GFCC leadership

The staff and leadership here at GFCC is comprised of men and women who love, care and pray for every single person in the church. If you have any questions for any of our staff, feel free to reach out and email them or call our church office to speak with them. You can contact the church office at office@gfcc.net.

  • Brandon rukes | Associate Pastor

    My name is Brandon Rukes, and I am the Associate Pastor here at GFCC. What does that look like? In a major part, my job breaks down into two main categories... worship & groups.


    I consider myself to be more than just the guy on stage, but the lead worshiper. This is because I fully believe that it is my great opportunity and responsibility to bring people into God's presence on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning (or any other time we meet), and realize that I am merely a fellow brother in Christ, coming alongside you to worship.


    I also consider myself to be more than just the groups director, but a fellow brother in Christ who is in the same boat as you are. I find it so important to get involved in a Connection Group because life transformation happens best when you're growing with friends together.


    I look forward to chatting with you before or after a service, or sometime during the week to get to know you better. But in the meantime, here are a couple things to know about me:

    • I am married to a beautiful woman, Celina, who helps challenge me to always do better.
    • I have two beautiful daughters, Bella (3), and Anna (1)
    • I have lived in Griffith nearly all my life, and I have been attending GFCC since I was enrolled in the God, Me, & ABC Preschool.
    • I have two cats, Merlin & Sargent Fluff.
    • I graduated with a degree in Accounting & Finance.
    • My favorite Disney Character would have to be Genie from Aladdin. 

    Brandon can be reached at brandon@gfcc.net.

  • Mindy Sarlea | Children's Director

    My name is Mindy Sarlea, and I am a lifelong resident of Hammond. I have a husband named Jon and one daughter named Leilani. I graduated from Purdue University Calumet (now Northwest) in 2004. I teach middle school language arts in Hammond. I have worked in children's and youth ministry at the First Christian Church of Lansing, Impact Christian Church, and Connect Christian Camp and Retreat Center. I have been active at GFCC for about two years now, and I am looking forward to getting to know all of you.


    Other facts about me:

    • I love dogs. You can always show me pictures and videos of your dogs.
    • My favorite vacation is a cruise. I am partial to cruising with Royal Caribbean International, and my favorite port is Curacao.
    • I drink my coffee black.
    • My favorite season is summer, followed by Christmas.
    • My favorite place to be is around a campfire singing worship songs.
    • I love watching old TV shows. Some of my favorites are The Golden Girls, Full House, and The Brady Bunch.
    • I cannot stand onions or mayonnaise.
    • My favorite Disney character is Baloo because he's so carefree.
    • My favorite book of the Bible is James.

    Mindy can be reached at mindy@gfcc.net.

  • Tyrin Whyte | Youth & Outreach Pastor


  • Noah Garcia | Weekend Experience Assistant


GFCC ELDERSHIP

In addition to our staff, we have strong men of faith involved in making sure this church reaches as many people as possible for Christ. Without their volunteer leadership, it would not be possible.

  • jon sarlea, chairmain

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  • albert garcia

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  • john hageman

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  • tony martinez

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  • bob rukes

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  • Jeff blaesing, elder apprentice

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  • dave rubottom, elder apprentince

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gfcc ministry leaders

  • ladies ministry | denise kelley

    Hi my name is Denise Kelley. I have been married to my husband Dennis for 39 and 1/2 years. I have two grown children and two grandchildren who bring great joy to your life. We have been attending GFCC since 2012. I love a good cup of coffee and visiting with friends. I enjoy listening to all types of music, and watching old movies. Being a part of this wonderful church family has helped to love God deeper, and to share him with others. I have been the Women’s ministry leader for the last 7 years.

  • elder-berries ministry | melissa rothchild

    My name is Melissa Rothchild. I live in Griffith. I am married and have 3 grown sons. I am a two time cancer survivor. I have been a member of GFCC since 2004. I have been the ministry leader for the Elder-berries since 2005.

  • hospitality ministry | Jeff Blaesing

    Jeff began his hospitality experience when he ran a Bed & Breakfast in North Carolina. Taking care of customers and ensuring their stay was wonderful was his job daily. Jeff moved on to running various restaurants dealing with customer service and restaurant roll-outs. Aside from company directives, Jeff planned meals, hired employees & dealt with hospitality daily. Jeff joined a plumbing company in NWI in 2007, and rose to the ranks of Operation Manger of the company. Jeff handles all company calls, service and accounting.

  • new elliott ministry center | brenda baker

    Hi everyone! My name is Brenda Baker. I was born and raised in the Hammond/Calumet City area. I have one son, Bryan, his wife Christina, and three beautiful grandchildren, who are my life. I retired from NIPSCO/NiSource in 2010 after 39 years of service. I retired again from Crown Point Community School Corp. in June of 2020. I graduated from Purdue Calumet (now Northwest) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision in 2003.


    I started attending GFCC in March 3 years ago. Prior to that I attended Suncrest Christian Church in St. John. At Suncrest I was very involved with Children’s Ministry. After attending GFCC for several months, I decided I was missing serving at my church, so became involved in child care at GFCC. While still working, I continuously saw the need for volunteers during the day, during the week, at the Ministry Center. I new that after I retired (once again) that my heart would take me there. When the Pandemic closed the schools and churches, but not the Ministry Center, I immediately became involved. God led me there with my heart full of wanting to help. On the day that we were informed that the Deaconess of the Ministry Center was leaving immediately, God led me to say yes to the challenge of keeping that Ministry going. So since then, a team of absolutely awesome volunteers and myself are determined in our hearts and with Gods help, to continue feeding hungry people in our area. Believe me, it has been a challenge, but loving (almost) every minute of it. I am proud to be a volunteer for such a great Ministry, and will continue to be so as long as my old body, and our glorious God, will let me.


    Some Facts about me:

    • I was 40 years old when I started college, and 50 years old when I graduated.
    • I have retired twice, and work harder now than ever.
    • My son and his family are the most important people in my life, and that is my most enjoyable time, every minute I get to spend with them.
    • I also love dogs, but purposely keep moving in to places that don’t allow pets because my life is too busy to care properly for one, so I just enjoy other people’s pets. (If you ever need a pet sitter, I’d love to!)
    • I tend to get a bit edgy when I’m stressed. Just ask my volunteers. So sorry peeps.
    • I really, really, really dislike mustard, lemon/lime, roast beef.


  • Global Outreach | Jerri Burriss

    Jerri Burriss is the Deaconess of Global Missions. Jerri became a Christian in 1962 at the Cedar Lake Church of Christ. She joined the First Christian Church of Dyer in 1978 and served on the missions team there from 1980 until the church closed in 2017. She was the head of the missions team from 2007 to 2017. She has a true passion for missions. She has served on the missions team here at GFCC since 2019, which is the same year she became a member here.


    Jerri worked in HR at Inland Steel for 32 years until her retirement in 2002. She

    then went to work for the American Cancer Society and as a property manager

    for AHEPA (a non-profit home for low-income seniors) until she retired for real in

    2017.


    While having no children of her own, she has “stolen” lots of her friends’ kids. :)