Reverend Lee Koontz
Senior Pastor

leeKOONTZ_0001Lee Koontz began ministry at First Presbyterian Church in January of 2016. Originally from Lexington, North Carolina, Lee’s religious upbringing was unique in that it did not include attending church. He was instead “home-churched” as his family sat down each Sunday to read scripture and pray together. As a result, Lee deeply values ministry to children and their families. He emphasizes the importance of families sharing faith together and also recognizes the responsibility of the church to share Christ’s love beyond the walls of the church building, reaching out into the community and world. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. After beginning his ministry as a hospital chaplain, Lee served churches in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina, for fifteen years before coming to First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville.

Lee is married to Heather Gorden Koontz, who is also an ordained Presbyterian Minister. They have two boys, A.J. and Alex, and together they enjoy reading, playing and watching sports, hiking, building with Legos, and exploring the North Georgia community that they now call home!

Reverend Shon Peppers
Associate Pastor

ShonpwebsizeREVShon was born in Atlanta but has lived in Gainesville since he was four years of age. He is a 1994 graduate of Brenau University where he received a B.S. in Human Resource Management with a minor in History. Before Shon graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary where he earned an MDIV degree during a three year matriculation, he and his wife Lori served as House Parents at a ministry called Eagle Ranch for five years where they walked alongside young men and their hurting families as they worked toward family reunification with a Christ centered basis. Prior to that, Shon worked for United Parcel Service for eleven years and Lori was a stay at home mom until feeling led to go into full time ministry. Before UPS, Shon worked as a Hall County Deputy for a just over a year until enrolling into college full time. Shon also served as a Sergeant in the United States Army Reserves for six years and is very appreciative for that experience and his time of service in the military.

Shon and Lori have two boys, Thomas and Jonathan. Shon’s hobbies include reading, fishing of any kind, fly tying, bee keeping, gardening, biking, hiking, canoeing, camping and anything outdoors that is even remotely dangerous and adventurous. His favorite hobby is spending time with his family and their six dogs, Heidi, a Parson wired hair terrier, Willie Nelson, a Powder Puff Chinese Crested, Kipper, a terrier mix, (Geoffrey) Chaucer, a feisty little Chihuahua, Sparky, a long haired Chihuahua and Ginger, a min pin. They also have three cats Mr. Floyd, Tobbie and Mattie that help run the home plus a small flock of hens for some amazing fresh eggs along with a couple of bee hives for some delicious honey. They do all types of things together as a family but mostly just hang out and enjoy their home, one another and their time together.

Shon has been on staff at First Presbyterian Church since August, 2009. He serves as the Associate Pastor with an emphasis in the area of Family Ministry and sharing the love to all ages.

Reverend Dr. Margaret Turney-Ayer
Interim Director of Faith Development

Margaret Turney-Ayer has served in a variety of church settings (suburban, urban, and small town) in the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta since her ordination in 1983. Most of her pastoral work has focused on spiritual formation as it is expressed through the teaching and caring ministries of the congregation. Prior to serving in the pastoral ministry, Margaret expressed her faith through the teaching and performing of music. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of South Florida, and a M.M. from Indiana University. With a strong sense of call to the pastoral ministry, Margaret received her M.Div. from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is a Certified Spiritual Director and received her D.Min. from our denomination’s West Coast seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2006. She retired from full time ministry at Roswell Presbyterian Church in 2011 after nearly fifteen years of service there.

Margaret’s family is originally from Florida where her sister and her family as well as her brother still live. Margaret’s niece, Mary, has been a significant part of Margaret’s life sine Mary was three. Mary is now married and lives with her husband and baby in Winder, Georgia. Margaret loves to travel, play bridge, go to movies, read, and singing with Lanier Chamber Singers. She finds rest and restoration especially at the beach or in the mountains.