Education: Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (DMin Homiletics); Biblical Theological Seminary (MA New Testament); Bob Jones University (BA Bible)
Ministry Experience: Served as an associate pastor in OH [1975-1980] Senior Pastorates: Cambridge, OH ; Lancaster, PA ; Greenville, MI ; South Church, Lansing, MI [1995 to present]
Spouse: Nancy Denyes
Family: Five daughters and six grandsons!
Hobbies: Golf, baseball, biking, and travel. And don't forget the books!
Honors: Graduated with Honors in NT studies at Biblical Seminary
Board Member: Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids [1997 to present], Asia Biblical Theological Seminary
Adjunct Professor of Homiletics: Grand Rapids Theological Seminary [2005 to present]
Testimony: During my teen years I attended a home Bible study which was led by a friend whom I greatly admired. One November night as the gospel was shared, I was under deep conviction and eagerly gave my heart to Christ. Hungry for growth and God’s Word, I began attending a strong Bible-believing church where I was spiritually fed by a wonderful, godly pastor. Soon I was leading Bible studies in my high school, working with Youth for Christ, and serving in my local church. Feeling that God was calling me into the ministry, I sought further preparation in Bible College.
517.322.2000 ext. # 107
Born and raised: Wilmington, Ohio
Education: Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (MDiv); Cedarville University (BA)
Ministry Experience: Traveling gospel teams and student chaplain at Cedarville College (now University); chaplain in student affairs department of Cornerstone University; senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Okemos for 15 years, before joining the pastoral team here at South Church in 2004, serving now as executive pastor for ministries
Spouse: Becky Phillips
Hobbies: Reading, golf, racquetball, extreme croquet
Honors: Graduated with honor, Master of Divinity degree, from Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (GRBS); ordained to the ministry of the gospel in 1999; review articles published by The Gospel Coalition website
Community Activities: Board member for the Lansing City Rescue Mission; leading chapel services at Grand Haven Living Center
Testimony: I came to faith in Christ as a freshman in high school, and my ongoing discipleship continued during my time at Cedarville. During that time also, I believe God called me to pastoral ministry, leading me to further preparation at GRBS.
517.322.2000 ext. # 109
Born and raised: Escanaba, MI
Education: Western Conservative Baptist Seminary (MDiv); Western Michigan University (BA History; Political Science)
Ministry Experience: Campus Crusade for Christ at University of Iowa from '75 to '79; pastoral intern for singles ministry at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon '83 thru '85; pastoral intern for singles ministry at South Evangelical Presbyterian Fellowship in Denver, CO; College Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE from '86 to '88; College Pastor at South Church since September 1, 1988.
Hobbies: Mini golf, basketball, tennis, downhill skiing, football, running, reading western novels by Louis L'Amour
Testimony: I'm a native Yooper. I appreciate that I grew up in a committed Catholic home where I knew about God, but I didn't fully understand what it meant to know Christ. I thought life was works based, that if I followed the Ten Commandments I would get into heaven. When I went to college at Western Michigan University, I had two roommates who were born-again believers and I saw a close friend come to Christ. A Campus Crusade staff member shared the gospel with me, highlighting my need to trust in Christ's provision on the cross and my need to give my life to Christ. I did make the decision to receive Christ, and as it says in John 1:12, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." I was faithfully followed-up with and discipled, and was able to lead friends to Christ.
517.322.2000 ext. # 118
Raised: Woodstock, IL
Education: University of Southern California (MA Music Composition); Eastern Illinois University (BA Music Composition)
Ministry Experience: Pastor of Worship Ministries at South since February 2011; Worship Pastor in an Evangelical Free church in Cleveland, OH for seven years (earned his Ministerial License from the Evangelical Free Church of America); Cornerstone Community Church in Pasadena, CA from 2002-2003; For Heaven’s Sake—vocalist for non-profit music ministry that performed music workshops in high schools and performed concerts and led worship in churches throughout the Midwest, from 1993-1998.
Other Musical Endeavors: Conductor/Artistic Director of the Steiner Chorale, Contributing Arranger for PraiseCharts.com and Sovereign Grace Music.
Spouse: Carol Felgenhour (married since 2000)
Kids: Son Ari, daughter Kiran, son Asher
Hobbies: Paintball, camping, reading, WWII Naval history and gaming, sport shooting, Frisbee
Honors: Commission, Co-composed underscore for Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale California (2006)
Testimony: My mother introduced me to Jesus Christ when I was nine years old. I grew up Lutheran, but stopped attending church soon after my Confirmation. When I arrived at Eastern Illinois University, I was welcomed by several believers, among them Dave John, an aggressive evangelist and student leader in Campus Crusade. He took me through the Four Spiritual Laws, and I dedicated my life to Christ in my dorm room in October of 1991.
