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Rev. Michael D. McLaughlin
Senior Pastor

The Reverend Michael D. McLaughlin was born and went to high school and college in Knoxville, Tennessee. A 2001 graduate with a Bachelor's of Science in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology from The University of Tennessee, he received a Masters of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia in 2008.

Michael is married to Lisa, a Registered Nurse. Lisa and Michael are blessed with daughters Madeline and Sophia and their son, True. Other McLaughlin family members include Olive and Opal the beagles and Juno, Eve and Ophelia their cats.    

Michael’s interests include ministry, theology, art, music, politics, the sciences, and elephants.

Rev. Katie Ory, Director of Children & Youth Ministry

The Reverend Katie Ory was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She received her undergraduate degree from Mississippi College in International Communications and has since earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Tennessee Tech University. Katie has had the opportunity to study abroad in Salzburg Austria with Harvard’s international program and at Duke Theology School. She has recently completed her Master’s of Divinity from Asbury Theological School and was ordained April 30, 2023.  Katie has lived in Cookeville, Tennessee for 16 years and has spent the last dozen working as a counselor for the Putnam county school system and as a therapist for a nonprofit. She is also an ambassador for the Appalachian Service Project. 


Katie has a 16 year old daughter, Anne, two dogs, and loves to travel and participate in musical theatre around town.  She is currently the Artistic Director for Prescott’s musical theatre program. 

Amy Ainsley
Administrative Assistant

Amy Ainsley is our office administrator.  Amy has an extensive skill set.  Qualified in Microsoft Office, certified in QuickBooks Pro, and website administration.  Amy has been a full charge Bookkeeper and Administrator for over 30 years and possesses a A.A. Theology Degree and is a certified Crown Financial Budget Counselor.   

Amy and her husband, Tom, enjoy gardening in the yard, touring parks and waterfalls, cooking up new meals, floral photography and are both avid gamers.

Virginia Fillers, Director of Soul Song

Virginia was raised in Oak Ridge, TN. She moved to Cookeville in 2008 to complete her BS in Elementary Education at TTU. Her experience working in schools spans more than a decade and encompasses private and public education. She credits much of SoulSong’s program to her experience at Knoxville Montessori School. In 2014-2015, she served as captain of the art committee for the Heart of the City Playground project. She has been the MOPPETS childcare coordinator for Cookeville MOPS, as well as the current president of Cookeville Roller Derby.


She lives in Algood with her daughter Charlotte. Virginia and Charlotte enjoy having adventures together: hiking, day trips to zoos and Dollywood, and going to musicals. They both love ABBA, Icees, and flamingos.

Paul Thurmond, Organist, Director of Music

Organist and Director of Music, Paul Thurmond, performs frequently as a soloist and accompanist. A native of Winder, Georgia, he earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Berry College and a Master of Music in Accompanying and Vocal Coaching from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied with John Wustman. He has served on the faculties of Interlochen Arts Camp, Delta State University, and The University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is presently an Adjunct Professor at Tennessee Tech University, where he teaches Class Piano, coaches voice majors, plays for the Tech Chorale, and accompanies many students and faculty in recital. He also appears occasionally with the Nashville Symphony. At his website,, you can listen to and purchase albums of his piano compositions.


When not making music, he enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, woodworking, and brewing his own beer.

Security Guard
Mr. Dave, Security Officer

Our thanks to Mr. Dave. Even though you don't like pictures and have a thing about internet privacy; being a security officer and all that. We know you are always there for us keeping a watchful eye over the flock.


We really appreciate you and all that you do!


The Session is the governing body elected by the congregation of First Presbyterian Church.  They are entrusted with major decisions concerning church business and activities and with the pastor, are the spiritual leaders of the church.


2023: Jon Dugle, John Nisbet, David Pelren

2024: Beverly Cardinal, Pat Wilhelm

2025: Dina Smith, Rick Woods

Clerk of Session: Linda Wilson


The Deacons of First Presbyterian Church are charged with the nurture of the congregation.  By a ministry of compassion, the Deacons express the love of the congregation and concern in the name of Jesus Christ.


The Deacons fulfill this charge through a number of activities.  They oversee the care groups of the congregation, facilitate worship by enlisting ushers, organize the Second Sunday Dinners, provide food during family crises, and deliver baskets to shut-ins at Christmas.



2023: Myrna Estes, Ron Ledbetter, Amy Woods

2024: Sam Glasgow, Sidonie Sansom, Bob See

2025: Virginia Butler, Chris McCormick, Erica Scott

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