Meet Our Leadership Team
Laurie Ann Rookard
Laurie Ann received her Master of Divinity from Wesley Seminary in Washington D.C. followed by a certification in Pastoral Psychotherapy at the Pastoral Institute in Columbus, GA.
She began her pastoral ministry in Barbados where she oversaw four churches. Upon returning to the U.S., her calling to cross cultural ministry continued as she pastored churches in Philadelphia. In addition to rock climbing, rollerblading and hiking, Laurie Ann practices hot yoga. She received her certification in Basic Yoga Fit and has been teaching for the past ten years. Her favorite quote is one from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
David W. Brown
David W. Brown is the only living African American inducted into both the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA) Hall of Fame and the hall of fame equivalent of the Philadelphia Advertising Club. He was named a “Champion of Change” by the Obama Administration for his communications work around empowering non-profits to make a difference in the communities they serve. Brown was awarded the Harris Wofford Active Citizenship Award by the Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service Committee for his “dedication and longtime support” of the King Day of Service – the largest single day of service in the country. He also co-founded the “Bridge Walk for Peace” which includes a sunrise walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge and is the nation’s longest such observance marking the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th. He is a published author and has served as the General Manager for 900 AM WURD (Pennsylvania’s only African American-owned talk radio station). Brown is an ordained Reverend in the United Methodist Church and, at the end of 2021, completed a seven-year appointment at Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church in West Philadelphia. While there, he led the effort to raise nearly $1 million to transform the 175-year-old congregation and its historic (but underused) property into a vibrant community resource. Brown is currently the Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication where he also serves as an Assistant Professor of Instruction and where he has also conducted PhD-level work at the University.
Ayanda Sithole is a Temple University graduate with a degree in broadcasting and mass media. She has been a member of First Church Media since 2004. Since becoming a member she has been involved in vacation bible school, youth group, and praise team. Some of her interests include attending music festivals, roller derby, and attempting to visit every continent.
Andy’s been serving as Music Director at First Church Media since 2017 and has loved being able to lead the growth of both the music and tech sides of our worship program. Prior to First Church Media, he was a high school choral and theatre director, where he led several award-winning performance ensembles. He also previously served as Associate Director of Traditional Worship at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown. He resides in Nazareth, Pa with his wife (Molly), daughter (Maeve), and dog (Benny).
Spiritual Leadership Team
Bernie Khaw is thankful to God's gracious love guiding his life's journey that began as a child born to Chinese immigrant parents in Burma, now called Myanmar. That same love sustained him through ethnic discrimination under a military dictatorship, followed by an arduous adventure that eventually led to his citizenship in the US. After finishing his graduate program in chemical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, Bernie began a career that led him to become a research manager in a cellulose manufacturing company. Together with his college sweetheart Ruth, they raised a son and daughter in Shelton, WA. Bernie had an interesting and well-paid career, taking him to five continents. But he felt an inner thirst that could not be quenched until he finally followed the call into ministry. Ruth served with Bernie in churches in South Georgia and Greater New Jersey Annual Conferences, caring for the congregation and community, and in music ministry playing organ and piano. She is looking forward to actively serving again when her health improves. After retiring from their last church, Bernie and Ruth moved to Media to be closer to their children, and are making 1st UMC of Media their spiritual home. Bernie's areas of interest are in leading Bible studies, building cross-cultural connections, providing spiritual nurture, music, and cooking.
Spiritual Leadership Team
Jim Hallam, a retired United Methodist minister, has been in active ministry for fifty-eight years. He has had a varied career serving as Director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania, Dean of Students at Drexel University, Instructor at Neumann University, and Pastor of churches including Lima UMC and Valley Forge UMC. He is currently an elected supervisor in Edgmont Township and has published a book, Human Gifts. Jim's education includes a B.A. from Dickinson College, a M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a M.Div. and a D.Min. from Drew University. He lives in Edgmont Township with his wife, Kerry, and a sweet dog named Hope. Jim is the father of three children, a stepfather of four, and a grandfather to six.