Rev. Dr. Tom Walker, Pastor and Head of Staff, was born and adopted in Raleigh, North Carolina. He grew up in the Presbyterian church. Tom studied biology at Davidson College, received his M.Div. at Columbia Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. Tom has served local congregations and taught in seminaries. He has a deep passion for local congregations learning about their faith by exploring biblical texts, theological themes and their own journeys. Tom and his wife, Jan live in Ponte Vedra Beach and have two sons, Worth and Chris. Worth is a graduate of Wake Forest and Chris is attending the Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida.
Rev. Laurie Furr-Vancini is a native of north Florida. She grew up in Gainesville and then Macclenny, Florida, and is a graduate of Baker County High School. Following high school, Laurie attended Wake Forest University earning a B.A. with double majors in Religion and Sociology. She earned an M.A.Ed. from Virginia Tech. Upon leaving Virginia Tech, Laurie worked in the Housing and Student Activities offices at Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. Laurie attended Candler School of Theology at Emory and Columbia Theological Seminary, earned an M.Div. and was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, PC(USA) in October, 1999. Laurie is married to Jeff and they have three children: Charlie, Sam, and Abbie. Laurie enjoys her book club, working out and traveling.
Holly spent seven years serving as Church Educator at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. Prior to that, she served for 15 years in several churches as Director of Education Ministries in Indiana and Colorado. Her first ministry experience was as a co-pastor of Sugar Plain Friends Meeting in Indiana. Holly graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Earlham School of Religion as a Recorded Quaker Pastor in the 80’s. More recently in she earned her Doctorate of Education Ministry in 2012 from…you guessed it, Columbia Theological Seminary! Holly has served in, and been moderator of, several Presbytery-wide committees and has been extremely active in the extra-curricular work of her local church communities. She has led many workshops at the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators Annual Conference over the last decade, and was a keynote speaker at the 2015 conference. Of particular note is that she is a published author, penning the book “Sticky Learning: How Neuroscience Supports Teaching That’s Remembered”.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Ronn holds degrees in piano performance and conducting from The University of Wisconsin, Southern Methodist University and The University of North Texas College of Music. He studied conducting with Joseph Hawthorne, Elizabeth Green, Murry Sidlin (Aspen School of Music), Herbert Blomstedt and Anshel Brusilow. In 1997 he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of North Texas and subsequently joined the faculty of UNT where he served as Assistant Director of Orchestras, conducting the UNT Chamber Orchestra and teaching conducting. In 2000, he accepted a position as Director of Orchestral Studies at The University of Akron where he led the University Symphony Orchestra and taught music history, conducting and orchestration. While in Ohio he also served as Director of Music at The First Congregational Church of Hudson. In 2004, Dr. Cummings was appointed as Director of Music and Fine Arts at Palms.
Wilson Kennedy grew up and was raised in the faith in Wilson, North Carolina at First Presbyterian Church. He attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC (go Hose!) and graduated with a B.A. in Religion and Christian Education. There he sang in the choir, participated in opera and musical theater, was active in several social and service groups, and was the leader of a PC(USA) leadership development cohort called Celtic Cross. His call to Youth Ministry has taken him to Charlotte, NC and Shreveport, LA where he has previously interned and served as Director of Youth Ministries. He is active in the life of PC(USA) through his service on the Committee on the Office of General Assembly, as well as planning teams and leadership at Montreat Conference Center. Wilson’s main interests are connecting youth and their families to opportunities for faith formation and leadership development, youth spiritual development in conversation with our ever changing world, and developing an authentic Presbyterian identity. In his spare time, Wilson enjoys exploring new places, eating awesome food, and listening to public radio, but he also can quote many a Taylor Swift song.
Twila Rhodes is a native of Jacksonville, Florida. Graduating from Douglas Anderson High School, she went on to major in Philosophy and Religion at Flagler College in St Augustine. She came back to Jacksonville after graduating and started work as a Christian education director at a local church. After seven wonderful years, she realized her passion was for working with young children and started working as a children's ministry director for a church in Vero Beach, Florida. Missing her home, family and friends, she decided after two years it was time to come home. She is thrilled to be back in Jacksonville and here at Palms.
Rev. Jenn McDowell grew up in Arizona and moved to Colorado after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in psychology. She discerned her call to ministry in the United Church of Christ and received an M. Div. with an emphasis in children and family ministry from Bethel Seminary. After serving in several congregations in Colorado she moved to Jacksonville three years ago to serve as Associate Pastor of a local church. She is a trained Godly Play specialist and has a passion for nurturing spiritual growth in disciples of all ages. Pastor Jenn has two teenage sons, Ryan and Jonah, and two four legged babies, Peanut and Buddy. She loves the beach, reading, and all things Disney!
A native of Jacksonville, Tina grew up in Julington Creek, and is a graduate of Bishop Kenny High School. Following high school, she attended Florida State University earning a B.S. in Communication and English. Tina has worked in both the corporate and non-profit sectors of the communications industry for the past 17 years. Tina said, "I believe communications is an art form and I'm humbled and honored to share in this ministry at Palms". She is a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and most importantly, the proud mother of daughter, Gracie. In her spare time, Tina enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking, and sharing her love of photography with those around her.
Kendra Scaz comes to Palms with 20+ years’ experience in accounting, finance, human resource management and business operations. She has served in senior leadership capacity roles managing physician practices and multi-state pharmacy operations. Kendra holds an undergraduate degree in accounting as well as her MBA. Growing up in the Presbyterian Church, Kendra moved to Jacksonville from Pennsylvania, where for many years she served as an active board member for the Salvation Army. In her spare time, Kendra is a bridal consultant, enjoys biking, walking, reading, spending time with her family and friends and volunteering. She is excited to be part of the Palms family and encourages you to stop by and introduce yourself. Kendra resides in Jacksonville Beach with her husband Derek, who is a pilot with JetBlue Airlines and her two stepsons, Avery and Nathan.