First United Methodist Church
Friday, June 18, 2021
Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.

ARC Pastors

Allegheny River Charge:    First United Methodist Church Kittanning, Ford Memorial United Methodist Church, Manorville United Methodist Church, Union Avenue United Methodist Church.
Senior Pastor:  Deborah Kociban

Raised in Montoursville PA as a United Methodist by a United Methodist mom and a Christian Science dad, who became a United Methodist the year she was confirmed, Deb said she sadly drifted away from the church while attending college. She earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she met her husband George, and worked as a lab technician. It was not until their daughter Whitney, born in 1985, was 5 years old that she returned to church as a member of Laketon Heights UMC in Penn Hills.  There she served as a member of the gospel choir, liturgist, Sunday school teacher and youth group leader.  As a youth group leader, Deb sensed God calling her to be a pastor.

So began a six-year journey as an evening student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary while working full-time in a cancer research lab at Allegheny General Hospital until 2007.  She completed her Master of Divinity degree and served as a student pastor at Muhleman Memorial UMC. "I give God all the credit for getting me and my family through those years and I thank God for George and Whitney who supported me and loved me along the way," says Pastor Deb. 

Before moving to the Templeton Charge in 2017, Pastor Deb served the Wesley Charge in McKeesport, PA as a full-time elder from 2007 to 2017. 

She as been serving as Senior Pastor of the Allegheny River Charge since 2018.

"I believe that as a people of Christ we should always operate out of a center of love of God and love for one another," says Pastor Deb. "With this centering of our lives together there will be adventures of ministry, joyful worship, Spirit-filled disciples and loving community."


Associate Pastor:  Brenda L. Sommerville Schall

Brenda has been an active lay member in local churches, teaching and leading Sunday School for many years. In the past 12 years, she has served as a lay speaker in local churches.

She was married for 30 years to David Sommerville when he died unexpectedly in 2011. At that time, she said, "I asked God to help me through this and I would do whatever he asked of me, so here I am. The Lord has been good to me."

The mother of two and grandmother of five married  Chester Schall in October of 2016. They live in Elderton with her husband's father, who will be 100 years old on May 21, and her dog Noel. Brenda felt God’s call early in her life, but “made many excuses as to why it was not time.” Born in Muncie, Indiana, she lived most of her life in Buckhannon, W.Va. with her mother and seven younger brothers. 

She said she loves mission work and visiting with people and youth have a special place in her heart. Brenda said her desire is to be and do what God wants of her and she can’t wait to be part of this new charge.

She has been serving as Associate Pastor of the Allegheny River Charge since 2018.