Pastor Peter Perry

Rev. Peter Perry, Pastor

Pastor Peter came to First United Methodist Church of Olympia in July 2014. A United Methodist pastor since 1985, Peter served congregations in Arizona and Alaska before being appointed to Olympia. Peter says coming to the Pacific Northwest is his Goldilocks story after his previous times in Arizona and Alaska. "The first place was too hot. The second one was too cold. But this is is just right!"

Peter says, “I think the most important part of being a pastor is to love the congregation and help the congregation to fall in love with God’s creation. The scriptures remind us that God loved the world, that the creation is good, and that loving and being loved is the very best way to experience and share God’s love. So the message I share most often with the church is the simple but profound message that Jesus offers to his disciples, “Love one another.”

Beyond the call to serve as a pastor, Peter's passions include photography, gardening, and exploring the beauty of God's creation. Peter's undergraduate degree is from Cal State Fullerton and his master's in divinity is from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.

Office Phone: 360-943-2661 Ext. 107


Pastor Ruth Marston

Rev. Ruth Marston-Bihl, Pastor

Rev. Ruth Marston-Bihl was ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church in June 2015. She has been appointed to First Olympia since July 2012. She is a Pacific Northwest native and grew up in the Puyallup United Methodist Church.  Ruth received her bachelors from the University of Puget Sound and her Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology. She brings with her a love of New Testament studies and storytelling. Her life goals include: a road trip that covers the entirety of Highway 101, attending San Diego Comic Con, and making a spaghetti dinner that utilizes a pasta machine and tomatoes from her container garden.

Office Phone: 360-943-2661 Ext. 106


Angelina Duell

Angelina Goldwell, Congregational Life Director

Angelina Goldwell is a friendly, welcoming person who is excited to meet you and know you better! She grew up in Europe and on the East Coast before journeying to California to pursue a Masters in Divinity at Claremont School of Theology. She had six years of religious education experience in southern California prior to coming here and is thrilled to grow in discipleship with the First Olympia community. She loves collecting vintage/antique photographs, baking, watching scary movies and reading.

Office Phone: 360-943-2661 Ext.108

Chris Knight

Chris Knight, Pastoral Assistant for Administration and Ministry

Chris Knight began his work at First Church in August 2016, but before he joined the staff, Chris was an active member of the congregation. Chris' job is to ensure the efficient administration of the church with oversight of the income and giving records, dealing with vendors and contracts, record-keeping and database management, and many more administrative tasks. By design, Chris' work also involves more direct ministry, including working with the youth ministry and adult education ministries. He is a member of our Discipleship leader team and you will see his name often as a class leader. Chris loves studying comparative religions and playing video games for relaxation.

Office Phone: 360-943-2661 Ext. 103


Sandy Ward, Visitation Pastor

Pastor Sandy Ward is our pastor of visitation in addition to serving as the pastor of the Tumwater United Methodist Church. Sandy is a licensed local pastor currently working towards ordination as an elder. The ministries of Tumwater and Olympia First overlap in many ways, but especially in our desire to care for our homebound and differently-abled members. Sandy served in ministry roles in Missouri and Alaska before coming to Washington.  

Office Phone: 360-786-1416


Meredith Brown, New Ministry Developer

The Rev. Meredith Brown is the pastor at Evergreen United Methodist Faith Community in the Hawks Prairie area. In 2018, Pastor Meredith is assisting our staff in developing some new worship experiences at First Olympia in addition to her work with Evergreen. Meredith is from the New England Annual Conference and brings the gift of enthusiasm, a background in sacred music, and years of experience in local church ministry.  

Office Phone: 360-545-3454


Peggy Rule, Administrative Assistant

Peggy Rule is a recent transplant from the East Coast. She has a diverse background in teaching, ministry, administrative work and writing. She is full of energy and enthusiasm and has a goal of making people feel welcome. She enjoys doing henna, cooking and singing. 

Office Phone: 360-943-2661


Tim Monahan

Tim Monahan, Church Facilities Manager

Tim has lived in the Olympia area for 25 years and has worked at First Church since 2008. Since that time, Tim says, “I’ve met a lot of awesome people. I’ve always had a love of cooking and I’ve learned a lot from working with the United Methodist Women.” In addition to his hours taking care of the physical plant, Tim also volunteers his excellent culinary skills for church feasts! In addition to cooking, he raises and shows dogs (Basenjis).

