Senior Pastor - Rev. Daniel R. Stewart
Rev. Stewart has served as pastor of Great Valley Presbyterian Church since 1996. After graduating from Bucknell University in 1971 with a degree in economics, Dan served as a Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy. Following release from active duty, he and Kathy (Kocher) were married and moved to Scotland, where he worked as an assistant driller trainee on a North Sea oil rig. Upon return to the U.S. in 1976, Dan earned a degree in Social Studies Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania before attending Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, receiving the MA in Philosophy of Religion in 1981. He was ordained in the PC(USA) by the Twin Cities Presbytery in 1988, and served churches in Minnesota and New Jersey before coming to Great Valley. He has been a minister member of the Presbytery of the East of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church since 2010.
Married 38 years, Dan and Kathy have four children (Doug, Bryce, Keely and Reid) and nine grandchildren: Will, Kate, Megan and Gwen, children of Doug and Sarah (Shepherd) Stewart; Laney, Daisy and Lydia, daughters of Bryce and Kelly (Dyson) Stewart; and Raelyn and Rooker, the daughter and son of Keely and Kevin Norman. Reid and Carla (Shula) Stewart have been married since Thanksgiving 2011, but have yet to add to the grandchildren count. Rev. Stewart can be reached at
Director of Ministries - Jim Shackleton
Jim joined the staff in September 2005 after attending Great Valley for over 20 years (talk about a lengthy interview process!). Jim has worked with the youth program of the church for 15 years, including short-term missions’ trips to Haiti and France. He earned an engineering degree from Lafayette College in 1981 and spent 22 years in engineering and management with Jacobs Engineering Company, Conshohocken, Pa., particularly serving the pharmaceutical industry. In 2003, Jim acted on God’s call to ministry and enrolled in Biblical Theological Seminary, graduating with a Masters in Ministry degree in January 2006. Jim and Lynne have four boys: Ben, Dan, Tim, and Nate, and therefore one high-energy household.
Jim can be reached at
Director of Preschool - Karen Erickson
Karen has been a member of GVPC for almost thirty years. Having previously taught at Collegium Charter School, West Chester Friends School, Paoli Methodist Nursery School, Christ Memorial Lutheran School, and Goshen Baptist Nursery School for a combined total of nineteen years, Karen founded the Preschool in the Valley in 2004. Karen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Houghton College and has done graduate work at Immaculata University. Karen is married to Craig, and they have three sons, Steven, Christian, and Peter.
Organist - Sharon Smoker
Sharon’s life has always been characterized by church music. A native of Trumbull, CT, she began serving her church during her high school years by singing in the youth choir, touring with the New Dawn Singers and participating in the release of their album. She also substituted for the church organist. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois) with a major in organ and a minor in piano. Since then, Sharon has served the Lord and His people in a number of church locations, from the Midwest to New York state and then Maryland before moving to Pennsylvania. Sharon joined Great Valley’s staff as church organist in 2000. She plays for all worship services, works with the Worship Committee and pastor to integrate the music with the sermon themes, and plays for special events, as requested.
Sharon and her husband, Steve, whom she met at Wheaton, are actively involved in the life of Great Valley. In addition to her music responsibilities, she and Steve are members of a small group, and Steve leads the Questers Sunday School Class. When she is not teaching piano or practicing the organ, Sharon can be found pursuing her favorite sports: tennis, biking, kayaking, and hiking. When a change of pace is called for, Sharon enjoys scrapbooking. The Smokers have four adult children who were a part of GVPC during their high school and college years, and who stay connected through their frequent visits back home.
Choir Director - Christopher Starr
Chris joined the staff of Great Valley as Director of Music Ministry in the summer of 2010, and he and his wife Vicky and daughter Aria live in Royersford. Before coming to Great Valley, Chris studied choral conducting and worked as a graduate assistant at Mansfield University, earning a Master of Arts in Music. He also earned a Bachelor of Music, with a vocal performance emphasis, from Susquehanna University. While at Susquehanna, Chris led the Handbell Choir and Children’s Choir at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Selinsgrove.
Secretary - Karen Bittenbender
Karen Bittenbender has been our secretary since 1996. She is a master of details and know-how regarding the church calendar and congregation. Her office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Sexton - Steven Leach
Steven Leach has been the church Sexton since the beginning of 2005. A "newly-wed" since August, 2012, Steven and Yvonne and Steven's three sons, Isaac, Gabriel and Luke, reside in Mont Clare, Pa. In addition to overseeing maintenance of the church buildings and grounds, Steven is also responsible for the operations of Great Valley's cemetery.