Our Church Staff
We are blessed to have Dr. Vivian Thomlinson and Jo Brannan as our pulpit supply ministers as our Pastor Nominating Committee looks for a permanent full-time pastor for the church. They are doing a marvelous job. Let us introduce them to you:
Jo Brannan received her B.A. from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois and attended Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri. Jo served Carondelet-Markham Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri for three and a half years.
She has led retreats and bible studies as well as Vacation Bible Schools. She is a Griefshare leader, a support group for those who are grieving. She also served as a Spiritual Leader and Board Member for the Kairos Outside of Wichita Falls, Texas prison ministry.
She and her husband fostered thirty-two children and owned and operated the Victory Inn Bed and Breakfast in Belleville, IL. She, her husband and their two dogs currently reside in Lake Kiowa, Texas.
Vivian Aytes Thomlinson is a native of Gainesville but after two years at Benjamen Franklin Elementary School moved to Myra, Texas. She was educated at Myra, Muenster, and Era Schools and received her A.S. degree from Cooke County College.
From Cooke County College, she finished her B.S. in Political Science and English at Texas A and M Commerce (then known as East Texas State University). She went on to earn both a MA. And the PhD in English at Texas Woman's University in Denton.
She taught English at Texas Woman's University, Cooke County College, and Prince George's College in Maryland. She also worked in Public Relations and University Development at Southern Methodist University and taught Leadership and Communications at the US Army's Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth Kansas.
She has traveled extensively, living in London, England; Cairo, Egypt; and Oberammergau, Germany in the Bavarian Alps. She has visited many countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Vivian retired as full Professor of English and Emeritus Director of the University Honors Program at Cameron University in Lawton/Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 2014. She resides in an 1895 Victorian Home in Gainesville's Historic District, right across the street from First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville.
She attended FPC and other local churches since moving home to Gainesville upon her retirement from Cameron University and often participated in their Living Nativity Scenes at Christmas. When friends at FPC mentioned their desire for a weekly in-depth Bible study, Vivian volunteered to lead such a course. She has a scholarly background in Bible Studies and has taught University courses in the Bible as Literature as well as speaking on Bible topics at numerous churches and retreats and teaching Sunday School classes. She served on the Executive Board of Cameron Campus Ministry for many years.
But most importantly, Vivian has had a life-long devotion to and love of God, His Word, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and al His people. She is a disciple and an evangelist. She "Loves to Tell the Story" and considers her time in the pulpit, teaching the Word, witnessing in any capacity, and fellowshipping with the saints to be the greatest blessings of her life.
Jeffrey Schleff, MM, EDD, was a public elementary school music teacher for 10 years, a university assistant professor for 5 years and a public-school administrator for 20 years in the Chicago area. From 1976 through 2015, he also served in church music positions as organist and director of music for churches in Northbrook, Mundelein, and Des Plaines, Illinois. Since September 2019, Dr. Schleff has served as Organist and Music Director at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. He earned his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University (Tempe) and graduate degrees from Northwestern University (Evanston) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.