CPC Staff

Colbert Presbyterian Church

4211 E. Colbert Rd.
Colbert, WA 99005

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Eric E. Peterson: Pastor/Head of Staff

Eric Peterson, Pastor/Head of StaffMaryland is where I grew up, but the Pacific Northwest has always felt more like home to me, having spent every summer of my childhood in the Flathead Valley of Montana. Whitworth University is where I did my undergraduate studies, followed by two years as a carpenter building houses in Spokane. Reluctantly, I heeded the call to pastoral ministry by first attending Princeton Theological Seminary (a 3-year exile back to the east coast), followed by seven delightful years as an associate pastor in Tacoma, and then, beginning in 1997, as the founding pastor of Colbert.  More recently I completed a doctorate in Semiotics and Future Studies through George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Accompanied more by a sense of gift than accomplishment, my dissertation was largely the result of our two decades-long immersion in the practice of “living our baptism.”

I have three adult children (Drew, Lindsay and Sadie) from a previous marriage, and am now well-married to Elizabeth. Together, along with Grace, Isaac and Eli, we have a rich family life, and frequently enjoy hosting people in our home-in-the-woods for meals, play and conversation.

If you were to catch a glimpse of me on my day off, depending on what time of year it is, you might find me working on a project in my wood shop, hiking in the hills, swimming in a lake, reading a book or attending a soccer game.

Being a pastor is, I believe, what I was made for, and it is a great gift to serve and to love, and to lead this beloved congregation. Read on to learn more about the rest of the people who staff this church. They are among the finest people I know!

Leesa A. Birdsall: Commissioned Lay Pastor

Leesa Birdsall, Commissioned Lay PastorI was born in Wyoming, but grew up here in the Pacific Northwest. For the first several years I lived with my family on one of the chain lakes in the Coeur d’Alene River valley. We later moved to the north side of Spokane where I graduated from Mead High School. I did my undergraduate work at Eastern Washington University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene, and worked in the field for over seventeen years. As often happens when God is at work in our lives, my life took a course change a few years ago. I retired from dental hygiene, returned to school and eventually earned a Certificate in Lay Ministry, and a Masters in Theology at Whitworth University. After months of prayer and discernment with my family, members of the Colbert community, and the Lay Pastor committee of Presbytery, I came on staff as a lay pastor in January 2011.

My husband David and I have been married for over 21 years and have two teenage sons, Loren and Steven. It is a blessing to have most of our extended family in close proximity. We love this community and enjoy sharing our lives in significant ways through service and fellowship.

I am a country girl at heart, pretty much enjoying all things outdoors, and frequently retreat to our family lake place in northern Idaho. I also confess a slight addiction to books, and enjoy tinkering with music and art in my quiet time.

The call to pastoral ministry was not something I dreamed early on, but I am grateful for the work of the Spirit in my life, God’s economy has wasted nothing, but has served to bring me to this season. I feel richly blessed to serve alongside the wonderful staff and servant leaders of this community.

Diane Freelander: Parish Associate


Mindy Smith: Parish Associate


Janet Neder: Director of Children's Ministry

Janet Neder, Director of Childrens MinistryI grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where most of my extended family still lives. While I very much enjoy going back to visit my family and friends in Tennessee, Spokane feels like home. It’s where our teenage daughters (Claire and Mary) have made most of their childhood memories and where my husband (Adam) and I have found vocations we take great pleasure in. Adam works at Whitworth teaching in the theology department, and along with Lisa Hoxie, I have the privilege of coordinating the children’s ministry programs (for children up through sixth grade) here at Colbert.

I spend much of my free time on the soccer field either coaching Mary’s team, cheering on Claire and her team, or pretending that I am not as old as I am and playing adult co-ed indoor soccer. I enjoy pretty much any form of exercise. I am a fan of folk and bluegrass music. And I love travelling with my family – especially to warm, sunny places. I have also recently become interested in minimalism. My goal in life: to live simply, devoted to God and caring for others in the way that I would want to be cared for. I have a long way to go but learn a lot by being a part of the loving, grace-filled community at Colbert.



Lesley Groe: Administrative Assistant

Lesley GroeI am a Spokane girl, born and raised.  As a matter of fact, I grew up in Colbert and have such sweet memories of tubing The Little Spokane River (before life jackets were a thing), horseback riding in areas that are now much more populated, and just living a sweet and carefree life that a childhood in the country afforded me.

What a joy it has been to raise my own children in this beautiful corner of our world.  My vocation for most of my adult life has been as a “stay-at-home mom”, raising four children who are now amazing adults ranging in ages from 32-20 yrs. old.  I’ve often told people that I worried about this stage of life.  I love being a mom and those years that were filled with Kool-Aid stains and chaos, were some of my favorites.  I have been happily surprised that these years with adult children are just as sweet and hold new gifts that I hold dear.
Tim and I are recent “empty nesters” and I am in awe of God’s perfect timing (as always) in our lives.  The opportunity to work at Colbert Presbyterian Church, as your administrative assistant, came along just when I was asking “what’s next?” I love my church family and consider it such a gift to be able to work with people that I love, in a place that I love, serving people that I love and all in the name of Jesus.


Benjamin Brody: Director of Music Ministry 

Benjamin Brody, Director of Music MinistryI grew up in Portland, and attended Whitworth University as an undergraduate, majoring in music education. After a brief stint as an elementary music teacher, I spent four years as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Seattle where I lived the joys and challenges of music ministry in an urban setting and began graduate studies at the University of Washington. In 2003 I returned to Whitworth, where I teach courses in church music, music history and appreciation, and am Director of Campus Worship.

Outside of my teaching and musical activities, I love spending time with my family (wife Sarah, and sons Sam and Noah), reading, and traveling.
I believe that perhaps nothing shapes our faith life more than the patterns of weekly worship as a part of a Christian community. It is a high privilege and a joy to plan and lead worships services each week for this community.

Ryan Stewart: Director of Youth

Ryan Stewart I was born and raised in northern Spokane, and I have always felt very at home in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in the Mead area, attending Mountainside Middle School and Mt. Spokane High School. I went on to study at Whitworth University, where I completed my undergraduate degree in music performance. After Whitworth, I decided that I wanted to take some time outside of the academic fray to listen to God and let him guide me further in my pursuit of higher knowledge and learning. I can think of no better way to spend that time than serving at Colbert Presbyterian Church, getting to be a part of amazing middle school and high schooler’s lives.
When I’m not practicing or reading, I can usually be found outside or in a coffee shop. I love being outdoors, and enjoy all activities that allow me to bask in the beauty of God’s creation, including hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, skiing, and frisbee. I also love to read, play board games, and above all else, spend time with people.
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to join such a gracious community, and look forward to serving the youth with my whole heart.


Nancy Maroney: Custodian

Nancy Maroney
We appreciate the excellent care Nancy gives to our facilities which are heavily used 7-days a week.