Office Phone: 360-943-2661


Dave Hoge

Dave Hoge, Weekend Custodian

Dave Hoge is our faithful weekend custodian. You will find him at the church most Saturdays and Sundays, making the spaces of worship, fellowship, and service clean and comfortable. Thanks, Dave!

Office Phone: 360-943-2661

Linda Eldred, Nursery Coordinator

Linda Eldred is our ever-faithful senior nursery coordinator. She works with other staff to make sure our littlest members and friends are lovingly cared for on Sunday mornings in the church nursery.

Office Phone: 360-943-2661

Angi Swan, Celebration Singers Choir Director

Angi grew up in a musical home and was soon accompanying church services, choirs, musicals, and soloists. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s in Music Education, and earned her Kodaly certification at the University of St. Thomas. She has served as organist, children’s and bell choir director in various churches. Angi has sung with the Fort Dodge Choral Society and Masterworks Choral Ensemble, and has played in the King Ringers hand bell choir in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She currently teaches music in public schools, gives private piano lessons, is the director of the Celebration Singers choir, does special music projects for the church, and is the accompanist for Masterworks Choral Ensemble. Angi and Patrick have three daughters.


Mark Bunda, Song Team Leader

Mark was born and raised in Hawaii, growing up in a musical family, singing at church and various choral groups. While going to college in Hawaii, he performed professionally in the Waikiki Music scene and at church honing his vocal and guitar playing skills. In 1976, an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself. He was dared to audition for the international performing group “Up With People” and was accepted as a student performer. After his first year with the group, “Up With People” hired Mark as a “vocal coach” and “sound engineer.” During his four years with “Up With People,” Mark traveled in Europe, North, Central and South America, performing for presidents, major corporations and in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Grand Ole Opry and the 1980 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Settling in Olympia in 1982, Mark has performed throughout the years for special occasions, fundraisers and other community events.

In 1993 Mark renewed his commitment to Jesus Christ and met the love of his life, Kristi. Another great opportunity presented itself to lead the music for both the Saturday Evening and 8:45 Contemporary Service at First Olympia. He has faithfully and enthusiastically served in the capacity of “Worship Leader” for the last 15 years.
Cathy Bennett

Cathy Bennett, Director of the Chancel Choir

Cathy Bennett has been directing the Chancel Choir at First Olympia UMC for over 20 years now, and dearly loves her choir family here! She also teaches choir and ancient world history at Marshall Middle School, and sings with the Olympia Choral Society. Cathy says, “God gave everyone a voice to praise him. We welcome high school and adult singers of all ages and vocal ranges to join us in Chancel Choir. You don’t have to be a great singer, just one who can carry a tune and sing with a joyful heart!”

Lisa Robischon, Director of the Children's Choir

Lisa Robischon has been director of the children’s choir since 2012. She received her Bachelor’s of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Pacific Lutheran University. Lisa has sung with PLU’s Choral Union Choir for 12 years and did two European choir tours under the direction of Dr. Richard Nance. She sang for a time with the Tacoma Opera and has taught voice classes for several seasons at Capitol Playhouse Children’s theater here in Olympia. Lisa has been teaching private voice lessons since 1998. She has three sons and of course her wonderful kids in the Children’s Choir family!

Leah Wilson

Leah Wilson, Handbell Choir Director

Leah is a native Olympian. She graduated from North Thurston High School, earned an Associate in Arts degree from South Puget Sound Community College, and attended The Evergreen State College. She was introduced to handbells in the early 90’s, eventually expanding to solo and ensemble work, teaching and directing. Now retired from public service, she devotes much of her time to sharing the joy of handbell music with the community. She currently rings in and directs Alleluia! Handbell Ensemble of Olympia First Christian Church, the bell choir of Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the Jeffords Memorial Handbell Choir of First Olympia UMC. She also rings in the bell choir of The United Churches of Olympia. She teaches handchime classes at three retirement communities.


Daryl Yager

Daryl Yager, Organist

Daryl joined our staff in late 2014 as our organist at the traditional service. He brings a passion for the traditional hymnody he experienced growing up. Daryl's love of music resulted in a career as an Air Force musician. He is an accomplished keyboardist and guitarist who shares his talents with us every week.