Leadership

Leadership

Dale Oquist

Lead Pastor

Dale grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated with a degree in vocational ministry from North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now, after serving for nearly a decade as the lead pastor of Peoples Church, Dale’s passion for ministry has become known throughout the community.

He is known for his ability to teach the Bible in a fresh and practical way, engaging both those new to faith as well as experienced believers. Never one to stop learning, Dale earned his master’s degree from Northwest University in missional leadership, where he is an adjunct faculty member. He also serves on the board of trustees for Vanguard University.

Dale and his wife, Joni, have been married since 1986 and have three children: Lauren, DJ, and Dawson. In his spare time you’ll find Dale reading, detailing cars, golfing, or listening to jazz — but don’t be surprised if you spot Dale at a local Starbucks enjoying a cup of dark roast coffee.

Bill Coughran

Chief Financial Officer

In 1974, Bill completed his doctorate at University of Southern California, was advanced to Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and promoted to Business Manager at Fresno State. It wasn’t until 1975, when his wife Marianne became a Christian and encouraged Bill to attend church with her, that his life was truly transformed.

On November 21, 1975, he walked down the aisle of Peoples Church, accepted Christ as his Savior, and never looked back. Bill and Marianne became very active at Peoples Church and were involved in Sunday school class and Evangelism Explosion. Serving God and the local church became a very important part of their lives.

After a fruitful career as a business management professor and vice president of finance at Fresno State, Peoples Church asked Bill to become the business administrator, a role he has now served in for more than 25 years. Bill’s passion is to see others come to know Jesus, and he loves being involved with the ministries at Peoples Church. It has truly been a blessing in his life.

Matt Perkins

Worship Arts Pastor

Matt has had a heart for ministry since an early age, and a unique voice that allows him to share the word of God through powerful worship. He joined the Peoples Church family in 2014 after serving as the worship arts pastor in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to local church ministry, Matt equips, connects, and develops leaders in worship ministry. In 2012, Matt launched his Leaders in Worship podcast that currently has subscribers in more than 40 countries.

While delivering a powerful message through music, Matt is also a published songwriter, and has worked with a variety of recording artists such as Martha Munizzi, BJ Putnam, Freddy Rodriguez, and William McDowell. He has also produced choirs and has performed with Josh Groban, Pat Boone, and Ray Charles.

Matt and his wife, Kari, have a beautifully blended family of two daughters and five sons.

Dominique Palestis

Creative Arts Pastor

Dominique is a gifted worship leader and a classically trained vocalist who has ministered as a soloist for Southeastern University College Choir and tour groups. She joined the Peoples Church team in 2017 after she served for 13 years in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as the worship and creative arts pastor.

As an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God for more than seven years, her experience includes leading choirs, producing seasonal musical programs, and set and costume design.

She has written for and participated vocally on several music recording projects and worked as a conference organizer, speaker and evaluator in both District and National Youth Fine Arts of the Assemblies of God. Dominique wrote and directed several stage dramas at Christian Life Center and produced its first full length movie in 2016.

In her ministry, Dominique has demonstrated an ability to develop leaders, volunteers, and teams. Her passion is to help the body of Christ fulfill their calling by developing their gifts and abilities with excellence.

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 will often point to his head and say, “I don’t limp up here.”

He was a champion wrestler and coach, an avid golfer with a 5 handicap, a swimmer, and a gymnast. He believes the only things you can’t do are things you don’t attempt.

After 43 years in education, Larry retired as the superintendent of schools for Fresno County where he oversaw 35 school districts, 325 schools, and nearly 200,000 students. He also spent two years as the chairman of California’s Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team during the height of the financial crisis in California.

You can listen to Larry on his radio feature “Good News with Larry Powell” on iHeart Radio and PowerTalk 96.7, and on KSEE24 and CBS 47 as a political analyst. As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he and his wife Dot, a published author of children’s books, founded The Powell Project C3:23 to bring encouragement and hope to families and individuals who are struggling in life.

Larry has been recognized in California and his community as the 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, and was named Outstanding Alumni by the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State.

Jän Van Oosten

Assimilation Pastor

Jän was born in Reno, Nevada, but made his way to Fresno by way of Portland when he was in elementary school. After he graduated from Fresno State with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Art, Jän intended to teach at the secondary level but took a chance with a few friends to launch Valley Public Radio, KVPR-FM 89, an NPR affiliate station.

