Rev. Debra Murray, Senior Pastor
Reverend Dr. Debra Murray is a passionate pastor, preacher, teacher, author, and leadership consultant. She is the former Senior pastor of Tongan, Samoan, English congregations at Waianae United Methodist Church Oahu, Hawaii. WUMC is a multicultural congregation with 17 different blended ethnicities. Dr. Murray is affectionately known as the Soul Dr. because she uses God’s purpose” as a starting place for all endeavors. She has traveled to over 21 countries sharing the gospel and advocating for equity and justice for all. Dr. Murray uses her 15 years as an executive with AT&T and Lucent Technologies to assist non-profits and faith based community organizations in visioning, strategy and development and capacity building.
As a Professional Spiritual Life Coach, and Multicultural Leadership Consultant, she assists corporations and individuals to “Restart” their life and businesses by changing their “Mindset” and “setting their Intentions” to live on purpose and not by default.
Dr. Murray is the President of Simple Strategies for Success; a non-profit devoted to skill building, counseling and microbusiness development for women with children living in impoverished areas around the world. Her formal training consists of: A Doctorate of Ministry in Christian Leadership and Biblical Preaching from Asbury Theological Seminary’s Beeson International Scholars Program, a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master’s of Arts in Organizational Management, from the University of Phoenix. Reverend Dr. Murray is also an itinerant elder in the A.M.E. church recently appointed to First United Methodist Church Palo Alto California. She is married to Dr. Joseph Murray a Strategy and Development international business consultant.
Rev. Ann Duncan, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries
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Rev. Ann Duncan joined the staff of First Palo Alto in January 2020. Ann grew up in Western North Carolina and recently moved to the area from North Carolina.Ann graduated from Duke University and has a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology.
Ann met her husband, Nathan, in Boston, where he was also in graduate school. They married in July 2007 in Asheville, NC. In 2008 they joined the Peace Corps and lived for a year and a half in Togo, West Africa. Upon returning to North Carolina in 2010, Ann became a youth pastor and then received her first appointment as pastor of Hoyle Memorial UMC where she served for three years. She was also the pastor of St. Timothy UMC for four years. Most recently, she has served at Maggie Valley UMC. Ann was ordained and Elder in Full Connection in 2016.
Ann and Nathan have two children, Roan, age 8, who is in the 3rd grade, and Emmalena, age 6, who is in kindergarten. Roan and Lena are attending Campbell School of Innovation in Campbell where the Duncans live.
Ann feels called to teach and guide people in our faith and is excited to work with children, youth, and families in our community.
Mark Shaull, Director of Music
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Mark Andrew Shaull has been Director of Music at First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto since 1995. Prior to coming to Palo Alto he held Director of Music positions at Bethel Lutheran Church of Cupertino and Immanuel Lutheran Church of Los Altos. He is currently in his 36th year of music ministry. He holds a B.A. degree from San Jose State University, where he has completed graduate studies.
Mark has been Director of Choral Activities and Performing Department Coordinator at Los Altos High School since 1984. In addition to directing The Main Street Singers and five other choral ensembles on campus, he leads an active department with yearly performances of major works, musicals and numerous choral festivals. Under his direction Los Altos High School choral ensembles have achieved a truly international reputation, having completed concert travel to 47 countries spanning six continents.
Diane Keller, Organist
Diane is a native of Tucson, AZ. She holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Organ Performance and Pedagogy from Brigham Young University.
Her musical career has included serving as a Guest Organist at the Salt Lake Tabernacle from 1994-2012, teaching piano and organ lessons both privately and in groups, and teaching preschool music classes.
As an active member of the American Guild of Organists she has served on the board of the San Jose Chapter for many years including serving as Dean from 2011-2013.
Diane and her husband have lived in the Bay Area since 1999 and are the parents of three children. Diane joined us as organist in January 2015.
Jerry Johnson, Concert Coordinator
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Jerry Johnson is our Concert Coordinator. She worked with conducted the children’s and youth choirs from 1997-2009. Jerry has been teaching music since the age of 14, when she accepted her first piano students. She continued teaching piano and conducting children’s choirs while attending Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and later earned a masters degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. As a professional singer, she has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, New York City’s Collegiate Chorale, the Early Music Players of New Jersey, and the West Bay Opera.
Now retired, Jerry taught music in the Palo Alto Schools, and enjoyed the opportunity to sing with elementary, middle and high school students. One of her greatest joys is attending concerts and opera. She is the parent of four grown children and grandparent of nine.
Susan Stephens, Facilities Administrator
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Susan Stephens is our Facilities Administrator. You can contact her by calling the main church number, or at her extension. The office is open 9 AM to 4 PM.
Theresa Mendoza Barbere, Wedding Coordinator
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If you are interested in having your wedding at our church, please contact our Wedding Coordinator Theresa. She will be happy to provide you with information about our facilities, rates, give you a tour, etc. You can also check out the wedding section of our website. Thank you!
Charlotte Cutkosky, Administrative and New Media Associate
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Charlotte grew up as a member of First Palo Alto and now works as an administrative associate and manages our website and social media pages. If you have a question about this website or our social media, feel free to email her or message us on Facebook or Twitter. Her office hours are 12 PM through 4 PM.