Dale Oquist – Lead Pastor
A native of Wisconsin, Dale grew up in Milwaukee.
After graduating from Brookfield East High School in 1979, Dale pursued his call to vocational ministry at North Central University in Minneapolis where he received his BA. In 2011, he earned his MA from Northwest University (Kirkland, Washington) in Missional Leadership where he is an adjunct faculty member.
He also serves on the board of Trustees for Vanguard University of Southern California.
In March of 2010, Dale became the lead pastor of Peoples Church in Fresno, California, a well-established church that started in 1954. He is known for his ability to teach the Bible in a fresh and practical way, which engages both those new to faith as well as experienced believers.
Dale and his wife Joni have been married since 1986. They have three children; Lauren, DJ and Dawson. In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys reading, detailing cars, golfing and listening to jazz.
It is not uncommon to spot Dale at a local Starbucks enjoying a simple grande dark roast. The typical diplomat, he has both an Android and an Apple phone.
Bill Coughran – Chief Financial Officer
In 1974 Bill completed his doctorate at USC, was advanced to Colonel in the US Air Force, and was promoted to Business Manager at Fresno State University. Even with these fulfilling achievements, depression hit and he and his wife were struggling with life issues.
In 1975 his wife Marianne discovered a personal relationship with Christ and encouraged Bill to attend church with her. He said he would go if they could attend a church like Peoples Church.
He had been raised in church, and if asked he would say he was a Christian, but he had turned away from God. On Nov. 21, 1975 he walked down the aisle of Peoples Church, accepted Christ and never looked back.
Bill and his wife became very active at Peoples, involved in a Sunday School class and Evangelism Explosion. God and the church became a very important part of their lives.
Fourteen years later (with his background as a Professor of Management & VP of Finance at Fresno State University) the church asked him to become the Business Administrator. This December he will have completed 25 years in that position.
Bill’s passion is to see others come to Christ and he loves being involved with the ministries at Peoples Church. The church has truly been a blessing in his life.
Matt Perkins – Worship Arts Pastor
Matt joined the staff of Peoples Church as Worship Arts Pastor in August, 2014. Prior to joining Peoples Church, Matt served in Orlando, Florida for seven years and has been in full-time ministry since 1992.
In addition to local church ministry, Matt has a heart to equip, connect and develop leaders in worship ministry. He is a contributing writer and podcast host for leading worship blogs and has spoken extensively for conferences and retreats throughout America.
Matt has two daughters, Breanna and Alyssa, and they reside in Clovis, CA.
Larry Powell – Community Connections Pastor
Struck with polio at the age of 15 months in 1949, Larry is an inspiration to everyone he meets. He wears a brace on his right leg but is fond of saying: “I don’t limp up here,” pointing to his head. He was a champion wrestler and coach, an avid golfer with a 5 handicap, a swimmer and a gymnast. His bench press record is 320 when he weighed 129 pounds. He climbed a 20 foot rope in 1.8 seconds.
He strongly believes that the only things you cannot do are the things you do not attempt. He spent 43 years in education and retired as Fresno County Superintendent of Schools where he provided fiscal over sight and technical support to 35 School Districts,325 schools, and almost 200,000 students. Most people have never seen Larry without a smile and he has made equity and access the cornerstones of his career. He spent two years as the Chairman of FCMAT, California’s Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, · during the height of the fiscal crisis in California.
Larry has a daily radio feature called “Good News with Larry Powell” which can be heard on iHeart Radio. He is a Political Analyst on the NBC and CBS affiliates in Fresno, California. He has served on 12 non-profit boards. He is a Board Member for Fresno Pacific University. He and his wife, Dot, a very gifted and published writer of books for children, founded The Powell Project C3:23, an effort to bring encouragement and hope to families and individuals who are struggling in life. He is also on the National Advisory Board for Rachel’s Challenge, the premier anti-bullying program in America.
