Elders are called and chosen to lead a local body of believers. Our elders protect and lead Warsaw Community Church by:
- Ensuring that the Bible is taught accurately and clearly.
- Overseeing the spiritual health and growth of the church.
- Managing the church with directional guidance and decision-making authority. Growing in their own faith and thus setting the example of what it means to be a Christ-follower.
- Encouraging and providing accountability to the Senior Pastor.
Each elder commits to serve in this role for three years, with the option of renewing at the end of his term.
To learn more about elders, their role in the church, and the qualifications to serve as an elder, we encourage you to study the following passages: Acts 20; 1 Timothy 3; 1Timothy 5; and Titus 1:6-9.
Denny gave his life to Christ in 1979, “after living for myself for 21 years.” While he was at Ohio University on a baseball scholarship, getting his Bachelor’s degree in Communications, he sensed God’s call into ministry. He went on to get his Masters of Divinity from Ashland Theological Seminary. After beginning his ministry in Dayton, Ohio, he and Cookie then moved to Indiana to serve at a local church. Together with some friends, Denny started Warsaw Community Church in 1993. As senior pastor, he holds the primary responsibility for teaching at WCC. He and his wife Cookie have three grown children: Jacob (Lynn) Wilson, Nate (Amber) Wilson, Kaitlyn (Cameron) Gerst
Hero: his Father-in-Law
Favorite Movie: Gladiator
Hobbies: skiing, biking, & hockey
Childhood Dream: to be a pro baseball player
Todd accepted Christ at a youth conference when he was sixteen, "but it was after high school while working on a tow boat on the Mississippi River that I began to grow in my faith." Todd met Karen a few years later, and after their marriage, they finished missionary training. In 1995 WCC sent them out as missionaries to Papua New Guinea, where they spent 15 years working with the Maleu people. "Through God's grace, we saw several churches established, elders appointed, and the fruit of new birth apparent in countless lives."
Over the last few years Todd has transitioned from leadership training with New Tribes Mission into his current WCC staff role as Co-Senior Pastor. Todd is responsible for leading and guiding the staff and congregation at WCC, as well as overseeing development and roll-out of discipleship training, and equipping leaders and teachers, as part of our discipleship strategy. He also serves on the weekend teaching team. Todd and his wife Karen have four children: Cameron (Kaitlyn) Gerst, Frani, Maryl and Hayden.
Hero: His dad
Hometown: Oakville, Iowa
Favorite Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Scott trusted Jesus as Savior while he was in elementary school, “but didn’t start giving Him control until my junior year in high school,” when a man named John began discipling him. Scott has followed in John’s footsteps and loves to come alongside others and watch God work in their lives.
With WCC since the beginning, Scott oversee's several ministry areas as the Pastor of Operations and helps lead our discipleship initiatives. Both of these positions give him a front-row seat to see God’s work. He and his wife Julie have four children: Kensey, Hailey (Luis) Flores, Drew (Mallory), and Ellie.
Childhood Dream: To Climb Mount Everest
Alma Maters: Clarinda High School, Iowa and Taylor University
Hobbies: Anything with “mountain” in the title
What You May Not Know: Got kicked out of choir his freshmen year of high school
Rich gave his life to Christ when he was nine years old at the end of a Boys Brigade (think Christian boy scouts) meeting. As Rich says, he was “mostly a ‘do’s and don’ts’ kid and adult, but WCC allowed me to see and pursue a relationship with Christ that was personal and intimate.” Rich loves to give money away with a purpose, which he gets to do through his work at K21.
It is Rich’s prayer that “the body of WCC becomes selfless and lives for God and others more than themselves.” Rich volunteers for Creative Arts and as a teacher for Adult Ministry classes. He and his wife Kathy have two children: Kristi (Luke) Helm and Nick (Anne) Haddad.
Hero: Abraham Lincoln – “someone who obviously had shortcomings and wasn’t inspirational along the way, but was committed to purpose and stood strong for what was right, in spite of the opposition, what was popular, or what was easy”
What You May Not Know: Won a U-93 dance contest back when they would show up at high school dances (“during my funky music phase!”)
Dennis has attended WCC since its beginning, drawn to it by the people, relationships, and evidence of the Holy Spirit. He has his degree in Business and Economics from Manchester College, and works at Zimmer Biomet. Outside of serving at WCC, he also volunteers for various civic activities.
