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The Role of Elder at Oakland City Church


The Calling and Character of Elders

The church lives and thrives under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Certain men and women are called to serve under Christ and lead the church in obedience to Jesus. In the New Testament, these leaders are called elders.

The apostles give us direction in the New Testament to appoint elders to oversee the church. They form a community of mature, faithful servant leaders who seek, through prayer and study of the Word of God, to lead the church with courage, obedience and faithfulness through storms of division, discouragement and distress.

At Oakland City Church, we are part of the Reformed Church of America (RCA). As a protestant denomination in the Reformed tradition, the pastors and laypeople serve together as elders. Pastors have a special duty to preach and teach, while lay elders have a responsibility to oversee the church.

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Our Current Elders

Current Elders -2017

Front row: Sally Steele, Amy Gammmelgard; back row: Pastor Josh, Stacy Ladenburger, Adrian Walker, Bryan Ricks.

Elder Testimonies

Adrian Walker "I accepted Jesus into my life at an early age (~7 years old), technically during a ride when I really thought I might die (somewhat comical I know). Though I was young, I distinctly remember my family and world before and after us starting to attend church and Christ being a part of our lives...a distinct difference in my whole family. Over time, my faith has developed and morphed in many different ways. My personality type lends itself to always be very curious and question everything, so I spent some of my teenage years really searching to find what my faith meant to me and if Christianity was it although I never really left the faith. In college, I really began to take more to it and share my faith in a more constructive way with those around me. Since then, as I entered into my career and my life path has taken me many places, I feel that every year I get more wisdom from God and my faith continues to strengthen. I continue to pray consistently for wisdom and hope that I'll continue to learn from both Christians and non-Christians alike on how to be a better follower of Christ."

Amy Gammelgard "I grew up as a pastors kid. Loving Jesus and people (Christian and not), serving, forgiving, going to church (practically living at church)... that was family's mode of operation. I loved Jesus. I wanted all my friends to know Him. I had no questions or doubts... until I became an adult and saw so much pain and damage The Church and Christians (these supposed Jesus-followers) were inflicting on these people I loved. And people I didn't even know. It was a long season working through the difference between Jesus and The Word, and how (broken) people and institutions run by (broken) people represent Jesus and The Word. And finding out I'm pretty broken myself. But thank God for grace and faith and the person of Christ. Now I know: I continually to need Him, we all do. There's no hope otherwise. To love and serve Him and His (broken) people and church-- like Jesus did-- is the most precious and life giving and challenging pursuit. And it's worth it. To the journey!"

Bryan Ricks "I was raised in a family in which faith was seen as a fact of life. However, to a child "faith" can be quite 2-dimensional and disconnected from everyday decisions. It wasn't until becoming an adult and facing adversities that I began to understand the reality of faith...it's not so much something you do, but rather the source that drives your decisions, actions and viewpoints around all facets of your life. I consider my walk of faith in Jesus Christ to be my true compass and source of accountability. While I struggle daily with controlling my life and surrounds (which tests my faith by definition), I take solace in the fact that my connection to a faith community helps to keep me grounded in the Source of real power."

Sally Steele "I grew up culturally Catholic in Italy, where it is generally speaking the assumed faith. I remember as a child going to church with my family on holidays, and then on occasion with my mom throughout the year, and feeling drawn to the mystery of faith. Yet while I always remember feeling God's closeness, I wasn't immersed in the life of the church enough to really understand the tenets of the faith or what it meant to trust and follow Christ. It wasn't until my last couple of years of college that I began exploring my faith in earnest, attending a variety of campus ministries, joining a bible study and spending time reflecting on and discussing God's Word. Truthfully, it was a mixture of genuine curiosity and pride at wanting to know "the answers" during those discussions that led me to dig deeper into my faith. My final year of college, during a particularly low point, I went for a walk to clear my head and felt in a very tangible way the Lord's presence and an inner prodding to step into a life with Him, to lean into His grace, and to move from a theological exercise to surrendered relationship. The years since then have been marked with triumphs and failures, and an ever-deepening understanding of who I am and who He is. While I have a deep admiration and respect for the Catholic tradition, my search landed me closer to reformed theology, where I've continued to wrestle with my faith and have sought to follow Christ. The journey continues...."

Stacy Ladenburger "I was blessed to grow up in a wonderful Christian home where I heard and observed the gospel message over and over again. My parents became Christians as adults, which I think added a freshness and awe to the message that still lingers with me. I accepted Christ when I was very young, but I recall moments along the way when I grasped what this meant in new, deeper ways. We attended an Evangelical Free church, and all of us were involved - it was a great community, especially as I didn't have a lot of Christian friends outside of it. During college, my faith was challenged, as it so often goes during this formative time! Ultimately, though, being at Calvin College, a Christian Reformed liberal arts school, added a deep intellectual component to my understanding of my faith. The concept of an arc to our story - creation, fall, redemption, restoration - resonated with me and has transformed how I see myself as a Christ-follower in the world. As with everything in my life, my faith was simpler when I was young. Now, it feels harder and more complicated, with more questions and challenges. And yet with this complexity comes richness, and for that I'm grateful. Being part of OCC has been a great gift. I've long valued being part of a diverse congregation that challenges me in varied ways, and I was grateful to find that at OCC after moving to the Bay Area several years ago. My husband, Ben, and I have been so glad to be part of this community, and we've been especially blessed by our small group over the past year."