West Shore Free Church is a congregational church. This means that ultimate governing authority, under God, resides in the congregational members. The members delegate the ultimate leadership of the church to the elders, elected on a yearly basis. The elders, most of whom are laymen, in turn, delegate the day-to-day operation of the church to the pastoral staff and oversee the staff’s fulfillment of the mission and goals of the church. The Senior Pastor and the Executive Pastor are the only staff members who serve on the Board of Elders. The Elder Board is responsible for guarding doctrine, setting directions and exercising discipline in the church.
An elder at West Shore Free Church must be a male member of our church.
While no one is perfect, an elder consistently exhibits in his life and character the Biblical profile of a spiritual leader as identified by Paul in I Timothy and Titus:
Timothy 3:1-7: Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. NIV
Titus 1:5-9: The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. NIV
Mark Blanchard, Chair
John Nesbitt, Vice Chair
Joel Gordon, Secretary
Dave Mills, Treasurer
Dave and his wife Joy were married in 1987 and after completing his engineering degree, they moved from upstate New York to Pennsylvania. They currently reside in Dillsburg and have been attending the church since 1990. Over the years Dave has served as a Fellowship Group Leader, a Junior/Senior High Life Group Leader, an Elder and is also currently co-leading a bible study at his place of employment, TE Connectivity. Dave and Joy have been blessed with three adult children, a daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and four awesome grandchildren. Dave is an avid outdoorsman and is continually fascinated by the beauty and complexities of God’s creation.
Mark and his wife Renee have been attending the church since 1997. Currently, Mark serves as a teacher and leader for the ABIDE fellowship group. After working as a teacher and a high school principal, Mark currently serves as a district administrator for the Cumberland Valley School District. Mark and Renee live in Mt. Holly Springs with their four children – Matthew, Ellie, Taryn, and Tyler.
Joel and his wife, Rachel have been married since 1985 and are the parents of young adults, Joshua and Jenna, who reside in Indiana and Virginia respectively. Joel has been a member of West Shore since 1983 and a LifeGroup leader for more than twenty-five years. A retired federal employee, Joel currently serves on the LifeGroup Leadership Team, as a facilitator in Tapestry fellowship group, and in the Cumberland Pointe food distribution and tutoring programs. Joel and Rachel also serve on support teams for Courage to Care and Foster Care. In the fall, Joel is often found at Beaver Stadium cheering on the Nittany Lions. Life experiences have led Joel to cherish the wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-6.
Erik and his wife, Molly, have been members of the church since 2004. They have enjoyed living, working, and serving in many nations. They have a passion for missions, diverse cultures, and remote ecosystems. As a professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Messiah University, Erik encourages students to become introspective by examining their lives, their faith, their community, and the natural world. They live in Grantham and have four adult children, three children-in-law, and a new-found joy in grandchildren.
Tony and his wife Tara have attended the church since 2001 and became members in 2006. Tony has been one of the teachers in the ABIDE fellowship group for several years. He is a lawyer with the firm of Johnson Duffie Stewart & Weidner, with his practice focused on civil litigation. He and Tara live in Boiling Springs with their three children — Isaac, Riley, and Anna.
Dave and his family have attended West Shore Free Church for over 20 years after Dave accepted Christ as his Savior in his early thirties. Dave has served mostly in student ministries, including the church’s scouting program (Boys Scouts and Trail Life), Awesome Adventure is various roles, and Junior/Senior High student ministry leader. Dave married Tonya in 1992 and had two children, Amanda and Will, who are all active in the church family. Dave’s professional background is a Certified Public Accountant and an accounting director at Rite Aid Corp. He also owns a small tax preparation business. Dave enjoys serving others and has a passion for church done well. Dave enjoys the outdoors, all kinds of music (especially live performances), and roots for Philadelphia sports teams.
Tom and his wife, Becky, have attended the church since 2005 and became members in 2007. They have been involved in the Alpha Course and the Prayer Ministry Team for about 6 years. Tom was born in Carlisle and raised in Mt. Holly Springs and now resides in Gardners just a few miles south of Mt. Holly Springs. They have three adult children and twelve grandchildren. Their greatest blessing is their family and cherishes the time they can spend with them. Tom is a retired Computer Programmer for the Pennsylvania State Legislature. He loves to see God’s hand moving in the lives of others and delights to see these ‘God Moments’ as he walks this earth with Christ.
John yielded his life to Christ in 1969 while in college. After graduation, he met and married Terry, the love of his life, beginning a lifetime of ministry. John served on staff at West Shore Free Church from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. Currently, John serves as a teacher and leader in the Logos Fellowship Group, and also as a part-time staff member of the Eastern District of the EFCA, of which our church is a part. John and Terry have been blessed with two great sons who married wonderful wives and produced amazing grandkids! John’s passions in ministry include peacemaking, developing systems that help the body of Christ thrive, and being helpful. For recreation, John enjoys fitness, reading classic fantasy, and fine desserts!
Jeff has been attending the church since 1994. He met his wife, Angie, while they were in youth group. Jeff and Angie were married in 2003 and now have three children: Jadon, Katie, and Devin. Jeff has served in different areas of the church through the years including the Jr. High Ministry, the ABIDE’s Fellowship class, and the widow care ministry, called Courage to Care. Jeff has worked in construction for many years while specializing in plumbing. Presently, he is self-employed as the owner of Niner Plumbing, LLC. Jeff loves the outdoors, and in his spare time, enjoys spending time with friends and family, 4-wheeling and kayaking.
Nate and his wife Connie have attended the church since 2006 and became members in 2007. Nate has served in leadership and teaching roles in fellowship groups over the years. Currently, he serves in the ABIDE fellowship group. He and Connie have also been involved in forming and facilitating life groups. Nate and Connie live in Dillsburg with their three children: Adelyn, Lauryn and Caleb. Nate is co-owner of R&S Fence Co. in Dillsburg and enjoys spending time in the Great Outdoors with family and friends in activities like hiking, biking, camping, hunting, backpacking and riding ATV’s.
Trent Thompson, Senior Pastor
The most important thing to know about Trent (and the thing of which he is constantly reminding himself), is that He is loved by God because of Christ. He came to this understanding at a relatively young age thanks in large part to faithful parents and a sister who liked to pretend she was his parent. But if you’re interested in some of the secondary details, Trent grew up in Dallas which means that most of his formative experiences revolved around heat, bbq, and the Cowboys (not necessarily in that order). He spent a lot of time playing sports, mostly basketball, which is unfortunate because he is neither exceedingly quick or tall. He went to school at Texas A&M University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and then moved to Austin where he met his wife, had two girls, and got to tell people about Jesus with some of the best friends and teammates he could have ever hoped for. Trent and Amanda are excited to now be in Central PA and to follow Christ with the people of West Shore Free Church. They have also welcomed a son to their family since moving to PA.
Tim Ryan, Executive Pastor
Tim experienced the Father’s faithful, loving pursuit until Jesus captured his life at age 17. Since then, God has opened many doors of ministry in and through his life for rewarding involvement in short-term mission trips, camps, and ministry to children, youth and men. Tim loves to travel, adventure and the outdoors—especially hiking, camping, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. Tim and Amy are celebrating over 25 years of marriage and are launching their four girls into adult life. They have attended the church since 2002.