Volunteer helping child

Get to Know our Volunteers & Staff

Andy Saperstein

August 2024 Staff Member
It is a most bitter-sweet message we have to share with you that our cherished colleague and friend, Pastor Andy Saperstein, will be departing from Vineyard Columbus at the end of the Summer. He will be joining a wonderful sister Vineyard church as their new Associate Pastor, located near his former residence of New Haven, CT where his daughter and grandkids currently reside. While we couldn't be happier for Andy, and for the new Vineyard church home he will soon serve, it's impossible not to feel sadness as we begin to bid him Godspeed and farewell. Andy has been an integral part of our pastoral staff for years, having served overseas for more than a decade as one of the first missionaries sent by this church, and then rejoined pastoral staff locally here in Columbus, Ohio in 2010 as Small Groups pastor. Most recently Pastor Andy Saperstein served as our Pastor for Global Missions and Leader Formation. He's also published a book titled, 12-for-12: A Practical Guide for a Year of Spiritual Formation in Community, available in our bookstore. Andy has contributed to our entire church family with his exceptional skill, wit, wisdom, and even quirkiness! His impact has been felt deeply, and will be felt, wherever he goes.

A Letter from Andy:
"I will be 64 in June and have felt for some that the requirements of running point on International Ministries at a large church while also leading our 12-for-12 spiritual formation group ministry was no longer sustainable for me or a good stewardship of my gifts. I recently completed a book – 12-for-12: A Practical Guide for a Year of Spiritual Formation in Community that will be self-published in VC’s name in the coming weeks, and I sense a strong call from God to do more writing. Elm City Vineyard, like Vineyard Columbus, is deeply beloved to us – we were part of the team that planted it in 2007 soon after our family had returned from Uzbekistan and I was working at Yale Divinity School, and to reconnect with a church we helped plant after fifteen years away has a symmetry and sweetness about it. Also, Kathryn and I still co-own a house in New Haven, and our daughter Claire and her family (including three grandchildren), live in the upstairs flat – we will move into the downstairs flat. And to come alongside a young pastor of color in a church whose median age is about half of ours; build out pathways of spiritual formation, discipleship, and pastoral care; have regular opportunities to teach, preach, and write more; and all in an urban, bikeable, Ivy League town is an opportunity we sense much faith, grace, and vision for. To allow more time for writing, I will be working 30 hours a week at Elm City Vineyard, establishing a not-for-profit committed to developing missional and formational resources for churches and Christian organizations, and taking 10-15 hours a week to write. We will of course carry our deep commitment to overseas work with us and remain involved in and connected to overseas projects and people, including people from Vineyard Columbus. All of this is of course incredibly bittersweet for Kathryn and me. We came to this church in 1982 in the second week of our marriage, and we have grown up here in our life with Jesus. We have an incredible wealth of deep relationships with people of diverse ages and ethnicities, and a deep love for this church that has formed us over the years into the people we are now. We simply would not be who we are without Vineyard Columbus, and it will be hard to move away. We will keep our house in Columbus where our daughter and her family will live, but it will be hard to be farther away from our home base in Columbus.

Please pray for the ministry transition and for Pastor Andy as he prepares for a move to his new role. If you'd like to write an encouragement or prayer of blessing, please reach out via email.
Andy and Kathryn Saperstein

Meet Brooke

June 2024 Staff Member
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, I am Brooke Simwero! When I was sixteen, I met Jesus in a very tangible way, and then began this wild, beautiful adventure of giving my heart over to Him. Through spending most of my twenties serving and doing life in Haiti and Kenya, the Lord made very clear my call to ministry. I find immense joy in getting to walk alongside people as they learn who they are in Christ, and the part they play in the Story He is writing. I am married to my amazing husband, Jacob, and together we have a character-filled toddler named Juniya. It is with rejoicing that He has called me back home to Columbus after nine years.

Where do you serve?
I am our Westerville Small Groups Pastor Resident! I will be starting the pastor residency program in the fall and am currently loving our church by caring for our Small Groups Ministry and its amazing leaders.

