Carson City’s First Presbyterian hires new pastor

Pastor Ian Hodge was installed as First Presbyterian Church’s senior pastor on March 17, 2024.

Pastor Ian Hodge was installed as First Presbyterian Church’s senior pastor on March 17, 2024.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Pastor Ian Hodge wants to encourage his new congregation and his community with transparency as he gets to know everyone in his first few months in Carson City. He’s not perfect but works to live honestly, he said.

“I would love to not make mistakes,” Hodge said. “But I want folks to see what I do when I make mistakes because that will prove if I mean the things that I’m striving for and I’m aiming for to love people in the church well before our community — regardless of age, of gender, of orientation, we want to love everybody. And now the rubber’s meeting the road. I want to live as transparently in front of people as I can.”

First Presbyterian Church, site of Nevada’s oldest church building and longest continuing congregation, has welcomed Hodge, 41, as its permanent senior pastor with an installation service on Sunday, March 17. It was a long process and the church struggled but nominating committee member Barbara MacSween said she felt Hodge “was our guy.”

“Our church is a very strong church with a lot of independent people, and we did handle it,” MacSween said. “I feel God meant to direct him here.”

Coming to care for Carson

Hodge most recently pastored a church in Lemon Cove, Calif., near Visalia for the past 10 years. He and his wife Mikaela have four children, Calvin, Ava, Wesley and Jonathan, and said they were excited to move to Northern Nevada after hearing good things about the area.

For Hodge, there was a real future in Carson City to help build up a church in need of care and to be a part of a community that offers opportunities for the young and young at heart.

“The church isn’t just made up of the people who are already here,” he said. “It’s also made up of the people who will be here, and we think this church has a real passion to get to know young people, and, yes, to be grandmas and grandpas to some of the kids in our community and, yes, to be friends.”

Being younger parents with younger children, Hodge said it will be important for him and his wife to offer something community members want to enjoy at First Presbyterian.

“Our society has been described as having a loneliness epidemic where the church often is the center of the community,” he said. “Churches care for people when they’re dying. They care for people when they’re born. And churches, when they’re at their best, help us build relationships that stay with us for the rest of our lives.

“Churches at their best aren’t afraid to address the biggest questions in our world with compassion and thoughtfulness, and especially as Presbyterians, we care about using our minds to understand the things we see in the world.”

He said he sees it as his job and every Christian’s job to be faithful and give it his best and watch God bring the results.

“I really believe that the best days of the church are in front of it, not behind it,” he said. “I think that’s a positive outlook.”

‘A breath of fresh air’

The process to bring in a permanent pastor after having lost former Pastor Bob Davis often felt slow and wasn’t easy, MacSween described. Davis died March 1 last year, and the FPC, which is part of the denomination ECO, a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, underwent a difficult transition. ECO recommended a transitional pastor.

Ultimately, FPC set out to hire a new leader after ECO encouraged it to do so, she said. Despite hearing from multiple candidates, they were unable to find anyone compatible in those early months.

“The people weren’t just right and turned out they didn’t want to make the move (to the area),” she said. “It was in the midst of grief that we were conducting these interviews and it was difficult.”

MacSween finally recommended to the church’s pastor nominating committee in June to start looking for someone to fill the role full-time. By September, the church posted a job description on ECO’s website in and received 20 applications. The committee narrowed candidates to three. Hodge submitted his application immediately, MacSween said.

Applicants were asked to send a cover letter, application, statement of faith and resume. MacSween said Hodge “cheated,” sending an extra element with a photo of his family with his application.

“It was really cute,” she said.

The committee invited Ian and Mikaela Hodge to spend a weekend at the church with them and extended a call to them to become their pastor. When they made a decision on the offer, FPC held a candidate Sunday to preach and then the church voted to accept and it was unanimous, MacSween said.

“The Presbytery is a microcosm of the government,” she said. “People are represented by the session and then the session chooses the nominating committee. The people are involved. So they really do have a hand in choosing a pastor.”

MacSween said they listened to his sermons and found Hodge was “dynamic.”

“A lot of people from the church wanted someone who would be helpful in finding young families,” she said.

“We loved Bob Davis, I personally loved him and we were all grief stricken when we lost him and we had to move on, of course,” she said. “And Ian is just a breath of fresh air. I feel people are supporting him and he’s been very busy trying to meet people in the congregation, and he’s going to meetings and trying to learn the church — not just the people, but our procedures.”

Moving forward

Hodge has been eager to start building connections within his congregation, with other pastors and local organizations that are making a difference helping vulnerable populations.

“This church has, I think, a great tradition of community involvement in supporting a number of different ministries, both explicitly Christian and some where we just say there’s common ground here,” he said. “So I look forward to knowing those partnerships better.”

He looks forward to working with Night off the Streets and helping women and families impacted by domestic violence and abuse, he said.

“I hope that’s just the beginning,” he said. “And then I’m excited for international relationships. We have connections to folks all over the world in South America and Asia and Africa.”

Making sure the community knows the church is open and available is important, he said, but so is knowing that it is made up of imperfect people trying to get out the message of a perfect God.

“I don’t want to come in like I have the answer for Carson City other than Jesus Christ who begins to show us the rest of our lives. … I love that this church is part of the story of Carson City in a lot of different ways.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment