Meet Our Staff

Tarra Oppewall

Director of Children's Ministry
E-mail Tarra Oppewall

Tarra lives in Bay Village with her husband Chris and their 3 children, Milan, Noelle, and Tyler, and their dog Jake. Tarra loves working with children, and wants each child in Sunday School to know that God made them, God loves them, and God is always with them. Tarra hopes to create a fun and loving atmosphere at church where children and their families will want to return week after week. Tarra’s door is always open to visits from children and their parents.

Tarra’s degree is in Social Work from Calvin College and her work experience over the last several years is with children in school and church settings.
Tarra loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, reading memoirs, and she is inspired by the work of author Rachel Held Evans and Presbyterian Minister Mister Fred Rogers.

Rick Fortney

Director of Music

Rick grew up in Avon Lake, one block from the church on Cherry Lane, graduating from Avon Lake High School in 1977.  He went to Bowling Green State University earning both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts.  Before moving back to Avon Lake he spent the 80s in New York City pursuing music, theatre and arts administration, serving as the Director of Student Affairs at Manhattan School of Music while being a musician in the off-hours.    In 1990 he moved back home and served as the Director of Worship, Music and the Arts at Bay Presbyterian Church, resigning from there in 1999 to begin TrueNorth Cultural Arts in which he is the Founder, Executive & Artistic Director.  

Rick, his wife Joan, and their ‘Mighty Four’ (cats Luna & Ellie and dogs Sophie & Clyde), live in Avon Lake.  They love music, animals, the outdoors (especially the lake!), and sports (primarily following the Indians and Cavs!).  Joan is a Full Stack Developer, Business Systems for the Cleveland Indians and a musician, playing cello in the TrueNorth Chamber Orchestra.

Rev. Charlie Swartz

Senior Pastor
E-mail Rev. Charlie Swartz

Our pastor, Charlie Swartz, was born and raised a Buckeye in Chillicothe, Ohio. He went to Middlebury College where he met his wife to be, Debbie. After a life changing experience in the Soviet Union, he felt the call to ministry and studied at Princeton Theological Seminary. He worked as a hospital chaplain at the Mayo Clinic  and was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Kasson, MN for nine years. From there he went to Bellevue, WA (a suburb of Seattle) to serve as the pastor of Overlake Park Presbyterian Church for fourteen years. He has been our pastor since  2011 and thoroughly loves serving Christ with this phenomenal congregation in the lee of beautiful Lake Erie. Debbie and he have a wonderful son, Henry born in 2005. They all enjoy their dog “Ford”.  Charlie’s hobbies are fishing, golf, and playing the harmonica and watching any Cleveland sports team, He loves us, Christ, and a good joke.

Cindi Dansizen

Office Administrator
E-mail Cindi Dansizen

Cindi has been a member of Avon Lake Presbyterian Church since 1993.  She has enjoyed working at ALPC since 2005.  She loves spending time with her family.  Cindi is well suited for the job of Office Administrator as she loves meeting with people and taking care of the day-to-day activities of the church.  Cindi is also the bookkeeper of Cornerstone Preschool and enjoys interacting with the children.

Marcy Uhl

Treasurer
E-mail Marcy Uhl

Marcy has been the treasurer at ALPC for 26 years. She has seen the church transition from the days of posting a monthly journal by hand to using current computer technology. Marcy has an accounting degree from BGSU and a CPA designation.  It continues to be Marcy’s pleasure to serve the church as treasurer and to work with this wonderful church staff! 

Julie Erker

Cornerstone Preschool Director
E-mail Julie Erker

Julie believes in educating the whole child and giving every child the best opportunity to learn and grow in an effective and loving environment. Every day is exciting and fun. As a young child, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. When you love what you do, the rewards are endless.

I hold a BA in Early Childhood Education and I am currently working on my Ohio Administration Certification. I began my career working as a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade teacher in the Cleveland School System. I was then fortunate to stay home and raise my three children, Tyler, Makenzie, and Nicolas. Once my children were in school, I had a longing to go back to teaching. I became a Lead Pre-K Teacher at Cornerstone Preschool in 2008 and in 2012, the Director of Cornerstone Preschool.

Hobbies include golfing, decorating, and spending time with my family.