Larry has been recognized in California and his community as: ACSA Superintendent of the Year in Region 9, Distinguished Citizen by the Boy Scouts,The Horizon Award winner for his work in promoting The Arts, Humanitarian of the Year, one of 20 Americans of the Year by Esquire Magazine in 2011,Outstanding Alumni (Top Dog) by the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State University, and many other awards.
His favorite past-times include: Motivational Speaking,Family, Church, Golf,Music, and Yo-Yos.
Jän van Oosten – Assimilation Pastor
Jän was born in Reno, Nevada but lived in Portland, Oregon until his family moved to Fresno when he was in the fourth grade. He attended Fresno area schools graduating from McLane High School and Fresno State. Jän intended to teach at the secondary level but, along with a few friends, launched Valley Public Radio, KVPR-FM 89, an NPR affiliate station. He worked as the first General Manager until he was recruited by Pastor Bufe Karraker of Northwest Church to serve as their Business Administrator. However, it was not long before he was engaged in direct ministry; therefore, he attended the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (now Fresno Pacific Seminary) graduating with a Masters in Theology. His primary responsibility was as the Associate Pastor over Christian Education. After working eight years at Northwest Church, Jän became the church planter for New Covenant Community Church, Fresno under the direction of the Baptist General Conference (BGC). Beginning with a handful of people, the church grew strong enough to build facilities on Nees Avenue and over the course of 28 years reached 2,000 in attendance for weekend gatherings. Jän also has worked with the BGC in its innovative and highly effective approach to church planting in the United States and Europe. Jän retired in 2015. As of February 2017, Jän will have been married to his wife Virginia for 45 years. Virginia (also known as “Ginya”) is a sought-out mentor and leader in her own right. She headed the Fresno Pacific University On-Site Counseling program as well as ran her own private counseling program. Together they have a daughter, Bethany, and three terrific grand-girls. Jän and Ginya began attending Peoples in January of 2016 and have felt warmly welcomed and included. They love the uplifting worship and positive ministry of God’s Word at Peoples Church.
Terry Townsend – Missions and Education Pastor
Terry was raised in Peoples Church from the age of 9 so it truly is his “home” Church.
After graduation from Vanguard University in Southern California, where he met and married his wife Lila, he spent 8 years as a youth pastor in Bakersfield and Santa Maria, California.
During those formative years, a passion for missions was building in his heart. In 1985, Terry and his family relocated to Indonesia as missionaries. They served 5 years there pastoring an international church in Jakarta, teaching in a ministerial training center and working with church planters all over the country.
In 1992, after unexpectedly losing their residence visa for Indonesia, they moved to Moscow, Russia where they planted International Christian Assembly. Terry also helped to open Moscow Theological Seminary, where he was responsible for teaching and mentoring future pastors.
Terry joined the staff of Peoples Church in 1998 to focus on PC Missions and to plant churches in his hometown. He currently provides leadership to four local church plants, the newest being Peoples Church Southeast which meets Sunday nights at Greenberg Elementary School.
His passion is to use whatever means necessary to get the gospel to those who do not have access to it.
Matt Markarian – Community Outreach Pastor
Born and raised in Fresno California, Matt attended Peoples Church growing up. He considers it a dream come true to serve as the Community Care and Team Ministries Pastor at the church of his youth.
He is husband to his wife of 17 years Vanessa and father to his son Jarrod, who attends Fresno Christian High School. Matt has a B.S. degree in Business Management from Fresno State. Bulldog born and Bulldog Bred!
Shortly after he graduated college, he and his soon to be wife Vanessa started AOP Embroidery. Together they ran this highly successful business for nearly 13 years, and were fortunate enough to sell the business to answer the call in to ministry.
Looking back those years were preparing him for what God had as his ultimate plan. Matt spent his first few years as the Jr. High specialist before transferring in to his current position.
Matt loves technology and soccer; if there is a new gadget he probably has it. If he is not with his family or fiddling with the latest Apple device you can probably find him on the soccer field or in front of a TV watching his beloved Manchester United.