He worked as KVPR’s first general manager until he was recruited by Pastor Bufe Karraker of Northwest Church to serve as its business administrator. It wasn’t long before he was engaged in direct ministry and was led to the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, now seminary at Fresno Pacific University, graduating with a master’s degree in theology. Jän would eventually become the church planter for New Covenant Community Church in Fresno, under the direction of the Baptist General Conference.

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.

Jän has been married to Virginia for more than 45 years, and together they have a daughter, Bethany, and three terrific granddaughters.

Terry Townsend

Missions and Education Pastor

Terry was raised in Peoples Church from the age of nine, so it truly is his home church. After graduating from Vanguard University in Southern California, where he met and married his wife Lila, he spent eight years as a youth pastor in Bakersfield and Santa Maria.

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 five years pastoring with an international church in Jakarta, teaching in a ministerial training center and working with church planters across the country.

In 1992, after unexpectedly losing their Indonesian residence visa, they moved to Moscow, Russia, where they planted the International Christian Assembly. Terry also helped 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 the missions program and to plant churches. He currently provides leadership to four local church plants, the newest being Peoples Church Southeast.

Matt Markarian

Community Outreach Pastor

Born and raised in Fresno, Matt attended Peoples Church growing up and considers it a dream come true to serve as the Community Outreach Pastor. As a graduate of Fresno State with a degree in business management, he and his wife Vanessa owned and managed AOP Embroidery.

Together they ran a successful business for nearly 13 years and were fortunate enough to sell the business to answer the call to ministry. Looking back, Matt credits those years as preparation for God’s ultimate plan. Matt spent his first few years as the Junior High Pastor 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 23 years at Fresno Christian High School where his son Jarrod is an alumnus. Getting to watch young men learn the values of competition on the field and then applying it to everyday life is one of his favorite things about coaching.

Ronson Root

Director of Small Groups and Guest Services

Living in the Central Valley all his life, Ronson grew up attending church with his grandparents. Although he had a strong foundation as a young Christian, it wasn’t until 1997 that Ronson accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Ronson has faithfully served in many capacities in ministry, including high school leadership, children’s ministry, and local and international missions. He has always had a heart to serve others and be a part of connecting people to the local church. As director of small groups and guest services, Ronson is committed to helping others connect, grow, and serve.

Ronson and his wife, Genna, have been married since 2017, and together are raising two sons, Dylan and Drew. In addition to spending time with his family, Ronson loves golfing, watching documentaries, playing board games, and cheering on the Boston Red Sox.

Joni Oquist

Women’s Ministries Pastor

Joni was raised in a pastor’s home in Fort Worth, Texas, but it wasn’t until her experience at a church youth camp that she realized she was destined for a life of vocational ministry.

She received her education from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, and in 1986, married Dale Oquist. Joni has faithfully served in various areas of ministry including youth, young adults, and music, but her passion is getting to work with women as they discover who they are in Christ.

Joni has held women’s ministry positions in two previous churches in Wisconsin and Washington. She enjoys writing, teaching Bible studies, and developing leaders, and has become a pillar of support for women at Peoples Church.

She and Dale have three incredible children and a black lab named Packer, a named derived from the family’s favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. Joni lights up every room she is in, and will even break into song or switch up her accent when the mood arises!

Jason Briesacher

Children’s Pastor

Jason had to go halfway around the world to find out he was supposed to be a children’s pastor. On a mission’s trip to Lithuania at age 15, Jason was called into ministry and hasn’t looked back.


As the children’s pastor, Jason oversees everything from babies to 6th graders and loves teaching and engaging with kids. Jason has a passion to help kids have fun as they learn about God’s Word. Jason has become a leader in children’s ministries, has written curriculum for families to use in their own home, and has also been a guest writer on many blogs. Earlier in his career, Jason had the opportunity to create an anti-bullying program that was delivered to thousands of students in Arizona.

Jason enjoys writing, teaching, and spending time with his family. In his spare time, Jason likes to play golf, racquetball, softball, watch movies, engineer audio, drink coffee, play board games and video games, listen to motivational speakers or pastors, and read books.

He is joined by his wonderful wife Kathryn as they raise their children, Ronin, Tobias, Jude, and Sadie.

Alisha Moore

Associate Children’s Pastor, Preschool

Alisha was born and raised in Arizona where she grew up with three siblings in a Catholic household. While attending a Fellow Christian Athlete gathering in high school, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and dove deep into Scripture to grow her relationship with the Lord.

