It is our desire to see the body of Christ come together, growing in their faith, and connecting with other believers. Life is hard to do by ourselves and no one should ever have to do it alone. This is why we have Life Groups. These are small groups that gather in homes each week to build relationships, have sermon-based discussions and learn how to implement the truths of God’s Word into our own lives and the lives of those around us. This is where you can feel comfortable talking about the Bible, asking questions and sharing prayer requests.

We have many excellent Life Groups, which are featured below. Life Group sign ups occur twice each year – in September and January, with the fall semester meeting 12 times during September-December, and the spring semester meeting 12 times during February-May.

Life Groups are gatherings of 8-14 people who meet weekly for the purpose of relational connection, Bible study, and prayer. We encourage participating in Life Groups, because we believe that growth happens in connections with others.

We have many excellent Life Group leaders who are featured below.

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Doug and Melissa Joseph ( Youth and Youth Leaders Group)

Doug and Melissa have been married since 2000 and have three teenage children. Doug is employed at Standridge Color, and Melissa works at First Federal Bank. Doug is an Elder at First Church, and both he and Melissa are involved with the Summit Youth Center Ministry and participate in both the Summit Youth Center and Sunday morning worship teams. Melissa stays busy by juggling day-to-day appointments and schedules and has a passion for music and worship. Doug enjoys playing guitar, reading, and is amazed at Melissa’s ability to keep them all (mostly him) on time. Group will meet every Sunday evening at 6 pm.

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Rusty and Deb DeTray

Rusty and Deb have been married since 1976 and have 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren. Rusty, retired from Johns Manville, is a master gardener and loves to cook. Deb, owner of DeTray Investments, has served on the board of the Community Pregnancy Center and has been our church treasurer for over 25 years. They both love to travel and spend time with family and friends. Group will meet every Sunday evening at 6 pm.

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Lee and Rosemary Hoeffel

Lee and Rosemary Hoeffel have been married since 1965 and have 4 children and 12 grandchildren. Lee retired from GM in 2004, and Rosemary is a homemaker. They have been very active in visiting many people that are shut in or just need a visit. They both love going to their grandchildren’s sporting events as well as anything else they have going on. Group will meet Sunday evenings at 6 pm.

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Don and Bonnie Goldentez

Don and Bonnie Goldenetz have been married since 1960 and have five grown children and eight grandchildren. Don retired from GM in 2000 after thirty three years of service. Bonnie retired in 2012 from JCPenney after forty years of service. They have been instrumental in helping those in need. Don has been on multiple mission trips and was an elder here at First Church for many years. They both like to travel, watch sports, and spend time with their kids and grandkids. Group will meet every other Sunday evening at 6 pm

Life Groups_Larry & Tina-01Larry and Tina Kennedy

Larry and Tina have been married since 1993. Larry is the associate pastor here at First Church and is also a licensed Clinical Christian Counselor. Tina is a Kindergarten teacher at Antwerp Local School District. They have a daughter, Hannah, and a son, Isaac. Tina enjoys exercising, reading, scrap booking, family activities and baking. Larry enjoys family, football, firearms, coin collecting, and reading. What he enjoys most is learning about people’s life journey. Group will meet on Sunday evenings at 6 pm.

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Rick and Eileen Rufenacht

Rick and Eileen have been married and attending First Church of God since 1979. They are the parents of two grown children, David and Rachel, and have one grandson. They both have a talent and great love for all kinds of music, and they enjoy traveling. Rick is the senior pastor at First Church, while Eileen is retired from her vocal music teaching career at Ayersville Local School. Together, they love leading life groups where people connect with one another and grow in their relationship with God. Group will meet on Sunday evenings at 6 pm.

Dale and Kelly Worline (The Marriage Course by Nicky & Sila Lee)

Dale and Kelly Worline have been married since 1999. They have two teenage daughters, Sadie and Lilly. Dale works as a Manufacturing Engineer at Mayville Engineering Company. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, being outside, cutting wood, campfires, and camping. Kelly works as a substitute teacher at Defiance Elementary School and is the Children’s Director here at First Church. She enjoys spending time with her family, walking, yoga and Christian reading. They enjoy traveling, especially to a beach. They are passionate about educating children to follow Christ. They are excited to get to know other couples from the church better, work on strengthening marriages and having fun with fellow believers. Group meets the first Sunday of the month in the Action Zone following the worship service. Childcare is provided.

Co-taught with Robbie and Britni George.

Robbie and Britni George (The Marriage Course by Nicky & Sila Lee)

Robbie and Brittni have five children, ranging in age from seven to one: Rorey, Chesney, Drakesyn, Wesyn, and Oaklyn. Robbie is an EAP representative at GM in Fort Wayne. Brittni is a first grade teacher at Antwerp. They both love to camp, hunt, and go on walks with the kids. Brittni loves to read, and Robbie enjoys walleye fishing. They are passionate about strengthening their marriage and helping others strengthen theirs. Group meets the first Sunday of the month in the Action Zone following the worship service. Childcare is provided.

Co-taught with Dale and Kelly Worline.


What is a Life Group? A Life Group is a home fellowship made up of 8-14 people who meet weekly for the purpose of relational connection, Bible study, and prayer. A host will lead each group.

How important are Life Groups? Here at First Church, Life Groups are the hub of our ministry. They’re the place where the real ministry of the church takes place as we study God’s Word, while supporting and sharing our lives with one another. We believe that meeting together on a regular basis is time well spent. We believe growth happens in connection with others.

When and where do they meet? Most Life Groups meet on Sunday evenings 6pm-7:30pm in homes throughout Defiance County and beyond. Group hosts will contact you with all the details once you sign up.

How long do they last? Life Group sessions last 12 weeks and run from September – December and February -May.

What is the required commitment? A commitment to attending every week is the key to a strong Life Group. Allowances are made for sickness, vacation, work conflicts and other special events.

What will we study? The majority of the Life Groups use Life Points, written by First Church authors, which are available in the weekly Sunday morning bulletin. These guide the group’s discussion, allowing participants to delve even deeper into that week’s sermon topic and apply it to daily life.

What about child care? Some groups offer childcare, some do not. Each group will make that information known.

How do I sign up for a Life Group? You may sign up on Sunday mornings in the lobby when sign ups are open.