Meet the Staff

Rev. Dennis Allison
Rev. Dr. James Schumacher
Kathy Hixson - Pianist/Organist

Transitional Minister - Dennis Allison

Ordained "second career" in 1984 as a Teaching Elder, having retired in 2011, I was asked by the General Presbyter to talk to representatives of Trinity Presbyterian about filling an Interim Pastor vacancy. This led to a six-month part time Interim assignment beginning June, 2013.

In December of 2013 I was asked by the session, with congregational concurrence, to fully vacate retirement and serve for a period of three years in a "transitional pastor" capacity. Thus and so...

Zanesville is beautiful and this congregation is dynamic and great fun, and it is seeking more and more to be Christ of the Witnesses centered, involved and having an impact in the local community, and through the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. making a difference in the world beyond.

It's a great time to be Christians in spite of everything -- I believe it's certainly that, and in that a great privilege to seek to serve this particular church.

Rev. Dr. James Schumacher

Emeritus Pastor

Douglas MacArthur, in one of his famous speeches, quoted an old, barracks ballad when he reminded us, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." That can also be applied to pastors. In retirement, our goal is to live what we preach: to support the church, to live the faith, and to help where we can.

That being said, I feel honored that our pastor invited me to give you a glimpse into my own life and ministry. After more than a half-century in the pulpit, brevity could prove a challenge.

Where to begin? My father's family came from Germany's Reformed Church. Plankstadt, their home city, is only eight miles out of Heidelberg. It took me a number of years to understand they were, basically, German Presbyterians. My mother's family, however, had been Presbyterians all the way back to Scotland. Never under estimate a mother's influence on her children!

Because my dad was a mechanical engineer, we moved a lot. Still, basically, I did most of my growing-up in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Our church, Grosse Pointe Memorial was what seemed to me then a huge, Gothic cathedral.

It was an associate pastor, Frank Ketchum, who agreed with my grandmother. For some reason, both of them thought I might someday be a minister. It took awhile for me to agree with either of them. But, shortly after the confirmation process, I started exploring ministry as a real possibility. Back then, Memorial Church provided camp scholarships, and I wound-up on the campus of Alma College in Michigan. It was then that God took a hand in things. At our final worship service, all of us were asked to sign a sheet indicating how we might someday serve the Lord. Back then, I was fifteen years old. My sheet read, "I believe God wants me to become a pastor."

Our family moved from Michigan to Kettering, Ohio in my junior year of high school. There, we joined Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. I taught Sunday School and preached my first sermon in that congregation. As a senior, I was received by the Presbytery of Dayton as a candidate for the ministry and was accepted as a freshman at the College of Wooster.

During my college years, I minored in speech and religion. My major, however, was German. Dr. Schreiber, our department head, taught courses on the classics, Goethe and Schiller. A high percentage of my college work from that time on was in German. It won't surprise those who know me that I was sorely tempted to follow Schreiber's example and become a professor in that language. The real question was where would I do my graduate study? I had a scholarship to do my master's at the University of Freiburg in Germany. I also was accepted at Princeton Theological Seminary. In the end, our Lord convinced me he needed pastors a whole lot more than he needed professors.

At this point, I could give you a long list of schools and degrees. Princeton trained me in preaching, theology, biblical languages, church history, and comparative religion. After a ten-year hiatus, I returned to theological seminary. At the time, I served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Dunes, situated in northern Indiana, about an hour out Chicago. McCormick Theological Seminary, now on the campus of the University of Chicago, accepted me as a candidate for a theological master's degree. On graduation, I also was accepted by Seabury-Western Seminary at Northwestern University to complete my doctorate.

During my half-century in the pulpit, I served a wide range of congregations. Strangely enough, I found myself called as pastor long before becoming an associate. My first congregation was in Rochester, Indiana -- where our daughter Lisa was born. Shortly thereafter I went to the Church of the Dunes -- where Karin was born. From Chesterton, we moved to Shelbyville, Indiana -- 30 minutes out of Indianapolis. By this time, we seemed to be developing a trend. It seemed we had a child in each, new church. It was in Shelbyville that we welcomed James Steven to our family. Following our seven Shelbyville years, we moved to Springfield, where I became the senior pastor of Oakland Presbyterian church. At the time, Oakland listed some 1200 members. Oakland, however, ended our church-childbearing arrangement.

Toward the end of our twelve years at Oakland, my first wife -- Rosemary -- was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Accepting an associateship in Parma Heights made it possible for Rosemary, a Title One Reading Teacher, to receive treatment at Cleveland's famous Clinic. Rosie was a brave and wonderful wife, teacher, and mother.

