Gary Dawkins

Lead Pastor

As Mercy's Lead Pastor, Gary guides the pastoral staff, oversees ministries, and serves as the visionary leader to grow Mercy's family and the greater community in loving God and others. He is passionate about discipleship, community care, justice, and wants to see all people flourish. Gary holds an MBA from Syracuse University, an MS in Communications Management from Morgan State University, and has attended Northeastern Seminary and Capital Bible Seminary. He loves to cook, is an avid reader, and among his favorite things are playing Monopoly with his wife, LeKita, and his daughter, Grace.

Jessie Carlson

Executive Pastor

Jessie makes sure that all the behind the scenes work of the church moving in the same direction. She oversees the day to day work of the church staff and leaders- helping them to carry out the vision of Mercy. Previously, Jessie has served as Mercy's Kids' Pastor and worked on the Multiply Vineyard team as an Event Coordinator, working with Vineyard USA to support and send out new Vineyard churches. Jessie has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters of Organizational Leadership. She is a firm believer that the power of community is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus gave to us, and is thankful for the community surrounding her. She is married to Josh (the greatest thing that has ever happened to her- outside of meeting Jesus) and they have two school age boys that they love to play outside with, hike, and cheer them on at their various activities.

Tai-Kristin Bestick

Kids & Family Pastor

Tai-Kristin is excited to be the Kids and Families Pastor of Mercy Vinyard. She has a passion for making sure kids have a fun and authentic relationship with Christ, as well as supporting families and helping to meet their spiritual needs. She is an Alabama native with a background in the Performing Arts. She enjoys singing, cooking, and going to parks and museums with her husband Nathan.

Leo Alves

Youth Pastor

Leo oversees the youth ministry of Mercy. He’s Brazilian, born and raised. He also lived in New Jersey, Kansas City, and most recently Jacksonville, Florida. Leo’s married to the girl of his dreams, Sarah, and is the father of three wonderful kids named Levi, Lilly, and Lucas. Leo is a basketball fanatic, he loves soccer (futebol), and Brazilian steakhouses like all properly raised Brazilians should.

Linsey Zell

Director of Communication & Media

Linsey oversees the production team and communications for Mercy Vineyard Church. She graduated from Crown College with a communication degree and a minor in cross cultural ministry. She was born and lived in Brazil until about 13 years of age with her missionary family. While graphic design is her strong point, she enjoys video and audio production. Her hobbies now include filming and supporting her husband with his passion for traditional Cambodian music and lifting up his culture to empower refugees here in the U.S.

Liz Minne

Executive Assistant

Liz is the Executive Assistant to Pastor Gary. She is passionate about connecting with people, creating space for learning and growth, and listening to people's stories. She and her husband Adam have been at Mercy for eleven years, and started leading small groups about four years ago. When not at Mercy, you can find Liz visiting museums, reading, or eating donuts in the park with her three kids and their friends. 

Amy Whitmore

Worship Director

Amy leads our worship ministry and has been leading worship for over 20 years in various capacities. She and her husband Scott have attended Mercy since 2006 and have four amazing children. In her freetime, Amy loves to try new restaurants, travel, read and go to movies. 

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