What We Believe

At First Presbyterian we Love First.

First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country and a part of the Reformed tradition. All are welcome. All are accepted. At First Pres we Love First.

Meet Our Pastor

Reverend Paul Helphinstine


Originally from Plainfield, Indiana, Paul has called Northeast Tennessee home since coming to Milligan University in 1995. Paul graduated with his B.A. from Milligan University (History) in 1999 and from Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University (M.Div.) in 2009. After originally working as a teacher in the Johnson City Schools, Paul returned to Milligan University as the Assistant to the President working in Institutional Advancement. In 2002, Paul felt the call to vocational ministry, and entered seminary. While in seminary, Paul had the rare privilege of serving as the Director of Student Ministries right here at First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City for nearly seven years.

Upon graduating from seminary, Paul received a call to serve as the Pastor of Harrison Christian Church, which is part of Paul’s home denomination. Missing the connectional nature and so much more about his adopted denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Paul transferred his ordination officially to the PC(USA) in May of 2013, and received the call to serve as the Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church. In 2019, Paul received the call to return to First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City as the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff.

Paul has served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) both at the presbytery level and at the national level. He served for six years on the Holston Presbytery Committee on Ministry, and as the chairperson of that committee for one year. He served for three years on the presbytery’s nominating committee, and is now in his six year of serving on the presbytery’s campus ministry committee. Paul was honored to be elected in 2018 to serve as the Holston Presbytery’s Teaching Elder Commissioner to the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis, and served for four on the General Assembly’s Special Committee for Per Capita Funding and National Church Financial Sustainability.

Paul has been married to his wife, Emily, for nearly twenty-four years. Emily serves as the Literacy Coordinator for the Kingsport City Schools, and holds degrees from Milligan University, ETSU, and the University of Tennessee. She has worked in the Kingsport City Schools for over twenty years. Together, Paul and Emily have two wonderful sons, John and Isaac. Paul loves playing golf, especially with his sons, who are both better than Paul.

Contact: 423-926-5108 Ext. 801