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 Pastors

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 third 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 continues to serve 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-two 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

Reverend Khayla Johnson


Originally from Charleston, SC, Pastor Khayla grew up near the water and is getting used to living in the mountains. For as long as she can remember, Khayla’s family has been a part of the Presbyterian faith tradition, and she is a sixth generation Presbyterian. Khayla had this to say about her family “My family means a lot to me, and they are a daily source of encouragement in my life.” She has been ordained since 2019, however, she has spent the last ten years in ministry. With degrees from Coastal Carolina University (B.A. Graphic Design) and Columbia Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity). Upon graduating seminary, Khayla received a call to serve as a Resident Minister at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI. She previously served churches in South Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan. Khayla has been involved in leadership at various levels throughout the PCUSA, she is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Presbyterian Women. Khayla also served as a Theological Student Advisory Delegate in 2018 to the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis.


Khayla’s hobbies and interests include photography, drawing, and sports. She enjoys spending time behind a camera, rather than being in front of one. If you want to talk sports, she’s always ready and enjoys when she gets the chance to get out a play some sports. Khayla joined First Presbyterian Church in Johnson City in June of 2021. She is excited about all that is happening at First Presbyterian and energized for the future.

Contact: 423-926-5108 Ext. 803