Meet Our Team


“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us,

and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”



Paul Leadership Team

Church Planter (Redemption Church Manatee)

Paul grew up in South West Florida and became a Christian at a young age. He earned a BM from the University of Miami in 1999, an MBA from Clemson University in 2001 and an MA in Theological Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2012.  Prior to joining the staff at FirstSarasota, he was a commercial banker for more than a decade in the greater Sarasota/Bradenton area.
Paul met his wife, Victoria, in the trombone studio at the University of  Miami, and the two were married in 2002. Victoria is a middle school band teacher, and loves using her passion for teaching music to students in the church. Paul and Victoria have three  young children – Grace, Alexa, and Dillon (Paul, Jr.) – and are in the process of adopting a son from Ethiopia.
In April of 2017, Paul officially began a new season in ministry as a church planter, and is working to plant Redemption Church Manatee in Bradenton, FL.
MARK Leadership Team

Family Ministry

Mark is Associate Pastor of Young Adults and Families and has been in church ministry over 27 years in Florida, Texas and Arkansas.  A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mark earned his Masters Degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary and his BA from John Brown University.   Mark is married to his wife Kim and has two sons, Austin and Tyler and a daughter-in-law Kailey.

Mark has a lot of favorites:  His favorite smell is warm chocolate chip cookies, his favorite movies, “Remember The Titans” and “We are Marshall”.  His favorite teams are the St. Louis Cardinals, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Dallas Cowboys and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  He likes to work out and his favorite invention is the internet.  He says his favorite sound is His wife laughing.  His favorite Bible verse is, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.  Matthew 6:33.

SHAWN Leadership Team

Worship Ministry

Pastor Shawn Gross is the worship leader at FirstSarasota. His musical journey began as a primarily self taught musician. Shawn attended Belmont University in Nashville, TN pursuing a career in Music Business with a concentration in copyright law. After Belmont, Shawn went to work in the Executive Offices of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company which separated him from his love of music for about 10 years. Having never removed himself from the church, it was a great combined passion for Christ and musical excellence that eventually brought him to full-time ministry.

He describes worship leading as a “rare and exceptional skill of blending intricate and difficult musical components to obtain a simple, yet profound style of worship that captures the beauty and heart of the Lord”. Shawn married his wife Cindy at Christmas of 1997. Cindy graduated from Shorter University in Rome, Georgia where she studied vocal performance and psychology. She has a masters in Educational Guidance and an Educational Specialist in Special Education. Together, Shawn and Cindy are raising two fine young boys, Channing and Caleb. They spend most of their free time enjoying them.

DON_Leadership Team

Church Administrator

Don originally from Norfolk, Virginia accepted Christ at the early age of 12 in a church revival.  Having spent most of his years in a career of retail store management he and his family moved a number of times in five southeastern states and finally ending up here in Sarasota.  He retired in 2005 and joined the staff of FirstSarasota in the fall of 2006 as the Director of Education and in 2012 moved to the Director of Administration.  Don has also been serving as an adult Bible study teacher since 1999 at FirstSarasota.

Don and his wife Linda grew up together in Norfolk Virginia and attended the same schools and married in 1964.  They have three boys Allen who is married and lives in Columbia MD, Keith who is single and lives in Atlanta GA, and Kevin who is married and lives in Parrish FL.

TIM Leadership Team

Director of Students

A native of Sarasota, FL, Tim joined the FirstSarasota staff originally as the facilities manager and than in 2011 was asked to take over the student ministry. He is currently enrolled in Liberty online college and is pursuing a degree in religion. His life verse is: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”-Mark 8:36

Tim has been married to his beautiful wife, Stacy, since 1992 and they have two wonderful children, Tanner and Sydney. When he is not spending time with his family, he enjoys hanging out with his reptiles, biking and most of all skateboarding.




Brenda Meet our Church Staff

Brenda Hooks
Worship Assistant

Laurel Septer Church Staff

Laurel Septer
Finance Assistant

Andrew Meet our Church Staff

Andrew Lapp
Church Pianist

Denise Meet our Staff

Denise Verheul
Church Organist