Staff & Elder Bios

Gerhard "Gary" deBock - Senior Pastor

Pastor Gerhard (Gary) deBock was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, and immigrated to Greenville, Delaware, at age four. He committed his life to Jesus Christ in 1973, before his sophomore year in high school, through friends in Hollis Center, Maine. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Kings College in New York, a Master of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

In 1980, he married his wife Kathy, and they enjoy their three grown children: Ben (1984) who married Lyndsay, Rebekah (1987) who married Patrick Rich, and Matthew (1990) who married Katya. They also are finding delight in being grandparents to Patrick and Rebekah's Alena (2014) and Nathan (2017). 

Pastor Gary came to Trinity Fellowship in the summer of 1983 as her first full-time pastor. His personal mission is to “multiply glory to God by equipping change agents, especially through teaching for life transformation.” He has a passion for God’s Word and helping us welcome it into our lives with accuracy, clarity and practicality. He has a heart for the world, partnering with and coaching missionaries and pastors in various places. He enjoys woodworking, restoring old things, reading, computer calligraphy, gardening, taking long walks, enjoying a day at the beach, and helping others have fun on the boat.

John Angell - Senior Associate Pastor

Pastor John Angell was born and raised in New Hampton, Iowa. He graduated from New Hampton High School in 1976, and received his undergraduate degree in Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in 1980.

At the age of 21, in the spring of 1979, Pastor John received Christ as his Lord and Savior. After graduating from UNI, Pastor John went to work for Bristol Myers as a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep in Mankato, MN. During that time, his walk with Christ deepened, he got involved in the youth ministry of his church, and received a call to study at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree in 1989.

Upon graduating from Bethel, Pastor John served as an Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries in Appleton, Wisconsin for 17 years; he then moved to North Carolina and served as a Senior Associate Pastor overseeing the multiplication of small groups and ministry staff. After 5 years in North Carolina, the Lord answered years of prayer, and moved John and his wife, Pamela, to Big Rapids where they enjoy spending time with Pam’s family less than an hour away.

Pastor John met Pam on the campus of Bethel University during his studies as a seminarian. They dated for several years and were married in 1988. Together they have been blessed with seven wonderful children and two dogs. Pastor John enjoys working on a variety of different projects around the house, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, fly fishing, and watching his children participate in sports and musical events.

Patrick Shea - Newaygo Campus Pastor

Patrick was raised in Big Rapids, MI and grew up at St. Peter’s Lutheran church and school through 8th grade. Patrick gave his life to the Lord just before 3rd grade while attending summer camp at Spring Hill in Evart, MI.  Just before high school his family made Trinity Fellowship their new church home. The time spent at Trinity, especially in the youth and adventure programs, was very formational for Patrick.

Patrick went on to study aviation at Western Michigan University with the intention of serving the Lord through missionary aviation someday. While at Western he met his wife, Jenny, and served for four years doing relational high school ministry with Young Life. Upon graduation, Patrick and Jenny were married and joined a Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission. Upon completion, Patrick sensed that his calling was more along the lines of relational and pastoral ministry, and so he took a position as a Young Life Church Partner in Grand Rapids, MI, where he served as youth director for five years, while also working toward his Master of Divinity degree at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

Patrick and Jenny now have five four children and they are excited to be in Newaygo County serving the Lord and His people at Trinity Fellowship|Newaygo Campus. Patrick loves getting to know new people, so be sure to stop by the Newaygo campus sometime and say hi!

Scott Barger - Worship Pastor

Pastor Scott was raised in the Detroit area where at an early age he gained a love of music and for the Lord through participating in the music ministry of The Salvation Army. Playing cornet and singing in several groups while growing up, he received Christ as is savior in 1979 at a Salvation Army Music Camp.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Music Education (BME, 1990) degree from Central Michigan University with both Instrumental Education & Trumpet Performance Majors and Choral Education & Vocal Performance Minors. Scott also holds a Masters Degree from The University of Nebraska in Public Administration (MPA, 2000) with emphasis in non-profit management and strategic planning and development. Scott also is currently working on his Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from Northpark Seminary.

With more than 25 years of ministry experience in YFC, youth, college students, Christian Camping and music and worship arts ministry, Scott and his family moved to Big Rapids area in 2005 to serve as the President of Cran-Hill Ministries / Cran-Hill Ranch. Upon their arrival he began attending and serving in the worship ministry at TFC. Today, Pastor Scott currently serves as both the Worship Pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church and leads the ministry of Cran-Hill, fulfilling both of his deep loves and ministry callings.

