Staff Profiles
John Curphey
Interim Pastor


Pastor John Curphey began his ministry as interim pastor of the Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church on January 12 of 2015.   He recently served Church of Christ, Presbyterian in Chicago as their interim pastor.   John is committed to helping individuals and churches better understand themselves so that they can more fully respond to God’s grace.   He enjoys helping churches build from places of strength.  He is committed to ministry which reaches into the community. Pastor Curphey is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, Massachusetts and The Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.  He is married to Barbara; he has two daughters and an adorable granddaughter.  He enjoys art, swimming, and University of Wisconsin football.
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Maggie Downs
Director of Children Ministries

Maggie Downs came to Palos Park Presbyterian Church in December of 1998.  She grew up in the Chicago area and later served a church in the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida for 10 years.  She has spent her entire career working with children and volunteers, as a Recreational Therapist and as a Children’s Ministry Director.  She loves helping children (and volunteers) learn about God and the Bible, learn new skills and develop their creativity.   In her free time she likes walking in the woods, reading, and learning new things.
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Micah VanDyken
Director of Community Life

My quick Bio:  I’m the lucky husband of my wonderful wife named Katie (a NICU nurse at Christ Hospital) and a soon to be first time dad, as Katie and I are expecting our first child around July 22. We live in Palos Heights, close to where Rt. 83 connects to 127th St. I grew up attending Palos Heights CRC (right across from McDonalds). We have an adorable dog named Porter. I enjoy reading, being outside, playing board games with anyone who’s willing, and learning new things. 

I was born in Jos, Nigeria while my parents were serving there as missionaries. I lived in Rehoboth, New Mexico until 3rd grade, when my family moved here to Palos and I entered the Southwest Chicago Christian School system. After graduating from Chicago Christian High, I traveled all the way to Trinity Christian College, where I earned my bachelors in Theology and History. During my Senior year of college I had the privilege of not only studying Greek with Pastor Carlton (who became one of my closest mentors) but also of volunteering as a youth ministry intern here at PPPCC. My time here (and really, the relationships I developed here) convinced me that youth ministry was what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up’. Because Katie got a great job at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn I headed to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, to earn my Masters of Divinity, and am completing this stage of my education by finishing up my Clinical Pastoral Education at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago. I also took some classes at Calvin Seminary, to make sure that I would be Reformed enough despite going to TEDS. Outside of school, I have worked for MVD Landscaping for the past 7 years, have been slowly renovating our home and yard with Katie, and have been getting ready to start a new phase of life with a baby and a new job (I’ll appreciate all the encouragement and support you’re willing to offer!)

And now the Lord has called me back to PPPCC, which I could not be more excited about! It has already been wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the not-so-familiar ones. To help that process along, I’d love to sit down with everyone here and hear your story! Please feel free to approach me with a time that works well for you to grab a cup of coffee someplace, or to go for a walk, or to share a meal with Katie and I. We’re thrilled to be joining this church family, especially as we’re beginning a family of our own and we’re so excited for what God has in store for us all!

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Megan Marshall
Director of Music and Worship

Megan VBS 

Megan began her ministry at PPPCC on January 18, 2011.  She shepherds the Chancel Choir, Children’s Choirs, Hand Bell Choirs, and the Praise Team.  A classically trained soprano, Megan provides over 15 years of professional church music ministry experience as well as experience teaching in the public schools and conducting community choirs. She received her BM in Music Education from Lawrence University, MM in Choral Conducting from Northern Illinois University, and the Artist Teacher Diploma from the CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education.  Most recently, Megan studied conducting with Simon Carrington at the Sarteano Chamber Conducting workshop in Sarteano, Italy.  Megan has a passion for sustaining traditional music forms as vehicles for inspirational worship while joyfully embracing newer styles of music and worship as well.

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Jill Long
Pastoral Care Assistant

Jill’s family of origin is rooted in the Church of the Brethren, however, she was raised in the Methodist Church. As a result of the events surrounding September 11 th , Jill and her family attended a prayer service at Palos Park Presbyterian, recognized some old friends and decided to make it their home. Jill’s ministry has included training as a Stephen Minister, two units of CPE at Mt. Sinai Hospital, hospital chaplaincy at Holy Cross and work in grief and bereavement with Heartland Hospice. The place she finds herself now has been years in the making (growing) through God’s infinite patience and she is grateful for the continued call to assist in caring for and serving the community of PPPCC. Jill and her husband John have three grown children who live in sunny and exotic locations. A perfect day for Jill is digging in the dirt with her faithful dog and cat beside her.

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Ralph Pugh

I began at PPPCC on January 22, 2013.   Though all my academic training is in history (MA, Ph.D. from the University of Chicago) and my full-time job is as the University Archivist at the Illinois Institute of Technology, my part-time music career has been absolutely central to my faith and self-esteem.   I rejoice that I will reach my 45 year milestone as a church organist next July (2017).   Born and raised in the “north woods” (Alpena, Michigan), I began in the Lutheran tradition while also playing for Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational, and Jewish congregations.    While an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College (Michigan) I was the campus chapel organist, Motet Choir accompanist, and frequent accompanist for soloists (as I like to say, I put in more performance time any of the music majors).   I have always been deeply grateful for the spiritual inspiration and peace that sacred music has afforded me over the years—and fervently hope that something of that joy and beauty is communicated to others when I play.   


I must share one of the most important experiences of my life…for music figures into it.    Some decades ago, after an unremarkable day, I had a dream like none  I had ever had--before or since.    I stood on the edge of a vast scene, with figures moving up and down as on escalators before me.   But there were three characteristics of the scene that blazed themselves into my consciousness, and I will never forget them.   First, the scene was filled with brilliant (though not blinding) light.   Second, the scene was filled with incredible joy; it flooded my soul.   Third, the scene was filled with continuous waves of song.   When I awoke, it was to the darkness of my bedroom—but the feeling of joy remained.   Most amazingly, I remembered a phrase from the song: innumerable voices were singing “to the lamb.”


Whether that was a granted vision, or just what my own soul needed and wanted to see—for me the bottom line is the same.   Given my overwhelming need for God, I don’t need theological arguments.  I learned that day that Christ is the song of our hearts—and that’s good enough for me.

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