Staff Directory

Staff

  • Mark Pitcher - Lead Pastor
  • Julie Cheney - Associate Pastor
  • Lon Heighton - Pastor of Adult Ministries
  • Kristy Johnson -  Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries
  • Tom Griffith - Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries
  • Barbie Courter - Pastor of Children’s Ministries
  • Chad Ramage - Pastor of Student Ministries
  • Mike Smee - Pastor of Athletics & Student Ministries
Mark Pitcher - Lead Pastor

Mark Pitcher

Lead Pastor

Activator | Woo | Maximizer | Strategic | Relator

Pastor Mark accepted the call to Port Naz in 2001 after a long tenure in Southern California. Born and raised in Ontario, CA, and having spent his entire life and career in the Southland, Mark, his wife, Karen, and son, Trevor, made the long haul up to God’s country. Although it was admittedly difficult leaving behind their daughter, Shannon, who has since added to their family a son-in-law and two grandchildren, Mark’s passion for Porterville and for making disciples in the southeastern Central Valley are infectious. His journey over the past couple years since being diagnosed diabetic has led to several life changes, including fitness and healthy eating. A leadership guru, he is an avid reader and can be found reading at all hours of the day. Always on the go, however, he has been known to play a round of golf from time to time (as long as it’s not in Palm Desert…that never goes well). He enjoys a good plate of Mexican food, and plays a mean trumpet, playing weekly, in fact, in our Praise Band. Mark truly lives out Philippians 2:5, his life verse, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (NIV).
Mark Pitcher - Lead Pastor Mark Pitcher Lead Pastor
Julie Cheney - Associate Pastor

Julie Cheney

Associate Pastor

Connectedness | Ideation | Individualization | Strategic | Achiever

Julie joined our crew in 1997 after attending Port Naz for several years. An avid reader, she has found her niche in administration and human resource development and continues to promote those areas of ministry within our church. She has also pioneered our Gallup Strengths initiatives, and has partnered with PLNU and our denomination to offer training throughout the region in addition to developing these exciting resources at our own church. Julie has lived pretty much everywhere in her life, including several locations abroad, so she offers a wealth of culture to our team. When she is not leading something, she and her husband, Jim, can probably be found prowling the town and environs on their Harley with the local chapter of CROSS ministries, in which Julie serves as Chapter Pastor, and Jim serves as Vice President (the President is Jesus, of course!). They are enjoying their empty nest, having raised two sons who are now growing their own families.
Julie Cheney - Associate Pastor Julie Cheney Associate Pastor
Lon Heighton - Pastor of Adult Ministries

Lon Heighton

Pastor of Adult Ministries

Input | Ideation | Responsibility | Connectedness | Intellection

We’d like to think that we rescued Lon from the deep recesses of Georgia, yet he has remained the true southern gentleman since 2002 when he joined our team. He and his wife, Sue, brought a great deal of experience to us, having served in ministry as lead pastors throughout the US. At the helm of our adult and discipleship ministries, Lon has the responsibility of helping to shape the pathway of spiritual formation for adults from the age of twenty-something on up. Always the thinker, he enjoys a good Dallas Willard book, but perhaps his favorite activity is helping aspiring golfers obtain clubs, balls, and pretty much any other equipment they may need. When he needs to relax from a day in the office or on the golf course, he enjoys nothing more than to relax in his favorite chair while watching golf, of course.
Lon Heighton - Pastor of Adult Ministries Lon Heighton Pastor of Adult Ministries
Kristy Johnson -  Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries

Kristy Johnson

Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries

Individualization | Learner | Connectedness | Belief | Developer

Born and raised right here in Porterville, Kristy’s schedule is filled to overflowing each day with clinical counseling duties. Besides that, Kristy is our bookkeeper, and also assists with our needs-based discipleship ministries classes. In the few moments she has between clients, she has been known to play a practical joke or two around the office. Passionate about horses, Kristy rides and shows her animals regularly with the help of her husband, Tim. She is a Duck Dynasty fan, and can occasionally be found with Tim and her son, Tyler, at El Tap when she’s just got to have some Mexican food, Porterville style.
Kristy Johnson -  Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries Kristy Johnson Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries
Tom Griffith - Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries

Tom Griffith

Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries

Our senior staff member has served all over this great land of ours in different roles (and even in a different denomination which shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent). With more educational degrees to his name than everyone else, Tom joined the Port Naz team in 2005 agreeing to step out of retirement to minister on a part-time basis to our senior adults. His duties include preaching, teaching, hospital and home visitation, leading Bible studies, etc. Obviously, he is neither retired, nor part-time. When he is not in the office, Tom enjoys time with his wife of over 60 years, Laura. He is known to enjoy a good book, though occasionally gets caught up in a news or sports program on TV.
Tom Griffith - Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries Tom Griffith Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries
Barbie Courter - Pastor of Children’s Ministries

Barbie Courter

Pastor of Children’s Ministries

Includer | Developer | Arranger | Positivity | Adaptability

A child at heart, she is. Barbie loves kids. So much so that just a few years ago, she and her husband, Greg, adopted their third child, Shariann, well after their two boys, Joshua and Jeremiah, had grown and left the nest. Having owned and operated a home daycare for years, Barbie gave it to Port Naz in 1996 where it now thrives as Port Naz Christian Academy. In 2001, Barbie joined our team in her current role, and the rest, as they say, is history. Barbie not only is a kid at heart, she just has a big heart, period. Her favorite TV shows are “Undercover Boss” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” In her spare time, she reads (with kids), plays games (with kids), and plays (with kids). When she’s not doing that, you can probably find her with kids.
Barbie Courter - Pastor of Children’s Ministries Barbie Courter Pastor of Children’s Ministries
Chad Ramage - Pastor of Student Ministries

Chad Ramage

Pastor of Student Ministries

Ideation | Command | Relator | Strategic | Adaptability

Hailing all the way from his hometown of Visalia with a brief stop at NNU in Nampa, ID for a couple of degrees, Chad has been on staff at Port Naz since 1997. His two boys, Kaden and Breken keep him and his wife, Voni, busy when they are not out on youth events, leading Bible studies, or hanging out with teenagers. As the great philosopher of our pastoral staff, Chad is known to hang out in his office at times with a good book by the late Henri Nouwen and a half-consumed cup of coffee. When he isn’t in the office, you’ll probably find him hitting the links, or chatting over a basket of chips and salsa at El Tap.
Chad Ramage - Pastor of Student Ministries Chad Ramage Pastor of Student Ministries
Mike Smee - Pastor of Athletics & Student Ministries

Mike Smee

Pastor of Athletics & Student Ministries

Positivity | Belief | Woo | Empathy | Includer

Anyone who first meets Mike immediately feels comfortable. And warm. And fuzzy. And happy. Mike is happy. Mike is positive. Mike is cool. Everyone likes Mike. A Porterville boy from birth, Mike was a local basketball star since day one. He now uses his athletic talent to bless our congregation and community with ministries for the whole family through seasonal basketball and volleyball leagues, sports camps, etc. Mike joined our staff right out of college in 2007 and serves as one of our youth pastors, primarily as fearless leader to our junior high age students. He continues to improve his golf game, and has now been known to occasionally surpass his mentor who shall remain nameless (but also works with teenagers and appears on this list). When Mike is not doing athletic ministry with kids, working with teens around the church or playing golf, he can be found hanging out in the OC with his wife, Michelle, and their young son, Kipton.
Mike Smee - Pastor of Athletics & Student Ministries Mike Smee Pastor of Athletics & Student Ministries