Pastor Scott met his wife, Theresa (also an accomplished musician) in the music department at CMU as well as in a college Christian singing group called New Life Singers. They have been blessed with three children. When not involved in music or camp, Scott enjoys speaking, strategic planning, hunting (particularly upland game bird), golfing, coaching soccer, camping with his family and working around their hobby farm with his wife.

Jim King - Oversight Elder

I was a pretty nutty kid right from the get-go and became “well acquainted” with each of my school principals. My high school cross-country team voted me the team squirrel. My mother was amazing at helping me evaluate things and find solutions. My dad taught me to pay attention to detail and to serve others, particularly the elderly and widows. I mowed lawns and shoveled snow for 6-8 widows and enjoyed sitting and visiting with these folks. I am a Respiratory Therapist at our hospital in Big Rapids and teach the same as an adjunct at FSU. I also teach basic and advanced life support courses.

Growing up, we went to church as a family. I learned that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but I didn’t really see what that had to do with me. I thought I was a pretty good kid and that being good enough was good enough. Mike invited me to AWANA and Sunday evening services at his church. This, along with a TV message I later heard at age 17, made me hungry for a genuine relationship with God. In my search, I bought a book that helped me see God’s desire for a relationship rather than a religion. This book guided me to receive Jesus as my Savior at age 18.

I am especially motivated by Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:16, “Do you love me? Take care of my sheep.” Therefore, I seek to live my love for Jesus by taking care of His sheep. The Holy Spirit has equipped me with gifts for teaching, counseling, encouraging, shepherding, and serving.

My wife, Laurie, our daughters, Angie and Kayla, and I moved to town in 1992. We immediately found in Trinity Fellowship everything we were wanting in a church. Laurie and I joined membership not long afterward. Laurie has been an Administrative Assistant in the office since 1999. I oversee Care Ministries since 2003 and have been an elder since 2005.

I can’t imagine wanting to be with anyone more than I want to be with Laurie and our daughters. We love spending time together, playing games, going to beaches, and camping. Laurie and I walk-and-talk as often as possible, ride our bicycles, and search for new trails to hike, especially to mountain vistas. I am re-energized by music, worship, and time in God’s Word.

Toby Vance - Oversight Elder

As a college freshman, I despaired of finding meaning and purpose in life. However, the Lord strategically placed a young Christian man down the hall that befriended me and pointed me to Christ. Since that time, the Lord has been teaching me to forsake my own self effort and pride and to trust Him to the uttermost.

I met my wife, Marla, at a church in the Detroit area and by our mutual involvement on a mission trip to Brazil. She is the most kind, generous and hospitable person anyone could know. I count myself fortunate to be married to this godly, lovely woman. We have four children that love Jesus and are seeking His will for their lives.

I homeschool our four children and enjoy that immensely. I also love teaching Sunday school, leading a small group and encouraging those who I meet in their faith and walk with the Lord. If my kids are not participating in soccer – which seems rarer lately – then I enjoy walking the dog, reading and gardening.

My desire is that we realize that we are “Called into fellowship with His Son.” (1 Cor 1:9) Also, I want all believers to pursue spiritual maturity, and “To proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col 1:28)

Bill Routley - Oversight Elder

I, my six brothers and three sisters were born in Big Rapids and lived here all my life. 6 brothers and 3 sisters. I have lived here all my life teaching at FSU for 33 years, 5 years at a high school in this area and in Singapore 1 year. My wife, Sharon, and I have been together through it all for over 58 years. We have three grown children.

I accepted Christ and was baptized at age 13. Since I was not in a Christian family and received no encouragement, I did not pursue a Christian lifestyle until getting married to Sharon and having 2 children. We committed our lives to Christ together and have grown in our faith ever since.

I believe my gifts are in the areas of helps and compassion. I tend to thrive on helping others and being involved in missions in our immediate area and around the world. I also like the opportunity to pray with people and counsel during times of grief.

We have been attending since 1994 and became members shortly afterward.

I watch NASCAR whenever I can and spend time with our grandchildren. Sharon and I walk and travel a LOT. We have great spiritual conversations and do various Bible oriented studies and read good books. I also enjoy working on vehicles!