What do you love about where you serve / what you're doing?
I savor getting to know our leaders and hearing about what God is doing through them in their small group. I also delight in getting to interact with our diverse international population. One of the ways that God is allowing me to do that is through my English Learner’s Big Small Group – a place for anyone who is learning English to be in a space to build community, get curious about Jesus and practice English together! Creating small group spaces for the brave people that have immigrated from other countries satisfies something very deep in my heart that I know was put there by God.

What is something you'd like for people to know about the ministry you're in?
Those who have chosen to lead small groups within are church are devoted, fervent lovers of Jesus. Although often “behind the scenes”, they have an impact in our church and community that reaches hundreds and hundreds of people. The leaders I’ve gotten to sit with personally have genuinely blessed me with their wisdom and love for the people they feel called to serve. It is such an honor to get to learn from them.

Meet Ellen

April 2024 Volunteer
In late 2022, Ohio was coming out of pandemic isolation, the church was in person again, and yet I felt as isolated as ever. I particularly felt disconnected from God.  I was struggling with my faith, trying to figure out where I fit, feeling the need for more Christian relationships in my life, and wanting to serve in ways that aligned with my passions. I distinctly remember crying out to God in my loneliness for some sort of breakthrough.

Enter the creation care ministry!  A posting on Vineyard Columbus’ Instagram page brought me to Jenney Rice and the creation care team. It was an answer to prayer! How could it be that this group would fall into my lap, just as I was asking God for more? It was supremely divine.

Creation care is founded on the belief that God very much cares for all that he has created.  He cares for all people. He cares for all the animals–the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. He cares for the rivers and oceans, the forests and mountains. He cares; and as His followers, we should do the same.  

Unbeknownst to me, prior to my involvement with Vineyard Columbus’ ministry, I had already been practicing creation care. I just didn’t know the word for it, or how it fit into God’s narrative.  And perhaps you have been practicing creation care too!  

After learning about the difficulties faced by the people on the other side of the globe that make our clothes and other household goods, I switched to purchasing mostly second hand or Fair Trade goods. Finding out about the impacts of plastics on the wildlife around me, I worked to lessen the amount that I used, replacing single-use sandwich bags with reusable silicone ones, and switching from plastic wrap to beeswax wrap.  And seeing all the weeds in my backyard, I obtained permission from my landlord to have a garden and filled it with native plants.

There are so many ways we can partner with Christ to benefit the world. We can modify how we shop, what we consume, where we serve and how we advocate. Every time we choose to bike instead of drive? That’s creation care.  Every time we decide to prepare a meat-free dinner? That’s creation care!  Every time we volunteer to clean trash out of our rivers?  That’s creation care!  

It can seem like a lot when you’re starting at ground zero. But all it takes is one action to get the ball rolling!  Left foot, right foot.

If you’re looking for a simple way to begin, we have an amazing opportunity to support our community with the Northwold Community Garden. We volunteer our time to cultivate and harvest fresh produce to give away to local and low-income families served by the Vineyard Columbus food pantry.  We practice caring for creation by gardening without harsh chemicals, watering responsibly, and then delivering our harvest to the people that need it most. And how amazing it is to put hands in the dirt and see the work of creation care springing forth from the ground!

Perhaps you already have a strong knowledge base in sustainability, whether the theoretical science side or the practical application aspects. If so, there is space for you!  The creation care team meets on a monthly basis, not just to plan for the garden, but also to brainstorm other opportunities for the church.  Through this we’ve been able to partner with youth ministries to hold an educational session on the realities of fast fashion, as well as a teen clothing swap!  

Creation care has brought me closer to God. I’ve been able to worship him with my time in practical ways. It’s given me the community I was seeking. It’s been incredibly fruitful to see other followers of Christ be so passionate about all of the good things he created when he formed our world.  And our team invites all who are interested, anyone who’s feeling a little tug or the still small voice, to come and join us!

For more information about serving in Vineyard Creation Care ministry, please contact Jenney Rice.

