Church Elders

Lead Pastor Chris & Kathleen Holck

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Pastor Chris Holck moved to The Villages in January of 2012 along with his wife, Kathleen. They joined one other couple and after a series of informational meetings, the first worship service was held in February 2012. It is not the first church planted by Pastor Chris but it is the first one specifically targeted for older adults. His skills and interests seem to be a perfect match for reaching the “Encore Generation” as he describes those who are in their second half of life, but not done yet. Chris is an expository preacher who brings application to each sermon and his mission is to guide older adults into living a purposeful and balanced second half of life that honors God. “If you’re not dead, you’re not done!, says Pastor Chris.

Southern Oaks Campus Pastor Sam & Cheri Benson

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Dr. Sam Benson and his wife Cheri have been in ministry for over 50 years. They have led several congregations through major expansions and today they are more excited about the future than ever before. Sam uses inspired preaching to stir the hearts of his audiences to
purposed-filled action. He is a pastor, evangelist and missionary evangelist. He frequently speaks in churches and business and ministry organizations. Sam began preaching the Gospel in 1967 and has traveled to the nations of the world with his message. Cheri is an insightful teacher of the Scriptures, entrepreneur and a certified Life Coach. She is in demand as a women's conference speaker and is a mentor to business and ministry professionals. On January 21, 2001 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Pastor Sam was awarded the Ecclesiastical Degree of Doctor of Divinity (DD). This degree was conferred by the Mid-Atlantic Conference of the Methodist-Episcopal Church and the National Clergy Council.

Elder Chairman Bill & Mary Ann Hicks

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Bill Hicks was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1951 and lived and worked there for the first 40 years of his life. He married his high school sweetheart Mary Ann in 1972. After attending the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee, where he graduated with a degree in accounting, Bill began a career in sales and marketing with several Memphis brokerage companies. In 1984, however, Bill felt called to ministry and began a part-time education at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity degree in May 1989. Business doors continued to open, however, and the Hicks family eventually landed in Green Bay, Wis., in 1992, then Chicago for a couple of years, then back to Green Bay. After Mary Ann retired from her work as an IT engineer with Vertis Communications in 2008, and Bill from his director of customer service position with Schreiber Foods in 2009, the couple moved to The Villages. Instrumental in the founding of LOCC, Bill and Mary Ann love the Lord Jesus and love His church. The Hicks have three grown children, Christy, Cathy, and David in Tampa, Fla., and two grandsons, Max, 8, and Carter, 2.

Elder Tom & Bonnie Albert

Tom Albert

My life journey began in Lansing Michigan in July of 1947. Although I had a carefree childhood, I had no exposure to the Gospel. After high school I enlisted in the Navy for 3 years, where I served in the print shop on the USS Mount McKinley. After finishing my time in the Navy, I married Connie Baker and started working in the printing business.  In 1973 after visiting a church with my wife, the Pastor called on us and challenged me to read the book of Matthew. Through reading the Scripture and the prayers of my wife and our pastor, I made the decision to invite Jesus into my life. Three weeks later Lowell Friar, a man involved with the Navigators ministry, knocked on my door and asked me if I would like to be in a bible study he was starting up. I had never met Lowell before, but I was hungry to know God better, so I agreed to join him. Lowell spent the next three years faithfully mentoring me and impressing me with the importance of Bible study, scripture memorization, prayer, seeking God’s will daily, and sharing Christ with others. I will always be grateful that God sent Lowell to mentor me at this critical time in my life! I continued in the printing business until 1998 when our printing business closed, and God opened the door to a job at Michigan State University.  I continued to work at MSU for 15 years, where I had many opportunities to share Christ with the staff and students and to encourage them to grow in their faith. During those 15 years I also served as Chairman of the Deacon Board in two different churches. In 2002 I helped start up a “Celebrate Recovery Group “ at the Church I was attending. Over the years I have also had the opportunity to personally mentor several men and encourage them to have a closer walk with God. In 2010 God called my wife Connie home to heaven after a long battle with cancer. We were married 40 years and had 4 children. After Connie died, I began asking the Lord to give me another wife to walk beside me. In June of 2011, Bonnie Skinner and I began seeing each other. She had also been widowed after 40 years of marriage. One year later we were married. Together we have 7 children and 13 grandchildren. We moved to the Villages in 2015 and have been at Live Oaks from our first Sunday in town.! Together Bonnie and I are enjoying leading an Encore group and the POP prayer Ministry at LOCC.A verse that has been a great encouragement to me is Job 42:12a “and the Lord blessed the later days of Job more than his beginning.”

