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Our Staff

Sr. Minister / Jeffrey W. Lancaster, Sr.

Welcome to Redeemer. One of my life’s greatest privileges has been to help start this church. My life is so interwoven with this church, that having a picture of my life might help give you a better understanding of Redeemer.

First, let me share my passion for ministry. Then, I want to brag on my family.

After coming to faith in Christ in high school, I began to sense, albeit faint, the first promptings of a call to the gospel ministry. This sense of calling continued growing during college (I attended Mississippi State University from 1982-1984 then transferred to Ole Miss where I finished in May of 1986 with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree).

Following college I decided to test the waters on the ministry thing by serving 3 years with Jr. and Sr. High students at Faith Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven, Miss.  During those years the dear people in that church, who were willing to indulge my youthfulness, were used by God to confirm my call to the gospel ministry, so I returned to my hometown of Jackson, Miss. and attended Reformed Theological Seminary where I received a Master’s of Divinity degree in 1992.  I was officially ordained as a minister in November that year.

Throughout the course of my Christian experience I’ve always felt the need to be a bit out-of-the-box in my ministry efforts rather than working within the structures of older more established church ministries. In the movie Raising Arizona, the character H. I. McDonough sums his life (and mine) up with the words, “Prison life is structured – more’n some people care for.”

I don’t feel like I’m wired for establishment structures, but more inclined to risky, challenging, and sometimes adventurous works.  I’ve cherished the chance to make my way into jails and prisons to minister. I’ve loved moving into inner-city areas and working from scratch to build relationships with peers while playing basketball on the street courts. It was a blast working in a local church to re-build a youth ministry in that church while reaching outside the walls of the church in an effort to minister to other teenagers in the broader community.  I spent 7 wonderful years working as the RUF campus minister at Ole Miss.

Well, over the past 20 or so years one of the great joys of my life has been church planting.  I’ve had the privilege of sharing in 3 church planting efforts. While working in campus ministry, I joined a small group of people in Oxford, MS to launch Christ Presbyterian Church in that wonderful community.

That experience whet my appetite for more church planting - the new direction of my life.  In the fall of 1998 I received a call to move into the heart of center-city New Orleans to plant a church from scratch.  This was what they called a “parachute church plant” – no group was already in place.  I labored in that wonderful missional effort from June of 1999 through January of 2006. But the devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced our family to make the difficult decision of relocating.

In 2006, the Lord graciously opened up a new church planting opportunity in Midtown/Downtown Memphis with a small core of eager and nervous believers.  From the start, we all believed the Lord was calling us to give ourselves to “out-of-the-box” pioneering ministry. Since then, the Lord has humbled us, blessed us, challenged us, comforted us, built us, and broke us; and we have enjoyed every moment

Now, allow me to introduce you to my family.

Twenty-six years ago God brought the former Cathy Cunningham in my life to share in this adventure.  We married in December of 1989 and my life hasn’t been the same since.  A dear elderly woman friend of mine once said of my relationship with Cathy, “Jeffrey, Cathy keeps your life from being brown.”  She has added amazing color and joy to my life in more ways than I can number.  She’s creative, funny, fun, adventurous, tough, big-hearted, challenging, encouraging, confrontational (which I need), and richly loving to those in her life.  Though Christ is the supreme joy of my life, Cathy remains my “true north.”  Recently, Cathy has become an accomplished artist. I’m pretty proud of my Lady!

Check out her work and see for yourself:

As a couple it’s been our joy to raise 3 wonderful children.  They’ve continued to add to our life of joyful adventure.

  • Lucy is now 21 and about to graduate Ole Miss with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish.  She plans to begin nursing school here in Memphis the Fall of 2016.
  • Jeffrey Jr. (not to be confused with Nathan, Jr.) is a sophomore at Ole Miss majoring in Accounting.
  • Bedon is a senior at White Station High School and plans to enroll at Ole Miss in the Fall of 2016.

