First Presbyterian Church (FPC) is governed by a board of Elders elected by members of the congregation. This board of Elders is called the “Session,” and it meets twice a month (once for study and prayer, and once for a business meeting). Duties and responsibilities of the Session can be found in the Polity of our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO). Session members serve 3-year terms. The Session governs the work of the congregation through committees.

In addition to the Session, FPC has a board of Deacons, which oversees care and visitation for those who are sick and in distress, both inside our congregation and in the greater community.

2020 Session Members (Elders)
Shannon Strozyk, Clerk of Session
Rory Connally
Terry Forslund
Steve Franzke
Barb Gehrett
Russ Guppy
Wendy Hoashi-Erhardt
Tim Kleefeld
Dan O’Connor
Sonja West
2019 Deacons
Sarah Chickering, Chair
Pat Beard
Tom Brown
Annette Clingman
Gary Dyer
Mark Firch
Bob Gorham
Dana Kagey
Sheila McEvilly
Jennifer Rich
Steve Richards
Barbara Trapp
Gwen Trussler
Holly Wall

Committee Chairs

Building and Grounds: Rory Connally
Children’s Ministries: Aarón Martinez
Adult Christian Education: Matt Pickard
Camp McCullough Task Force: Nadine Kohler
Deacons: Sarah Chickering
Endowment: Devon Duval
Finance: Scott Juergens, Chair; Tim Kleefeld, Vice Chair
GO! Team/Missions: Tim Kleefeld
Personnel: Sonja West
Prayer Coordinator: Sonja West
Women’s Mentoring: Barb Gehrett
Worship and Arts: John West
Youth: Janie O’Connor
FPC Cor Deo School (K-5): Mark Lackermayer
FPC Preschool: Ken Brownlee


FAQ post

Following are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If your question isn’t answered here, please contact the church office at 253-272-3286 or generalinfo@fpctacoma.org. We would be delighted to talk to you.

1. When is your service on Sunday?

We have one worship celebration on Sundays at 10:30 am. This blended service includes praise songs led by our worship band, traditional hymns, pipe organ, and chancel choir. The order of worship includes words of welcome, confession, prayers, a sermon, scripture, special music, and more. We generally celebrate Holy Communion on the second Sunday of each month.

2. Where are you located?

We are at the corner of Division and Tacoma Ave. S in Tacoma (our mailing address is 20 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma, WA 98402). For a map, please go here.

3. Do you have childcare during your service?

Yes! For infants and toddlers, we have wonderful child care available during both services. Infants up to age 2 are cared for in the Nursery on the second floor, and toddlers from 2-4 are cared for in Woodworth Hall, also on the second floor.

4. Do you offer Sunday School?

Yes! We have Christian education classes for children through adults from 9:15-10:15 am. Adults usually have the choice of classes focusing on the Bible, theological issues, or spiritual growth.

5. Do you have parking?

Yes! We are blessed with a large parking lot behind our church. 

6. How do people dress who attend your church?

Many different ways, from casual to suits and dresses. Come as you are! 

7. What is the age range of your congregation?

We are a multi-generational church. We have babies and people in their 90s, and everything in between. 

8. What do you believe?

We are an evangelical church that joyfully believes that Jesus is the way of salvation. For more information, see the “Our Beliefs” section of this website. 

9. What is your denominational affiliation?

Our congregation is a member of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).

10. Do you have special programs for men, women, youth, and seniors?

Yes! We have many different programs and services for people of all ages. For a listing, see the “Ministries” section of this website.

11. Do you have a church school?


12. How are you governed?

We are governed by a board called the “Session,” which is made up of elders (men and women) who are elected by the congregation. Our church is also connected to other churches in the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), which is governed by the Presbyterian form of church government. ECO’s governance and accountability structure can be found here.

13. How do I join the choir, the youth group, a Bible study…?

The easiest way is to contact the church office for more information at 253-272-3286 or generalinfo@fpctacoma.org.



To glorify God by serving our neighbors, upholding Biblical truth, and growing in Christ together.