517.322.2000 ext. # 117
Born and raised: Holland, MI, spent time living in Seattle, WA and Kijabe Kenya, East Africa
Education: Moody Bible Institute (BA Youth Ministry; secondary education Bible teaching certificate)
Ministry Experience: Jr. High student ministries at South since June 2002
Spouse: Shannon Wayner
Kids: Maliya, Joshua, Avery, Rylie, and Tate
Hobbies: All sports, especially golf
Testimony: I was raised in a Christian home, with parents who were deeply committed to Christ. From the time I was born, church was a major part of my life, as was Bible study and worship. I remember praying for salvation when I was 3 at our home in Seattle, WA. As much as I could understand what Christ had done for me, I believed with all my heart at that time. As I grew older and my parents and the church continued to teach me, my understanding of Christ and his death and resurrection as a substitution for my sin, so that His righteousness could be given to me, continued to grow. I'm a work in progress, but continue to understand more fully each day the depth of Christ's love for me, and the depth of my sin which he has saved me from. The teaching of pastors Don, Doug, Ben and others continue to challenge me, along with personal Bible study. South has been an incredible place of growth for me, and I am excited to be a part of the ministry team here at South which is having such an impact on so many lives.
517.322.2000 ext. # 123
Born and raised: New Baltimore, MI
Education: Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, concentration in missional studies); Ferris State University (BS Criminal Justice and graduate of the police academy)
Ministry Experience: Youth Pastor in the Chicago area; ministry residency for a church plant called Paseo Christian Church in El Paso, Texas
Hobbies: Competitive powerlifting, playing board games, and going off-roadng in his jeep
Testimony: It was in his middle school years that Nick really had his first exposure to the Gospel and to church, through a youth group bowling event. That was the beginning of his being at church to hear God’s Word (even though he was the only one from his family to do so). It was on a Sunday morning that he responded to an altar call and made his commitment to follow Christ. Soon after, as he grew as a Christ-follower himself, he also became a key leader in his youth group, encouraged and mentored by his youth pastor and a couple of the key volunteers in the youth ministry. During the summer between his junior and senior years of high school he worked with a ministry called Mission Arlington (in Texas), an experience that challenged him spiritually and physically, teaching him to rely on God more deeply than he ever had before. It was during that summer of ministry that Nick sensed God’s call to full-time pastoral ministry.
517.322.2000 ext. 127
Born and raised: Lansing, MI
Education: Wheaton College (BA Elementary Education)
Ministry Experience: Children’s Ministry Director since 2000. I work closely with my co-director, Heidi Cheney. I also enjoy teaching the K–2nd graders on Sunday nights each week during the school year.
Spouse: John Risch (married since June 1987)
Kids: Cody and Callie
Testimony: I accepted the Lord as my personal savior as a young child. Through my teen years I really began to understand what it meant to live a Christ-like life. As a young mom in 1990 I attended my first women’s Bible study… I’ve been hooked ever since! Studying God’s Word on my own and then discussing what I’m learning with a small group of women has been a wonderful experience for me.
517.322.2000 etx. # 122
Born and raised: New York; Texas; Haslett, Michigan
Education: Michigan State University (BA Music Education); Bob Jones University
Ministry Experience: Co-Director of Children’s Ministry at South since 2003
Spouse: John Cheney
Kids: Daughter Taylor is married to Michael and their son is Grayson
Hobbies: Reading, organizing, planning parties, being a grandma
Community Activities: Love my growth group and giving oversight to the T&T program in Awana
Testimony: At the age of seven, my pastor preached a Sunday evening message about trusting in Christ for salvation. That night, I listened like I had never listened before, and when we got in the car to go home, I told my mom that I wanted to talk to the pastor. We went back into the church where he talked with me and I prayed the prayer to trust in Christ’s work on the cross to cleanse my sin. Praise the Lord—I have never doubted my salvation since! The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin and I try to stay in the Word daily to know God’s truth.
517.322.2000 ext. # 124
Born and raised:Grew up in Casper, Wyoming, attended college at San Diego State University
Education: Registered Nurse
Ministry Experience: Children’s Leader and Children’s Supervisor in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) for 11 years. Disaster Response Nurse with Samaritan’s Purse since 2010, Crisis Response Counselor certification, Transport Nurse with Children’s Heart Project/Samaritan’s Purse.