My family and I love:  All things music (jazz, rock, blues, alternative, soul, folk, rap, classical, country – the old stuff not the new faux country, etc. – there’s always music playing in our home and we love frequenting big shows as well as local live music venues), fishing, beach and mountain visits, movies, theatre plays, every sport with a ball, ballet, and great food (Heck, we’ve lived a number of years in New Orleans and Memphis).  My wife and I love cooking and entertaining (She’s the inside gourmet cook and I’m the outside Big Green Egg Griller and Smoker).  It’s been our joy to have our home serve as Grand Central Station for our children’s friends.  We love the noise, fun, and all the celebration.

Praise the Lord and pass me some adventure!  Grateful to our risen Christ for his kindness in including me on his most wonderful redemption adventure!

Looking forward to what’s ahead…

With love,
Jeffrey

Assistant Pastor / Ben Winkler

The Winkler family landed in Memphis in July 2015. Both Ben and Whitney are natives of Peoria, IL where they grew up sitting side-by-side in Sunday School. Rumor has it that an amazingly awkward, sophomore-year dance picture is hidden somewhere in their house! Downtown Chicago was their next stop, where they were engaged and married before finally graduating from Moody Bible Institute in 2008. From there, the Lord surprised them with an unexpected stop in Bowling Green, KY to be a part of a new church plant. Once an aspiring engineer, Ben found himself sitting “criss-cross applesauce” in a kindergarten classroom as a special education teacher’s aide. It was in this sweet and terrifyingly under-employed season of life that God gave Ben and Whitney a new sense of his grace and reaffirmed his call on their lives to pursue pastoral ministry. Ben graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary in May 2015 and was ordained the same year.

Ben and Whitney have been blessed with 3 incredible kids. Ellie (6) loves nothing more than a good story and spends most of her time dreaming that she is engaged in some epic quest to vanquish the evil villains hiding behind every corner. Simon (4) is the usual sidekick in such battles…unless it happens to be time for a snack (which it usually is). Levi (1) is yet to enter into the fray of such battles, so he typically prefers to just hang out with his mommy. Of course, it is Whitney who holds the household together. Super Mommy by day and creative genius by night, Whitney is always creating. Watercolor painting is her newest medium (follow @beatriceinblue on Instagram or stop by her Etsy store for a taste), though her work as a singer-songwriter is not to be missed (you probably want to check out her music here or here)! It does not matter if it is painting, music, sewing, or finding the perfect piece of vintage home décor, with a cup of good coffee in hand, there isn’t much that she can’t do! While new to the landscape of Memphis, the Winklers have loved exploring their new city and are excited to be a part of its future!

Ministry Intern (Youth Ministry) / Adam Naylor

After graduating from The University of Alabama in 2011, Adam led the music ministry and a men’s freshman Bible study for a year with The Navigators at his alma mater. He spent the next two years in Nashville writing and playing music with three of his best friends, while continuing to lead a music team and a men’s freshman Bible study for The Navigators at Belmont University and Vanderbilt University. Upon moving to Memphis, he worked in administration for a year with Memphis Athletic Ministries before taking on his current role as the director of youth at Redeemer. He and his wife, Mollie, met while in school at The U of A, and they have been married since July 2014. Mollie recently graduated from Memphis Teacher Residency, and she has spent the last few years teaching English at The Collegiate School of Memphis. The Naylor’s love the Midtown community, and they are excited to serve our students.

Director of Children’s Ministry / Katie Futrell

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Special Education. During my time at Auburn, I happened to fall in love with a Memphis boy all while eating boiled peanuts and catching bream together out of an aluminum fishing boat. Matt and I married in 2005 and settled in Memphis, a return to Matt’s hometown and the city where my grandmother grew up. After a seven year stint in the classroom, I resigned to stay home with our girls, Mary Thomas (born 2009), Ellie (born 2011), and Claire (born 2016). I love Coca Cola, country air, Central BBQ, and the humor of Jimmy Fallon. I take great delight in supporting my husband’s revitalization efforts throughout the Bluff City, and most recently, God’s blessing of his construction management leadership on the Crosstown Concourse building. Matt and I love being a part of the New Ballet Ensemble and School family and I also enjoy serving as much as I can with the Forrest Spence Fund. In the spring of 2013, I came on staff with Redeemer as the Nursery Ministry Coordinator and shorty thereafter moved into the role of Director of Children’s Ministry. Matt and I have been members of Redeemer since 2007.

