician and artist, but for grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of the telling till, down in deep hell, he cannot be interested in God at all but only in what he says about Him.' Pray that we keep our hearts on the mission to which God calls us all: to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 NIV)."
Dustan joined the staff of First Presbyterian in March of 2019. He completed his undergraduate studies in music at Bob Jones University in 2011, followed by graduate courses in trombone performance, music theory, and music psychology. He plays trombone in several upstate ensembles. He and his family became members of First Presbyterian in 2016. He loves playing hide and seek with his daughter, Geneva, catching snakes and bugs with his son, Orlando, and spending every spare minute with his wife, Lizzie. He never grew up and orders chicken fingers everywhere, but at least he’s learned to drink coffee.
Sarah Wannamaker, Organist
Susan has degrees from Meredith College (B.M.) in piano and music education, from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.C.M.) in piano and church music education, and from Louisiana State University (Ph.D.) in music. She has served as a music minister at churches in North Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia for over twenty years. She taught church music education courses at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for six years and taught Chorus and directed musical theater productions at Ridgeview Charter Middle School in Fulton County Schools (Atlanta) for nineteen years. In Houston, Texas, she served as the Apprentice Choir director for the Houston Children’s Chorus. She and her husband Jeff have lived in Raleigh, New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, and now Greenville, where they came to retire. However, God’s plans have led Jeff to teach in the Industrial Engineering department at Clemson University and Susan to experience the joy of directing the Choir at First Presbyterian, Greenville. Susan and Jeff also experience much joy with granddaughter Adeline and her parents, Beth and Robert Pope, who also reside in Greenville.
"Music connects people with their faith, their memories, different times of their life, and also with the heavenly cloud of witnesses. When we hear a hymn tune, we don’t just hear notes; our minds hear the words and experience memories. 'Amazing Grace' isn’t just a hymn; it’s a memory of my father singing his favorite song while working in the garage. 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today' is not just a celebration of Easter; it’s a memory of Easter morning from the third balcony of the packed Dresden Frauenkirche, sitting next to my husband and singing foreign words to a familiar tune.
I have seen people weep when hearing their loved one’s favorite hymn played at a funeral. I have met adults who can still sing Sunday School songs learned in childhood. I’ve heard joy when a couple tells me that Sunday’s postlude was played at their wedding. My vocation as a church musician allows me to be a part of those moments. Much of the time, music is 'just music,' but when my work is in the hands of God, music—in funny, serious, sentimental, and unexpected ways—allows us to grow as Christians and bolsters our spirit to fully bring the light of God into the world.
Part of the church’s mission is to equip our congregants with tools to connect with God, and music is one of those tools. So, when I teach the children a song from my childhood, accompany the choir, talk with a bride, or practice for the service, I am not just filling up silence or taking up time; I am making a space for those around me to find something deeper—and in my own small way, contributing to the mission of the church."Sarah has degrees in organ performance from the University of Iowa and Lebanon Valley College, and in computer science from San Jose State University. Prior to serving at First Presbyterian, she taught at the Governors School in Greenville, and was a Director of Music at Northmont Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Keith, and children Christopher and Sophia.
Stephen Griner, Pianist
"The first Q&A of The Shorter Catechism reads, 'What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.' We are not here for ourselves. 'We are not our own. We are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God' (1 Corinthians 6:20). How do we do this? We glorify God through worship and service. It should be our single passion. 'One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple' (Psalm 27:4). Notice the intersection of our sense for the aesthetic (beauty) and search for truth (inquiry) in this verse. Good worship music serves both of these purposes. Therefore, it should be theologically sound and edifying, the music should serve the text by being an ornate frame or lush backdrop, and it should joyfully unite us in corporate worship coram Deo (before the face of God).
The Church has a rich tradition and anthology of worship music, both biblically and extra-biblically that dates back to Moses at the Red Sea and looks forward to the unending worship service in heaven of which we have a glimpse in the Book of Revelation. We do well to draw from this tradition as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to the Lord. It is what the people of God will do through eternity. Right now, we are in rehearsal for that glorious day.
I am thankful to serve at First Presbyterian with those who have a passion to marry the truth of God with beautiful music, and who are in pursuit of excellence. I pray this church is used by God to be a light in this dark world and that our music will help others both inside and outside our walls to glorify our Father in heaven."
