The Rev. Leslie Bethell Roper has accepted the position as senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hot Springs.
A lifetime Presbyterian, Roper was born and raised in Fort Smith and attended Central Presbyterian Church, a news release said.
After graduating from Austin College with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Religion, Roper spent two years interning in the Presbyterian denomination, first at the Presbyterian United Nations Office in New York City and then at the denomination headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. After finishing her service to the denomination, she enrolled at Columbia Theological Seminary where she received her Master of Divinity, the release said.
After graduating seminary, Roper moved back home to Arkansas where she served as associate pastor for Youth and Children's Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Batesville until 2014, when she was called by that same congregation as their solo pastor.
"Over 15 years of ministry in Batesville, Leslie has grown that congregation in size and in service, ushering in new programming for children and young families and building new mission partnerships in the community. She has also been active in service to the larger church, serving on multiple committees, chairing task forces attending General Assembly, and serving as Moderator of the Presbytery," the release said.
Leslie, her husband, Jeff, and two sons, Daniel and Jordan, will join First Presbyterian, located at 213 Whittington Ave., on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Visitors are welcome. The church does offer a "mask only" section in the sanctuary.