Our Core Values

  • Relationships: Devote ourselves to people through the seasons of life.
  • Children: Prioritize children & youth and equip them to live Christ centered lives.
  • Missions: Bring people near and far to a life transforming relationship with Christ.
  • Truth: Uphold the Bible as truth and share that truth.
  • Discipleship: Help people mature spiritually and exercise their spiritual gifts.

How to Have a Fulfilled Life

  • God’s Purpose for You: Peace and life through a relationship with Him. “I [Jesus] came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
  • Our Problem: Self-centered disregard for God’s will (sin) that leads to a separation of relationship between people and God forever. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
  • Our Attempt at a Remedy:We try to be accepted by God and get into a relationship with Him on our own terms and efforts through religion, philosophy, good works, and morality. It doesn’t work! “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12)
  • God’s Remedy: What we can’t do God did through Jesus. The cross spans the separation between people and God. “For Christ… died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
  • Our Response: Trust Jesus as Lord and Savior; through Jesus we have a relationship with God forever! “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

Essential Tenets

First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma is part of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Along with ECO, we affirm the essential tenets listed below. These essentials provide the foundation upon which all of the ministries and programs of First Presbyterian are built. Our leaders affirm them and find them to be a faithful exposition of the truths found in Scripture and in affirming them; we experience both confidence and comfort from our Lord.  We share them with you in a spirit of honesty and transparency, but do not expect you to affirm all of these beliefs in order for you to feel welcome here.  What is of utmost importance to us is that you have an opportunity to experience a restored relationship with God through accepting the forgiveness freely offered to you through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And it is our sincere hope that your experience with First Presbyterian (whether it is for one day or for 80 years) will have helped you draw closer to Jesus. A fuller statement of ECO’s essential tenets can be downloaded here. The purpose of life. The great purpose toward which each human life is drawn is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. The authority for our lives. We glorify God by recognizing and receiving His authoritative self-revelation, both in the infallible Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and also in the incarnation of God the Son. The trinity. With Christians everywhere, we worship the only true God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–who is both one essence and three persons.

The incarnation. Jesus Christ is both truly God and truly human. The divinity of the Son is in no way impaired, limited, or changed by His gracious act of assuming a human nature, and that His true humanity is in no way undermined by His continued divinity. The risen Jesus, who was sent from the Father, has now ascended to the Father in His resurrected body and remains truly human.
The Holy Spirit. We are able to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and God only through the work of the Holy Spirit. 
The problem of sin. The present disordered state of the world, in which we and all things are subject to misery and to evil, is not God’s doing, but is rather a result of humanity’s free, sinful rebellion against God’s will.  No part of human life is untouched by sin. Our desires are no longer trustworthy guides to goodness, and what seems natural to us no longer corresponds to God’s design.
The solution. Jesus offered Himself on the cross in order to free us from slavery to death and sin. Jesus takes our place both in bearing the weight of condemnation against our sin on the cross and in offering to God the perfect obedience that humanity owes to Him but is no longer able to give. In union with Christ through the power of the Spirit we are brought into right relation with the Father, who receives us as His adopted children. Jesus Christ is the only Way to this adoption, the sole path by which sinners become children of God.
The benefits of salvation. Through His regenerating and sanctifying work, the Holy Spirit grants us faith and enables holiness, so that we may be witnesses of God’s gracious presence to those who are lost. In Christ, we are adopted into the family of God and find our new identity as brothers and sisters of one another, since we now share one Father.
The church. Within the covenant community of the church, God’s grace is extended through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments, and the faithful practice of mutual discipline. The ministries of the church reflect the three-fold office of Christ as prophet, priest, and king–reflected in the church’s ordered ministries of teaching elders, deacons, and ruling elders.
Holiness. Jesus teaches us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. There is no part of human life that is off limits to the sanctifying claims of God. Progress in holiness is an expected response of gratitude to the grace of God, which is initiated, sustained, and fulfilled by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit
Moral guidance. As we practice the discipline of regular self- examination and confession, we are especially guided by the Ten Commandments.  Most of the commandments are expressed in a prohibition, ‘you shall not’, but behind each prohibition, we find a ‘grand positive’ calling us to freedom and to new life.  Among the many vital and life affirming truths expressed in the Ten Commandments, we find two of them to be especially relevant for the culture in which we live today.  We encourage you to find the others on the ECO website:

