Celebration Church Tri-Cities Leadership
Our Board of Elders
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of elders governed individual New Testament churches (Acts 14:23, 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5). A plurality of godly elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scripture’s teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20, 24:6.).
The biblical teaching on the subject of the church offices of elders and deacons is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-15 and Titus 1:5-9. Though there are three terms used for the offices of the church, i.e. bishop, elder, and deacon, a careful analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably. Celebration has a Board of Elders and uses a system of Ministry Team Delegates who serve in the capacity of deacons.
Rod and his wife Terry met in college and have been married for nearly 50 years. They have one son, David, who is married and lives in Knoxville. Rod and Terry have one grandson. Rod’s passion is to help Christians understand how great a salvation we have been given through Jesus Christ. And through our fellowship with Jesus and the Father, to confidently step out in grace and the power of the Spirit to apprehend God’s great calling and amazing plans for our lives. Rod enjoys studying God’s word and sharing His word with others. Rod is retired from Eastman after 28 years of service. His educational background is in mathematics and computer science. Rod’s hobbies include fitness, fly-fishing, and snow skiing.
Saul was born in Venezuela and grew up in NYC & South Florida. As a child Saul had two loves which were sports and the outdoors. As a youth, when he was not playing on a sports team (football, baseball, basketball, etc.) it was not unusual to find him on camping trips with the boy scouts among the alligators in the Everglades National Park. After High School he left Florida to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and received a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. While at Liberty he met Johnna Leonard and they married soon after graduation in 1988. Johnna is a native of Washington County, Virginia. Saul and Johnna have 3 children John, Jesse & Julie. Saul works at KVAT Food Stores on the IT team and along with his family run Mi Tierra farm in Washington County VA.
Jim and his wife, Brenda, met in high school in Newport News, VA and have been married since 1970 (49 years and counting)! They have lived in the Tri-Cities since 1976, and have two grown sons. Chris, and wife Kelly, live in Kingsport; Jason, and wife Lindsay, live in Omaha, NE. They have been blessed with 7 grandchildren ranging in age from pre-school to college.
Before a rewarding 38 year career with Wellmont Health System, Jim served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He is finding retirement very enjoyable, but not to be confused with slowing down. Jim and Brenda relish more flexible time for traveling, taking bike rides, going to concerts, burning up the road with fellow Corvette enthusiasts, and hanging out with family and friends. They treasure time with their grandchildren.
Jim is passionate about seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ and is actively serving as an elder at Celebration Church. Although he no longer works at Wellmont, he has assumed a volunteer position with the chaplaincy ministry at Bristol Medical Center. He enjoys any opportunity to teach, to share his testimony and the Good News of Jesus Christ. He holds a Bachelor of Theology degree from Beacon Theological Seminary.
Bob is a lifelong Kingsporter. He and Lisa have been married for 24 years and have 3 daughters. Josie is at the Naval Academy, Ruthie is at Liberty University and Willa is in high school at Dobyns Bennett. Both Bob and Lisa graduated from Dobyns Bennett and The University of Tennessee. He retired recently and enjoys biking, tennis, carpentry, reading and travel. As a follower of Christ, Bob has grown through small group bible study and several wise mentors since joining Celebration in 2000.
Barry was born in Gadsden AL and raised in Columbia TN. He attended Ouachita Baptist University for two years and graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1964. He and his wife, Linda, have been married since 1961 and have two sons, Ken and Kevin. Barry spent two years on active duty at Ft. Hood, TX, then enjoyed a 31-year career with TN Eastman. He and Linda lead Precept Bible studies. His passion is to see the younger generations catch fire for God and walk in supernatural gifts.
Steve was born, raised, and resides in Bristol, VA. He married his high school sweetheart, Kris, and they have two grown children - Maggie and Levi. Steve is an electrical engineer and is employed by Eastman Chemical Company. He shares his faith through small groups both at work and church and as a volunteer for various ministries within the community and at Celebration. Steve enjoys spending time outdoors backpacking, hiking and playing tennis.
Bert was born in Arizona and grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. While attending Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, he had two encounters that changed the course of his life. First, during his second week of college, God called Bert out of sin and brought him to Christ. Secondly, he met Linda, his future wife and lifelong companion. They were married in 1984 - one year before Bert's graduation from the University of Florida College of Medicine. They have four children: Marilyn (a teacher), Stephen (an attorney), and Joshua and Hugh (both college students).
God directed the family to move to Bristol in 1992, where they still make their home. Bert has practiced orthopaedic surgery in the Tri-Cities for twenty-three years at Appalachian Orthopaedics in Bristol, and more recently continuing with the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
Bert and his family have been at Celebration Church since 2006. His passion in ministry is to see families grow and serve the Lord together. Because of his own experiences, it is his desire to see young people strengthened in their faith as they launch their lives. His philosophy for both vocation and ministry can be summarized in Hebrews 12:12-13: "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for our feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed."
Gert Van Der Westhuizen
Gert hails from Pretoria, South Africa, where he met Marie while in college. They were married in 1985 and have three girls, Tania, Michelle and Amy (and a son, Christiaan, who is with the Lord). They moved to Kingsport in 2002 and have attended Celebration Church since that time. Gert is a radiologist at Holston Valley Medical Center. He grew up in a Christian household. For many years, he thought of himself as a "mediocre believer" but through various trials, especially the death of his infant son, the Lord wooed him into a deeper relationship. Gert's heart's desire is to keep growing in faith with fellow believers and to encourage others to have a deeper walk with Christ.
Michael was born, raised, and now resides in Kingsport, TN. He married his high school sweetheart, Ellen, and they currently homeschool their children, Victoria and Mackinley. Their oldest child, Will, was also homeschooled and is in his final semester at ETSU. Michael graduated from East Tennessee State University with a BS in Chemistry and subsequently earned his doctorate in Biochemistry from Princeton University. Michael works in the pharmaceutical industry. He is active in the children's and youth ministries at Celebration and is passionate about helping young people discover and leverage their strengths to further God's kingdom. Michael enjoys gardening, DIYing, traveling, and teaching.