The Rev. Matthew Miller, who began as Senior Pastor in October of 2013, studied Musical Theater in the prestigious Carnegie Mellon Drama program, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder and worked for a time in the field of corporate facilities management before being called to pastoral ministry in the church. After receiving his Master of Divinity degree at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, TX, Matthew was called to serve as Pastor to the First Presbyterian Church of Pulaski, TN, followed by the First Presbyterian Church of Sioux City, IA. Matthew has been active in service to the larger church as a member of the Committee on Ministry in both Tennessee and Iowa, as a featured preacher and keynote speaker for the Presbytery of Detroit and Mo Ranch College Connection, and as a Teaching Elder Commissioner to the 220th General Assembly last year in Pittsburgh. Among other places, his continuing education has taken him on pilgrimage to Israel and to Christ Church College in Oxford for further theological study. Closer to home, he has a passion for connecting people to a deeper experience of what it means to follow Jesus through mission; leading groups to Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, coordinating a multi-church Living Waters team to bring clean water to Haiti, leading short-term High School mission, and reaching out to local community through Vacation Bible School. Outside the church, Matthew has been known to take the stage from time to time to relive his youth in the theater. He is a sometime triathlete who swims, bikes and runs so he can enjoy his love of good food and craft beer. He is eager to hear a good story well-told whether in song, fiction, film, or simply in friendly conversation. In addition to their daughters Miranda and Grace, Matthew and his wife Marie welcomed their son Yared into the family in the fall of 2012 from Ethiopia. They feel blessed to be back home in the West and to call Albuquerque home.
Rev. Essie Koenig-Reinke, grew up in Kansas and Oklahoma, and has a deep love for red clay dirt and flint hills sunsets. She has spent the last decade learning what life is like outside of America’s heartland. She has served as a PCUSA Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in Belfast Northern Ireland and attended Seminary at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. Since seminary she has explored the Great Lakes in Michigan, and most recently she has been soaking up bay views in Maryland.
Essie is a cradle Presbyterian with a passion for youth ministry and Christian formation. From worship to mission projects, potluck dinners and youth lock-ins, Essie loves bringing folks together to learn, grow, and serve in community.
Essie is married to Rev. Eric Koenig-Reinke, who is also a PCUSA Pastor. Their 18 month old daughter Lucy, loves Elmo, dinosaurs and all things Ms. Rachel. Together along with their dog Bentley they love listening to music, exploring outside, and visiting the library.
Essie is looking forward to meeting everyone at First Presbyterian Church, and learning more about how this beautiful community of faith is sharing, “Good News that makes a difference in the world.”
Mary joined the ACG Team as Director in January 2015. She was born and raised in Albuquerque and has attended First Presbyterian Church for most of her life. She received her B.A. and teaching certification from the University of San Diego in 1991 and completed her Graduate work at the University of San Diego, Texas Christian University, and the University of New Mexico. She has been in the field of education for over 25 years. She is dually certified in General and Special Education. Mary enjoys running, reading, traveling (especially to the beach) and playing with her family which includes her husband, four fabulous children (three of whom attended A Child’s Garden) and her dog, Tara.
Carolyn Rhodes was born and raised in Albuquerque and attended the University of New Mexico earning a Bachelor degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Art History. Carolyn has been on staff since 1994: first at A Child's Garden Preschool from 1994 - 1999 and then as the Executive Assistant from April 1999 to August 2015 and currently as the Church Adminsitrator. Carolyn is an Ordained Elder and a life time member of First Presbyterian Church. She is married and lives in Los Lunas, NM and has two grown children. Carolyn enjoys drawing, needlepointing, knitting, and spending time in God’s beautiful outdoors.
Sharon Baca is lifelong resident of Albuquerque, growing up and living in the north valley her entire life. Sharon has been married to her husband Dennis for 36 years, they have four daughters, 2 granddaughters and 2 grandsons. Sharon loves cooking, gardening and crafting especially with her grandkids!
Alona is originally from Farmington, NM. She lived there for 8 years before moving to Las Vegas, NM to study Media Arts at New Mexico Highlands University. After graduating in 2010 with a B.F.A. and a concentration in interactivity and multimedia, she moved to Santa Fe, NM working with Kristena Prater, who is the director of her non-profit organization called “The Tessa Horan Foundation.” There, she assisted Kris with the maintenance of the website as well as writing the blogs and designing the newsletters. Alona later moved to Albuquerque in hopes of pursuing an M.F.A. in Communication Design and hope to bring forth everything that she has learned in the classroom and real world experience to First Presbyterian Church.
Leon Lake is an international recitalist, vocal coach, and conductor from West Texas. Mr. Lake first attended South Plains College where he studied voice with Ruby Moultrie, and piano with Wilma Ryan and Dr. Hye-Gyung Ji. Mr. Lake continued his studies at Southern Methodist University where he studied voice with Barbara Hill-Moore.
Mr. Lake is an accomplished pianist and vocalist who has won many national and international competitions including the Leontyne Price Young Artist Competition and NATS.
Mr. Lake has performed extensively in opera and musical theater. His musical theater roles include: Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Fats Waller in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Father in Children of Eden, Juan Peron in Evita and Léon in the world premiere of Two Orphans, a role written for him by Theresa Rebeck and Kim Sherman. Mr. Lakes opera roles include: Gluck’s Orfeo, Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Britten, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Baba in The Rakes Progress, and Sesto in Giulio Cesare by Handel. Mr. Lake also works as a champion for the music of Black Composers. As an opera coach and vocal consultant for young professional singers Mr. Lake’s students have been in productions on Broadway and in opera houses across America and Europe.
Mr. Lake has served as the Director of Performing Arts at the historic Menaul School since 2016. As a music educator Mr. Lake has taught vocal music, acting, and arts history classes. As a director Mr. Lake has also directed over 30 stage performances.
Mr. Lake has worked in church and sacred music since 2005. In that time, he has worked as a church pianist, accompanist, soloist, arranger, conductor, and music director. Mr. Lake has worked with multiple choirs from almost every denomination and now serves as the music director for First Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque.
Mr. Lake currently lives in Tijeras with his husband Skyler.
Lana was born and raised in Moscow. Her musical education started at the age of six, when her parents brought her to the Musical school for children. At 14, she was accepted at the piano faculty of Moscow Conservatory Musical College. Upon graduation, she pursued her Master’s degree at the Russian Academy of Music (former the Gnessins’ Institute). She completed studies with all professional qualifications, including concert pianist. The Academy opened its organ department 1997, and Lana returned to graduate for the second time as an organist under the guidance of internationally acclaimed professor Alexander V. Fiseisky.
Two decades ago, she met her husband Frank, moved to the East Mountains and started a family. Frank is an optical engineer, an accomplished amateur astronomer, and a University of Arizona grad. Their son Richard is a high school junior. Their family also includes a pair of corgis, Shasta and Humphrey.
Lana has played in the churches of Albuquerque for many years. She worked at the Christian Science church and Monte Vista Christian church (Nob Hill area). This experience was precious, as she learned and expanded her repertoire of service music.
In 2009, during the AGO convention in Albuquerque, Lana had a chance to hear an outstanding Stephen Tharp performance on the organ at the First Presbyterian Church. “This was a true inspiration,” Lana says, “And now I have the honor to play the same magnificent organ and to serve for the wonderful congregation.”