#5 You shall not kill. This command calls us to eradicate a spirit of anger, resentment, callousness, violence, or bitterness, and instead cultivate a spirit of gentleness, kindness, peace, and love; recognize and honor the image of God in every human being from conception to natural death.   #6 You shall not commit adultery. This command calls us to maintain chastity in thought and deed, being faithful within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman as established by God at the creation or embracing a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant.

Historic Confessions


Our Denomination


Inside Out

We are a church that ASPIRES to exist FOR THE SAKE of those who are not already part of our fellowship. We will not be satisfied with transfer growth alone, but desire to be a place where a person beginning a relationship with Christ is a normal and expected aspect of our life together. One of the first questions we will ask when making decisions is,“How will this help a newcomer to have a transforming experience with Jesus?” Personal preference will not be a significant factor in deciding how to invest our corporate energy and resources. This does not mean that we ignore the needs of our congregation, but we understand Inside Out to mean that reaching out and congregational care are complementary goals. We believe that living out a caring, intergenerational life is one of the ways we demonstrate the Kingdom to newcomers.

We are a church that values people from every generation. We believe that friendships and relationships of mutual honor and respect can be formed among people of different ages. We value the unique contributions that are made to our fellowship young, old and everyone in-between. We are willing to patiently and lovingly participate in things that are not our preference in order to be together as a family. CONFIDENTLY EVANGELICAL We are a church that upholds an orthodox approach to theology. We trust the Bible even if it leads us to culturally unpopular positions. We believe that true confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible is best expressed through a clear, humble, and gracious articulation of truth while maintaining a winsome and loving approach to those who may disagree with us. Therefore we refuse to make attacks on the person, character, or motive of those who hold different opinions. Our theological orthodoxy can be accurately described as conservative, but as a church body we are careful not align ourselves with any particular political platform. BALANCED LEADERSHIP We are a church that seeks to be faithful to God by recognizing, entrusting, equipping, and supporting those whom He has called to be leaders. We believe that leadership is a gift from God, not a right we demand, and that we exercise leadership only by God’s gracious invitation. As disciples of Jesus, leaders do not wield naked power over others, but are to be first and foremost, servants of all. We believe that women and men are equally suited for all levels of leadership in church and society. We acknowledge that natural distinctions between men and women do exist, but believe that through Christ women and men are made free to bring their unique giftings and experiences to every level of leadership. BEAUTIFUL We are a church that stewards a beautiful building in a beautiful setting for the glory of God. We recognize that the church is not the building, and this building is not the church. The true church is the people of God who are called to participate in God’s plan to redeem the lost and restore all of creation. This building is a tool for God’s mission in the world. Our desire is for all people to feel welcome and comfortable in this place in order that they too can be drawn towards the glory of a beautiful God. We freely admit that the attitudes of our hearts and the ways we treat others can often be a poor reflection of the God we worship, but we trust that God in His grace accepts us just as we are and is working though His Spirit to transform us more and more into the beautiful image of His Son.


