It was he who gave some to be … pastors and teachers …
Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV
We thank God! We are blessed with the men and women who fulfill their calling for Christ through the ministries at Heights First Church.
Come and see for yourself the uniqueness of their passion – to serve God, reach out to our world and teach us to grow more like Christ.
Bill Nielson, Senior Pastor
Pastor Bill Nielson grew up in a Christian home, accepting Christ as his Savior at age six. Bill graduated from Eastern Nazarene College in 1971 with an A.B. in Religion. He received master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1974 and 2003 respectively. His early years in pastoral work included youth and music ministries at St Paul’s Nazarene in Kansas City, Missouri, and Baltimore First Nazarene in Maryland. He has served as a Senior Pastor for 31 years — from 1981 to 1997 in Painesville, Ohio, and since then at HFC.
In addition to pastoral involvements, Bill has served in various denominational roles including President of Nazarene Youth International on the Mid-Atlantic District and, on the New Mexico District, as President of Nazarene Missions International and Sunday School Chairman. In 1980, he was elected General Secretary of Nazarene Youth International. He has also served as chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol and Albuquerque Police Department.
Bill enjoys family life with his wife, Susan, and their three teenage daughters.
Gordon Smith, Associate Pastor
Pastor Gordon Smith was born in Albuquerque in 1972. He was saved in 1998 and has been in love with Jesus ever since! Gordon was sanctified in 2003 while attending the Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs. Gordon graduated from the Nazarene Bible College with a bachelor of arts in pastoral ministries in 2006, and served for a little over four years as Senior Pastor of Dewey Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma. He was ordained as an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene in June 2010, and his ministry at HFC began in September 2010.
Gordon’s most treasured desire is to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to not bury the gift of salvation that God has given him. Gordon is grateful for his wife Stephanie, whom God has given him as a wonderful companion to serve Christ. His desire is to invest first into the lives of his wife and their two young children, and then in those around him.
John Griffin, Associate Pastor
John J. Griffin, PhD, currently serves as an associate pastor at HFC. He has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in communication and a doctorate in American Studies, all from the University of New Mexico. John has been married for 40 years to Donna, and they have one son, Matthew.
John was ordained in the Church of the Nazarene in 2002. A heartfelt love for the Lord and his brothers and sisters at HFC are the motivation for his ministry. Largely an educational/outreach ministerial effort, John teaches, preaches, orchestrates the community services and visits in local hospitals. Fully occupied with teaching communication and English courses at Central New Mexico Community College and elsewhere, John is busy, but the ministry is first and foremost in his thinking and service.
John’s philosophy and approach to the ministry are centered in availability. He likens himself to a utility player on a baseball team. When needed, by the grace of God, he can play any position. He is eager for any and all call-up opportunities.
John visited Montgomery Heights Church of the Nazarene in Albuquerque in 1968. The Nazarene way has always blessed him. When Montgomery Heights merged with First Church of the Nazarene over 25 years ago and became Heights First Church, John was there.
Jordin West, Youth & College Ministries
Jordin West was born into the HFC family and has been attending ever since. She grew up with a mother who took her to church and nurtured her in her relationship with the Lord. She accepted Jesus as her personal Savior as a young girl and delights in serving him.
Jordin earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and psychology from Southern Methodist University and served as president of the Wesley ministry during her time there. Jordin feels blessed to work with the young people at HFC and rejoices as they grow in their spiritual walks with the Lord.
Jordin enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as playing and watching sports, and reading.
Christine Moore, Praise and Worship Leader
I found a love for music at a very early age, often singing solos, duets and trios with friends. One of my first memories in performing during a Sunday evening service was when I was maybe six years old and began to play the organ. I was too small to reach the foot pedals and had to sit precariously on the edge of the organ bench without falling or standing on them. Because of my love for church music, I went to voice, organ and piano lessons for many years including music/vocal studies at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. In my approach to my position at HFCN I believe that there are many parts to worship. Worship is not just the music, but I believe that music plays a very important role in our time of worship. Today as the praise and worship leader at HFCN, I use a blended service format to fit the style of our congregation, which includes youths to senior adults. Our weekly music consists of traditional hymns, old and new choruses as well as modern contemporary woven together in expressions and themes of praise, adoration, worship, repentance, love and grace.
Mark & Marilyn Winkler, Elementary Ministry Directors
Marilyn is a native of Albuquerque. Mark moved here in 1965 as the son of a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor. Both are graduates of the University of New Mexico with bachelor of arts degrees in education. Mark also holds a bachelor of science degree from Simpson Bible College in San Francisco (now Simpson University, Redding, Calif.
Both Mark and Marilyn were active in Youth for Christ and Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. They have been active in churches as Sunday School teachers and youth directors, and have held various board positions. At HFC they have taught Sunday School classes. Mark has taught high school, and both have taught the 5-year-old/Kindergarten class. Marilyn has worked in Vacation Bible School; both have taught in children’s church. Mark is choir council president, has sung in various small groups and has been a member of several committees.
Mark and Marilyn were married at First Church of the Nazarene. Their daughter and son-in-law have two children, ages 7 and 11.
Jody Meyer, Early Childhood Director
A lifelong Nazarene, Jody Meyer was born on Beale Air Force Base in California and lived in Bakersfield, Calif., until the age 12, when her family moved to Nampa, Idaho. After graduating high school, she moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she became a Horizon flight attendant. She says she enjoyed traveling the western U.S. and met many people, including Eric, her husband, who traveled the country as a truck driver. Jody later attended driving school and joined him as co-driver. After several years, thousands of miles and many gallons of coffee, she returned to Idaho to become a dental hygienist. Having enjoyed Albuquerque during their travels, they decided to call it home. Shortly thereafter, the Lord blessed them with a baby girl (Lily), then a boy (Ryan). Jody’s mother, Randa, and grandmother, Goldie, also now live in Albuquerque. Jody feels her immense love for children, her ability to multitask and her faith in God have prepared her well for her position at HFC.
Brenda Brown, Children’s Van Director
Brenda Brown is a native of Albuquerque; she accepted Christ as her Savior at Rio Grande Baptist Church at the age of nine. As a teenager and young adult she worked in a bus ministry, with the goal of bringing children to hear about Jesus at the earliest age possible. A similar ministry made it possible for her to attend church regularly as a child.
After high school, Brenda worked at a law firm for six years. She and her husband, Charles, a U.S. Marine Corps officer, were transferred away from New Mexico, but later settled in Moriarty. They started to attend HFC five years ago. Brenda is very active in a variety of ministries at HFC. She teaches a missions lesson once a month in Children’s Church, sings in choir, participates in bell choir, helps in the Bernalillo Thrift Store and is now the Children’s Van Director, bringing children to church in the Big Blue Bus each week.
Brenda and Charles enjoy spending time with each other and their children, Andrea and Wayne, and, most especially, their grandson, Rickey Charles!