Reverend Mark F. Phillips, Minister

Mark Francis Phillips  was born and raised in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  He  spent his early years as a member of the Hungarian Reformed Church, where he was baptized and confirmed.  From a very early age, Rev. Mark sensed a call to ministry and was active in church school and youth-group activities.

Rev. Mark began studying organ in junior high school and continued those studies through college.  While in high school and college, Rev. Mark served several churches in Pittsburgh, northern Virginia and Washington DC as organist and choir director.

After attending Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Rev. Mark spent a year and a half in Carlow College as a major in liturgical music ministry.  When the program was discontinued, he transferred to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from which he graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Rev. Mark earned his Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May 1994.  While at Pittsburgh Seminary, he served as Student Assistant Minister at the Riverview Presbyterian Church.  He was ordained by Pittsburgh Presbytery on July 31.  The next day he began his ministry at The First Presbyterian Church in Mineral Ridge, Ohio (a suburb of Youngstown) where he served for 16 years.

During Rev. Mark’s ministry in Mineral Ridge, the congregation grew in size and greatly strengthened its involvement in mission and outreach – locally, nationally, and internationally.  Rev. Mark served as chairperson for many years of the Board of Directors of Niles Community Services (an agency that assists those in need in the local community) and served on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross and the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches (a tri-county interfaith organization).  Active in presbytery work, he served on the Committee on Ministry for six years and chaired the Committee on Preparation for Ministry for eight years.  He was elected as vice-moderator of the Presbytery in 2002 and moderator in 2003.  He served as a commissioner to the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 2008.

In April 2010, Rev. Mark was called to be the pastor of the historic First Presbyterian Church, “The Old Whalers’ Church”, in Sag Harbor, New York.  During his time there, the congregation has stabilized itself financially and has continued to strengthen its outreach to the community.  The church is home to the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, six different Alcoholics Anonymous groups, a community youth center, and various other organizations.  As a member of Long Island Presbytery, Rev. Mark again served on the Committee on Ministry as well as an ordination exam reader and temporary moderator of other Sessions.

In his free time, Rev. Mark enjoys spending time with family and friends, and his cat, “Hoover”.  He continues to be involved in community event activities.  He enjoys bike riding and travel as well as music, theater, and reading.  He likes to try his hand at cooking and gardening as time (and talent) permits.

Rev. Mark writes,

I believe that good pastoral leadership begins by building meaningful and trusting relationships with others.  For that reason, I am passionate about being a caring and involved presence in people’s lives.  A pastor cannot be very effective if he or she does not know the people with whom they minister.  Plus, a congregation must know their pastor.  My leadership style is characterized by openness and honesty.  This means I can be relied upon to communicate what I think and what I feel.  It also means that I expect and encourage others to be equally open and honest in their communication with me, even in difficult or distressing situations.  Such relationships allow us to grow together in Christ, and they empower us to use our different gifts in His service.  I love that about ministry.  I love the privilege of being with people when they are at their very best and their very worst.  And so, I strive to be a servant leader who works to provide the environment, the means, the vision, and the enthusiasm so that we can fulfill whatever the Risen Christ has in store for us.  In doing that, I seek to point beyond myself to the One who continually challenges us to take His saving love, forgiveness, and hope to those we love and to those whom nobody loves. 

Christian A. Schoen, Director of Music & Organist – Beginning November 1, 2017

Dearest Members of Cherry Hill Presbyterian,

I look forward to worshiping with you as your new Director of Music & Organist at the beginning of November.  I am truly grateful to the Pastor Mark, the Search Committee, and the Choir for the time and care placed in selecting me to serve at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church. 

          My family moved to Saint Clair, Michigan from Atlanta, Georgia, at the beginning of October.  My partner of 21 years, Eduardo, works in IT Risk & Audit, and we have two wonderful children, Xavier, who is 13 and attending Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia, and Josiah, who is 8 and attends Landmark Academy, which is near Port Huron.    

            As the son of a retired Army Colonel, I have had the great privilege of living across the World, including being born in Heidelberg, Germany.  I started my musical training here in Michigan, when I was 13.  My love of the piano has never wavered, but I have found the pipe organ to be my true passion.  My studies included time at U of M, Capital University, Southern Methodist University, and University of North Texas.  I have had the great honor of studying with many wonderful organists, but the one that has inspired me the most is Michael Murray, who studied with Marcel Dupre and is critically acclaimed for his recordings with Telarc.

             My choral conducting experience began in Dallas, Texas, and I have had the honor of studying conducting with some very fine musicians.  In addition to church work, I directed the Dallas Frohsinn Singing Society, which is one of the oldest musical groups in the Dallas area.

             In addition to performing solo organ recitals throughout the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), I have also facilitated choral pilgrimages to the UK, singing Evensong and Choral Eucharist services at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, Bath Abbey, Chester Cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral, and several other venues.

             While my true passion is music and serving churches, I do have a full-time position with IBM, in their Corporate Citizenship organization.  I have global responsibility for one of the company’s grant-making programs, which provides consulting services and software to non-profit organizations.  I have been an IBMer for 21 years and hope to retire with the company . . . probably not for another 20 years though 🙂 . . .

             I hope to meet and get to know all of Cherry Hill’s members over the coming months and am excited about starting with you on November 1st.

                        God’s Peace,

                         Christian Schoen


Korderro J. Brown, Director of Christian Education for Children and Youth

Lisa Levangie, Administrative Director

Kimberly McDonald, Financial Secretary

M. K. Osborne, Sexton and Security

Michelle Adams, Daytime Custodian

Elaine Filiak, Joyce Knoop, Judie Frasier, Sherry Brown, and Carolyn Carr  Office Volunteers