First Presbyterian Church Tacoma was initially established in July 1873 to meet the needs of settlers who came to this region because it was the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Just a couple of months later, the great financial crash of September 1873 occurred, scattering most of the founding members. The church essentially had to be restarted in 1877 under the leadership of the Rev. John Thompson. Since then, First Presbyterian Church has played an uninterrupted role in the history of Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest.
The church outgrew its first building and had to construct another one in 1890. In the interim between selling its old building and completing the new one, the congregation met for a year in a tent! During World War I, the church had to close its doors for five weeks in October and November of 1917 because of an epidemic that was sweeping the country.   The church built its third and current building in 1925. A masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, it was designed by famous church architect Ralph Adams Cram and is rich in Christian symbolism expressed in stone, wood, glass, and mosaic. (Explore more about the current building’s art and architecture on the “Our Building” page.)
Many of the church’s current ministries and activities have roots in the past. In 1946, the church acquired Camp McCullough. Today this 40-acre lakefront conference center near Kent, Washington, has developed into an important center for Christian training, retreats, and summer camps. Many young people continue to grow in faith and leadership ability as they work there as counselors and staff members. During the initial decades after World War II, First Presbyterian Church made a significant commitment to world evangelization, holding annual missions conferences with speakers from around the world. That commitment continues today, and the church currently supports two dozen missionaries in various parts of the world.
In 1969, a Christian preschool was started at the church. First Presbyterian Church Preschool and Cor Deo Elementary now enroll nearly 300 children in preschool through grade five with a focus on a “Christian, classical” approach to education.
In 2007, First Presbyterian Church started a new chapter in its history by calling Dr. Eric Jacobsen as its Senior Pastor. A winsome and gifted expositor of the Bible, Eric Jacobsen is a nationally-recognized speaker and author whose sermons are now made available to listeners here on the First Presbyterian Church website. Since coming to First Presbyterian Church, Eric Jacobsen served for a time as a periodic columnist for the Tacoma News Tribune and has been active in the Stadium District Business Association.
In 2012, the congregation voted to leave the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) and to affiliate with the new denomination ECO (A Covenant Order of Evangelicals Presbyterians). First Presbyterian Church became the first church accepted into this new denomination.

The firm foundation of First Presbyterian Church Tacoma is, and always has been, our Lord Jesus Christ, “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Everything we do comes from our relationship with God, and it brings us great joy to add new people to His family. We are building on the prayers of those who have gone before us, and we pray that we might be about changing lives for the sake of Jesus Christ until his return.

First Presbyterian Church, 1883

First Presbyterian Church, 1890

First Presbyterian Church, 1937

First Presbyterian Church Today


“It is in the great auditorium, with its high vaulted ceiling, its massive lines, its rose windows of brilliantly stained glass, its candle chandeliers, its solid oak pews and wondrously carved altar furnishings, that the atmosphere of worship rises to its sublime heights. Here is a room upon which the master church architect, Ralph Adams Cram, who devoted his personal attention to every detail of the church, lavished the wealth of his art and knowledge to produce the ultimate in ecclesiastical effects.”—E. Snyder, Tacoma Sunday Ledger, Aug. 30, 1925.
First Presbyterian Church’s current building was designed in the Romanesque style by renowned Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. Costing nearly $500,000 to build, it opened for worship in the fall of 1925 to great acclaim in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. The building was later featured in the January 5, 1927 issue of The American Architect. Use the links below to explore more about the building, including its rich use of Christian symbols.

The Architecture of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma

An Impromptu Tour

The Church Tower

The Madonna Della Sedia


Pastoral Staff

Eric Jacobsen
Lead Pastor
Jean Malmin
Minister of Visitation
Daniel Perrin
Minister of Worship

Program Staff

Patrice Barnett
Daniel Heath
Bell Choir Director
Sonja West
Prayer Coordinator
McKenzie Peirson
Youth Director
Julie Brownlee
Co-Director, Kids' Ministry
253-272-3286, ext. 115
Laurel Juergens
Co-Director, Kids' Ministry
253-272-3286, ext. 115
Michelle Martinez
Director of Discipleship
Lucy Leach
FPC Nursery Coordinator
Jon Hillstead
Worship Assistant

Office, Administrative, and Facilities Staff

Karen Ackerson
Congregational Life & Office Coordinator
Aaron Byers
Director of Church Operations
Carol Heath
Volunteer Coordinator
Michael Johnson
Building Superintendent

First Presbyterian Preschool (FPP) Staff

Kim Pickard
Director of Preschool
Courtney Buchholtz
FPP Office Administrator



The Cor Deo School Grammar School Staff

Christine Cohn
Interim Head of School
Aaron Byers
Director of School Operations

Camp McCullough Staff

Matt Miller
Camp Director
Katie Nalty
Camp Registrar