Our Staff

Steve Ezra
Senior Pastor

 

Hometown:  North Judson, Indiana

Family Info:  I’ve been married to Karen since 1990. We met and married while students at Purdue University. (Boiler Up!) I have four children: My oldest, Miriam, graduated from the Honors College at University of South Florida (USF) with a degree in business management and entrepreneurship in May 2017. She is a piano teacher, choir director, and worship director. Miriam married David Cox in 2017. The wonder twins, Elisabeth and Alex, are seniors at USF. Elisabeth is studying health sciences and plans to graduate in December 2018, and Alex is studying finance, marketing, and financial planning, and will graduate in May 2019. Our youngest, Daniel, is a freshman in high school at “the Ezra Academy” (we’ve homeschooled all four of our children). All my children are active and serving in ministry at Aldersgate. We are in a sweet spot of family life right now!

When did you join the staff of Aldersgate?  July 1, 2016.

What did you do before joining Aldersgate?  I’ve served two other United Methodist churches in the Tampa Bay area and two in Northern Indiana over the past 22 years. I have degrees from Purdue University (B.A.), Asbury Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Fuller Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

What do you do for fun?  I’m an antique/classic car enthusiast, starting with my beloved 1929 Ford Model A Tudor. I read voraciously, and I love to travel. Oh—and I’m a die-hard Cubs fan, and I’ve also been known to participate in an adventure race or two. (Where have you gone, Muddy Buddy?)

Favorite books?  Too many to list. It would include The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, and A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Win Bigly by Scott Adams was fascinating, too. Time will tell if it has staying power.

Who has influenced you the most in ministry/life?  My youth pastor (and chemistry teacher) in high school who demonstrated daily what a Christian husband and father looks like. My friend and fellow pastor Mark back in Indiana, who embodies faithfulness and encouragement in ministry. My friend Chris, who reminds me that Christians can have fun and should enjoy life. My colleagues around the table in my Tampa Palms C12 Group meeting, who teach me every month what effective organizational leadership from a Christian perspective looks like.

Connie Carpenter
Children & Family Pastor
 
 
Connie Carpenter is the Director of Children & Family Ministries and has been here for over 8 years. Connie has a wonderful connection with the children here at Aldersgate.  She enjoys spending time with friends, playing board games, going fishing (although she will not eat any kind of seafood) and playing the guitar. Her favorite thing to do is use her vacation time to travel around the states to see friends and family. The mountains are her favorite place to go to relax and spend time outdoors. 
Jeremiah Garrett
Director of Student and Young Family Ministries
 
 

Hometown: Port Charlotte, Florida

Family Info: I married my wife Natalia in 2005, we actually met when we were both in high school in 2001, and worked together at the local K-mart (insert blue light special joke). We have two little boys, Daniel and Samuel. They are two of the greatest blessings in our lives and definitely keep us active. Daniel, our oldest loves fishing, Paw Patrol, and Super Heroes. Samuel loves anything on wheels and following his big brother around, trying to do everything he does. Our family enjoys going to the beach, parks, and spending time together.

When did you join the staff of Aldersgate? I joined the staff at Aldersgate on December 26, 2014. Fun fact,  my first “official” youth event was a New Year’s Eve lock-in where we ended up at the Beach at about 2 a.m.playing steal the Bacon and the police showed up (No one was hurt or arrested).

What did you do before joining Aldersgate? I worked as the Youth/Associate Minister at Christ the Redeemer Church in St. Augustine Florida and before that as the Director of Youth Ministries at Will Rogers UMC in Tulsa Oklahoma. I graduated from Oral Roberts University with my BA degree in 2008, and worked at Home Depot all through college.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy lifting weights in my spare time and fishing with my son Daniel. I can also be found on my day off relaxing at the beach reading a book, or with my wife at the movie theatre watching the latest Marvel release.

Favorite books? Aside from the obvious answer (The Bible), I actually prefer fiction. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz, The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker, Three by Ted Dekker, Blink of an eye Ted Dekker.

Who has influenced you the most in ministry/life? My father in law Peter has been the biggest influence in my life. I started dating my wife about six months after becoming a Christian and for the last 16 years my father in law has been an example of what a Godly man should be, as well as someone who holds me accountable and is always available to offer wisdom and support.