Worship Music Coordinator / Josh Threlkeld

Earthy, soulful, quality people make up this group that gathers under the name “Redeemer.” I happened into the upper room of a midtown house one summer Sunday night because my dear friend and collaborator was asked to play keys for their meeting. I came solely because of who he was –he’d played more empty coffee shops and chicken-wire bars with me than I could count so, even though I had no interest in playing for a church, I knew it would be good music. He knew this about me and said I might be surprised at these folks. He was right. The warmth and goodness of the gathering, the power of the story being spoken of –one that unflinchingly embraces all our humanness and the physicality of this life in heartbreakingly holy, redeeming, healing arms- it was all something I wouldn’t mind showing up for again– even the simple ditties they sang.

Freeze-frame that sweet scene, and cut to montage of me scrapping out a life as a musician for over 15 years –teaching guitar at GPAC and several schools in the Memphis area, writing original songs and performing them everywhere from Hal and Mal’s to Lincoln Center (2004 GMA Award, 2013 Newsong Competition Award), and scoring soundtracks for commercials and shortfilms. A fun, gratifying life. Now, pause that scene and watch the screen explode into a symphony of color and sound all around you with air you feel you’re breathing for the first time and everything just as it was before only deeper and better… That’s me meeting Kerrye and her two girls Sarah Grace and Krista. Instant family. Instant amazing. Progressive yeehaw realization that I have reached complete happiness. Yes. Nirvana. No. Not the band. I reached the fullness of love.

No more freeze-framing or fast-forwarding now, only letting this love-filled life play out. But, the funny thing about Love (I’m discovering) is that it fills completely only to then make more room to fill. I was really surprised at this because having Kerrye and the girls in my life made an expanding awareness and care for the world around me in a whole new way. This is spilling over into work with Memphis and the needs of this city’s people in creative and exciting ways; music at Redeemer is one of those. I believe that gathering together on a Sunday morning and singing Songs to the Hero of that powerful story who opens the way to love in life, our creating, embracing, redeeming God, is one of the most limitlessly Good things there is.

It’s been almost a decade since that summer night and I’ve played many sets of music in places all over for more pleasant and passing people than I can count, but something about this place with these people had me still showing up. I’ve seen them endure hard times and stay true, holding fast their vision and heart for Memphis and beloved community here. They live that out day-to-day and I’m honored to now join in this work together with them as a church reflecting our Redeemer in quality, soulful, earthy, unexpected ways.

joshtunes.com
ourdailybeat.org

Operations Administrator / Debbie Wilkins

Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Debbie Wilkins grew up surrounded by the rich culture and historical music that tourists flock to Memphis to enjoy.  Previous employment in Economic Development with the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce afforded Debbie the opportunity early-on to experience first-hand many of the amenities in Memphis that are still at work luring new commerce, scholars, artists, and musicians to this city.  Prior to working for Redeemer, as the Development/Special Events Manager for The Children’s Museum of Memphis, Debbie forged many partnerships with the mainstays of Memphis including the Grizzlies, Redbirds, New Ballet, Dixon Galleries and LeBonheur Hospital - to name just a few.  She brings years of administrative experience and expertise to Redeemer’s day-to-day operations keeping the train on the track and running smoothly.

Debbie is blessed with three children and ten grandchildren ranging in age from 5-22.  She often feels like the “old woman in the shoe, with so many children she didn’t know what to do”, but loves every minute of it.

Summer days will find Debbie playing in the dirt trying to make something grow.  She will be the first to tell you that she definitely does not have a green thumb but still enjoys the challenge of gardening. Winter days will find her at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s with her creative juices flowing!