Her compassion and dedication to others led her to Grand Canyon University where she studied to become a nurse. In 2001, after marrying her husband, Tim, and having four children, she was drawn to helping and healing others again.

In 2010, Alisha jumped into part-time ministry serving in the preschool/nursery area of the church her family attended in Surprise, Arizona. Alisha finally had an answer as the Lord showed her that the ministry she could offer others was not physical, but spiritual relief. It was then that Alisha understood God was calling her into full-time ministry. In 2014, she entered full-time vocational ministry and in 2016, she joined the Peoples Church family to teach children about the love of Jesus.

Tim Moore

Associate Children’s Pastor, Elementary

As the son of a children’s pastor in Syracuse, New York, Tim grew up in church and accepted Jesus at six years old.

Tim married Alisha in 2003, and together they have four kids. Soon after the birth of their children, God began to work in his heart again. Feeling called to work in children’s ministry, Tim began volunteering at his local church and in 2014, he entered full-time vocational ministry in Surprise, Arizona. In 2016, Tim was led to Peoples Church where he shares the love of Jesus with elementary students.

He has a competitive spirit and loves sports of all types including softball, football, basketball, and golf. He is also just a few belts shy of his black belt in Taekwondo!

Abdiel Pagan

Student Ministries Pastor

Abdiel came to Peoples Church by way of a small southwest Oklahoma town, and before that Puerto Rico. As the student ministries pastor, he shares his passion for God by equipping and empowering students to live bold and uncompromising lives for Christ.

After graduating from Southwestern Christian University with his bachelor’s degree in Christian leadership, Abdiel attended Victory School of Leadership in Oklahoma City. Abdiel was involved in student ministry as an intern and administrative assistant for several years before joining the Peoples Church team. He wholeheartedly believes in the local church and its effectiveness in furthering the kingdom.

In his spare time, Abdiel enjoys reading, coffee, and hanging out with his friends and family. He loves going to the movies (did we mention he’s a huge Star Wars fan?), his pup Winston, and enjoying a slice of cheesecake or two. Abdiel and his wife, Jaecy, have been happily married since 2016.

Nathan Lowder

Associate Student Ministry Pastor

Nathan was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He graduated from Southwestern Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Leadership, as well as completed a ministry training program at Victory School of Leadership. After graduation, he was a part of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri for 3 months. Nathan has a heart to see a generation fall madly in love with Jesus and to see individuals within the local church awakened to global impact. Nathan enjoys playing sports, reading books, and being with friends. Nathan and his wife Darcy have been married since February of 2017.

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. The foundation of her southern charm is built on hospitality, family and morals: the fundamentals that were taught to her throughout 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.” Those values continue to be a central focus for her and her husband Al. She and Al have a beautifully blended family of five children and six grandchildren.

Barbara has always had a love for children, which is why she focused on interdisciplinary 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. Because of that trip, Barbara fully committed her life to Jesus.

Though her life has had its trials and tragedies, her love for God and family has remained constant. Whether she is directing the Fresno Christian Early Education, 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

Everything in Camelia’s life has been a platform to share new life through Jesus Christ. 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 many of her long-term goals, at the age of 30 she came to understand that true meaning, purpose, joy, and hope only comes through a relationship with Jesus.

In 1980, she was invited to join the staff as Peoples Church’s first children’s ministries director. Later, Camelia became the editor and photojournalist for the Peoples Perspective newspaper, led Evangelism Explosion for a time, and now is the team leader for Peoples Church’s Congregational Care/Ministry to Seniors.

Since starting this ministry in 2014, she has focused on building caring relationships, discovering needs, and offering spiritual and emotional encouragement to seniors. Her commitment to ensuring our seniors are valued and cared for by the Peoples Church faith family and Jesus Christ has made a significant impact in the church.

Michael Ogdon

Director of Senior Ministries

Hailing from Bellingham, Washington, Michael was raised in Silicon Valley. Mike graduated from Fremont High School and completed a music education degree from Biola University. 

Soon after graduating, 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.

In 1985, Michael earned a master’s degree in choral conducting from San Jose State University, while serving the choral and orchestral departments as a graduate assistant. While ministering in Arizona, Michael had an opportunity to work as a hospice chaplain. It was the daily responsibility to care for both patients and their family members that helped him realize his gift of mercy, and gave direction to ministries that followed.

Michael and his family moved to Fresno in 1998, where he continued his career in vocational and volunteer ministry while teaching at Fresno State and Fresno Christian Schools.