Meet Anthony

February 2024 Staff Member
In 2009, while working for the US Army, after my 20 plus years of service as an active duty soldier, I was offered a job at Vineyard Columbus (VC) as an Assistant Pastor. This was made possible because Eric and Julia Pickerill had left to plant a church in Amsterdam and had taken a staff member with them, leaving an open position for me to step in to.  

I started my time at VC working with men’s small groups and overseeing events such as the welcome dinner and our membership class. During that time I also ran a men’s basketball league in the Community Center that was one of the most competitive leagues in the city. With that, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from outside of the church who would become lifelong friends. During that time I also gave a devotion to many men outside of the church, who otherwise wouldn’t hear a sermon, or a talk about Jesus. This shaped my time at VC in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. It was because of this time with so many unchurched people that I developed my love for the city of Columbus and my joy for reaching people who otherwise wouldn’t come to church.  

Most significant to me during this time was sitting on a daily basis learning and developing my Christian ethic under Rich Nathan. I consider Rich to be one of the most significant people in my life of faith and pastoring.  

Rich recognized that my gifting was not in building more men’s small groups, but in caring for people in all walks of life. I soon partnered with VC Pastor Dan Franz and we launched a training program for lay chaplains. It was during that time that my desire for the sick and shut-in, and people experiencing loss began to blossom. It was also during this time that VC member and leader John Cook and I started Midpoint. This was a way of meeting with people who were not ready to go to someone’s house for small group, but were willing to meet around tables during the week and “do” life together. Teaching with John and sharing life with so many people was so life-giving for me.  

It was then that I knew that my niche in ministry was in this area. I realized that my gift to the Kingdom and to VC was in caring for people who were hurting. I trained in the school of spiritual direction, read books and attended training in caring for people. In a partnership with National Church Residences we began to deploy people to visit the elderly, sick, and shut-ins. This changed me into the person I am today.  

When our current Senior Pastors, Eric and Julia Pickerill began their leadership, they allowed me to become the Staff Pastor. With over 200+ people on staff, I had the privilege of caring for the souls of the staff. I can say without reservation that this ministry has been the highlight of my life.

I love the staff at VC. I love the congregation at VC. I leave full-time ministry knowing that I have served in the ministry of my dreams.

None of this would have been possible with the sacrifice of my loving wife Nina, our children Demetrius, Cardel, and Brittany, and all of my extended family who loved me even when I was unavailable for things as a soldier and pastor. But now I hope to spend my time caring and sharing with my big family.  

I plan to still be available on a limited basis to serve this church and congregation. I know God is not finished with me yet. He’s just allowed me a chance to approach life from a different angle.   I owe so much to VC. Thank you for being a church of Jesus. Thank you for being a church of justice. Thanks for being my family. I just hope and pray that you all received as much from me as you have given to me.  

I love you all; Jesus loves you more.  

Anthony  

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
– Galatians 2:20 (Life Verse)
Anthony and Nina Cannon

Meet Paul

January 2024 Staff Member
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a small, one stop light town called Green Springs, OH, but I have lived in Columbus for 10 years now and been on staff at Vineyard for 8 of those 10 years! My wife Leah and I will be celebrating our third year of marriage in March, and have a nearly 8 month old son named Howard. When I'm not doing church/music things, I spend a lot of my time both playing and watching sports. In particular I love Basketball, Football, and golf (in that order haha).

Where do you serve?
I've been a part of our worship staff for the entirety of my 20's, but I have also been meaningfully connected to every version of young adult ministry during that time. Over the last few months the Lord began speaking to Leah and I about leaning in and pastoring the young adult community in our church (as well as showing us how we've already been doing that without know it), and this ultimately led me to saying "yes" to becoming the next young adult pastor at Vineyard Columbus! This is not a change either of us were expecting, but it is one we feel deeply called to. Don't worry...I'll still be leading worship, just a bit less than usual.