Stephen Griner is a full-time faculty member at North Greenville University as an instructor in piano. He holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in piano performance from Bob Jones University. After graduating, he took four years of further study with Marta Mihich. Stephen has been music director for the South Carolina Children's Theatre mainstage productions since 2008, and he has performed with Centre Stage in Greenville and at the Peace Center. He enjoys writing and arranging music, and has seen his work published and recorded. He also runs a private studio from home.
Stephen is married to Laura, who is the school librarian at Armstrong Elementary. They have two children, Luke (19), a sophomore at Villanova, and Beebe (15), a sophomore at Wade Hampton High School. Beebe plays cello at FPC.
Nancy Poe Myers, Music Librarian firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy grew up in the First Pres music program, singing and playing bells as early as 3 years old. She is considered “old Greenville” because her family, the Poes, go back four or five generations here. Growing up in the church, she sang under Edwin Clark, Bill Kutz, Bob Glick, Tim Wilburn, John Gentry, Tom Barrett, and now Susan Messer, and played bells under Jackie Griffin, Betty Bennett, and Susan Messer. Remembering all the wonderful directors who have come through these doors, Nancy says, “Every single one of them carries a special memory and a place in my heart.”
Having always been in the choirs, Nancy has been interested in creating and/or helping organize the music files and most recently created a digital Music library. She credits Betty Bennett, who created the first official Music library on an excel spread sheet years ago. “It’s how I started the newest, updated version and then created the Digital Library for us to see and hear the music we have in the library.”
Nancy has a music background, not just from church choir, but no degrees, just fun singing. During her Middle and High School years, she studied voice under Betsy Farnsworth and sang in the WHHS Madrigal Singers, sang in the Singing Christmas Tree two years, and played viola in the Crescent Youth Symphony. Of her recent singing in the Sweet Adelines Ohio-based group, Nancy says, "Now that was lots of fun, competing in four-part harmony, a cappella with 100+ women!" Her chorus won fourth place in the World four times.
A 1978 Clemson graduate, Nancy is married to Mike Myers and has two children, Chad Tant and Ashli Tant Brust, a beautiful granddaughter Ava (age 2), and a very handsome grandson, Weston (age 6). Music is a big part of their world, and joyful singing and dancing is what the family loves to share with each other. Nancy says, "I’m thankful every day to be an integral part of this magnificent church, and I look forward to what’s ahead."
Frances Twomey, Worship and Music Arts Coordinator
Frances was born in Atlanta, GA, and moved to Greenville, SC, in 1998, where she attended First Pres. Music has been a part of her life since a young age. Growing up, FPC was instrumental in providing a space for her to grow through various ministry opportunities, from choir, to youth group worship, to contemporary praise band. She sang in choir under John and Sarah Gentry from 1st grade through 12th, and led worship for the first time at the age of 13 in youth group. Upon entering high school, Graydon Tomlinson's mentoring provided more opportunities for growth.
When Frances was 16, the Lord called her to ministry. Following that call, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Anderson University and earned a Bachelor of Music in Worship Leadership degree in 2015. That same year she came on staff at FPC as Interim Contemporary Worship Director. The next year, she moved back to Atlanta to serve as Worship Producer at Peachtree Presbyterian Church for four years. During that time she married Michael and completed her Master of Arts degree in Worship from Northern Seminary, released an EP, Deep Water, and is now working toward her Master of Divinity.
Frances says, "I believe that as musicians, we have a unique opportunity to engage the church. We are more than song-singers—we are worship leaders. We have the incredible opportunity to lead people and help them encounter God in new ways through song. It is truly an incredible privilege, one that we seek to steward well. It is a delight to be back home at First Presbyterian, serving on the Worship and Music Arts Team.
Lori Shelton, Children's Music Coordinator
Lori Shelton, our Children’s Music Coordinator, has been involved in music ministry as accompanist, organist, and director of music for 30 years. She has also taught private lessons, as well as music in public and private schools. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a bachelors degree in piano performance, and of the University of South Carolina with a masters degree in piano pedagogy. Currently Lori serves as the collaborative pianist and piano instructor for college level pianists and class piano at Southern Wesleyan University. She is looking forward to working with the children of First Presbyterian and making music with them to honor and praise the Lord!