LEAD PASTOR SCOTT GAGLARDI
Scott is married to Naomi and they have three children, Mercedes (22), Emerson (20) and Hudson (17). Scott and Naomi first met at a Port Moody Pentecostal church youth retreat (he was 13 and she was 12, but don’t tell their daughter). They got married in 1991 after Scott’s first year at Western Pentecostal Bible College, and he graduated from Western in 1993. Prior to moving to Chilliwack in November 2014, they lived in the Comox Valley for 18 years, pastoring a local church. From 2012-2014 Scott was involved with the Courtenay Volunteer Fire department and he is looking forward to doing the same here in Chilliwack.
Scott and Naomi love the local Church and have a passion to see people grow in a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus so they can express the life and love of Jesus to the community around them. They have a desire to lead the Church, and live in such a way, that the statement of Acts 8:8 ‘and there was great joy in the city’ would be realized in Chilliwack.
Youth & Young Adults Pastor Jesse Leimer
Jesse is married to Erin, and they are new to Chilliwack as of November 2016. Jesse and Erin have quite the story about how God brought them together, something you should surely ask them about when you meet either one of them. At an early age, Jesse felt called to be a pastor and in 2010 he began attending Summit Pacific College, where he spent four years. Soon after his graduation, Jesse moved back to Calgary to work at a church in the student ministries department, where he ministered to everyone from preteens to young adults. During this season, Erin and Jesse were married on May 9, 2015. If you want to get Jesse excited, ask him about Jesus, coffee, books, or his wife, Erin.
Jesse has a strong calling for seeing the next generation reach their full potential in Christ. He wants to see students living their best life in Christ throughout their school, relationships, families, and communities. The next generation has a passion and drive to see a movement of Jesus in their cities, and Jesse make it his purpose to encourage, inspire and empower them to be that movement here in Chilliwack.
children & FAMILY PASTOR Erin hall
Worship arts director Mercedes Gaglardi
Mercedes has been an active part of the First Ave family since finishing her studies at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, mid 2015. There she studied Worship Ministry along with Pastoral Leadership for 2 years, and developed a passion for the local & global church; seeing people connected to Jesus and an authentic church family.
You'll find Mercedes serving weekly in our youth ministry, as well as on a Sunday morning, leading or serving with our music teams. You might also find her snapping a cute 'gram' while sipping her 2nd or 3rd coffee of the day.
Mercedes has grown up in church, and has been involved in leading and service within worship ministry for the last 7 years. She truly believes she is called to help people know Jesus through worship ministry, as that is where she initially understood who Jesus is herself.
executive pastor Richard niezen
Richard was born and raised on a dairy farm here in Chilliwack. He has called First Ave his home church since he was 5 years old. He is married to Cindy and has 3 children; Jamison (18), Samuel (15) and Beth (4). Richard is a Journeyman Chef and has a BA in Education from UBC.
Richard has a heart to see the Church be the Church - a group of believers that answers the call to "go into all the world..." meeting felt needs, showing love, and ultimately making an eternal difference. He believes that every interaction with our great city is a chance to showcase the extravagant love that God has for us. As Executive Pastor, Richard is passionate about helping facilitate opportunities for First Ave to serve, love, and bring about "Great Joy in Our City."