We enter the stream of life here at SMPC at different points, carrying with us a variety of faith stories and life experiences.
From these entry points we embark on a journey together, irresistibly drawn to the God who made us and claims us.
Regardless of your faith journey or age, there should be a point where every person may step into the flow
at SMPC and join us in journeying toward maturity in Christ. - Dr. Matthew S. Brown, Pastor
South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Church Office Hours
Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
For assistance on Fridays, call Mary Katheryne Zagora at 980.265.2840.
Our first worship service was held on February 24, 1991 at McAlpine Elementary School on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte, NC. Two years after that first worship service we moved into a new multi-purpose building at our present site, 8601 Bryant Farms Road, in what is now the Ballantyne community.
We have experienced exponential growth through the years, with current membership reaching more than 1,100 plus 450 children. Our members hail from more than 30 states as well as Finland, Great Britain, Jamaica, and South Africa.
To accommodate our growth, we built constantly: a preschool wing and fellowship hall (2000); classroom cottage (2002); and administrative offices, additional classrooms, a chapel and choir wing (2006). In 2008 we broke ground on a 675-seat permanent sanctuary and held our first worship service in the sanctuary on November 8, 2009.
Our staff has grown as well and includes Dr. Matt Brown, senior pastor; Rev. Whitney Bayer, associate pastor for congregational care; Rev. Diane Giannola, parish associate; Rebecca Guzman, director of spiritual formation; Rev. Jessica Tidwell, director of youth ministry; and Zach Boyer, director of music and organist. Support staff includes Nancy Metzler, director of hospitality and connection; Donna Rogers, director of communications; Freda Smith, property administrator; and Mary Katheryne Zagora, business administrator.
At SMPC we emphasize strong worship services in the Reformed tradition, based upon Scripture and the Sacraments. We provide inspirational preaching and a vibrant music program at two worship services every Sunday morning, at 8:10 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. On the first Sunday of every month at 9 a.m. we also offer Common Ground, a worship service for families with special needs.
We offer a variety of Christian education programs for children, youth and adults on Sunday mornings including Faith Practice, an innovative, interactive and intergenerational approach to the traditional Sunday school hour. The Joy Class offers Bible study, and All Things Considered offers discussion of contemporary Christian issues. Our eighth graders continue their faith journeys in a year-long confirmation class.
We also offer a variety of Bible studies, book studies, and discussion groups throughout the week, including Monday Morning Bible Study, Pastor Matt Brown’s Wednesday Morning and Evening Bible Studies, an early morning men’s group, women’s circles and our Rain or Shine Moms’ Group.
Our Board of Deacons seeks to bring Christ’s love to those who are homebound, ill, those who are caregivers, and the grieving. Ministry teams include bereavement, transportation, home assistance, food teams, prayer chain, care mail, baby ministry, and more. Our deacons also host a continuing series, Living Well, with speakers on a variety of topics, including most recently on Alzheimer’s disease.
We provide many opportunities to enjoy fellowship together, including Lemonade on the Lawn, Coffee Grounds, Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, lunch on the grounds, golf outings, and special receptions. Small groups include softball teams, supper clubs, a photography group, and a book club. SMPC Meetups offer ways to make connections based on special interests in an informal setting: International Dining, Hops Around Town, Take a Hike, Ballantyne Business Group, Lunch Bunch, and more.
We support the greater community with our time, talents and financial resources through organizations such as The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, where we prepare and serve meals, and A Child’s Place, where we are tutors, lunch buddies and snack providers. Roof Above: Our Shelter Ministry uses discarded prescription bottles to package laundry soap, body wash, and shampoo for Roof Above (formerly The Urban Ministry and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte). We provide conduct food drives for Loaves & Fishes, serve as tutors at area elementary schools, and hold quarterly blood drives for the American Red Cross. We have a long-standing commitment to provide support to a church and school in Bayonnais, Haiti; child sponsorships are available.
Additionally, we open our campus to a number of community groups and organizations, including Boy and Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, and various HOA’s and other non-profits.
As we continue to move forward, our prayer is that we remain a vibrant and growing congregation, welcoming to all, full of energy and eager to serve God faithfully in this corner of God’s kingdom. It is an exciting journey we are on as we seek to follow Jesus Christ. Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place!
DR. MATT BROWN: Shielding my bald head from sun or cold, the St. Louis Cardinals ball cap I wear serves the additional purpose of revealing something of my roots. I am a product of small-town Missouri, where soybean prices are headline worthy and thunderstorms mean lucrative overtime pay for utility linemen looking to buy a new bass boat; where the voices of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon arbitrated the mood of a populace eager to know if the Cards would beat the Cubs; and where a utility manager and a music teacher laughed at God’s sense of humor as they helped their recent Mizzou grad load his business school diploma in his embarrassingly ugly and utterly sensible car before heading out to parse Greek verbs at a seminary in Virginia.
Upon earning a Doctor of Ministry degree at Union Presbyterian Seminary, I served churches in Charlotte, Hickory, and Morganton, North Carolina prior to our arrival here in 2004 at South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church, a community we have found to be a place of hospitality and grace. In addition to having a sense of humor,
God is also wise, allowing a beautiful, sensitive, and intelligent NC teacher to take pity on this stranger in an alien land, marry me, and bear with me in my journey to AARP and beyond. Donna and I have the blessing of two grown sons, Noah, a student at UNC School of Medicine, and Seth, a graduate of Presbyterian College.
