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OUR ELDERS

Spiritual guidance, nurturing and support.

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Our Elders

The mission of the board of elders is to assist in providing spiritual guidance, nurturing and support for the membership, friends and visitors of the First Church of Seventh-day Adventists and the surrounding community.


Elder Donna Harris was born in Kingston, Jamaica, baptized at the age of 12, and joined the First Church in 1978. She recommitted her life to Christ in 1999 under the then leadership of Pastor John Trusty. She has been a faithful member of the First Church family serving in several departments: Usher, Prayer Ministry, Vacation Bible School, Sabbath School Asst. Superintendent, Hospitality, Adventurer, and Women’s Ministries. She currently serves as an Elder. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Georgetown University. Elder Harris truly loves the Lord and believe that true revival can only come through prayer and encourages others to prayer continually. She also believe in the word of the scripture in Luke 12:48 “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.”

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Leslie Clark is the third daughter of the late Viola C. Benjamin. A Brooklyn, NY native, she completed her primary education in the District of Columbia graduating from the McKinley High School. She continued her studies at the University of the District of Columbia. She was baptized into the fellowship of the First SDA Church in 1994. She began working in the Discipleship Ministry as an Assistant Bible Worker in 1995. She has continuously sought to expand God’s kingdom in various crusades, revivals, small group studies, vacation bible school, prayer walks, among other avenues as the Discipleship Coordinator. Elder Clark has worked with the Community Services department, Prayer Ministry, and others in spreading the gospel to the un-churched and needy in the metropolitan area. She is the proud mother of a sweet spirited daughter, Imani Clark.

Elder Paul Dreher was born and raised in Annapolis, MD and matriculated through the city public schools, graduating from Annapolis High School. He continued his formal education at Anne Arundel Community College and Bowie State University. An active member of the Beacon Light SDA Church in Annapolis, he served as an usher, Head Deacon, Sabbath School teacher, elder and Men's Ministry leader. Married to Tameka Dreher, they are the proud parents of two children, Jalen and Mykal. One of Elder Dreher's favorite text is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." He firmly believes, "when faith destroys fear, only then are you able to understand peace."

Elder Charles Johnson was born in Fredericksburg, VA. His very early childhood and the remaining years of childhood and adolescent life was spent in Washington, D. C. He was educated in the DC public schools and graduated from Coolidge Sr. High School. Upon graduation he enlisted in the U. S. Army. He served as a Sergeant during Desert Storm/Desert Shield Conflict. While in Iraq he was introduced to the Adventist faith by a fellow soldier. Brother Johnson’s heart was convinced and drawn once again by the Holy Spirit. He recalls saving money at an early age to purchase a large Bible. In this very Bible, which he still has, he read the truth of the Advent message and later recalled Pastor Charles D. Brooks writing in the Bible. Through much study and prayer, God revealed His truths and Elder Johnson soon became an active member of the First SDA Church. He currently serves as an elder and Sabbath School teacher in the Adult Division. God has granted him the gift to preach and teach the Word of God. Additionally, he likes to share his joyful disposition and has a gift of humor. He enjoys repairing cars, exercising, watching sports, playing pool, and composing Gospel messages. He also enjoys singing despite the fact that it is not a God-given talent.

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Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Marc Marcel moved back to the United States and resided in Maryland where he attended Sligo Elementary and Takoma Academy, graduating from Pine Forge Academy, PA in 1990. He received his BA in theology from Oakwood College in 1994. His graduate degrees include a Master of Health Administration from Indiana University and Purdue University, in Indianapolis, IN (1999), and a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (2001). He is married to Roycelynn whom he met and married at Oakwood College. Gifted and talented musicians, Elder Marcel and his wife have brought a wealth of experience to the church’s music ministry. An accomplished organist and keyboardist, Elder Marcel fills the sanctuary with the pathos and grace of the instruments, while his wife blesses the congregation with her melodious voice as a member of the Praise Team.

Elder Donovan McFarlane was born in Kingston on the beautiful island of Jamaica, the fifth of seven siblings. Emigrating to the United States with his family, he resided in Washington, DC where he attended the public schools, graduating from Theodore Roosevelt Sr. High. He attended the First SDA church with his family and was baptized in 1989. He has served the church in several capacities, among them bible worker, deacon, disability ministry leader, renovation project coordinator, and elder. The father of three daughters, Elder McFarlane is especially interested in the development and spiritual growth of our young people.

Elder Milton Nicholas was born in Jamaica, West Indies where he grew up in a Christian home and came to know the Lord as his personal Savior and Friend. He joined the fellowship of the First SDA Church in 1992 and has remained faithful in his commitment to the cause of Christ and the church family. Called to serve as a deacon, he was diligent in his many duties and served as Head Deacon under the pastorate of Dr. John Trusty. He has also served on the Master Planning Committee, Funeral Committee, and Hospitality Department. As a member of the board of elders, Elder Nicholas constantly seeks to enhance the spiritual lives of the congregation through bible study, prayer and personal contact, especially with the senior members. He has served on the Prison Ministry team and is currently the Leader bringing hope and salvation to men and women behind prison bars. He is also a member of the Prayer Ministry and Men’s Ministry.

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Russell E. Patterson, Jr., a native of Washington, DC and the only son of Russell, Sr. and Florence Patterson, has attended DuPont Park and First SDA churches all of his life. A product of Christian education, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Theology from the Southwestern Adventist University. Continuing his education, he matriculated at University of Phoenix, receiving the Masters degree in Education. Elder Patterson is especially gifted working with young people. Among his various positions he has worked with young people in juvenile lock down, was Boys Dean at Pine Forge Academy, and the residential director of Holland Hall at Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL. He is married to Hazel Brown Patterson and they are the proud parents of two sons and the doting grandparents of five. Believing that God has a special place in His heart for youth, Elder Patterson is dedicated to the mentoring of the youth of the church and community.

Elder Curla S. Walters has been a member of the First Church for over 48 years. She has served the church in a number of capacities over the years, including Sabbath School Superintendent, Adult Division; Sabbath School teacher, Kindergarten and Adult Division; Vacation Bible School Teacher and Counselor, Community Services committee, Discipleship Ministry Bible Correspondence Coordinator; Prayer Ministry Coordinator, G. E. Peters School Board, and Elder. During her 20 plus year tenure on the Elders Board, she served as First Elder for 8 years under the pastorates of Dr. John A. Trusty and Dr. Mark A. McCleary. A tireless worker in the cause of Christ, Elder Walters is committed to bringing souls into the knowledge of a loving Savior and seeks to draw others to salvation on a daily basis.

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Elder Arthur L. Wharton is a native son of the First Church and a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist. He was raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord at an early age attending Sabbath School weekly starting in the Primary Division as a child. He was a member of the award winning SpartoAthenian Pathfinder club from age 10 to 15. He has served in various capacities in the First Church among them are Assistant Leader, Adventist Youth Society; Youth Sabbath School teacher, Adult Sabbath School teacher, Stewardship Leader; Assistant Treasurer; Finance Committee, Men’s Ministry, Social/Recreation Committee; Deacon and Elder.

Contact Elder Walters