As someone with the gift of discernment and a background in finances and investments, Dennis recognizes the elders’ responsibility to ensure that church resources are used in a way that is honoring to God. Dennis has been an elder since 1999. He and his wife Kris have two sons: Evan and Ryan.
Favorite Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life
Hero: My dad – a person with high integrity, honesty, hard work, and respect for people.
Hobbies: Golf, investments, Indianapolis Colts, and spending time with family
Jonathan asked Christ to be his Savior when he was five years old. From junior high school through young adulthood, God continually drew Jonathan to Himself, “though I often wanted to wander away…. Finally, I knew that I wanted to stray from Him no longer, and He faithfully drew me close and has held me close ever since.”
Jonathan has served as an elder since 2005. It is his prayer that “we can serve together as one to reach those around us by showing Christ’s love to our community.” Jonathan and his wife Holli have two children: Kate and Reese.
Favorite Music/Band: Toto and Floyd Elsewhere
Mentors: “My dad was a great example of a faithful, hard-working, God-honoring man. My father-in-law, Dave Durham, is a great example of how to live generously.”
What You May Not Know: Studied in Grenoble, France, during college
Involved at WCC for nearly 20 years, you may recognize Brandon from the weekend worship band, where he has played drums since 1998. He also served in student ministries for over 10 years. Most recently he and his wife Angie started WCC’s Adoption Support Group in 2015, which they continue to lead – helping equip and encourage anyone that has been impacted by or would like to pursue some form of orphan care, including; foster families, adoptive families, and adult adoptees. Brandon and Angie have four children: Jacob, Wendy, Liza, Yohannes
Hobbies: Camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains, playing drums, fishing, hunting, reading, and just generally being with my wife and kids.
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump. Absolutely, without a doubt, the best movie ever made!
Favorite Quote: “I always thought the most powerful weapon in the world was the atomic bomb. I’ve changed my mind. The most powerful weapon in the world is not the bomb. The most powerful weapon in the world is the truth.” -Andrei Sakharov, the physicist who gave the former Soviet regime the atomic bomb
Raised as a “PK” (preacher’s kid), Mark wanted to connect with God from an early age. “At times in my life, though, I got ‘off track.’ God doesn’t abandon us or give up on us. Especially in more recent years, He has drawn me ever closer. My greatest desire is for Him to pull me tighter and tighter until the time when we’re face to face.”
Mark has attended WCC from the start, drawn to the mindset to hear and follow the Spirit’s leading. As a people-person, he enjoys volunteering as a greeter. He also occasionally helps with set up/tear down for church events. Mark and his wife Karen have two adult children: Melanie Vanlaningham and Robert (Bob) Swinger.
Hero: My dad – “He truly loved God and people, and he lived it out.”
Hobbies: tinkering, music, reading, people
Favorite movie: The Villain
EJ accepted Christ at an early age. His Sunday school teacher picked him up to go to church, since no one else in his family attended. Drawn to WCC because of the gracious nature of those who were already part of the church, he started attending in 1994. EJ joined the staff in 2002 as Pastor of Community Care. He now works with Adult Ministries and Small Groups, teaching and coming alongside others to help them grow in their faith. EJ has three Master’s degrees: Theology, Counseling, and Business Administration. He and his wife Peggy have three adult children (Scott, Dave, and Tammy) and nine grandchildren.
Hero: “My wife – her consistency in the Word of God and her love for people.”
What You May Not Know: Former sky-diver
Favorite Quote: “There is never nothing going on… God is always at work.”
Growing up with parents who taught and read him the Bible, Ted has known Christ as his Savior since a child. After going through a period of rebellion as a teenager, he committed his life to Christ when he was about 30 years old. He came to WCC in 2006, drawn to the First Wednesday services we once held.
Trained in science, Ted enjoys working with others on fascinating projects, something he got to do at Zimmer. He desires to help others learn and study God’s Word, and is excited to serve the church as an elder. Ted and his wife Judy have two adult children, Michael and Amy (Chris) Lowman.
Favorite Book: novels by Patrick O’Brien
Inspired by: “the amazing way that God’s Word speaks to us today and how it all goes together to deliver a message to mankind”
Hobbies: fly fishing in Western rivers and streams, camping