Proclamation of the Word and administration of the Sacraments; Teaching the faith in the Reformed Tradition; and the ministry of Pastoral Care — These are the primary concerns of the Pastor, and yet, it is in relationship with others that the Spirit of God brings meaning to these tasks and creates community in the church. What a privilege it is to share this journey of faith in partnership with you.
REV. WHITNEY BAYER: I attended Union Presbyterian Seminary and graduated with a Masters in Divinity in 2006. Prior to coming to SMPC I served as Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in New Bern, NC.
I am married to Daniel, and together we have two children, Adeline (6) and Oliver (4). I enjoy time spent with family, reading a good novel, yoga, running, and trips to the beach or mountains.
I joined SMPC in January 2018, and work with the Board of Deacons in the care of the congregation. My ministry includes visiting the sick, hospitalized, and shut-in; administering homebound communion; leading in worship; preaching; funeral arrangements and pastoral counseling.
REV. DIANE GIANNOLA: Bio coming soon!
REV. JESSICA TIDWELL-WEINZIERL: I graduated with a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology, and am ordained in the Cooperative Baptist tradition.
My ministerial passion is faith journeying with youth, but in my free time, I love reading novels, learning to cook, and spending time with my three adorkable dogs.
Since 2015, I have served as the Director of Youth, journeying alongside families with youth, seeking ways to show youth that they BELONG; to empower youth in seeking God for themselves; and to equip youth to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
Director of Music & Organist
ZACH BOWYER: As Director of Music here at South Mecklenburg, my responsibilities include directing the Chancel Choir and Chancel Handbells and playing organ and piano for our weekly worship services.
In addition, I help organize our worship audio/visual team and our community concerts.
My ultimate goal is to keep the South Mecklenburg congregation and community involved in, happy with, and well-refreshed through our music ministry.
Originally from Roanoke, VA, I graduated from Appalachian State University in 2018 with degrees in Organ Performance and Sacred Music. Besides music, I enjoy cheering on the Mountaineers, photography, cooking, and hiking with my dog, Winston!
Director of Spiritual Formation
REBECCA GUZMAN: I was born and raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. A graduate of USC (Go Gamecocks!) in Columbia and Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, I returned to the Carolinas with my husband, Rafael, and my daughter, Clara, in 2015 when I was called to SMPC. In no particular order, my favorite things include reading, exercising, good food, and my family.
As the Director of Spiritual Formation, my focus is on the education and growth of members of all ages in their knowledge and love of God. Each day looks different--you might see me in a coffee shop talking with a parent about how to approach the subject of grief with their children, teaching a Bible class for adults, hanging out with the youth group, or acting out Bible stories with the preschoolers. The other part of my role is less visible--working with various committees and other staff members to develop vision and strategies, training volunteers, and administrating programs. I love all of it!
Director of Hospitality & Connection
MARY LYNN RAWLS
SMPC Preschool Financial Administrator
Director of Communications
NANCY METZLER: I am often a first point of contact for visitors and newcomers to the church, and seek to maintain a welcoming culture at SMPC, both on Sunday mornings and through a wide array of fellowship groups and special events, from bluegrass concerts to food truck rallies.
MARY LYNN RAWLS: After having both my son and daughter attend SMPC Preschool, I joined the staff 20 years ago as the assistant teacher in the TK classroom.
Five years ago I made the move to the office to become the Financial Administrator. This job change has allowed me to use my experience in the classroom along with my business background. Having worked in the corporate world, I can honestly say there is no better place to work than SMPC Preschool. The teaching staff is like family and you will not find a more loving and caring environment.
SMPC Preschool Director
DONNA ROGERS: I am an eighth-generation native of Mecklenburg County, a proud Appalachian State Mountaineer, and love to see churches grow and welcome new folks.
I have worked as a church communicator since 2005, and have been honored to be part of this wonderful staff since 2015. Realizing that churches call for a multi-generational approach to communication, I work to share the life of the church through all channels, including the website, social media, print, graphic design, and video.
MARY KATHERYNE ZAGORA
FREDA SMITH: I work to keep the church running smoothly. As administrator, I oversee grounds and facilities, maintain the church calendar and coordinate schedules and staff operations. If you have a question about a service or program at SMPC, chances are good that I will have an answer!
CAROL WATKINS: I was born and educated in the United Kingdom, earning my first degree at Swansea University in Wales and my Masters of Education at Cambridge University. I taught first and second grade in the UK before becoming a stay at home mom to our two daughters.
I came to America 21 years ago with my husband and two daughters and got involved with SMPC not long after, when I was a substitute teacher for my youngest daughter's 2-year-old class. We have been a part of the SMPC Preschool family ever since! For 16 years, I taught the older-4's and T-K class.
Teaching is my passion and I am excited to begin my third school year as Director here at SMPC Preschool.
MARY KATHERYNE ZAGORA: I have been a member of SMPC since 2001, and have been married to Michael for 20 years. We have two daughters, Anna and Grace and two doggos, Bear and Bo!
Since 2005, I have managed all financial and bookkeeping duties of the church.
Class of 2021
Class of 2022
Class of 2023
Moderator: Matt Brown
Clerk of Session: Meghan Bartholomew
Recording Clerk: Geoffrey Lee
BOARD OF DEACONS
Class of 2021
Class of 2022
Moderator: Rev. Whitney Bayer
Moderator: Donna Brown
Secretary: Kara Guy