Children: Twins; Brooklyn and Braden
Hobbies: reading, biking, softball, hiking, kayaking
Community Activities: South Medical Team coordinator, VBS Bible Teacher
Testimony: I grew up going to church on Sundays, but didn’t have much knowledge of who God really was, and that I could have a personal relationship with him. I really began seeking to know God more and reading my Bible after my dad died in a plane crash, and I needed comfort and answers from God’s word. My life was completely transformed by knowing a deeper relationship with Christ, and living under His word. I have been working as a disaster response nurse since 2010 and that has drastically changed my perspective and passion. I’ve seen a bigger God as I trust him in hard times and seeing great suffering in the world. Working on staff at South has also been a blessing as I work side by side with our staff that is passionate about helping others grow in their faith and learn more about who Jesus is.
517.322.2000 ext. 115
Education: Grace College and Theological Seminary (D.Min. in progress); Central Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.); Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (B.S. Bible)
Ministry Experience: Served as youth pastor in Minnesota (5 years); English teacher and missionary/pastor in Japan (9 years); senior pastor in St. Johns, Michigan (5 years); Chief Operations Officer at Student Statesmanship Institute (3 years); Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship at South Church since 2018.
Family: Three-generations/one roof—Lily (daughter), Isaac (son), Sam and Eva (parents-in-law)
Hobbies: College football and basketball sports fan, working out at the Michigan Athletic Club, reading, Bible memory, board games with Lily and Isaac, and backgammon with Naomi.
Honors: Ordained in 2009; Dale Carnegie Highest Award for Achievement 2014
Community Activities: Lansing City Rescue Mission volunteer; Opportunity Group member, quarterly speaker at Mount Zion All Nations Bible Church
Testimony: When the church doors were open, I was there; perched in the front row next to my brother. But after elementary school, I slipped into rebellion against both my parents and the church. What could cure a cold heart like mine? The words of scripture—specifically 2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”The Bible continues to guide me and inform my choices as I move forward in my relationship with God. My passion is to use my education, gifts, and life experiences at home and abroad be to an ambassador for Jesus Christ and inspire others to do the same.
517.322.2000 ext. # 110
Born and raised: Wixom, MI
Education: Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (MDiv); Michigan State University (BA Political Science)
Ministry Experience: College Ministry Intern with Neil Odgers for five years; Pastoral Intern at South for one year
Spouse: Kate Sova
Children: Owen (18 months)
Hobbies: Reading, hanging out with friends, watching sports
Born and Raised: I was born in Austin, MN and raised in Elkhart, Indiana
Education: BA Communications - Cornerstone University (Grand Rapids Baptist College)
Masters of Religious Education - Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
Ministry Experience: I have been the Women’s Ministry Director at South Church since 2004. From 1998-2002 I led Children’s Ministries in Okemos, Michigan.
Spouse: Doug Phillips, the Executive Pastor of Ministries at South, and I met in seminary and were married in 1998.
Hobbies: Traveling, being involved in missions, creating wearable art and teaching.
Testimony: I grew up in a ‘ministry’ home. My father, Leroy Sheveland, was an evangelist and missionary. My two brothers are pastors and my mother was a gifted bible teacher. To say my upbringing was saturated with gospel truth is an understatement and yet it is fresh everyday as I am reminded of the grace of God. My greatest joy is helping train and equip women at South and in South Asia.
Born and raised: Lansing, MI
Education: Calvin Seminary (ThM); Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (MTS); Michigan State University (BA)
Spouse: Melanie Seal
Kids: Tyler, Abby, Brody
Hobbies: Reading, running
Testimony: I trusted Christ as my personal savior at age six. It was not until my teen years that I understood the full implication of that faith. I fully realized my sin kept me from knowing God personally and that Jesus’ death and redemption made that relationship possible. This relationship requires obedience to God’s call in all areas of my life. My Christian experience has shown me the faithfulness of God. As I have learned about the character of God and his Son I have tried to incorporate that into my day to day living. I have tried, although not always successfully, to demonstrate in my relationships what it means to be a member of the redeemed community.
517.322.2000 ext. # 112
Ministry Assistant to Kathy Risch, Heidi Cheney, and Kelly Sites
Born and raised: Illinois, been in Michigan since 9th grade (except Indiana for college)
Education: Fort Wayne Bible College
Ministry Experience: At South since 2001
Spouse: Tim Bassett
Kids: Son Jordan and daughter Rachel
Hobbies: Photography (kids at South call me the camera lady!) and scrapbooking
Testimony: I was saved and baptized as a child, rededicated my life in college, and I continue to grow and see where God leads – it’s an amazing journey!