It was shortly after Rosie's death in 1988 that I received a call from Trinity in 1991 to serve in Zanesville.

How do you cover fifty years in less three pages? It's a challenge!

Leaping ahead by some three years, Sally Gaskins (widowed in 1990) -- brave person that she clearly is -- accepted my proposal of marriage. We would have married sooner, but each of us had a son in college. Each would have lost his survivor's stipend from the State Teachers' Retirement System the moment we married. Happily, that's now been changed, but it wasn't then. By waiting until 1994, each boy had completed his studies. Our wedding and reception was celebrated in Trinity's sanctuary with Glenn Ridgley, who was then Trinity's Clerk of Session, as my best man.

Beyond any question, Sally deserves more than just a few words. Growing up in Port Thomas, Kentucky, Sally graduated from Highlands High School, and then from the University of Cincinnati. Hers was the first class to graduate with a certification permitting her to teach learning disabled children. After a brief time at Wittenberg University in Springfield with her first husband, Bruce Gaskins, Sally moved to Zanesville where she's lived for the past 45 years. Originally from Forest Avenue Presbyterian Church, she was among Trinity's very first members. Professionally, Sally worked as an LD teacher at the General Rufus Putnam Elementary School here in Zanesville, retiring in 2005.

Following a brief retirement in 1997, I was called to become the stated supply pastor of the Frazeysburg/Muskingum Presbyterian Churches where I served, with Sally's wonderful help, for 12 years only to retire again in 2010.

Between us, Sally and I have five children, nine grandchildren, and 1.5 great-grandchildren. Lisa (Schumacher) Bauer holds a doctorate in Teaching English as a Second Language from U.C.. Currently, she's a tenured associate professor of education at Wilmington College. Karin (Schumacher) Dyke also earned her doctorate in teaching learning disabled students from U.C. and works as an assistant professor of education at Wilmington. James Steven, our youngest, recently graduated with a B.S. degree from the University of California at Berkley. He's working with The Gap in San Francisco. Chris Gaskins holds his doctorate in medicine from U.C., and currently serves as Chief of Emergency Medicine at Hillcrest Hospital near Cleveland. Brady Gaskins earned his Ph.D. degree in university management at Bowling Green University. Currently, Brady works for Findlay University in financial management.

My title for this review is, "Between Yesterday and Tomorrow." Moving on into my eighties, I find myself looking back over what already seems a long and eventful life. Who knows what our future may prove to be? The birth of our first great-grandchild, Aurora Bauer, with now the impending birth of our second great-grand child suggests that whatever our future may be, it will be led and blessed by the same God who so long ago called us to His service.

Kathy Hixson - Pianist/Organist

I was born in Lima, Ohio, the third of four children. My parents worked hard to send us to the Catholic School and provided piano lessons when I turned 7. Although our piano was in the dining room area which was very close to the television room, I was always allowed to practice until my dad went to bed. Thinking back, I should apologize to my siblings. When it was time to sign up for band classes at school, the family had an old trombone that we fixed up, and that is what I played.

I participated in a drum and baton corps and a drum and bugle corps as a musician from a very young age through high school, as well as other school music activities. Then, while attending Bowling Green State University, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education.

My first "real" job was in northwest Ohio in Hardin County at the Upper Scioto Valley Local School District teaching instrumental music 5-12. I stayed there for four years. I was then offered a job at West Muskingum in instrumental music 6-12, including marching band and pep band. I moved to Zanesville knowing no one.

I taught middle school/high school for four more years. During that time I met my husband, Todd Hixson. A position came open (formerly held by Mindy Patterson) at the elementary level, and from that time on I taught only young children. Due to the fact that I taught in all of the elementary buildings in the district, I had 700-800 children per week. I feel blessed to have had a career where I have been acknowledged by students, families and faculty as a positive influence in teaching. I was twice teacher of the year at Dillon and Falls Elementary Schools, Ohio Music Educator of the Year for Elementary Level, and twice recognized by Day Break Rotary. I have had the privilege of working with thousands of children through music.

Todd and I have twin boys, Daniel and Steven. Daniel is a student at The Ohio State University studying communications. Steven is at Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music where he is studying music composition.

After 30 years in the public schools I chose to retire in 2014. During that year, I was asked to play as a church pianist for First Christian Church for their 8:30 service. I found I really liked playing for church and practicing again. I was led to Trinity United Presbyterian knowing you wanted an organist/pianist. I have had limited experience on the organ and have been studying with Jim McLaughlin to learn more about the organ. I am a work in progress when it comes to being a church musician.

830 Military Road       Zanesville, Ohio 43701       740-452-8482