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.

Tim Ryder

Executive Pastor, Church Ministries, Executive Leadership Team

Pastor Tim, Executive Pastor, oversees Church Ministry. He and Pastor Candy Ryder were married in 1977 and have three adult children and nine 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

Executive Pastor, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Leadership Team

Pastor 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 Pastor 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.

Meredith Barnes

Assistant Pastor, Next Gen Ministries

Pastor Meredith is the Assistant Pastor of Next Gen Ministries. She grew up in Grand Rapids and graduated from Northpoint Bible College in 2017. Prior to joining our team, Pastor Meredith served on a church staff as a worship director and spent time ministering overseas with AGWM. She is passionate to see young people grow in their faith and impact their communities for Jesus. She loves music, laughing, and spending time with family and friends.

Jamie Carter

Assistant Pastor, Hospitality

Pastor Jamie is the Assistant Pastor of Hospitality. She grew up in New Mexico and moved to Grand Rapids in 2013 to attend Northpoint Bible College. After graduating in 2017, she became a missionary associate in Ecuador for two years with the Assemblies of God World Missions. Pastor Jamie currently serves on staff at Northpoint Bible College. She is passionate about the local church and seeing it be the best that it can be. She loves spending time with her friends, laughing, and Michigan summers!

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!

John King

Associate Pastor, Groups

Pastor John is the Associate Pastor of Groups. He was born and raised in Southwest Ohio. He and his wife, Aundrea, have attended Grand Rapids First since 2015. He has a passion for getting people connected with others in the body of Christ so that they can grow closer in their relationship with Him. He and his wife are also passionate about the young married couples of Grand Rapids First and long to see marriages reach their full potential in Christ. He loves spending time with his wife and son, enjoying a good cup of coffee, watching sports, and traveling.

Eric Klein-Wassink

Associate Pastor, Connections

Pastor Eric is the Associate Pastor of Connections. Born and raised here in West Michigan, he has been with Grand Rapids First since 2010. He is passionate about seeing people discover, develop and walk out their purpose in life for Jesus. He and his wife, Heather, have three daughters. He loves spending time with his wife and kids, being active outside 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 two kids.

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.

Taylor Murphy

Associate Pastor, Next Gen Ministries

Pastor Taylor is the Associate Pastor of Next Gen Ministries and joined the pastoral staff in 2020. He is originally from Minnesota and loves the snow. He has a heart to see the next generation follow Jesus passionately and find their God-given purpose at a young age. During his free time, he plays sports, enjoys hanging out with friends, and loves connecting with new people. 

Cynthia Palmer

Assistant Pastor, Care Ministries

Pastor Cynthia is the Assistant Pastor of CARE Ministries. She ministered in Tucson, Arizona for 12 years and has a passion for comforting and caring for people. Her and her husband, Scott, have three adult daughters and five grandchildren. Pastor Cynthia enjoys playing tennis, creating artwork and walking her dogs.

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.

Annisa Richard

Assistant Pastor, Children's Ministries

Pastor Annisa is the Assistant Pastor of Children’s Ministries. She has had a heart for Children’s Ministry since she was a teenager. She desires that kids would have a personal relationship with Jesus and experience His love and power in their everyday life. Pastor Annisa joins the team after having served as a Children’s Pastor in Florida for 2 ½ years. She enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Ken Stults

Associate Pastor, Adult and Care Ministries

Pastor Ken is the Associate Pastor of Adult and Care 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 four grandchildren. 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?).

Northpoint Bible College

J.P. Dorsey

President, Grand Rapids Campus of Northpoint Bible College

Pastor J.P. has been leading 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.

Brian Lidbeck

Academic Dean, Grand Rapids Campus of Northpoint Bible College

Dr. Lidbeck has served as the Academic Dean of Northpoint Bible College since 2016 and as a professor since 2013. He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biblical Interpretation and Theology and a Master of Divinity degree from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Dr. Lidbeck spends time writing theological literature. He and his wife Diane enjoy traveling and rockhounding.