Pastor & Leadership Team

 

Pastor Ben Risser

Ben Risser (ben@ridgewaymennonite.org) has been pastor at Ridgeway since July 2004. He grew up in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, but lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, since 1983. He has a BA in Social Work from EMU and a Master of Arts in Church Leadership from Eastern Mennonite Seminary. His pastoral gifts were affirmed, and he received a growing sense of call, while involved in lay leadership in a neighboring church. He had always been interested in working with people. All of what went before in his life, including his job as Juvenile Probation Parole Officer, was preparation for the work he is doing now. What he enjoys most about his work is the opportunity to be involved in the lives of people in a way no other job affords. He connects with people at a deep level in all of life phases, during the best and worst of times in their lives. He also, somewhat to his surprise, enjoys preaching. His preaching is Scripture based, Jesus centered. He uses conversational style, connecting with current events, posing questions, and delivering challenges.

Ben’s wife, Kathy, along with her role as a registered nurse, is a gracious and helpful ministry partner, assisting Pastor Ben in visitation and hospitality, and very involved in all of church life.

Together they work on promoting the church’s vision. Pastor Ben’s interest is enabling the congregation in developing a vision that we all work toward. He wants the church to be a witnessing and growing congregation, growing in spiritual depth, as well as calling and inviting others to experience the life that Christ has for us.

In addition to Pastor Ben’s work at Ridgeway, he is a chaplain at the Rockingham Regional Jail holding weekly Bible studies, and is on the Congregational Life Committee of Virginia Mennonite Conference.  He enjoys reading, biking, hiking, gardening, and spending time with his family — his wife, Kathy, their three adult daughters, 3 sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.

Associate Pastors Tom and Joy Martin

tom-and-joyTom and Joy Martin (tom@ridgewaymennonite.org & joy@ridgewaymennonite.org) began their roles as Associate Pastors at Ridgeway in October 2013. They are sharing the half-time position – each of them contributing their own unique gifts – which involves administrative tasks and overseeing youth programs. They will also assist with preaching and pastoral care.

Tom grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania. The church was the center of his family’s life. In 1985 he graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in Christian Ministry. Some earlier ministry experiences included being an associate pastor, youth pastor, and program director for a retreat center. Along with being a pastor, he drives tractor trailer for a local company.  He enjoys playing tennis and kayaking.

Joy was born in New York, but grew up in south Jersey where her parents were active in church work. She also attended EMU in the 80’s and recently completed requirements for a Master’s degree in Counseling from EMU. Previous employment included a variety of nursing jobs.  She currently works in student support at EMU.  She serves on the quilt committee for the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale, enjoys hand quilting, and perennial gardening.

Tom and Joy are parents of three children and served as foster parents which lead to the adoption of their son. They have two daughters who are married and one son.  Family is a very important part of Tom and Joy’s life. In Tom’s words, “Family relationships are enduring, bring lots of joy, and give meaning and value to life.”

Community Ministry Coordinator

Erika Gascho (erika@ridgewaymennonite.org) serves as Ridgeway’s Community Ministry Coordinator. Her role includes planning and leading Kids Club and the Summer Connection Program for the children. In addition, she coordinates various other community activities, which have included, a community garden and summer camp participation for children in the neighborhood surrounding Ridgeway. Erika is excited to see how this position grows as visions for ministry are identified.

Erika grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to the Shenandoah Valley to attend Eastern Mennonite University. After graduating she became an Elementary Special Education teacher in Harrisonburg City Schools. In 2015 she decided to work from home to spend more time with her son and be more involved with church. Erika and her husband, Andrew, have attended Ridgeway since 2009. They enjoy leading the Junior High Youth Group, teaching Sunday School, and being part of the Young Adult class.

Office Administrator

img_9858Sarah Showalter (office@ridgewaymennonite.com) has served as Ridgeway’s Church Office Administrator since 2016.  Her half-time role includes communications, office tasks, serving on the worship commission, and supporting the pastor team.
Sarah grew up in Archbold, Ohio, attended Eastern Mennonite University to study social work, and spent a year serving with VMMissions in Thailand before settling in Harrisonburg.  Sarah and her husband Austin are parents to a sweet little boy in heaven, Andre Linden Jay.  They live in the parsonage next to Ridgeway and enjoy spending time hanging out with the many kids in the neighborhood.  Austin has been attending Ridgeway since 2011, and Sarah joined him in 2014.  Together they lead music at Ridgeway, help with Kids Club, and participate in the Young Adult group.

Leadership Team

Glen Kauffman serves as the Church Council Chair at Ridgeway Mennonite Church.  He and his wife Sandy have attended Ridgeway since May 1988.  He previously served as the Stewardship Commissioner at Ridgeway.  Glen grew up in western PA and lived in WV for 2 years prior to coming to Eastern Mennonite University as an undergraduate student.  He received his BS in Mathematics in 1982 and an MBA degree from EMU in 2006.  Glen works for Everence as a financial advisor where he assists individuals and organizations integrate faith and finances.  Glen’s vision for his role at Ridgeway is to facilitate good communication and efficient structures that allows Ridgeway to continue to grow and reach its potential as a congregation.


Tom Oberholtzer grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvannia, and came to the Valley to attend Eastern Mennonite University. His life is thoroughly filled with his young family, growing business and exciting church involvements. He loves adventure and has hiked volcanoes, glaciers, ancient ruins and was thrilled to go sky diving with his wife. He loves experiencing new things in life.  As a member of the leadership team he looks forward to discovering how his roles evolves. He admits that it is extremely humbling to know all his weaknesses while also knowing God desires to use him in this role, to simply walk with Him in obedience one step at a time.


Samuel Sauder grew up in various places in North and Central America as his parents were missionaries. His early years were in Honduras and he also spent time in Dominican Republic. In college, a defining time was in Youth Evangelism Service (YES) under Eastern Mennonite Missions where his faith grew and he was able to integrate various cultures. This was also a time for leadership development and testing his skills in drama and music.

He currently works at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) as a computer software support analyst. This involves designing business processes and finding ways for data to collaborate across systems. He and his wife like to travel and watch their two daughters in their athletic and music endeavors. Sam enjoys the outdoors, golf and either watching or playing a good game of soccer.
At Ridgeway he has been involved in various roles with gift discernment, leading praise teams, coordinating worship, and installing technology. One important value he feels is unique to Ridgeway is the opportunities to try new things, learn and develop. As an elder one thing he wants to focus on is conflict resolution and bringing people together in the strong bond of Christ’s love.

 


Marcia Rempel Weaver spent most of her childhood as a missionary kid in Brazil. Her family moved to Kansas where she graduated from high school and connected to her Russian Mennonite roots. She came to the valley via Eastern Mennonite University, where she met her husband.  She majored in Art, Youth Ministry and got a minor in Teaching English as a Second language. After working in all these areas she has now settled into a career in finance as she works at Park View Federal Credit Union as a branch manager. She has two teenagers to run after and lots of soccer games to watch. She loves to cook – trying crazy new recipes and constantly inflicting the results on her long-suffering family. Marcia has attended Ridgeway since 1996. She is excited to see how Ridgeway is responding to the call God has placed on the church to show God’s love to the neighborhood. She hopes to support this growing effort.

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