Marie Mainard O'Connell was called to serve as our pastor starting September 1, 2012. She was ordained and installed in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on October 21, 2012.
Marie’s journey to First Presbyterian began during her undergraduate experience at Hendrix College, where she received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Holistic Health. Afterwards she continued her studies in community development during her Masters of Science in College Student Personnel and Administration at UCA, where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Marie began her career in ministry with some light student chaplaincy activities while a Program Coordinator for Student Engagement at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. After several years of rewarding work, she move to New Jersey to attend New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where she received her Masters of Divinity and graduated Summa Cum Laude. During her education, she focused on social justice (notably an internship on human trafficking), anti-racism, and worship and preaching—as well as intentionally integrating ministry with motherhood.
Marie also completed three successive student minister internships: first as a Hospital Chaplain, and then at Bound Brook Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Church of Highland Park. After moving back to Little Rock, she served as the Interim Director for Youth at Westover Hills Presbyterian Church and as a 'protest chaplain' for Occupy Little Rock.
Marie enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband James and two children, Katie and Kevin, dreaming of “the little cottage on a pond” they hope to build someday soon.
Rev. Howard "Flash" Gordon is Minister Emeritus of First Presbyterian Church. He has recently served at St. Giles Cathedral of Edinburgh, Scotland. Gordon was installed as minister in January 1993 and faithfully served until he retired and was named Minister Emeritus in May
Born in Homer, La., Gordon earned a B.A. from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. Gordon studied economic development as a Merrill Fellow at Harvard and business ethics as a Research Fellow at Yale. He also learned to speak Spanish at a school in San Jose, Costa Rica.