What do you love about where you serve / what you're doing?
I am so excited about what God has in store for young adults at Vineyard! This is a season that feels open for dreaming/building something with and for the twenty-somethings in our church...and there is quite a bit of energy bubbling up to do just that. My hope for young adults at VC is that they would have spaces to be meaningfully connected, deeply formed in the way of Jesus, and on mission in our city and the world.

What is something you'd like for people to know about the ministry you're in?
There are many things I love about pastoring, but I'd say my favorite thing is seeing people become awake to the love of God in their life, and then realizing that they actually have a meaningful role to play in His kingdom...that's the good stuff right there!
Paul Cullen

Meet Gaby

December 2023 Volunteer
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Clinical Mental Health Counselor specializing in trauma. I live in Hilliard with my extremely kind husband, Clay, and our extremely cute dog, Penny.  I love to be outside, whether at a park with my pup or getting my hands dirty gardening. A fun fact about me is that I used to be a boxing coach as well as a competitive dancer, a fun combo!

Where do you serve?
I joined the Grandview campus as soon as it launched, and went to Westerville campus for about 6 years before that. Over my time at Vineyard I have served in Kids ministry, hospitality, and as a small group leader. Most recently, I served by organizing six weeks of "Grandview Gather," an event occurring between services to provide a space for community to grow in authentic ways. It was fun to be an event planner for a few weeks and get to be creative with ways for our church to experience new things together!

What do you love about where you serve / what you're doing?
I really enjoy serving in the background where I can prepare the table for others, then watch from the wings as God works and people come together. Serving as an organizer for Grandview Gather has helped me to feel empowered to share my ideas and really value the sacred process of cultivating hospitality for others. Hospitality is incredibly important throughout the Bible and having the opportunity to serve in this way has enabled me to work to embody hospitality in my personal life as well.

What is something you'd like for people to know about the ministry you're in?
From being a counselor, I have learned that we are much more alike than we are different. Most of us are afraid to approach a new person and strike up a conversation, compliment a stranger, or be vulnerable with others. Coming from a ministry aiming to create community, I would urge people to do it anyway. Recognize your discomfort of reaching out, follow the Spirit's promptings, and extend a hand of friendship. God moves in the places where fear clouds our ability to discern His will. Each of us has the incredible power to share encouraging words, a thoughtful prayer, or even a comforting hug. Recognize that God has given you this ability to help others feel less alone and that is truly very special.
Meet Gaby

Meet Connie

November 2023 Volunteer
Tell us a little about yourself.
Randy and I joined Vineyard Columbus over 30 years ago, and it's proven to be one of the best decisions we've ever made. We have been married almost 42 years, have three adult kids and four grandchildren, and we are super thankful that they all live within an hour of us.
I work for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national campus ministry, as a Multiethnic Resource Specialist. One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to develop and lead trainings for many of our staff across the country. 

Fun fact: I am one of just a handful of people who have served on the staff of both InterVarsity and Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ). Interestingly, another person who has done this is also a member of VC, Howard Van Cleave.

Where do you serve?
Randy and I have hosted and led small groups here at VC for decades. The group we currently host and co-lead (along with 3 others) is called Generations Kinship. The group has members from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and different generations from 20s to 70s.

What do you love about where you serve / what you're doing?
We love leading home groups because we see them as front-line pastoral ministry. This is where we get to know people deeply, it's where people care for one another, it's often the place where people learn to hear from the Lord and follow the Spirit's leading in their lives, it's where we study the Scripture in community, it's where cross-cultural and cross-generational relationships can be formed, and it's a place where leaders are developed. We have often had the privilege of blessing and sending out leaders from our group to other groups and ministries. And in a multigenerational group like ours, there are opportunities for older believers to walk alongside younger people, and that's life-giving for everyone.  

What is something you'd like for people to know about the ministry you're in?
Leading a small group is a high calling, worthy of investing your life! And our church has amazing pastors who have expertise in a wide range of areas so that you will receive training and support and can turn to them when people have needs that are beyond what the group alone can meet. You're never out there on your own.
Meet Connie