Staff & Elders
PASTOR

Jerry Hurst

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The Rev. Dr. Jerry Hurst became the pastor of our church after serving as our interim for almost 20 months.  Recent changes in the polity of the denomination made this possible, and now Jerry will be leading our congregation for the foreseeable future. Jerry and his wife Pam “retired” here to La Grange in 2012, but the call and the excitement of ministry was too great to stay retired. Jerry graduated from St. Andrews College in North Carolina and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry, with overseas duty in South Korea. (1969-70).Jerry has served churches in Arkansas, Florida, and Texas.  He started a new church in the Missouri City-Sugar Land area outside Houston, and was there for 20 years. Then a call came to serve as an interim associate presbytery executive in Sacramento, California in 2007.before returning to Houston in 2009. Pam and Jerry have children and grandchildren in Colorado and Florida, and a son who lives in Houston.  Angus, a West Highland Terrier, hangs around the house and the church when he is not chasing squirrels and the mailman. They live in their recently renovated home at 348 South Jackson St.


ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Andrea Polasek

Andrea Polasek was born on June 30, 1971, in Kingsville, Texas.  She has been the Church Secretary since 2010.  Andrea enjoys her work and all of the wonderful members/friends at First Presbyterian Church.

She graduated from Schulenburg High School in 1989 and from Blinn Jr. College in 1991 with an Associate of Arts in Business.  Andrea and her husband, Raymond live in La Grange and have 3 wonderful daughters, Kelsey, Raeley and Nataley.  Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, watching softball & baseball, fishing, and traveling.

 


MUSIC DIRECTOR

Janet Parker

  Janet and Buzz, moved to La Grange in 2005 from Owego, New York.    A native of Long island, Janet studied music at Ithaca College (once the Ithaca Conservatory of Music) where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and a Masters of Music in Applied Voice. In-between degrees, she nurtured her life-long creativity as a fabric store employee and knitting teacher while new husband Buzz played jazz trumpet in the U.S. Army Field Band.

     After graduation, Janet taught middle school general music and chorus for a few years part time while studying singing and training at the Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY. At this point in her life, the challenge of full-time vocal performance called to her, and she traded music education (except for private lessons) for singing opera, performing oratorio and doing solo work with symphony orchestras and choral groups. Accomplishments include some twenty acclaimed operatic roles, ranging from the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” to the title role in Bizet’s “Carmen.” During this period, she was vocalist with over a dozen orchestras, singing music that extended from the baroque to twentieth century.

     After several years on the stage, Janet decided to “retire” from being on the road and accepted a fulltime teaching position with the Owego Free Academy (public High School in Owego, NY). There she taught Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir, Select Choir, General Music class and college-level Music Theory. She and Buzz became eligible for early retirement, much to their benefit and to that of La Grange.

     Since moving here, while not planning for and working with the Chancel Choir, the Praise Band, or with the worship team preparing services, Janet has spent many hours working with Buzz on their extensive and awesome home remodel. She is currently the president of the Colorado Valley Quilt Guild and an extra-active member of the “Thursday Quilters.” When time allows, Janet will play the piano, sew, knit, crochet, garden, read, cook, bake, and make her own cleaning and laundry products (a gift to the environment). She is devoted to Irish Setter, Brady.

    


KEYBOARDS

Jean McHenry

I was born in San Antoino, Texas on August 24, 1935 to Etta Mae Hargus and Cleo Jackson Smith.  When I was two years old, we moved to the Gulf Coast.  I played for my first church service at the Kemah Methodist Church when I was eleven years old.  We lived in nearby Dickinson until 1953.  I became interested in the organ at age fourteen, when our church in Dickinson acquired an organ..  In 1953, I graduated from Dickinson High School and enrolled at the University of Texas where I studied organ and piano. I was a member of the Symphonic Band, University Singers, Acapella Choir and the Texas Stars Drill Team.

 

After leaving university, I worked at Texas Eastern Transmission Co. and Exxon in Houston.  I met and married Dr. John McHenry in 1959.  He passed away in Feb. 2000.  We had three children and three grandchildren.  We were members of St. Luke's Methodist Church where I was accompanist for the children's choir for 16 years before coming to La Grange.  I was active in the Medical Society Auxiliary a member of the alumni board,, a volunteer at River Oaks Elementary and St. John's School, a member of the Blue Bird Circle, charter member of the Magic Circle Republican Women's Club and a Junior League Patron.

My parents retired to their farm in Fayetteville in 1974, so I have been coming to this area for over 43 years.  Festival Hill was just getting started an dthey informed me in the spring of 1990 that the Presbyterians needed an organist.  I left my job at Rice University in May of 1990 to take on this wonderful 27 year journey to become your organist.  Four years later St. Paul's Lutheran Church ask me to play for their 8:00 A. M. service, adding their Saturday night service to my schedule in 2006.  My hobbies are attending concerts, gardening, sewing, watching tennis, football and ice skating.  I am a member of Citizens on Patrol and 4th Thursday Quilters.


COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Jeremy Janda

Jeremy Janda
Born October 1979 in La Grange
Graduated La Grange High School in 1998
Married Jenny 2008
2 sons Will and Reed
Joined church in 2009
Own and operate a self storage facility in Seadrift and Smithville Texas
Free time is spent outside and raising our 2 sons

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

Rebecca Halder

I was born in La Grange,  raised in Nechanitz, and  I graduated from Round Top-Carmine High School. In 1973, I graduated  from the University of Texas in Austin with a BS in Elementary and Special Education and in 1977 I received my Masters in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M.
 
Religious instruction began where I was raised at Waldeck Lutheran Church.  Sine then, I have attended and been involved in  both ELCA and Missouri Lutheran synods as well as the United Church of Christ.
 
I am married to Clive Halder and we have  two children, Monica and Brian, and two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Grant.  Both of our  children live out of state (Denver and Raleigh) and as a family, we make regular visits to see each other.
 
I have worked as an Educational Diagnostician and teacher for 35 years.  States in which I have worked include Texas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. 
 
I am honored to be asked to serve as an Elder for First Presbyterian and sincerely hope that my efforts will be of benefit to Christian Education.

CHURCH LIFE

Katie Gross

Katie was born and raised in La Grange.  She has been a member of First Presbyterian Church since 1986.  Katie enjoys working with her committee to plan a variety of activities for the church.

She is a licensed professional counselor serving the Fayette County area.  Katie also serves on the board of directors of the Texas Women's League.  She and her husband Byron reside in La Grange and have four young children.


FINANCE AND STEWARDSHIP

Jim Allbright

Born Camp Roberts California, as a child lived in CA, Verdun France, Ft. Leonard Wood MO , Yokohama Japan and Austin TX. Graduated U Of Texas 1974 with BBA in Accounting, Worked in Houston 1974-1983 with Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Moved to LG in 1983, work in own CPA practice. Community Participation:

 FAVCC   President and Treasurer
 Boy Scout Troop 204  Chairman and Scoutmaster
 LG Optimist Club - Board Member, Director of youth soccer and basketball programs
 Fayette Memorial Hospital- Trustee, Secretary and Chairman
 
One Child- JJ Allbright CWO3 US Army Monterey CA
One Granddaughter- Madison Marie Allbright

CONGREGATIONAL CARE

Pam Hurst

Pam is a Hoosier who hails from Southport, a suburb of Indianapolis. She was raised in the Disciples of Christ Church, but joined the Presbyterian Church when she moved to Jacksonville, Florida. After she and Jerry were married, the family relocated to Missouri City, Texas on the southwest side of Houston to start a new church called Southminster Presbyterian. While at Southminster, Pam was called to be a Ruling Elder and was ordained to that office. In 2014, she was elected to go on the session here at First Presbyterian Church where she has served as chair of the Congregational Care Committee. Pam has organized Team Butterfly, a walking group that participates in the Houston Half Marathon, fundraising to benefit Presbyterian Children's Home and Services. She enjoys being a volunteer with Hospice Brazos Valley and Second Chance. She and her husband Pastor Jerry have been   La Grange residents for five years and have two children and three grandchildren.

 


WORSHIP

Anna Katherine Schmidt

Anna Katherine (AK) was born and raised in La Grange and has been a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and holds a PhD in Nursing. She was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Indiana University in Indianapolis, Incarnate Word in San Antonio and the University of Houston, Victoria. AK has owned several area businesses including Texas Rural Health Services and Tim’s On the Square Restaurant. Currently she enjoys traveling, babysitting grandchildren and working at Second Chance, as well as serving on the board of NTN: A Texas Village Project.


BUILDING AND GROUNDS

Wade Blakey

Wade Blakey is our serving Ruling Elder with responsibility for Buildings and Grounds. Wade joined First Presbyterian Church of La Grange in February of 2013, participated on the Emmaus Walk 1743 at Cathedral Oaks in March 2014, and was ordained as an Elder in December 2014. He was born and raised in Houston and lived most of his life in the suburban areas of Houston most recently in the Katy area. He and his late wife, Roseann, decided to retire to La Grange purchasing the old (1897) Schumacher house in 2008, fixing it up and relocated to this home in 2010. Following a courageous battle with cancer, Roseann passed in September 2012. Wade subsequently sold the Schumacher house and relocated to the bluff area in 2013. Wade has three sons residing in the Houston and Dallas areas with their families that include his nine grandchildren.

He enjoys serving the church and the wonderful congregation that has become his local family. In addition to his buildings and grounds activities, Wade participates with the Mission committee serving the AMEN food ministry, Second Chance and the Presbyterian Mens Group. He also enjoys playing golf and toying with older classic cars.
 


MISSIONS

Larry Grigsby

Larry and Linda bought a little farm house in the La Grange are in 1997.  Little did they know that they would sell their house in Austin in 2005 would retire and move to that little farm house permanently.  In searching for a church home, no better church could have been discovered than the First Presbyterian Church in La Grange.  We joined the church in 2005.  The church family is the best, and God’s true presence in this church sustains us and blesses us every day!


CLERK OF SESSION

Bobbie Nash

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Bobbie is so happy to be a part of the First Presbyterian Church of La Grange and to be able to serve in this small capacity.  She lives for her family, her small farm with assorted rescue animals and gardening.  A little knitting on the side keeps her balanced. 

As a session member, her responsibility is the Clerk of Session.  She will do her best to fill the shoes of the best Clerk ever Brenda Benes...with Brenda's help and guidance.


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