Welcome to First
Pastor John Blodgett became the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in August of 1993. Pastor believes God very clearly led him and his family to FBC after being contacted about the ministry of FBC. Pastor and his wife Colleen, who is also involved with a number of ministries, have been married since 1973. Pastor Blodgett grew up in Wisconsin ("Go Packers") and then was privileged to pastor near his hometown for 10 years. God has blessed them with four children and their spouses: Becky and Tony Tice; Andy and Jenni; Peter and Nikki; and Philip and Martha. Pastor and Colleen are humbled and grateful that all of their children are serving the Lord in some capacity and that He has also graciously given them 11 grandchildren! John graduated from what is now Cornerstone University. He then went on to do his graduate work and earned masters and doctorate degrees at Trinity Theological Seminary. Pastor loves the people of FBC. He says, "They have blessed me in so many ways as we have grown together in Christ."
Senior Associate Pastor
For the past 13 years, Pastor Byars has been a part of First Baptist Church. Initially hired as the Worship Pastor and is now serving as the Senior Associate Pastor, Phil is originally from Northern California - near San Francisco. "Go 49ers!" Pastor Phil has a BA in Pastoral Ministries from Denver Baptist Bible College and also carries a Certification from the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. He and his wife Robin have been married for 28 years and have three children. Amber, the couple's oldest, is married to Gavin Wilkinson. They have given them their first grandchild, Audrey Lane. Their middle child, James, lives in Elkhart and works for Moryde. Their youngest daughter, Amanda, is married to Davey Blackburn and they are currently starting a church in Indianapolis. So what does Pastor Phil love about FBC? "My favorite thing about FBC, besides the drive into the campus, is the relentless pursuit of, and total reliance upon the truth of God's Word."
Pastor Hills has been a part of FBC for 25 years! Dave is originally from the great state of Iowa, spending the first 26 years of his life in Cedar Falls. He attended the University of Northern Iowa where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in General Science (Pre-Med) in 1982. He went on to attend Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, IN where he and his wife Susan were living when they learned that their pastor from Cedar Falls, Iowa had accepted the Senior Pastor position at First Baptist Church in Elkhart. The couple made the one-hour commute twice a week to attend FBC and became members in January of 1987. For the past 25 years he has served as a member of the pastoral staff, which he began on September 10, 1989. This just happens to be the same day Boris Becker beat Ivan Lendl in the US Open Tennis Championship! Married for 28 years, Dave and Sue have a daughter and two sons: Nicole, Nathan, and Austin. Dave holds a Master of Divinity degree from Grace Seminary and is certified by the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Pastor Hills' favorite part about FBC--the AWESOME PEOPLE! He also wanted to add that he has a "pretty sweet job too!"
God called Matt and his family to move to Indiana from Texas to serve as Worship Pastor of FBC, where he began his ministry on August 1, 2011. Matt and Shari have been married since 1996 and are blessed to have three wonderful children: Michael, Keely, and Beau! Matt grew up living all over the country but calls South Carolina (Matt's family) and Texas (Shari's family) home. Matt graduated from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Pastor Cox has really enjoyed getting to know the wonderful people of FBC. Matt's prayer is for all people to genuinely worship the Lord with gladness and total surrender.
Spanish Ministries Pastor
Pastor Collio and his family arrived at FBC on November 2, 2006 when Francisco and his wife, Lisa were invited to be part of the Spanish Ministry of First Baptist Church. Pastor Collio is Chilean and on May 20th, 2011, he proudly became a U.S. citizen! The couple have two children, Amy (4) and Nathan (2). Francisco is an electrician by profession and had his own company in Chile. From 1999-2001 he studied Theology at Word of Life Argentina. The next two years were spent shadowing his Pastor as he pursued ministry. On December 14, 2003, his hard work paid off as he was ordained to the ministry by the local church and Word of Life. In his spare time, Pastor loves watching TV series with his wife, playing with his kids and spending time with friends. He enjoys playing and watching soccer matches. He also likes to barbecue at home.
Ann Lehman has enjoyed almost 18 years at FBC. She first came to do a youth ministry internship under Dwight Peterson. You can catch her hanging around the newborns and crawlers on Sunday mornings and interacting with the large volunteer nursery staff which she directs. Ann is happily married to Tim, who is also actively involved at FBC. The couple have two children, Grant and Jenna. Originally from Hudson, MI, Ann attended the Word of Life Bible Institute '89 - '90 and studied Psychology/Behavioral Science at Cedarville University until 1993. Ann's favorites about FBC are hearing Truth, corporate worship, intimate fellowship and of course, the babies!
Originally from Philipsburg, PA, Cindy Thornton eventually made her way to Elkhart to join First Baptist Church after meeting her husband Alan, who was raised at FBC. Cindy has been a part of First Baptist for 28 years and on staff for15. Their children are Jessica and son-in-law Adam Cotti, Tyler Thornton and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Mackenzie, Preston Thornton and Mackenzie Thornton. Yes, they will have two Mackenzie Thorntons once their son gets married! Cindy holds a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Liberty University. Cindy appreciates the high priority the Children's and Youth Ministries have at FBC. She also likes the diversity we have in our congregation.
The importance of Bible-based teaching brought Cindy Skaggs to FBC ten years ago. A native of Elkhart, Cindy and her husband Brad, who is also very involved in the childrens' ministry, have three children: Tori (11), Shealey (10), and Travis (8). Cindy earned her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Psychology with a minor in Business from Liberty University. The Bible-based teaching, meaningful praise and worship time, and the wonderful friendships are Cindy's favorite aspects of FBC.
Student Music Ministry Director
David joined the First Baptist family in June of 2011 following his marriage to his college sweetheart, Brooke. He credits God and Jed Long for introducing him to the Elkhart area and FBC. Originally from South Carolina, David earned his B.A. in Worship Arts from Cedarville University in Ohio. So what does he like most about FBC? "Getting real with kids during the week and watching God turn lives around. Oh, and office birthday parties!"
Women's Counseling Director
Deanna Doctor joined the FBC staff four years ago as the part-time Women's Counseling Director. Deanna's hometown is Alston, MI. She was born in the Upper Peninsula of MI and didn't leave there until after graduating from college. While at Northland International University, she earned a B.S. in Elementary Education. Deanna also has a Certification in Biblical Counseling through the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Deanna and her husband have been married for 18 years and have two daughters,13-year-old Linnaya and 11-year-old Alece. Her favorite thing about being at FBC is "having a front row seat to the amazing power of our God at work in changing people's lives and freeing them from their sinful patterns, habits, and practices!"