First Church Interim Lead Pastor starting August 12, 2018
The Rev. Dr. Philip A. Amerson and his wife, Dr. Elaine M. Amerson, reside in Bloomington, Indiana, and are active in many community projects. Phil is president emeritus of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, serving there as president and Professor of the Sociology of Religion from 2006 to 2013. Phil is an ordained United Methodist pastor and was pastor of three congregations in Indiana (St. Johns: Evansville, Broadway: Indianapolis and First: Bloomington) from 1982 to 2000. In 2014 he worked as Interim Pastor at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Phil holds a Ph.D. from Emory University and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary. He was president of the Claremont School of Theology from 2000 to 2006 and over his career has taught in several university and seminary settings. He has served as a consultant with the Wellbeing at Work: Flourishing in Ministry research at the University of Notre Dame and as interim director of the Course of Study School for United Methodist local pastors in Indiana (2016-2018). He is a member of the Monroe County Habitat for Humanity board, serves on the County Opioid Crises Commission, and speaks frequently on issues of racism and environmental justice. He writes an occasional blog at

From 1977 to 1986 the Amersons lived in Evansville where they were founding members of Patchwork Ministries. Patchwork Central grew into a multifaceted program, including ecumenical worship services, after-school programs for children, an economic development center, health programs, minority leadership and other activities focusing on social and economic justice. While in Evansville, Elaine served as member and president of the board of the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation School Board.