Gary Carruthers
Pastor of Congregational Care
 
 
Our Minister of Congregation Care is a well-traveled fitness enthusiast and sports fan. Gary’s previous career in the US Air Force provides a mix of academic study, leadership training and practical experience. He has lived and worked in all four corners of our country, and in more than six foreign countries. He still plays golf and volleyball, and you will find him on the local running and biking trails. Ask him about his favorite sports teams and how God is working in his life.
Lisa Sebastian
Director of Adult Ministries
 
 

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Family Info: I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Nick, since 1999, just shortly after joining Aldersgate. We have three children, Landon (8), Sydney (10) and Gavin (15). You can find them helping out all over church in various areas such as in the sound booth or in the nursery. And, you can’t miss my daughter, she’s the one with the large stroller pushing her “twins” around.

When did you join the staff of Aldersgate? I first joined the Aldersgate staff on June 1,1999 as the Youth Pastor, then after a few years moved to being the Middle School and Family Pastor until October 1, 2011. After taking some time off to raise my then very young children, I rejoined the staff on October 31, 2016 as the Director of Adult Ministries.

What did you do before joining Aldersgate? Before joining Aldersgate in 1999, I was finishing up my Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministries degree at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. Also prior to Aldersgate, while at Asbury, I served as the volunteer Youth Pastor at Nicholasville Free Methodist Church, worked in the shoe department at Dillards, and played softball with an amazing group of ladies at the school (never mind we lost every game, we had a blast).

What do you do for fun? I love to do Zumba fitness – it’s my fun and my exercise! But, send me out somewhere with a tent, a kayak, or a backpack and I am a very happy girl. Although I love the outdoors, I’m always up for a Star Wars, Marvel, or Hunger Games movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some romance and comedy movies too, like the Notebook and 50 First Dates.

Favorite books? Umm, books, what are books? I have never enjoyed reading fiction (Cliff’s Notes were my friend in high school), but I love to read books relating to life and to ministry. Wonder, Fear and Longing: A Book of Prayers by Mark Yaconelli is a practical prayer guide that drew me closer into communion with my Savior. Fresh Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson was such a breath of fresh air to me years ago that I’m actually reading it again.

Who has influenced you the most in ministry/life? My mom because of her steadfastness to the Word of God throughout my whole life and encouraging us to attend church regularly growing up. I would also have to say the people of Aldersgate who have loved me and my family unconditionally for the past 19 years, and for their faithful witness to the power of prayer.

Chris Robinson
Traditional Worship Leader
 
 
Hometown: Canton, Ohio
 
Family Info: I’ve been married to Harriet for 25 years. Our dog and two are gone now – they were our children. All our parents have passed on, but we have relatives in several states, Canada, Greece, Germany, Italy and Australia. My father, whom I never knew, was a bluegrass musician who died in a plane crash when I was 9. While searching for my half-brother, I miraculously discovered I had a half-sister. She lives in Weeki Wachi. We are still seeking our lost brother.
 
When did you join Aldersgate? April 25, 2018
 
What did you do before Adlersgate? For 12 years I served as Adjunct Professor of Music at Lakeland Community College near Cleveland and 11 years as Music Director at Zion UCC in North Canton. I’ve also worked many years in retail management. I hold a master’s degree in Orchestral and Choral conducting from Kent State University.
 
What do you do for fun? Aside from making music, we enjoy travelling extensively throughout US, Canada and Europe. I’m a Trekkie, possess a massive postcard collection and consider myself an amateur historian – particularly Ancient Rome, Pirates, and World War I. Rarely have I met a restaurant I didn’t like. We are both aficionados of classic films.
 
Favorite books: Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights, The Three Musketeers, The Prisoner of Zenda, Les Miserables.
 
Who has influenced you in ministry/life? My late father-in-law was a great influence in my spiritual life. “Every day you spend time in the Word, Chris, you’ll get a blessing” he often told me. My great-aunt was also influential: faithful, charitable and self-sacrificing. I am always inspired by those who are not afraid to stand up against social and political injustice – regardless of personal risk – in defense of those who cannot.
Bil Shappell
Organist
 
 
Hometown: Baltimore,MD – go Orioles!
 
Family: Perpetually single and not for lack of trying
 
When did you join the staff?: July 2010
 
What did you do before? Contemporary worship team leader and multimedia director for a Lutheran church for eight years, music director/organist for several UMC’s for seven years before that
 
What do you do for fun? White water rafting (rarely), swimming (occasionally), listening to ASMR (frequently), sponsor ten kids in six countries joyfully
 
Favorite books? Philippians, The Prophet, The Remains of the Day, suspense/thriller mysteries, anything by John Steinbeck or Tami Hoag
 
Who has influenced me the most in ministry/life? My mother, Audrey and my friend, Patty Hutton
Diego Posso
Facilities Manager
 
 

Diego Posso is our Facilities Manager at Aldersgate. Diego enjoys dancing, cooking, hunting and fishing. He enjoys travel and loves his family. He has been a member of our team since May 2013.