Dennis Chitwood - Oversight Elder

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and moved a total of 28 times from birth through graduation from high school. My father left us when I was 6 months old and my mother raised me in Central Indiana. Through a number of circumstances during my childhood I learned not to trust and therefore I sought and tested out genuineness in both relationships and my religion. Soon after my mother began attending the same church that I was attending, I rejected Christ as I wanted nothing to do with what I perceived as hypocrisy.

Making destruction out of my life, I came face to face with the claims of Christ and became a believer and Christ-follower at 17. Were it not for His work in my life, it is very safe to assume that I would be dead, continuing and leaving a legacy of despair. But, because of Christ I have purpose and gifts unspeakable that I do not deserve! There are three major influences in my life that have shaped me into who I am.

First and foremost is my relationship with Jesus Christ in whom I am indebted for all that I am and have. He has blessed me through relationships and opportunities that I never would have dreamed possible. Second, he has blessed me with my wonderful wife, Ingrid, as we have marked over 30 years of our exciting journey together. My children are also a great blessing as in a large sense God has gifted me with a family that I never experienced through childhood. Third is a career in the military that God used to shape my passion and world view. Recently I retired my service, even though I continue to have a great passion and opportunity for military ministry.

Through all of these influences in my life I have learned that it is not simply about what I do in ministry or work, rather it is simply about my relationship with Christ and how this spurs me on to love my brothers and sisters and to have a passion for the lost. God has blessed me to be able to enjoy what I do full-time as I have partnered with Steve Wheeler, a fellow elder, in my own work counseling high-risk youth and their families. I also enjoy camping, traveling and spending time together with my family in God’s creation.

Joe Gardner - Oversight Elder

Bio coming soon...

Scott Landstra - Oversight Elder

Bio coming soon...

David VanAlstine - Elder

I have lived my entire life in Grant Center, a small community northeast of Big Rapids. As a child I attended a one room schoolhouse for 3 years. When it closed, I started taking the bus to public school in town. I attended a little country church a half mile down the road from where I lived. This is where I grew up getting to know God.

This is also where I first met Kelley, a young girl at the time. Later, we began dating. We have now been married for 35 years with 4 children and 6 grandchildren. We still live in Grant Center. I love to see my grandchildren playing in the same dirt that my grandfather, father, and I, myself played in! In 1978 I began my career at the local John Deere dealership. I began as a technician and now, almost 40 years later, in sales. Talking with people allows me to share my faith and encourage other men. I have known who God is my whole life. But it wasn’t until November 1995, while at a men’s retreat, that I really met Jesus and asked Him to be my Savior and the Lord of my life.

In 2003, we started “visiting” Trinity Fellowship Church. We quickly felt at home and spiritually fed here. Membership felt important and then God called me to adult baptism.

I love to spend time with my children and grandchildren. In my free time, I enjoy camping and any excuse to ride my motorcycle.

Steve Wheeler - Elder

I was born in Seattle, Washington, and spent the first 25 years of my life there. With my parents, older brother and sister, I attended an Evangelical Covenant Church where I became a Christ follower at age 10 or 11. While helping my parents clean the church my family attended, I became overwhelmingly aware of my utter sinfulness and the complete holiness of God. The power of that contrast brought me to pray for the forgiveness of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. I had an immediate visceral confirmation of the application of the righteousness of God (i.e. I felt great relief from the burden of my unrighteousness before God). As often is the case, I was unaware of the true impact of that event until later.

My adolescence and young adulthood was a mixed bag of vacillating between a true commitment to the teachings of Christ and doing "my own thing". I never went through the typical "rebellion" but it was more just simple selfishness – I wanted to run my own life and not necessarily with reference to God’s Word or His will. There were a number of events in my life that reconfirmed Jesus’ love and grace towards me but also my need to follow Him. Their combined effect was to launch me both into adulthood and a growing maturity in Christ.

Drawn together by our mutual love of the outdoors, traveling and creating adventures, I married Vicky in 1979. After a 3 year stint employed as a forester and 3 years at seminary, we came to Trinity Fellowship in 1984. Through the gifts of encouragement and discernment demonstrated by others at Trinity, I was led by God to become an elder in the 1980's. Since then I have been able to pursue my passion for creating contexts where people grow and are changed for their good and God’s glory. This includes my ministries within Trinity but also my business (with another elder, Dennis Chitwood) as a mental health therapist/counselor.

I find great joy watching others learning and overcoming obstacles in their lives and becoming all they were meant to be in Christ.