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.

I find my ministry strongly tied to 3 T's. Teaching. Tools. Transformation. I find joy in modeling in my teaching a disciple of Jesus who wants to understand and obey the Word of God and who invites others to join me in showing allegiance to Jesus Christ. I have found that making tools helps me fulfill my life verse of 2 Timothy 2:2 - "entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." I freely share some of these tools at Whether through direct teaching or equipping through tools, my desire is to create environments that encourage life transformation - helping people become healthy disciples of my Lord.

I enjoy learning new things, woodworking, designing visuals that communicate, sometimes gardening (weeding will never be my favorite), and playing with my grandchildren when we see them.

John Angell - Senior Associate Pastor

I grew up in Iowa where I learned to love the outdoors - especially hunting and fishing - as my dad was a DNR Officer. I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I met Christ during my Senior Year and then graduated with a degree in Business. My first job out of college was in Minnesota with a Pharmaceutical Company, Bristol Myers. Five years later I attended Bethel Seminary, met my wife, Pamela, and graduated with a Master of Divinity. My first pastorate was in Wisconsin, where I served as an Associate Pastor for 15 years. In Wisconsin, Pam and I enjoyed golfing, raising our family and watching the Green Bay Packers. We moved south, to North Carolina, where I served as a Sr. Associate Pastor for 5 years. In 2009, we moved to Big Rapids where I continue to serve as a Sr. Associate Pastor. My job includes the oversight of Church finances, Building and Grounds, some Staff and Ministries.

Patrick Shea - Newaygo Campus Pastor

Responsible for leading, teaching, and shepherding the congregation of Trinity Fellowship at the Newaygo Campus location

Patrick came to Trinity as a Pastoral Resident in 2013, and then joined the Pastoral Staff as Community Life Pastor in 2015, after graduating with his Mdiv. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. When the Trinity | Newaygo Campus launched in 2017, Patrick became the Campus Pastor for that location, and he continues to serve joyfully in that role today.

Patrick and Jenny were married in 2007, and they are blessed with six children: Declan ('09), Kiersten ('11), Hailey ('13), Emmet ('15), Lochlan ('18), and Ayla ('23).

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

As one of the Elders since 2006, I help shepherd and strengthen the people of our church, help supervise the general affairs of our church, help define the policies of our church and its ministries, and help decide board-level decisions.

I've been part of Trinity Fellowship since moving here in 1992 and I became a member in November 1999.

The Holy Spirit drew me into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ at age 18. He has blessed me with a few significant-growth points and several steady-growth times, along with many ups and downs. Laurie & I vowed "I do" in 1983, we live our "I do" in many specific ways, and we have 2 adult daughters and 1 granddaughter. I provided and taught Respiratory Care and basic and advanced life support for many years until I was retired in 2019 by vision impairment disability. I am learning to adapt and find joy, even in what I don't enjoy, and I love helping others to thrive and find joy within their own journey.

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. Once despairing, I have found great hope in Christ. (Ephesians 1:18)

I met my wife on a short-term 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 we love dearly.

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

Been around since late 1986, early 1987

Feel free to say hi. I am the only one at church who wears a green traveler's vest which looks suspiciously like a photographer's or a fishing vest.

Scott Landstra - Oversight Elder

Elder currently leading the Senior Pastor Transition Process.
I have been a member at Trinity since 2018 and an Elder since 2020.
I have been married to my wife Jane since 1978. We have four boys with six grandchildren. In addition to serving as an Elder, I am a Small Group Leader and serve on the Missions Committee. I enjoy lake life and am an active golfer.

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. I enjoy motorcycling, old engine shows, camping and spending time with friends and family. Although an odd hobby, I collect antique chainsaws.

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.

Paul Cole - Elder

Bio coming soon...