About Our Staff

Meet Al Garcia, Interim Pastor

Hello Everybody!  My name is AL Garcia. I was born and raised in Chicago, and I’ve been living in Northwest Indiana for the last 10 years now. I became a follower of Christ on July 28, 1988 when a young minister met me on door-to-door outreach and led me to the Lord. Since then, I’ve been passionate about the things of God.

One of the areas that I enjoyed most about serving God was in leading a small group.  It was while leading a small group that I began to sense the call of God on my life as a Pastor. By God’s grace, I was able to start a church with the 20 people from that small group and grow it into a vibrant fellowship of 350 worshippers. I was ordained at New Life Community Church in Chicago and I have been in ministry in one capacity or another for the last 30 years. Currently, I am a member of Lifewell Church in Winfield, Indiana where I serve in the Leadership Development Team.

I am a Certified Professional Leadership Coach and I have my own coaching business where I coach leaders from top companies around the world. I hold a Masters in Organizational Leadership and a Bachelors in Business Administration. 

My wonderful wife Lela and I have 5 adult children and 12 grandchildren. We love worshipping God and serving his people. That’s why when asked to serve at GFCC, and after prayerful thought, we accepted the invitation. We are looking forward to what God is going to do during our time here and we are looking forward to getting to know all of you.

Some random facts:

  • I served as an Investigator for both the City of Chicago and Cook County. 
  • I love dogs. 
  • I like to laugh and make people laugh.
  • I’m energized by seeing people come to know Jesus and watching His church grow. 
  • My favorite verse is: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

Meet Brandon, 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.

Meet Mindy, 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.

Meet Sarah, Communications & Office Manager

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Dillard. I was born and raised Catholic and it wasn't until July 2019 that I felt I needed to step away from Catholicism and try a different path. My path ended up leading me to GFCC. I love working as the Communications and Office Manager for GFCC because I get to express my creativity and connect with people. I feel fortunate God blessed me with this amazing opportunity. Some fun facts about me:

  • I have been married for 14 years to my wonderful husband Tim. 
  • God blessed me with girl/boy twins (Audrey and Ethan) and a younger daughter (Ava). They are my world. 
  • I graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature, Writing, and Film. I went on to pursue my Master of Arts degree in English from Northern Arizona University and graduated in 2015. 
  • I'm originally from Southern Illinois. My family moved up to NWI once I graduated High School. Right after my husband and I got married, we took off to Arizona and lived there for six years. I miss the desert everyday. 
  • Our family loves baseball! We are the most loyal and devoted STL CARDINALS fans you will ever meet. 
  • My favorite Disney character is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I admire her ability to see past what's on the outside and fall in love with someone who is beautiful from within. 

Sarah can be reached at sarah@gfcc.net.