Elder Jerry & Glenna Brown

Tom Albert

Jerry Brown was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His father was a Baptist minister at the first African American church in Providence, and his mother was a social worker. While in elementary school, Jerry’s family moved to Westfield, N.J., where he concluded his secondary education as co-captain of Westfield’s cross country and spring track team. He went on to earn a B.S. in mathematics at Morgan State University in Baltimore and was commissioned a second lieutenant through MSU’s ROTC program.

Jerry’s business career began in sales with Johnson and Johnson, and continued with Unilever where he advanced to vice president of customer and business development.

Jerry fully committed his life to Jesus Christ in September 1980. Since then, he has served on a mission board, taught Sunday School, and participated in Community Bible Study, Bible Study Fellowship, Navigator programs, and a Precepts Bible Study.

Since moving to The Villages in 2009, Jerry has engaged in One-to-One Discipleship, Real Life Discipleship, Community Bible Study, and Engage Bible Study. He also has volunteered in a mentoring program at Leesburg High School and has been active in Encore Groups at Live Oaks Community Church, where he also serves as an usher and elder.

Elder Michael & Barbara Cooper

Tom Albert

Michael Cooper became a Christian while in junior high during a church camp in northern Indiana. But his real growth as a believer didn’t begin until he went away to college and recognized during the first week of his freshman year that he could not make it by himself. That’s when a fellow student shared Matthew 6:33 with him: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”

“For me it was like someone threw me a life preserver, and I grabbed hold of it,” he recalls. “I had asked Jesus to be my Savior in junior high, but now as a freshman in college, I was asking Him to be the Lord of my life.”

Upon graduation, Michael went on to teach high school science for 39 years. He and wife Barbara have three sons and eight grandchildren. “Life has had its ups and downs, but God has continued to be faithful to His Word,” he says.

Elder Patrick & Linda Nuss

Patrick Nuss

Pat Nuss moved from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Green Bay when he was 12, and grew up attending Catholic schools. After college at nearby St. Norbert, he served three years with the Army in Korea and Viet Nam, attaining the rank of captain and receiving both the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star.

Pat met wife Linda while in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. They married in 1968 and eventually settled in Bloomington, Minnesota, where they raised four children. After several successful entrepreneurial endeavors, Pat concluded his career as a self-employed executive search consultant.

Pat and Linda both received Christ in 1975 as the result of a Bible Study Fellowship study of Romans. “I was surprised to learn that salvation was not a reward for anything I could do,” Pat recalls, “but was made possible as the result of what He did.”

Soon the couple joined an Evangelical Free Church where Pat served as an elder, church chairman, and teacher. He also joined the Elim Care board of directors, which brought him to The Villages in 2013 to help explore the partnership LOCC now enjoys with Trinity Springs. Today, Pat and Linda, proud grandparents of five grandchildren, belong to an Encore Group at LOCC, where Pat also serves as part of the GPS leadership and teaching team.

