Our pastor, the Reverend Doctor David Rea McNeilly, spent the first 38 years of his life in Western Pennsylvania. He is a life long Presbyterian, active in the ministry of the East Union United Presbyterian Church in his youth, attending a small Presbyterian College and serving as pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania for 10 years. Moving to College Park, Maryland in 1988, he became pastor of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church serving there for over 20 years. He was installed as the Pastor of Darnestown Presbyterian Church in June of 2008. He makes his home with his wife, Cindy, now in the Kentlands.
Rev. Dr. David R. McNeilly, Pastor
‘Pastor Dave,’ as many of DPC call him, has a Bachelor of Arts from Westminster College (1974), a Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh (1978), a Master of Divinity (1978) and a Doctor of Ministry (1986) from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is a proud father of four children ages 19 through 31, whom he both loves and likes. He is a season ticket holder of the Washington Capitals with his two sons, an avid bridge player with anyone, a lover of classical music (on LPs!) and often attends concerts of the BSO at Strathmore. Dave enjoys athletics, having played on both the softball and volleyball teams of DPC, and often can be found riding his bicycle on the back roads around Darnestown.
His faith finds its focus in Jesus. The simple grace and constant compassion of Jesus touch him and call him to discipleship. He seeks to trust in God as Jesus trusted, care for all as Jesus cared, and proclaim the good news Jesus shared and brought to life with such glory. While he is far from perfect (ask anyone at DPC!), Dave still seeks to practice and share his faith actively – counting on the grace of God and the gracefulness of the faithful. A collect from the Presbyterian Worshipbook that has special meaning to him, is as follows:
“Great God, your grace is an undeserved miracle. Help us to believe and follow your Son; so we may be free from the worry of our failures, be filled with the new wine of compassion that finds its source in you and know a hope that is present and eternal. Trusting in the promises made to, and for, us in Christ, we pray: Amen!”
Rev. Tamara Leonard Lara, Associate Pastor
Tamara was born in Saginaw, Michigan and grew up in and around Beaverton, Michigan where she was a member of Beaverton First Presbyterian church and sang in the choir. Although there was no youth group in her home congregation, she participated in presbytery and denominational level youth activities. She was awarded a Religious Leadership Scholarship to attend the Presbyterian college, Alma College in Alma Michigan.
While at Alma, she was a member of the Chapel committee, graduating in 1996 with a BA in Elementary Education with a special emphasis in Spanish. Following graduation, Tamara served for one year as a Young Adult Volunteer through the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Colonia, Uruguay working in a home for abandoned and abused children. She received her call to ministry while serving in Uruguay.
Upon return to the United States, Tamara then attended McCormick Theological Seminary (MTS) in Chicago, having earned a Schmidt Scholarship for her service through the Church with the Latino community. While attending MTS, Tamara held an internship at an Assyrian and American congregation (Carter Westminster Presbyterian Church in Skokie, IL) and spent a year in the state of Tabasco, Mexico working as a missionary with the Mexican National Presbyterian Church. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from MTS in 2002. Upon graduation, Tamara was awarded a 2 year fellowship to work in all areas of ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago as a Lilly Pastoral Resident through the Lilly Foundation where she was ordained as a minister of word and sacrament.
Tamara began work at Darnestown Presbyterian Church as the Associate Pastor in March, 2005. Tamara married Fidel Lara, a Hospice Chaplain, in 2003 and they have two childen: Gabriel and Olexa.
Michael Hooper, Director of Music
Michael Hooper spent most of his youth traveling across the country as the son of an Air Force Civilian Senior Executive. He began playing piano at age 4, percussion at age 12, and was selected for numerous honors bands and orchestras including Maryland All-State Senior and Junior Orchestras. He also began to play organ, piano and work with choirs for various churches at age 12. Throughout his youth, he performed in several major piano recitals, and was Drum Major in his high school marching band.
Mr. Hooper earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion Performance from the Pennsylvania State University in 1997. In addition to studying percussion at the university, he studied piano, organ, voice, composition and conducting. While attending he performed with the university choir, orchestra, symphonic band, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble and mallet ensemble. He travelled internationally with the Penn State Glee Club in 1996, performing throughout the United Kingdom. He also studied at the Brevard Music Center during the summer of 1996, performing with the Brevard Music Center Orchestra and the Brevard Sinfonia Orchestra. In 1999, he received his Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance from the Peabody Institute of Music. He performed with many ensembles at Peabody, including the symphony orchestra, concert orchestra, wind ensemble and percussion ensemble.
Mr. Hooper has performed with many orchestras in the Washington D.C. metro area, including the Washington Symphony Orchestra, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Columbia Orchestra, and the Chesapeake Orchestra. He has taught music at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the Park School of Baltimore, and has composed and arranged music for choir, handbells, marimba and piano. Active in church music since 1987, he has served as the Director of Music for churches in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland, and has been serving as the Director of Music for Darnestown Presbyterian Church since August 2004. He is a former ballroom dancing instructor, and he lives in Anne Arundel County with his wife Carrie and their miniature schnauzer, Augie.