Our Praise Team

We are extremely blessed here at Highland to have a unique and powerful praise ministry.  Our praise team vibrantly leads our worship services every Sunday, as well as special services.

The praise band includes piano, keyboard, brass, guitar, and percussion instruments.  The vision statement of this ministry is to have an anointed, vibrant, continually expanding worship team comprised of vocalist and instrumentalist who strive for excellence.  The team live lives to honor Our Lord and can lead the congregation in worship that brings glory to God.

We are also blessed to have our children love to use their voices and talents to sing praises to Jesus.  Under the direction of Karmin Dando, our children will on occasion bring their gifts to our services.  The children bless us with songs of joy and worship, as well as always bringing a smile to everyone's faces.

Praise Team
Left to Right around the piano. Shaddai Kinney, Maura Fornataro (Music Director), Alexis Gilghrist, Stephanie Holt, Sue Keely (Bell Choir Director), Bill Stroia, Tom Schaffner, John Gibbons, and Bill Coates.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
Psalm 104:33



Shout with joy to God, all the earth!  Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious!  All the earth bows down to you; They sing praise to You, they sing praise to your name.
Psalm 66:1,2,4

Maura Fornataro - Director


From the tender age of six, Maura embarked on her musical journey, immersing herself in organ, piano, and voice lessons that became the soundtrack to her childhood. Her passion for music was unwavering, leading her to obtain a Bachelor of Music degree from Duquesne University after initially attending Westminster College for her first two years. A significant influence in her life has been Dr. Raymond Ocock, who has mentored her since the 10th grade and guided her toward a career in sacred music.

In Florida, Maura and her husband Mike became deeply involved at the Tree of Life Christian Center, where Maura received mentorship in worship leading from Pastor Jennifer Sandy, a close friend. Jennifer's guidance and the impactful book "Called, Appointed, Anointed" steered Maura toward a lifelong dedication to worship ministries.

After relocating back to New Castle in 1993, Mike and Maura actively participated in various church ministries. In July 2012, Maura felt divinely called to Highland Presbyterian Church, where she gratefully accepted a role overseeing Worship and Music Ministries.

Maura is married to Michael, an extraordinary and talented partner who is also deeply committed to Highland. He serves on the Session, Finance Committee, and leads the Sound and Media Ministries. Michael is her steadfast support and cherished companion. Together, they have two wonderful children, Michael and Mariah, who are now young adults pursuing their own careers. Highland remains their spiritual home whenever they visit.

Maura finds immense joy and fulfillment in serving at Highland Presbyterian Church. She feels profoundly blessed to work under the anointed leadership of Pastor Richard Kinney and alongside a congregation that shines as a beacon in their community.

To those considering a new church home, Maura warmly extends an invitation: "Highland is a place where you can come as you are, discover and experience an abundant life in Jesus Christ, be blessed, and become a blessing to others. It is a community where you can help build God's kingdom on earth until Jesus returns."

In Christ's peace,
Maura Fonataro

Maura Fornataro - Praise Team Director.

Highland Presbyterian Church Praise Team