Sam Rijfkogel

Lead Pastor, Executive Leadership Team

Pastors Sam and Brenda Rijfkogel have served at Grand Rapids First since 2006. Pastor Sam’s creative communication style brings a fresh perspective to sound biblical doctrine. His own family’s conversion is a fruitful testimony of world missions outreach and is the foundation of his deep passion for missions. He and his wife, Brenda, lead by example as they serve and love our community. Their greatest joy is spending time with their family.

Tom Gallant

Executive Pastor, Church Ministries, Executive Leadership Team

Pastor Tom Gallant, Executive Pastor, oversees church ministries. He enjoys teaching finance at Northpoint Bible College-GR and was integral in developing the Why is This Happening ministry (WITH) and leading WITH, whyisthishappening.org. Pastor Tom’s favorite verse is Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Pastor Tom enjoys reading, fishing and basketball and loves spending time with his wife, Liz, his three married children and his six grandchildren.

Tim Ryder

Executive Pastor, First Steps, Executive Leadership Team

Pastor Tim, Executive Pastor, oversees First Steps Ministry. He and Pastor Candy Ryder were married in 1977 and have three adult children and six grandchildren. They moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1988. He joined the Grand Rapids First pastoral staff in 1995. Ephesians 4:15-16 is a ministry motivator for him. He enjoys his family immensely and as strange as it may sound, he enjoys working in the yard.

Doug Tuttle

Chief Financial Officer, Executive Leadership Team

Doug became Chief Financial Officer after attending seminary and then spending 17 years in the corporate world, many of which were in executive leadership roles. God brought these two worlds together, bringing Doug to full-time ministry in his current position with the church. He and his wife, Susan, with their three children, have attended our church since 2007. He loves spending time outdoors with his family and, in his spare time, trains, competes in and organizes triathlons.

Sharon Barnsdale

Assistant Pastor, Kids First

Pastor Sharon Barnsdale is the Assistant Pastor of Kids First, overseeing the Wednesday night kids’ministry. After ten years of ministry in Albuquerque, she came back home to West Michigan and joined our staff in 2015. Sharon has a passion to see children actively involved in ministry and loves to hear their stories of reaching out to their classmates and family members. She and her husband, Larry, enjoy traveling, outdoor activities and game nights with family and friends.

J.P. Dorsey

Director, Grand Rapids Campus of Northpoint Bible College

Pastor J.P. has been the Academic Dean of the fully-accredited Northpoint Bible College at Grand Rapids First since 2009. He has a Master of Theology from Mattersey Hall in England. His likes include books and art. His loves include his family and seeing people prepared to fulfill their callings with passion and excellence. He and his wife, Pam, have three boys.

Jonathan Espinoza

Associate Pastor, Hispanic Ministries

Pastor Jonathan is the Associate Pastor of the Hispanic Ministry.  He has been on staff since 2007 and is very involved in preaching, teaching and connecting with the Hispanic community.  He has two adorable daughters.  A favorite activity is family movie night and they enjoy the summer season very much!

Larry French

Associate Pastor, Care Ministries

Pastor Larry serves as the Associate Pastor of Care Ministries, which includes on-call pastoral duties, First Touch Ministries, Shut-in Ministry, Prison/Jail Ministry and emergency hospital visitations.  He and his wife, Eva, began attending Grand Rapids First in 1989. They have been married over 40 years and have three children and eleven grandchildren.  Pastor Larry came on staff in 2007. His greatest joy is ministering to people in their various times of need.  Pastor Larry and Eva enjoy gardening and he enjoys bass fishing.

Reggie Hill

Associate Pastor, Vertical Junior High Ministries

Pastor Reggie is the Associate Pastor of Vertical Jr. High Ministries.  He was born and raised in Metro Detroit and joined the Grand Rapids First family in 2015.  God has given him a deep compassion for the students of this generation and a heart to serve by leading them into a deeper relationship with God.  He has a desire to see the Holy Spirit guide them and impact their lives forever.  In his spare time he enjoys watching movies, playing sports and spending time with people.

Eric Klein-Wassink

Associate Pastor, Vertical Young Adult Ministries

Pastor Eric is the Associate Pastor of Vertical Young Adults Ministry.  Born and raised here in West Michigan, he has been with Grand Rapids First since 2010.  He is passionate about seeing young adults discover, develop and walk out their purpose in life for Christ.  He and his wife, Heather, have two daughters.  He loves spending time with his wife and kids, being active outside, playing sports and watching movies.

Drew McElhenny

Associate Pastor, Worship Arts

Pastor Drew is the Associate Pastor of Worship Arts. Through music and worship, God has gifted him with the passion and ability to usher people of all ages into His presence.  In addition, Pastor Drew’s heart is to see the body of Christ enter into a deeper relationship with God through authentic, radical worship.  In his spare time, he enjoys recording and writing music, and spending time with his wife, Kristin, and their daughter.

Jeremiah Moran

Associate Pastor, Community Outreach

Pastor Jeremiah is the Associate Pastor of Community Outreach.  He grew up in Grand Rapids and has a heart for the city.  He is passionate about reaching the inner city of Grand Rapids with the love of Jesus Christ.  He and his wife, Paula, have four children and love spending time together.

Troy Picou

Associate Pastor, Kids First

Pastor Troy is the Associate Pastor of Kids First Children’s Ministries. He and his wife, Josie, and their two kids have been a part of Grand Rapids First since 2008. Pastor Troy uses his outstanding creative skills to make the Kids First Children’s services an exciting, incredible, one-of-a-kind experience that kids eagerly want to be a part of. His favorite hobbies include sculpting, painting, photography and design.

Candy Ryder

Associate Pastor, Small Groups and Assimilation

Pastor Candy is the Associate Pastor over our Small Group Ministry, Altar Ministry and Hospitality Ministry and is the wife of Pastor Tim Ryder. She has been at Grand Rapids First since 1988 and joined the pastoral staff in 2008.  She loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. She also likes to read, spend time with friends and go for long walks.

Ken Stults

Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries

Pastor Ken is the Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries. He and his wife, Sharon, came to Grand Rapids First in 1996 and joined the pastoral staff in 2015. They have one married daughter and three grandchildren. In addition to serving as a pastor, he is excited to teach preaching, philosophy and New Testament studies at our Northpoint Bible College – GR. Pastor Ken loves to spend time with his family and always enjoys time camping near a lake-any lake!

Kerry Watts

Associate Pastor, Discipleship

Pastor Kerry is the Associate Pastor of Discipleship. He came to Grand Rapids First as a teenager and later joined the pastoral staff in 2001. He and his wife, Bernadette, have four children. In addition to serving as a pastor, he has the joy of teaching systematic theology at our Northpoint Bible College – GR. He enjoys reading, the beach, walks with his wife, Greek food, 80s music, watching his kids play sports and Michigan football (who doesn’t?).

John Zick

Associate Pastor, Vertical Student Ministries

Pastor John is the Associate Pastor of Student Ministries and was born and raised here in West Michigan. He has a passion to develop the next generation of leaders and see them walk and operate in their individual call. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and tennis, and spending time with his wife, Alicia, and their dogs, Royer and Reed.