517.322.2000 ext. # 103
Ministry Assistant to Corb Felgenhour
Born and raised: Leslie, Michigan
Education: School of Life
Hobbies: Composing & Recording, Story Telling, Gaming, Frisbee
Testimony: Raised as a “Pastors Kid,” I came to my senses by the age of 16 and embraced Christ as my everything. I have worked in various churches since that time as a worship leader and youth counselor. Through every trial, Christ has kept me and I will continue to thank Him for His unending, faithful care.
517.322.2000 ext. # 125
Ministry Assistant to Dave Seal
Born and raised: Hope, Arkansas
Education: Bishop College and University of Santa Monica, CA (Master of Arts Program Spiritual Psychology)
Ministry Experience: I have been blessed to serve in numerous church leadership positions including church treasurer, board of trustees, and mortgage liquidation committee chair-person at Friendship Baptist Church before joining the South family. I was also privileged to serve in the capacity of Bible Study Fellowship children's leader and discussion group leader, as well as lead a weekly small group Bible study in my home.
Spouse: Emmett (married since 1966)
Kids: Anthony and Sonja, four grandchildren, and two great-grand children
Hobbies: Flower gardening and reading
Community Activities: I volunteer at the Lansing City Rescue Mission Family Center
Testimony: I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home and at a very early age developed an insatiable appetite for reading God's word. At the age of twelve I confessed Christ as my personal Lord and Savior during a summer revival meeting at our church. I was baptized and have experienced a deep and abiding love for God every day since, culminating with an intense desire to serve in my later years.
517.322.2000 ext. # 108
Born and raised: Born in Lansing, MI. Raised in Eaton Rapids, MI
Education: Lansing Community College (Associates degree in drafting and design); builders license
Ministry Experience: I have had the privilege to serve in various church leadership positions.
Spouse: Tami Harrison (married since 1997)
Kids: Son Caleb and daughter Moriah
Hobbies: Watching/playing sports and coaching kids’ soccer
Testimony: My family started to attend church regularly when I was nine years old. Soon thereafter, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. In high school we started to attend South Church and I was really grounded in the Word and equipped through the college group here at South.
517.322.2000 ext. # 303
Born and raised: Benton Harbor, MI. Moved to East Lansing, MI in 1973
Education: Attended Lansing Community College; graduate of East Lansing High School
Spouse: Ruby Bogan (married since July 26, 1980)
Kids: Jenell and Gretchen
Hobbies: Fishing, deer hunting, gardening
Honors: Retired Custodian July 2008 after 31 years (East Lansing 26 years, Okemos 5 years); started second career at South in October 2008
Testimony: Accepted Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior in February 1979.
Ministry Assistant to Pastor Denyes and Pastor Phillips
Born and raised: Born and raised in Minnesota, I am a midwestern girl at heart. However the Lord has taken William and I to live in interesting and varied places together: Missouri, Washington D.C., Florida, California, and London! We have lived in Lansing since 2002 and happily call it home.
Education: University of Iowa (BA Marketing)
Ministry Experience: Board member of Salt and Light Global, an academic and humanitarian ministry equipping Christians to engage the culture for the glory of God; Precept Upon Precept Bible Study student and leader since 2002; Lansing City Rescue Mission chapel teacher since 2010.
Kids: Nicole and Luke
Hobbies: Cooking, hiking, training our puppy, and kayaking (more floating than paddling)
Testimony: I spent many years doing all the things I could think of that "good people" do. I had religion, but no relationship. God graciously brought me to a place where I understood just how helpless I was and how much I needed a Savior. Having given my life to Jesus Christ, he is Lord and I praise him for his love and mercy and grace!
Born and raised: Grand Ledge, MI
Education: Michigan State University (Bachelor of Fine Arts - Graphic Design)
Western Michigan University (Teaching Certificate - Art)
Family: Sarah and our four children.
Hobbies: Music, running, sound & lighting production, and almost anything else.
Testimony: After a difficult time in high school, Christian friends brought me to youth group, and helped me find what was missing in my life. At MSU, Sarah and I joined the South Church college group, and have been part of South's family since 1999 - serving as short-term missionaries, working with junior high, senior high and college students, playing music for services, running sound for services, and helping develop a new Bible community and worship service.
Ministry Assistant to Pastor Odgers, Pastor Nagy & Pastor Wayner
Born and raised: Koutiala, Mali, West Africa
Education: Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, (Masters in TESOL & Business Administration); Siena Heights University, Adrian (BA Social Work)
Ministry Experience: Sunday school teacher at the Evangelical Church of Torokorobougou, Bamako, Mali for 4 years. Member and treasurer of Youth Group of the Church of Torokorobougou for 2 years.
