My wife, Kerri and I have been at Salem First Baptist Church since 2008. We both grew up in Oregon but then served in Colorado for 24 years before God brought us and our four kids back to Oregon. I love the church and especially enjoy seeing SFB fulfill its calling to love and serve our city and beyond. I enjoy teaching God's word, reading books, working outside, gardening, sitting and talking with people over a cup of coffee, hanging out with the grandkids or doing anything with Kerri.
Jeff Poush is the Associate Pastor at Salem First Baptist Church. He has been on staff since 1994 when he started as an intern leading the college ministry. He graduated from Willamette University in the top 1% of the lower 1/3 of his graduating class. He directed the ministry of Campus Ambassadors at Willamette University for 12 years before joining the church staff full time. Currently, he is enrolled in the fast-track program at Western Seminary, with a goal of completing his degree in only 15 years!
Jeff grew up in the church and made a personal commitment to follow Christ as a sophomore in high school. After attending a weekend camp with a friend, he was challenged to take his faith more seriously rather than simply passively attending church. Through the mentoring of a teacher, God’s Word became alive for the first time and a passion for ministry began to grow in his heart. As a freshman enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at the University of Washington, God used an encounter with an abusive church to reveal Himself to Jeff in a powerful and life-altering way. After transferring to Willamette University, Jeff led his first person to Christ and his passion for ministry was fully ignited!
Jeff has 3 children and 1 wife. He has been married to Tammy since 1999. She has never been happier. Josiah joined the family in 2002, Jeremiah in 2005 and Sierra in 2008. Jeff enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and anything associated with baseball. Elizabethan poetry and Corinthian Architecture are two things he knows absolutely nothing about. He does like making people laugh.
Jeff is also the fearless leader of Upward Basketball!
Leon Chriestenson is the pastor of Men's Ministry, Missions, and Mentoring. He has experience in farming, management, business ownership and as an insurance agent. After 17 years working full time in the insurance industry, Leon went back to school and graduated from Denver Seminary in 2008. After graduation, he had the joy of serving as a transitional/turn-around pastor, successfully leading two churches through a transition time. In 2012 Leon & Lynn moved to OR and started attending SFB. In 2013, he joined the staff at FBC.
When growing up, Leon attended church sporadically. Church had no appeal to him. He often chose the broad path that led to destruction. By the grace of God, in his late teens he heard the Gospel in a new way, bowed his knee and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He realized that he was chosen by God and precious in His sight.
Leon has been married to Lynn since 1977. They have 5 boys that were born in a 6 1/2 year span. Life was exciting-- especially when they were all teenagers and playing sports. They now have 9 grandchildren and are blessed to be a part of their lives. Lynn and Leon love to hike, bike, garden and do yard work. Leon enjoys the opportunity to build, equip and hang out with people.
Care & Evangelism
Salem First Baptist Church has been my second home since I was four days old. Yes, I have been attending SFB with my family ever since I was born. Although, being on staff or pursuing ministry was never a thought that crossed my mind as I was growing up. However, God had different plans.
I became a Christian at a young age, and was involved in all the regular church activities growing up: Awana, VBS, JOY kids, Fusion, and Thrive to name a few. During my junior year of high school, God began to grab my life in a way that I had never experienced before and as my senior year approached I felt God calling me to pursue youth ministry. So... I gave up my dream of becoming a professional baseball player and instead attended Corban University where I received my BS in Student and Family Ministries in 2016.
Since the spring of 2013, God has opened doors to several ministries both locally and around the world for me to be a part of. I have worked as an intern in both Fusion and Thrive here at SFB, an interim youth pastor on the Oregon Coast in 2016, and an intern with TIME Ministry in the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2017. I officially started in my current position as one of the Student Ministry Pastors here at Salem First Baptist Church in September of 2019.
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Jill, since March 2018 and we have an adorable little girl, Haven, who joined our family in August 2019. In my free time you can find me spending time with my family, playing sports with friends, or watching sports (specifically the Boston Red Sox and Oregon Ducks). I also enjoy hiking, barbecuing, and taking care of our yard on my days off.
I am the pastor of Young Adults and Wellness. The joke in my family is that I was birthed in a pew at church and then never left. I love the church! It hasn't always been this way, but God has gently guided me through a number of jobs leading me to realize that His local church is my favorite place to be.
I started college at Colorado State University then graduated from Corban University with a BA in English. Through that time I was co-leading the college group with some amazing friends, building homes with that same friend, and running a shelter for teen moms with my wife. While I loved what I did I was burning up fast. God graciously opened up a spot at the church for a full time Young Adult pastor and I've been in the position for the past 3 years.
As I mentioned earlier I am married to the love of my life, Audrey, and we have three kids, Gavin, Paige, and Claire.
I am passionate about helping young adults fall in love with Jesus and His church. If I have free time you will find me playing with my kids, going on adventures with my wife, or taking care of my yard. It's scary how much I love my lawn. I also raise white homing pigeons because I'm cool like that. I love good coffee, reading, and triathlons. To clarify, swimming and biking are amazing, running is stupid.
Stephanie Thorp is the Children’s Ministry Director as SFB and has been on staff since 2012. She worked as the Nursery through 2-year-olds and special events coordinator here at SFB before taking on her current position as Children’s Ministry Director. She is currently working towards earning a degree in Family Psychology at Corban University.
When Stephanie was 10 years old, her mom accepted Christ as her savior and began attending church and Stephanie followed her example not long after, at the age of 12. As a sophomore in high school, she furthered this commitment and began to develop her personal relationship with Jesus Christ and made Him the compass for her direction in life.
Beginning with serving as an Awana Cubbies leader as a high schooler, Stephanie has always enjoyed working with children in the church and impacting their lives for God. She also loved serving on the Mom2Mom leadership team here at SFB for several years. Her heart is to see all children at SFB become deeply rooted in their faith, develop a close relationship with Jesus, and grow in community with one another. Stephanie loves partnering with parents and helping to equip them in the process of raising their children to be followers of Christ.
Stephanie has been married to her husband Josh since 2005 and together they have four daughters, Madison, Makenzie, Ellie, and Hailey. They enjoy spending time together as a family with trips to the beach and Sunriver, visiting Disneyland, and hanging out together at home playing games or enjoying a family movie night. When time allows, she loves to share a good meal with friends or hit up a local coffee shop with a good book.
Care & Support
As Director of Care and Recovery Ministries at Salem First Baptist Church, I believe I am in the perfect place God has created for me. This role fills my desire to come alongside people to help them discover all they can be in Christ. Since 2009 when I joined the First B staff, God has used my life experiences to provide “continuing education” in order to serve at SFB. Ministering to those on the journey of healing through divorce, those discovering hope in grief, encouraging widows with loss and walking with those desiring to grow in their experience of God keep me humble and trusting The Father.
I have three adult sons who all live with their families in Bend. “Grandchildren are the most precious ‘joy-makers’ God ever created” and mine are a true joy!