He has coached soccer for the past 20 years at Fresno Christian High School. Getting to watch young men learn the values of competition on the field and then taking it with them in to life is one of his favorite things about coaching.
Ronson Root – Director of Small Groups and Front Lines
Born and raised in Fresno, Ronson grew up attending church with his grandparents. Although he had a strong foundation as a young Christian, it wasn’t until September 4, 1997—after a few months of attending high school group at Peoples Church—that Ronson accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Ronson is getting married in April of this year to Genna Frantz, and becoming a stepfather to her sons Dylan, 11 and Drew, 8.
Ronson loves golfing, watching random documentaries, and playing board games with his family. He roots for the Boston Red Sox. He even attended the 100-year anniversary game where he witnessed Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski caught the first pitch, maybe for the last time!
Ronson has faithfully served in many capacities in ministry, including high school leadership, children’s ministry, and missions. He has always had a heart to serve others and be apart of our Lord’s plan to connect. As Director of Small Groups and Frontline ministries, Ronson is committed to connect, grow, and serve.
Joni Oquist – Women’s Ministry Pastor
Joni was brought up in a pastor’s home in Fort Worth, TX and at a church youth camp began realizing that she was destined for a life of vocational ministry.
She received her education from Evangel University in Springfield, MO and in 1986 married Dale Oquist. Joni has faithfully served in various areas of ministry including youth, young adults and music, but her sweet spot is getting to work with women.
Joni has held Women’s Ministry positions in two previous churches in Wisconsin and Washington. She enjoys writing and teaching Bible studies, developing leaders, and helping women discover who they are in Christ.
She and Dale have 3 pretty incredible children and a black lab named Packer. Joni thinks she’s funnier than she is and frequently breaks out into song or a random accent whenever the mood arises.
Jason Briesacher – Children’s Pastor
Alisha Moore – Associate Children’s Pastor – Preschool
Alisha was born and raised in Arizona. She is the oldest of three siblings and grew up in a Catholic family. While attending a Fellow Christian Athlete gathering in High School she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior, and dove deep into the Word to grow her relationship with the Lord. She attended Grand Canyon University, where she studied to become a nurse, surrounded by friends who would pour into her life, helping her to grow deeper in her walk with Christ. While placing her nursing path on hold she met her husband, Tim, in 2001 and was married in 2003. They welcomed the first of their 4 children that same year. Throughout the years she continued to feel the tug on her heart to help and heal others.
In 2010 Alisha jumped into part time ministry serving in the Preschool/Nursery area of the church that they attended in Surprise, Arizona. Alisha finally had an answer to the tugging on her heart for helping and healing others, as the Lord showed her that the assistance she could give to others would not be in a medical hospital, but instead in a spiritual hospital. It was then that Alisha understood that God was calling her to full time ministry. In 2014 she and Tim entered full time vocational ministry in Surprise, Arizona. In 2016 they began to feel God stirring their hearts to put their faith into action and go elsewhere.
Alisha is so excited to be part of Peoples Church and teach children about the love of Jesus!
Alisha has a love for music, dance, and camping with family.
Tim Moore – Associate Children’s Pastor – Elementary
The son of a children’s pastor in Syracuse, New York, Tim knew the church from an early age and accepted Christ at 6. After a few tumultuous young adult years, Tim rekindled his relationship with Jesus. Tim met Alisha in 2001 and they married in 2003 and welcomed their first of 4 children that year. A prime example of God’s loving grace, and Proverbs 22:6, God began to work on his heart again. Feeling called to work in children’s ministry, Tim began volunteering under Pastor Jason’s leadership. In 2014, both Tim and Alisha entered full time vocational ministry in Surprise, Arizona. In 2016, they began to hear and feel God stirring their hearts to go elsewhere. Tim is excited to be a part of Peoples Church and to teach kids about the love of Jesus!
Tim has a competitive spirit and a love for sports. He enjoys softball, football, basketball, golf, and he is currently just a few belts shy of his blackbelt in Taekwondo.