Sunday school Volunteer of preschoolers at Trinity Church, Lansing, MI for 2 years.
Hobbies: Gardening, crocheting, and watch movies
Testimony: I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of twelve. I was involved in church activities such as, Sunday School, choir and Bible studies. Even though I had much exposure to the Word of God it was not until I attended a youth conference in Bamako, capital of Mali that really understood the good news of what Christ has done for me. He died to save me from my sins not only that he delivered me from my fears. Since then, I have developed a personal relationship with Christ. He has been my source of strength, hope and peace wherever I go.
517.322.2000 ext. # 101
Born and raised: McMinnville, OR
Education:Clackamas Community College
Hobbies:Writing and Recording Music, Cooking, Playing Video Games
Testimony: Born into a Christian household, I accepted Christ and was baptized at 8 years old. During my youth, I became aware of a calling on my life -- to serve in worship ministry. After many years of serving in a number of different volunteer roles, my wife and I felt called to "step out of the boat" and follow where the Lord would lead us. Shortly thereafter, I accepted my first full-time ministry position and moved myself and my young wife to Haslett, Michigan. After 7 months, the Lord lead me to apply for and accept this position here at South. My life verse is Proverbs 16:9, " The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
517.322.2000 ext. # 223
|Trustee Board||Mission Board||Christian Ed. Council||Deaconess|
Naomi Van Loh
* designates chair
+ designates pastoral liaison
South Church was born in the hearts of a small group of believers who met to pray at the home of George Isbell. These members of the First Baptist Church of Lansing felt the need for mission work on the south side of the city. On May 26, 1889 they organized a Sunday School. By July of that year the small church met weekly for Sunday School and a midweek prayer meeting. In October of that year, a small building was constructed on South Street and named the South Street Chapel.
After the turn of the century, the South Street Chapel experienced marked growth. In 1905 First Baptist Church hired Frank Currey, whose responsibilities included the leadership of the South Street Chapel. Following an evangelistic outreach sponsored by the fledgling church, believers at the Wednesday night prayer meeting filled the chapel. Attendance at regular services dramatically increased.
On May 1, 1906, the growing church purchased property at Washington Avenue and Moores River Drive, despite the concern of some who feared that it was too far outside the city. In 1912 the church was incorporated under the name South Washington Avenue Baptist Church. Some time later the name was shortened to South Church. In 1909 the church completed the erection of an impressive brick building with an elegant porch and stained glass window.
|The expanding congregation flourished under a succession of men, each of whom performed a special charge.|
|Frank Currey||1905-1910||Established first church building.|
|George O’Donald||1910-1911||Developed youth ministries|
|Albert D. Werdon||1911-1915||Organized church policy|
|A.T. Robinson||1916-1919||Gave strength during war years|
|C.H. Heaton||1919-1924||Upheld Biblical truth|
|W.F. Dissette||1924-1929||Increased attendance, paid mortgage|
|William S. Ross||1929-1940||Developed membership to 960 people|
|D.T. Yaxley||1941-1947||Completed educational annex|
|Malcolm Cronk||1948-1952||Directed vigorous outreach|
|Howard F. Sugden||1954-1991||Moved church forward spiritually through skillful preaching|
|Rick Hawks||1992-1994||Provided transitional leadership|
|Donald G. Denyes||1995-present|
To meet the growing needs of the people on the south side of the city, the church was open seven days a week, which was unusual for any church at that time. During the week the Sunday School room was fixed up and used as a gymnasium and the parlor was used as a reading room.
The face of the building changed as did the needs of the congregation. In 1937 a new religious education unit was completed. In 1947 the second story of the addition was built. Under the leadership of Pastor Howard Sugden, five more additions were made. In 1954 a small unit was built for offices and classrooms. In 1956 a building program that included a large auditorium and additional nurseries and classrooms was completed.
A three story educational unit was dedicated in 1963, and in 1967 a multipurpose unit that included a chapel, gymnasium and departmental classrooms was finished. Another phase of the building program was completed in 1972 when the original church building was demolished to make room for a three story educational wing.
In July 2000, South Church moved to a new location and facility on Cornerstone Drive in Delta Township, just four miles west of its former location. On 36 acres of land, South has room to grow and reach the greater Lansing area for Christ.
South Church now faces future challenges, rooted firmly in the gospel of Jesus Christ, rejoicing in God’s past work in us, and joyfully anticipating His plan for us. Our newly adopted purpose statement, ‘Passion for Christ, Compassion for Others’ aptly describes our continued commitment to the fulfillment of God’s call.