Our Leadership

The Elders, Deacons, and Staff of First Presbyterian Church would like to welcome you and your family. We are a committed group of people from all over the country. We are from all walks of life, and would like to think we resemble our church - a melting pot of people who love God and care about each other. If we can provide any information, prayer, or assistance, please contact the church office. 

Rev. Peter Wilkinson, Our Pastor

Pete has been pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford since 2007. His dream for our church is that it be a vibrant, spiritual hub; that we provide a place for people to be drawn into the presence of Jesus Christ and sent into the community to serve and care for others.

With a living-out-faith focus, Pete’s hope for care begins at home. Married to Jan Burgess, and raising two great kids, Madeleine and Evan, his dedication doesn’t stop there. Their household includes Kaitlin and Emma Knight who have been living with the family for the past two years. Being a spouse and parent allows Pete to appreciate the time constraints that families experience.

Along the way in his journey, Pete received his Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Management at Purdue University. Following school, he pastored in both Indiana and Illinois. For fun, Pete likes to listen to jazz, read, eat desserts, walk the dog, talk with friends, cheer on the Chicago Cubs, Bulls and Bears, and enjoy God's sense of humor. "We all need to lighten up sometimes." First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford is lucky to have this man of faith on board.

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Ms. Shannon Murphy

Organist/Director of Music

Shannon Murphy is an organist and teacher based in New York City. She has served as Director of Music and Organist at First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford since August 2018. In May 2019, she graduated with a Masters in Organ Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Kent Tritle. Her undergraduate studies took place at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she began studies in organ with Ken Cowan while earning her B.M. in Piano. In 2012 Ms. Murphy founded the Murphy Piano Studio, where she teaches private piano and organ lessons. Under her coaching, several students have won spots at both the Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented, and Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. 

Also active as a conductor, Ms. Murphy attended the conducting institute at the Mostly Modern Festival, and recently conducted performances with the American Modern Ensemble and MSM’s Lab Chorus. She is also Assistant Director of the New York City Children’s Chorus.

Ms. Murphy’s most recent project, Fresh Pipes, is a collaboration with fellow MSM student Austin Philemon to commission and perform world premieres for the organ. Also in demand as a recitalist, she has appeared on the Pipes at One recital series with fellow MSM students at St. Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Wall Street, and has taken part in the Oregon Bach Festival and the Longwood Organ Academy. Other recent appearances include solo performances at First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford, Dutton Church in Caledonia, Michigan, St. Ignatius Loyola Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. 


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Debbie Tryanowski,

Christian Education Assistant

Debbie has been the Christian Education Assistant since 2016 but has been volunteering with the First Pres Kids Children's Program since 2015. She is thankful to be part of this wonderful church family and enjoys the work God has her in. She has a passion for working with children of all ages and strives to make a difference in the lives of kids and families as they grow spiritually and come to know the amazing love of God. She enjoys teaching God's word in fun and creative ways.  

Debbie is a lifelong resident of Bergen County, New Jersey. In 1997, she received an Associate Degree from Bergen Community College. In 2002, she married her husband, Vic. She spent several years as a stay at home mom, raising their two daughters, Ava and Kyla. During this time, she enjoyed volunteering at their preschool and elementary schools. She currently works as a teacher assistant in a preschool class. She has worked in a professional childcare environment for several years with children ages 6 months to 5 years. 

In her spare time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, reading, and exploring her creative side through arts and crafts such as doll making, soap making, and crochet. Debbie also has an interest in natural health, wellness, and fitness.

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Elders and Deacons



Mark Kosa

Ruth Neuhauser

Jaimie Winters


Kathleen Kazalis

Patricia Ruggero-Porter

Ellen Smith


Ray Fahmy

Linda Lanz

Robert Sibilio

Clerk of Session

Ruth Neuhauser



Carolyn Guerrero

Dimitra Skenderi

Lena Merrill


Doug Kittridge

Bing Qiang Lu

Jeff Scott


Lynn Chiappa

Willy Dammers

Bonnie Sheppard

Moderator of Deacons

Bonnie Sheppard