Elder Bill & Ruth Olthoff

William Olthoff

I was born.and raised in South Holland, IL, the son and grandson of farmers. I accepted the Lord as my personal savior at the age of ten at Bethany Camp at Winona Lake, IN.  I graduated from llliana Christian High School where Ruth and I started dating. I then attended Wheaton College and graduated with a degree in Economics and Business. Ruth and I were married during college and after graduation I took a position as a loan officer at a bank. Two years later I began farming with my father and eventually moved to Bourbonnais IL. where I have farmed for over 50 years. Ruth was a stay at home mom. She also worked in evangelical outreaches. Eventually she went back to school for a degree in accounting helping with the books in our farm operation as well as working for an accounting firm for twenty years.  Ruth and I have been blessed with four children, eighteen grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. We both grew up in the Reformed Church but joined Calvary Bible Church which became an evangelical Free Church where I served as Elder for forty years and fifteen years as a choir director. Ruth taught Precept Bible studies for a time and we were involved in a small group ministry. We purchased in The Villages in 2004 and we are snowbirds for six months as I still farm. We longed for a church in The Villages that had Bible expository preaching and were thrilled to be involved with LOCC from the beginning-thanks to Roger and Betty Augenstein. We served on the Provisional leadership team with them. I believe at live Oaks Community Church is a gift from God where He is changing lives in Christ forever.  I was involved for several years serving agriculture on the boards of Illinois Farm Bureau and Country Financial. I continue to serve on the Kankakee County Board.  I serve on the Board of Regents of Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where I will finish my ten year term in three years.  Proverbs 3:5&6 says ''Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths." For Ruth and myself He certainly has. 

Elder Dan & Helen Rude


I was born and raised in a small farming community in western Wisconsin.  After graduating from high school,   I attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and graduated with a degree in Business Administration.  During my last two years of college, I worked part-time for JCPenney and then went full-time after graduation. I spent the next 38 years working for JCP in the accounting area. This career required us to move several  times. Helen and I grew up in the same small town, went to the same church, the same youth group and both attended Luther College.  We have been joyfully  married  for 55 years and are best friends. We have two sons, one in Texas and one in Arizona, 9 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  We are blessed. I was blessed that my parents raised my two sisters and me in a Christian home. They were very active in our local church and Youth for Christ. I accepted Christ at age 9 at a Youth for Christ Rally. I really didn’t grasp what had happened and as such I didn’t grow in my faith.  After Helen and I were married, we each re-dedicated our lives to Christ as our Savior and Lord. We have a heart to share our faith as the Holy Spirit leads us and to help others to do that as well. I have a favorite Bible verse that I memorized when I was a teenager-  Revelation 2:10b-KJV  “ Be ye faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life”.

Elder Rick & Debbie Vielhak

I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home with godly parents and a Christian grandmother who tremendously influenced my life. It was at the church my family attended as a young boy that I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. At the age of 12, while reading my Bible, I felt the calling of God into full-time ministry. Following my calling, I attended Tennessee Temple College and Bible School where I graduated with a degree in Theology. After graduation, I became a youth pastor in my hometown of Peoria, IL. Several years later, I met the love of my life, Debbie, who was in Peoria attending nursing school. We married in 1973 and I eventually began a career in Christian camping, mainly working with economically disadvantaged and judicated youth. Deb and I were members at Chillicothe Bible Church (EFCA) in Chillicothe, IL where we served in a variety of positions for 26 years prior to retiring in 2015 to Del Webb Spruce Creek here in Florida. Naturally, one of our first priorities was to find a Free Church in the area. We looked online and found live Oaks Community Church where, after visiting one time, we knew we were home. My life verse is Psalm 19:14 "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, 0 lord, my strength, and my redeemer." .

Elder Rich & Donna Wells

Rich Wells received Christ at 21 years old during what he describes as one of the darkest times of his life. He calls it his “Damascus Road” experience, “me heading in one direction and God’s grace delivering me from the grip of the enemy.”

For the next 22 years he not only immersed himself in church work, but also traveled with mission groups to Poland, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Rich married in 1972 and had 12 children with his first wife. He considered the local tree service that he founded in 1974 not only to be a means to support his family, but also a “tent-making” job that supported his love of sharing the gospel with others. He sold the business shortly before moving to The Villages in 2016.

Rich married his wife Donna in 1998, and together they share 35 grandkids “who we adore and are so blessed to see them growing up in Christian homes.”

“I don’t deserve all the good in my life, and I remain as one who has been broken,” Rich says. “All praise to the Lord for His redeeming love.”