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Our Staff

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 (7) 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 (5) is the usual sidekick in such battles…unless it happens to be time for a snack (which it usually is). Levi (2) 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 @whitneywinklerart on Instagram or stop by 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!

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.

Operations Administrator / Debbie Wilkins

I was born and raised in Memphis, TN.  I 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 me 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, I forged many partnerships with the mainstays of Memphis including the Grizzlies, Redbirds, New Ballet, Dixon Galleries and LeBonheur Hospital - to name just a few.  My years of administrative experience and professional expertise work together to  keep Redeemer's day-to-day operations on the track and running smoothly.

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

Summer days will find me playing in the dirt trying to make something grow. I will be the first to tell you that I definitely do not have a green thumb but still enjoy the challenge of gardening. Winter days will find me at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s with my creative juices flowing!