Our Pastor is Nicole Vogel. Nicole Vogel was raised in the woods. To reach her family’s home required traveling a narrow driveway through a 17½ acre forested area to the house, a converted hunting cabin. She loved being outdoors and, early on, knew that this wonderfully beautiful creation was surely a gift from God.
To help care for Nicole and her three siblings, her grandparents bought a mobile home and located it on her parents’ land. Coming from a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, Nicole’s grandmother taught her to cook (using lots of sugar, cheese, and butter) beginning when Nicole was about five years old. Nicole still gets teased about her taste for cottage cheese and apple butter. She also learned Pennsylvania Dutch colloquialisms. Sometimes you will catch her using the “Dutchie” way of phrasing, which can seem the backwards way of saying things.
In some sense Nicole’s call to ministry began as a child. In first grade Sunday school she wrote that she wanted to be a nurse missionary. As a teen, she wanted to be a teacher. She taught Sunday school and planned to earn a teaching certificate in college. She applied to Moravian College and was accepted.
Nicole graduated from Moravian in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She became a member of a Presbyterian church and led the youth group. At the time, she felt a strong tug urging her to go to seminary to gain better skills, but she ignored it. For three years Nicole worked as an Intensive Care Manager for mental health patients in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. For a year she took care of an elderly uncle, and then was hired as a social worker to look after the psycho-social needs of elderly patients in a nursing home. Then God stepped in. After her first brain surgery in 2008, Nicole was out of a job. She again felt being led into ministry, but made an excuse to God, saying that she had to deal with the cancer. Finally, after surviving a second brain surgery in 2011, Nicole recognized she had been given the miracle of continuing to survive a terminal disease. She listened to God saying, “No more excuses,” and took the leap of faith to apply to seminary.
Nicole’s guide became Philippians 4:13: “I can do anything through Him who strengthens me.” She was accepted at Moravian College Seminary in 2014 and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in December 2018, having completed all requirements for ordination. Nicole maintained a 4.0 Grade Point Average and received several scholarships for academic excellence. Her highest honor was being selected by the faculty to receive the Dean Scholarship, given each year to only one returning student. For two years while in seminary, Nicole served as student minister to the East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church, where she excelled.
In January 2018, the congregation of East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church called Nicole Vogel to be its permanent pastor. She was ordained and installed by Lehigh Presbytery on March 17, 2019.
Pastor Nicki, as she prefers to be called, is thankful that she continues to be a cancer survivor. She believes God calls us to relationships within the church and within the community. She loves working with all age groups and genders, and is creating new opportunities for members to connect with others both inside and outside of the church.
Pastor Nicki and her husband Christopher, a CPA at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital, have been married 19 years. They have two children, Kylee, age 16, and Gavin, age 12. To learn more about Nicole Vogel visit her portfolio website www.pastornicolev.com.
The leadership of each Presbyterian church is elected by the individual congregations and ordained to their offices. The Session is composed of the Pastor, who moderates their meetings, and the elected ‘Ruling’ Elders. Together they oversee the ministry, mission, facility, and financial programs of the church. The Elder that chairs the Property and Finance committee serves as the President of the Congregation for all corporate transactions. The Session elects a Clerk of Session from its members. The Clerk maintains all Session and Congregational records and is the primary officer for direction and consultation in the absence of the Pastor.
Elder James A. Hall is the current President of the Congregation. Jim is originally from Stamford NY in the Catskills and graduated from Stamford High School. He then matriculated at Cornell University and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering as well as a commission in the US Air Force. It was at Cornell that he met his wife, Carol and the two of them set off to his assignments on Guam and in Oklahoma. After completing his service and his MBA from Southern Illinois University, they moved to Stroudsburg PA to raise their three children. Jim worked as a Civil and Mechanical Engineer and continues to be involved in engineering as a consultant. Since joining the East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church nearly 50 years ago, Jim has served on three pastoral nominating committees, taught Sunday school, sings in the choir, is a member of the bell choir, served as a Trustee and 5 terms as an Elder. Jim and his wife of 53+ years enjoy their retired life at Heritage Village in Nazareth, travelling, and spending time with their children and eleven grandchildren.
Elder Sandra Rydell is Clerk of Session and Secretary of the Congregation. Sandra graduated from Trenton State College 1989 in Ewing, New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic arts. She has been an active member of East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church since 2001. Sandra served many years as a member of Deacons and as Moderator of the Deacons. She is currently Chair of the Mission Committee and is an Elder on the ESPC Session. She enjoys reading, painting, antiques and being at the shore.
Each congregation also elects a Treasurer, who is the financial officer of the church. Elder Gregory Menio, MD is our Treasurer. Greg grew up in Catasauqua, PA and graduated from Lehigh University. He earned his Medical Degree from Temple University. Greg and his wife Lisa moved to East Stroudsburg in 1992 where they raised their four children. Greg has served this congregation as Elder, Trustee, President and Treasurer of the Congregation and on several committees.
Jennifer Carmella, Church Secretary
Jen has been with East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church for almost 25 years, during which time she has served four different Pastors. She is responsible for secretarial and financial duties of the Church.
Jen and her husband, Michael have been married over 40 years and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.
Linda Schaller, Music Director
A native of the West Chester area, Linda earned a BS in Music Education from West Chester University. Upon graduation, she was recruited to the East Stroudsburg school district to fill a job opening in Elementary music. Linda started at ESPC in 1974 as a member of the choir, and formally joined the church in 1976. She is now our current Choir director, and has also served as organist.
She and her husband, Frank, were married for more than 35 years and have two grown sons and four grandchildren. After more than 40 years of teaching, Linda retired from the East Stroudsburg School District in 2015.
Keith Karkut, Sexton
Keith has been with us since 2020 when his technological skills were needed to assist with outdoor services. He became the permanent technology director, helping us better stream services. His skill set varies, owning his own entertainment and travel agency businesses and much more. As someone who had skills in many things, he also took the custodian position when the former one retired. He is an East Stroudsburg University graduate. He is married to Vicki and together they have four children and three grandchildren.