Pastors & Staff
Meet the people who make this place hum.
The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston Senior Pastor
I am a husband, a dad, a friend, a Presbyterian pastor, a comic book reader, and a fan of almost any sport that involves a ball. I am a New Yorker with a soft spot in my heart for the rhythms and people of Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; and Duluth, Minnesota. I like red wine and dark beer, and am constantly in search of the world’s best pizza. I read a lot. My laugh is too loud. I am into reformed theology, parables, psalms and prayers. I blog about the challenges, absurdities and joys of an urban faith. I am always on the lookout for God and good conversation. Let me know whenever you spot them.
The Rev. Kate Dunn Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care & Outreach
I grew up in Clinton, New York—“a nice place to live,” according to the village welcome sign, which it was. Besides my religious training, I earned an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, and for many years I have reviewed children’s, young adult and religious books for Publishers Weekly. A long walk in the park, a good yoga class, meals with friends, vacation time with extended family, a novel I can’t put down, my beloved cat, Star, and time with my husband and children are some of the many things that enrich my life.
The Rev. Charlene Han Powell Associate Pastor for Education & Engagement
I am a second-generation Korean American, honored daughter of immigrants Wha Lim Han and Dr. Hye Kyung Kim, devoted sister of Christine and Luis Perez and Cheryl Han and Sebastien Gagnon, and beloved wife of Jordan Powell (my first love and high school sweetheart). In college I majored in religion, with a minor in dance (hip hop, modern and Latin dance in particular). After traveling to Israel and the West Bank, I developed a passion for interfaith dialogue. Developing and articulating our faith in Christian community is one aspect of my ministry at FAPC, and the focus of my D.Min. research at New York Theological Seminary. Follow me @TheRevHanPowell.
The Rev. Randy Weber Associate Pastor for Administration & Discipleship
I grew up in the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wenonah, New Jersey. I met my future wife, Cindy, there when we were both in the nursery. We arrived at FAPC in 1991, where I teach the New Members Class four times a year, as well as classes in Celtic spirituality, inspired by our pilgrimages to the Iona community in Scotland. Today Cindy is a lower school librarian in Manhattan. Our daughter Laura is finishing her THM; our son, Craig, is a mechanical engineer; and our youngest, Emily, is a student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The Rev. J.C. Austin Parish Associate
I am a lifelong Presbyterian, a pastor and an educator, a writer and a scholar. I'm also a husband and father, and in any time that's left, a guitarist and singer. I'm completing a doctorate from the University of Cape Town in theology and public life, a field that is at the heart of the work I do now. After 10 years as an associate pastor at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, I am vice president of Christian leadership formation at Auburn Theological Seminary, where I help to equip faith leaders to work for social justice and organizational change. The "J.C." stands for "John Charles," and I'll buy you lunch if you can come up with a joke about a pastor with those initials that I haven't heard!
Dr. Aram Bae Director of Family Ministries
Fried chicken, barbecue and the ubiquitous use of “y’all”—these are some of the things I love about my hometown, Richmond, Virginia. An informed and engaged community, families committed to spiritual practices, and theologically curious youth—these are some of the reasons I love Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Our youth events at the church (especially the Overnighters) bring out my playful side, but I am serious about providing a Scripturally based curriculum for Sunday School, teacher training and faith development across all age groups. My doctoral studies in practical theology at Union Theological Seminary deepened my passion and commitment to children’s and youth ministry. While I enjoy reading and writing about this stuff, nothing beats a Sunday morning at Fifth Avenue, where “the stuff” comes to life.
Dr. Eugenia Oi Yan Yau Director of Music for Family Ministries
I have been involved in children’s music my whole life. In Hong Kong (where I am from), I was the assistant director of the TaiPo Children’s Choir and later the principal music director of the ShaTin Children’s Choir. These experiences ignited my passion for teaching across cultures. In addition to my baccalaureate and master’s degrees, I earned a doctorate in vocal performance from the University of Texas at Austin and Kodály music education certification from New York University. I am a professor of music at Borough of Manhattan Community College, the composer of a bilingual musical (Fish Jumping over the Dragon Gate) and an avid lover of all things New York, especially window shopping at Chelsea Market with my husband, Jose.
Osanna Urbay Nursery Coordinator
An artist at heart, I enjoy bringing my creative skills to our Nursery. I have always worked in the arts, where I often get to play with beautiful objects rather than young tots. I currently work at the Montclair Art Museum. I grew up at FAPC, emigrating from Cuba with my family when I was 16 months old—about the average age of the demographic in the Nursery. Over the years, I’ve been a Deacon, an Elder and served on several committees, but none of these experiences offered me the opportunity to use Play-Doh, color and eat Goldfish to my heart’s content. I am fortunate to work with a team of experienced and talented caregivers. Our goals for our youngest members are to provide a safe environment; to let them know they are loved; and to prepare them for Sunday School with the big kids. This is a big stepping stone!
Dr. Ryan Jackson William S. Perper Director of Music & Fine Arts Ministries
Ryan Jackson was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1983, and began singing in the junior choir at his home church, Bracebridge United, shortly thereafter. The endless variety and expressive beauty of the choral sound captured his imagination from the start, and he founded his first choir while still in high school.
Since then, Ryan has sung as a tenor in several choirs at the University of Toronto and Yale University, and has served as associate director in the music programs at Metropolitan United Church in Toronto and Christ Church United Methodist in New York City.
In the spring of 2012, Ryan was appointed the William S. Perper Director of Music and Fine Arts Ministries at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church following an international search. He has founded two new choirs here to supplement the FAPC Choir: the professional Chamber Choir and the Joyful Noise Choir, a teaching ensemble for those wishing to learn more about singing and music in general.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Ryan is an accomplished liturgical and concert organist.After taking up organ studies at age 17, he went on to win three major Canadian performance competitions: the Royal Canadian College of Organists' National Organ Playing Competition, the Florence and Stanley Osborne National Organ Playing Competition, and the Toronto Regional Young Organists Competition.
Recognized for his "mature musicality, technical poise, and registrational sensitivity" (RCCO Bulletin), Ryan has performed concerts throughout Canada and the U.S. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he holds the master of music degree in organ performance from Yale University, where he studied with Thomas Murray. In 2013 he earned the doctor of musical arts degree from The Juilliard School, where he received the C.V. Starr Fellowship.
Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft Director of Outreach Ministries
In 2006, my Southern roots (Kentucky and Alabama, y’all) loosened their grip and let me dabble in urban ministry at a scrappy NGO in Hell’s Kitchen. This internship, just before my final year at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, made it clear to me that New York City would be my new home. I grew up participating in mission trips and community outreach with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, where I took to heart that we are all created in the image of God. The diversity, injustices and extremes of wealth and poverty that are so readily apparent in this city continually challenge and enrich my understanding of “all.” I am passionate about leading outreach efforts that demonstrate God’s love and desire for equality for every one of us.
The Rev. Helen Jackson Parish Visitor
As FAPC’s Parish Visitor, I work with the Rev. Kate Dunn making pastoral care visits to our homebound and hospitalized members. I am a graduate of Duke University, Yale Divinity School and the Blanton-Peale Institute, and an ordained minister since 1977. Most of my ministry has been as a pastoral psychotherapist, formerly at the Riverside Church Pastoral Counseling Center and the Psychotherapy and Spirituality Institute, and now in private practice. I have also served as the pastor of two parishes and continue to preach three Sundays a month at Presbyterian churches throughout New York City.