Abdiel Pagan – Student Ministries Pastor
Abdiel grew up in the Southwest Oklahoma area but is originally from Puerto Rico. He graduated from Southwestern Christian University with his bachelor’s degree in Christian Leadership, as well as completed three years at Victory School of Leadership in Oklahoma City. Abdiel was involved in student ministry as an intern and administrative assistant for three years before joining the Peoples Church team. He wholeheartedly believes in the local church and its effectiveness in furthering the kingdom. Abdiel is passionate about equipping and empowering students to live bold and uncompromising lives for Christ. Abdiel enjoys reading, coffee, and hanging out with people. He loves going to the movies, his puppy named Winston, and he absolutely loves cheesecake.
Barbara Solis – Family Counseling Pastor
“Y’all come back” was a familiar expression in Barbara Solis’ childhood home. Barbara was born in Memphis, Tennessee to parents that were born and raised in the South. Hospitality, family and morals were the backbone of her childhood.
Being one of five children, the house was always full. It was not unusual for Barbara’s dad to call home before dinner to say “add another plate to the table.” These values continue to be a central focus for her, and her husband, Al. She and Al have a blended family of five children and six grandchildren.
Barbara has always had a love for children which was evidenced by her emphasis on Inter Disciplinary Child Development throughout her high school and college years. At a turning point in Barbara’s life, she traveled with a group of college students from her church to 12 countries studying the political, economic and religious structure of each country.
It was because of that trip Barbara fully committed her life to Christ. Experiencing the varied cultures was the springboard for her passion “to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives”. (Isa 61:1)
Though life has had trials, tribulations and tragedies, her love for God and family has remained constant. Whether she is directing the Peoples Childcare Center, counseling individuals, gathering the family together or opening her home for small groups, the cry of her heart is “Y’all come back!”
Camelia Cross – Senior Care Pastor
After graduating from Fresno State, Camelia taught first grade, a Learning Disabilities class and later became the Media Specialist for the Fresno Unified School District. Although she had met her long time goals, at the age of 30 she came to understand that true meaning, purpose, joy and hope only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Everything in life then became a platform to share new life through Christ, even through hobbies such as fabric crafts, drawing, painting, bird watching, animal rescue, and gardening. They became opportunities to connect with others and share the joy of knowing Christ in everyday living.
She was invited to come on staff as Peoples Church’s first Children’s Ministries Director in 1980. Later Camelia became the editor and photojournalist for the Peoples Perspective newspaper, led Evangelism Explosion for a time and now is team leader for Peoples Church’s Congregational Care/Ministry to Seniors!
Since starting this ministry in January of 2014, she shares that, “This ministry is an adventure of joy! The team is experiencing such delight as we’re building caring relationships, discovering needs, and offering spiritual and emotional encouragement to our seniors.
We have the privilege of demonstrating that our seniors are valued and cared for by their faith family and by their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”
Michael Ogdon – Director of Senior Ministries
Bellingham, Washington (nearly a Canadian!) was Michael’s birthplace. Many moves followed in the next 15 years until the family settled in the Silicon Valley. Mike graduated from Fremont High School in 1978 and completed a Music Education degree at Biola University three and a half years later.
With education matters settled, Michael met, befriended, courted and married Kerilyn before heading back to his home church in the Bay Area to begin vocational ministry in music and youth. Later, Mike’s college ministry and Kerilyn’s interior decorating career filled their early married life.
In 1985, Michael earned an MA in choral conducting from San Jose State University while serving the choral and orchestral departments as graduate assistant. Full time music ministry followed in SoCal and Arizona churches.
While in Arizona, Michael had an opportunity to work as a hospice chaplain. The daily responsibility to care for both patient and their family members exercised mercy gifts previously unrecognized, and gave direction to ministries that followed.
Michael, Kerilyn, Kelsey and Katie moved to Fresno in 1998. Vocational and volunteer ministry, teaching at Fresno State University and Fresno Christian Schools, and agent work with New York Life have filled the Ogdon’s lives with a generous amount of wonderful friends.