Pastors & Staff

Carl ellison

Lead Pastor

Pastor Carl is a native of Wesley Chapel, FL. He was raised in a strong Christian home and realized his need for Jesus at the age of 3 while watching a Billy Graham crusade. He struggled with his faith in his teenage years and walked away from the sweet fellowship with Jesus for about a decade of his life. A perfect storm brought him to a place of surrender to the leadership of Jesus at 24 years old.

While the Lord blessed Carl in business for many years, God began calling and preparing him to serve in full time ministry from that life-changing day onward. He continued to learn servant leadership in the ministry of business.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Moody Bible Institute and was conferred a Master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary. He served in many roles as a deacon, small group leader, and various ministry teams before he surrendered to full time ministry through the local church at the end of 2009.

Carl has been changed by the Message of the Cross and has a desire to be used by God to change the world with the Message of the Cross. He has been married since 1994 to his wife, Rhonda, and has 2 men under construction-Caleb and Nicolas.

Carl isn't sure whether he hasn't had a bad hair day in years or whether he hasn't had a good hair day since he became "follicly" challenged.  We will let you decide.  

Steve Woods

Associate Pastor of Students and Recovery

Pastor Steve serves our students from middle school through college. He also serves those in recovery from their hurts, habits, and hangups through the discipleship ministry of Celebrate Recovery. Steve is a Native of Dade City, FL. Although he made a profession of faith and felt a call to the ministry as a teenager, he continued to live no differently than an unbeliever. After high school he joined the Army, serving 6 years as a Military Policeman.

After his military service, God continued to bless him as he served as a RN for many years. It wasn’t until a family tragedy occurred that Pastor Steve was faced with the reality that his heart could be consumed with anger and hatred, or the love of Jesus, but not both. It was at this moment in 2008 that Pastor Steve fully surrendered his life to Jesus. God began preparing him to serve in ministry from this point of surrender forward. He served in many roles as a deacon, small group leader, and Celebrate Recovery ministry leader before entering ministry through the local church at the beginning of 2020.

Steve’s life has been radically transformed by the love demonstrated on the Cross and he has a burning desire to be used by God to change the world with the Message of the Cross, the only Message that offers Salvation. He has been married since 1994 to his wife, Julie, and has 2 grown sons, Drew and Jordan.

It is hard to find a picture where Steve smiles, but his humor and perfectly timed jabs will keep you smiling and on your toes.

Sam Paton

Music Leader

 Sam serves as our leader for music. Sam came to believe on Jesus as a young person and has a strong testimony of brokenness and God's love and forgiveness through Jesus.  Zack Williams sounds almost as good as Sam (per Pastor Carl) and Sam knows how to bend and break a guitar string every once in a while. He loves to learn and lead in songs that worship Jesus through Scripture and strong doctrine with passion and excellence. Sam married his sweetheart, Becka, in 2020 and has a mini-me named Gage.  


Children's Ministry Director

Dave was born and raised in Brandon, Florida and grew up in a Christian home as the middle child. Dave came to a saving relationship with Christ during the Vacation Bible School week at the church his family attended. This was the summer before entering fifth grade. Many years would pass as Dave struggled with trying to be a “good” Christian, never questioning his belief in God but questioned where God was during his personal struggles.

Fast forward… January 2020 would be a mile marker that would change the way he would answer this question from that point on. Coming to Celebrate Recovery at Wiregrass Church, to support a family member, is when it became abundantly clear that God had been at work in Dave’s life all those years, but Dave never put all the pieces of his past together. It was during this first visit to Celebrate Recovery, when God made it clear it was time for Dave to make a choice. The question would be, “Would Dave respond to the call or continue to try and fix things in his own strength.” Dave understood in that moment, God wanted him to be fully surrendered, stop trying to do things in his own power, give it all to God and watch what He could do. Acting in obedience to God’s calling, is when Dave saw how much God truly loves us and that we have to be fully surrendered. In the coming months, Dave would join as a member of Wiregrass Church, began leading as the Children’s Ministry director and allow God to go to work in his life. He desires to connect and build relationships with the parents and children. In addition, he has a great desire to mentor people with their finances, creating a household budget so they can experience what it means to be “debt free”! Spend a few minutes with Dave and you will hear an amazing story of just how God has taken charge and has led him through some personal struggles that only God can receive all the praise, honor, and glory.

Dave has been employed with Hillsborough County Public Schools for 28 years and is currently serving as the elementary school principal at Sullivan Partnership School that is associated with Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa. His father introduced him to fishing and golf at an early age and he has enjoyed each of these hobbies when time permits. Dave’s most recent adventure has placed him in front of the camera shooting a commercial for Golf Channel that aired in December 2021 which has since led to other commercial opportunities.

Dave has two children, Dave Jr., and Aimee.

Madeline hernandez

Administrative Assistant

Madeline serves as the administrative assistant for the church.  She takes care of bookkeeping for the church and preschool ministry finances. Even though she and her family love the Yankees, we still love her!  Madeline has been faithfully serving this local family of believers since 2006.