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Our Elder Team

Our current elders are Will Wilson, Matt Watkins, Scott Wales, Daniel Harvey, and Steve Rystrom.

Daniel Harvey

Though I tasted some of God’s goodness during my youth, Jesus did not fully capture my heart until I was 20 years old. I was an experiential learner, having to learn many hard lessons during my teen years. This culminated in a DUI at the age of 19, allowing me the opportunity to see the natural outflow of my self-centered and destructive lifestyle.

 

In God’s mercy, he used my parents, the Fleming family, and Wilson family to open my eyes to his love and forgiveness, revealing to me the freedom that he offered me in Jesus. My parents exhibited a tough love that forced me to consider the consequences of my choices. The Fleming family provided a place to meet college students who were followers of Christ. Will Wilson graciously presented the gospel to me, while teaching me the spiritual disciplines that would help me to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord, Jesus Christ. During this transitional season, I was able to walk this journey with my lifelong best friend, Ryan Gulbrandsen.

 

For the past 15 years, the Holy Spirit has been transforming me through regular exposure to the Bible and fellowship in the local church. God has gifted me with an amazing wife, Carolyn. We have been blessed with five wonderful children (David, Jonathan, Joshua, Ella, and Caleb). We are fortunate to have our extended family in town, including both sets of parents, our siblings and their families, including eight nieces and nephews. By God’s grace, all 27 members of our combined extended families worship together at Firm Family Church.

 

I have worked as a financial advisor for the last 13 years, while Carolyn is educating our five children at home. We are both involved in teaching capacities in the local Classical Conversations homeschool program.

 

Steve Rystrom

At an early age, I recognized my need and desire to follow Jesus. That need and desire has continued throughout my life. One of my passions has been to work together with other individuals and/or groups to increase our understanding and knowledge of God and seek to deepen our relationship with Him.

I grew up in Richvale (15 miles south of Chico) and have been involved in the Evangelical Free Churches there and in Chico for most of my life. After college (Trinity, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Whitworth) I began farming rice and my involvement in the California rice industry.

From January 2013 through December 2018, I was a member of the elder board at Chico Evangelical Free. During our time at EFCC, my wife, Vivie, and I have been involved in teaching Sunday school, several small groups, Upward basketball, Women’s basketball, men’s and women’s groups, and leadership teams. We were also a part of the very first meeting of “Firm Family” (then “Firm Foundations”).

I have been married to Vivie since 1981. We have four children; Katie (married to Kevin Cook), Peter (married to Carissa), Lena, and Polly (married to Brandon Ertis).

I’m excited about seeing how God will use Firm Family for His glory into the future!

Scott Wales

I am humbled and honored to serve Him and you as an elder at Firm Family Church. I am blessed to have married my high school sweetheart, Katie, and we have been married for 16 years. We have three children that are truly a gift from the Lord.
I was saved when I was in middle school while attending youth group with my best friend. Since that time, I have been part of a local church body and have been discipled by Godly men. We have moved eight times between three states since getting married, each time finding a church where we could serve, grow, and be connected. We look back and see God’s sovereign hand of protection and provision as He was directing our steps.
It is my passion to know God, through His Word, and to hold firmly to His trustworthy message. My prayer as a new church is that we bring God glory, minister to the body of believers, and impact our world for Christ. Our family Bible chapter is Psalm 127, which begins with, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” May Firm Family Church seek Him first!

Matt

Matt Watkins

I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home with parents who genuinely wanted to surrender their lives to Jesus and raise their kids to be Christ followers.

I declared my belief for Jesus at 11 years old, and was baptized shortly thereafter. Over my teen years and through my twenties, I was consistently part of a Church and was involved in serving in various ways in youth ministry, college ministry, and on worship teams. My personal walk with Jesus was inconsistent, sometimes intense and intentional, other times nearly non-existent. I can honestly say that I never waivered in my underlying belief, but my life choices did not always reflect that belief, and I had little fruit in my life.

Around 30 years old I had a long growing “root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble” (Hebrews 12:15). I entered into a nearly 2-year conflict with my parents over choices they had made which I wanted to blame for my discontentment. I developed an ulcer, I treated my parents poorly, I was stressed and angry. My attitude took a toll on my marriage and my relationships.

Then God intervened…

One morning I woke long before dawn. I was getting a drink of water before planning to head back to bed. The phrase “your enemy the devil is roaming about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour” came to my mind. I had the thought that it was a verse, but was not certain. Then a small voice whispered to me “come and meet with Me.”

That morning I chose to meet with God rather than go back to bed and the Holy Spirit began to work in my life in a way I had never experienced before. He gave me an insatiable hunger for the Word. He rooted out areas of sin in my heart. He humbled me in my conflict with my parents. I give God all the glory for pursuing me, for capturing me, and for humbling me so that I might be useful for His purposes.

From that time until now, I have experienced freedom, growth, and fruit I had never known before.

My professional career since 1998 has been in the legal field, working as an attorney since 2003. Over the course of 2017 and 2018 I started transitioning out of my law practice and moving towards full time Christian Conciliatory Counseling and mediation. In 2019 I felt God’s call to full time ministry, a call which was very shortly followed by opportunity to work with Firm Family Church from its inception.

I have been married to my wonderful, talented, and longsuffering wife Erin since 2002, and we have four beautiful children, two girls and two boys.

Will Wilson

Will Wilson

Hello! What a privilege and honor it is to serve you and Him here at Firm Family Church. So you might know a bit about myself and the other elders, we are giving you a brief bio on each of us.

I have been married to my wife, Lindy, for 41 years and God has blessed us with 4 children, 3 “sons by choice” who married our three daughters, and one “daughter by choice” who married our son. He has also blessed us with 11 grandchildren. I came to understand God’s love for me, my need for a savior and His provision of Jesus as my savior while in Japan on a wrestling team the summer before my senior year of high school.

My undergraduate studies were done at Cal Poly, SLO and my Master’s was earned at Biola University. While at Cal Poly I was involved in the Navigators and discipled by some men who helped me grow to love Jesus and understand Him and His ways more and more. I was involved in Christian Education for grades 7-12 for the first 19 years of my career and then I served as an Associate Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Chico for close to 20 years.

My passion is to know Christ and make Him known and to raise my children to know Him, love Him and serve Him. One of my life verses is Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had set in his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”