Pastor James Sunnock and his wife Aileen have been married for 30 years and have three sons / daughter-in-laws: Caleb (Annan), Isaac (Evie), and David (Summer). They also have two grandsons, Jude and Wellington.
Pastor James is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelors in Business Administration and is currently persuing his Masters degree from Kings University. After running his own business for 10 years, Pastor James accepted a position as an account manager with W.W.Grainger and enjoyed a very successful sales career for 8 years.
In 1999, pursuing his dream to be in full time ministry, Pastor James left the corporate world and entered the pastoral internship program at Resurrection Life Church. He studied the ministry under the leadership of Pastor Duane Vander Klok and was responsible for creating a small group ministry.
In 2002, Pastor James became the Lead Pastor of Victory Life Church, in Battle Creek, MI. with 60 members. Today the church has grown to just over 1700 people and has been listed twice in Outreach magazine’s top 100 fastest growing churches. The ministry is committed to attracting people to the Gospel of Christ and inspiring them to grow in their faith.
Ralph Cates – Missions / Pastoral Care
Dr. Ralph Cates, Th.D. completed his doctoral studies in theology through Shalom Bible College, and his BA degree in Biochemistry from Carroll College and the University of Montana. He also has an extensive business background in international economic development and has been involved in Battle Creek community organizations for many years. He is also a retired Air Force Officer and Hospital Chaplain.
Pastor Ralph and Dianne are involved in overseas medical missions and pastoral training in several countries. They also help supply annual shipments of medical equipment, especially to the Philippines.
In addition to serving as Pastor Emeritus at Victory Life Church, Pastor Ralph serves on the church board and Bethesda Ministries International in the Philippines. He is also the Spiritual Care Pastor for a medical organization for frail elderly.
Pastor Ralph and Dianne have been married since 1991 and have seven and six children (respectively), 44 grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
Matt Slocum – Executive Pastor
Pastor Matt is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. This led to a successful career as an automation engineer where he specialized in building utilities. During that time, he and his wife Pam served in various roles of ministry from youth and college to financial counseling and teaching classes.
Pastor Matt responded to the call to go into full-time ministry in 2008 as the children’s pastor at Victory Life Church. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor, overseeing the pastoral staff and operations of the church.
Pastor Matt and his wife, Pam, have been married since 1999 and have three daughters - Jillian, Rachel, and Elizabeth.
Jon Major – Executive Pastor
Both Pastor Jon and his wife, Erin, were born and raised in Battle Creek. Pastor Jon was previously employed in the corporate world with Coca-Cola for over 14 years.
In 2011, pursuing his dream to be in full-time ministry, Pastor Jon entered the pastoral internship program at Victory Life Church. He studied the ministry under Pastor James and was responsible for multiple ministries during that time. Pastor Jon provided leadership for the usher ministry and the men’s group as a volunteer for 7 years before joining Victory Life Church in full-time ministry in 2012.
Pastor Jon and Erin have been married since 1997 and have two sons – Adam and Josh.
Justin Smelter – Student Ministries Pastor
Pastor Justin graduated from Olivet College where he dual-majored in English and Social Studies while earning his Secondary Education teaching certificate. Upon graduation, Pastor Justin spent two years working as an Admissions Rep while he advised the college ministry at Olivet College. He then spent three years teaching at an alternative school here in Battle Creek until he was called into full-time ministry in the summer of 2012.
Since Pastor Justin gave his heart to the Lord he has been filled with a passion to serve students. He serves with a desire to see each student realize the fullness of who Christ created them to be, the passions and talents God has gifted them with, and the joy that comes as they walk out the purpose in Christ.
Pastor Justin and his wife, Abbey, have been married since 2008 and have two daughters - Evelyn and Emerson.
Tim McCarthy– Children's Pastor
Pastor Tim attended Northern Michigan University which led him to a career of 17 years in his family’s finish carpentry business. Pastor Tim has always had a heart for children and loves serving kids while partnering with parents. His greatest desire is to see children embrace a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to see them walk it out in the purpose which God created and see them impact their world for Christ.
Pastor Tim and his wife Tracy have been married since 2001 and have three children - Hannah, Caleb, and Benjamin.
Dyane Miller – Creative Arts Pastor
Dyane has a Paralegal degree and managed a nonprofit organization and taught in public schools for 19 years before coming to work at Victory Life Church in 2013. She currently serves as Creative Arts Pastor and loves all that goes into behind the scenes of the weekend experience. She has worked with students most of her adult life and has served in student ministries at VLC for 8 years and is also actively involved in women’s ministries. Dyane has a heart for helping others learn to see themselves through God’s eyes. She is married to Dean (VLC Elder), and they have three children, Brandon, Alayna, Ellie, and a pitbull named Shanny.
Caleb Sunnock – Worship Pastor
Caleb has been leading worship and writing songs for 10 years. He toured the country for many years as an independent Christian artist before coming to work at Victory Life in 2013. He is married to Annan and they have two sons, Jude and Wellington.
Kenny Buller – Worship Pastor
Kenny started serving as part of the worship team in 2008. In 2011 he started as an intern at Victory Life in the creative arts department and was brought on as staff shortly after. He became a Co-Worship Leader in 2015 and a Worship Pastor in 2017. He has a heart for raising up leaders in ministry.