staff & Lead teams

staff team

Garry firth - lead pastor

I've served and been involved in church for most of my adult life. The thing that I absolutely love about TMP is that everything we do is geared toward creating a safe place where people who are skeptical about God can come and discover God's unconditional love and acceptance - no matter where they've been, no matter what they've done, and no matter what's been done to them. 
I have seen God's creativity up close, having spent over 6500 hrs underwater working as a commercial diver. I'm married to my high-school sweetheart for over 30 years and have three daughters who are all married.
When it comes time to unplug from it all, I slip on a motorcycle helmet and hit the road ... and if I'm not hitting the road I'm trying to hit a small white ball into a little wee hole in the grass.

russ smith - associate pastor

I love Jesus, I love people, and I get a kick out of playing music. After playing in the band Hokus Pick for the 90s and leading music at Camp Qwanoes from 2000 to 2020, I’m excited to be your Associate Pastor at TMP.  
I enjoy hanging out with my wife Michelle and my two kids who are now in university. And I’m happy to ride a red mountain bike and go jump in a lake.  
I’m passionate about asking “So what & now what?” when we explore a message about God and discover how we can apply it to our lives. So whether we’re unearthing truth from a message or singing songs, let’s do it together as we unleash God’s extravagant love on this city. 

peter bird - NEXT GEN PASTOR

I love playing music, listening to music, going to see bands, watching band documentaries … you get the idea. As well as doing anything music, I can be found playing hockey and having adventures with friends. 
I started attending The Meeting Place in September, 2012. My first Sunday in town I showed up and it is all history from there. What really attracted me to TMP was how genuine and kind everyone was, and how they worked hard to create an environment that gave people space to explore their questions about who God is. 
I am so excited that I now get to work with great people to support the purpose God has given us to bring His love and message of hope to the people of Nanaimo and the world.

sylvia thomson - kidz place director

I found TMP with a quick Google search in 2017. I was staying in Nanaimo for 2 months and wanted to find a place to connect with people and learn more about God. I fell in love with the island, the people and of course, TMP. I had no idea I would be working here four years later, but I must say I am very glad to be a part of this family of extraordinary people.
I’m a big kid at heart. I value a child’s curiosity and playful nature. Kids ask great questions and make us older kids rethink things sometimes. I believe it is so important that children know that the God who made them loves them more than anyone, no matter what. This will be an anchor for them throughout their lives. Kidz Place is a great place for kids and parents to find tools to help them discover God’s love.
I love reading and writing and illustrating books. I often have an idea for a story going through my brain and/or doodles dribbling onto the page. I also love the outdoors, and Vancouver Island is the best place to explore! I connect with God in a big way when I’m on the beach or in the woods.

julie christensen - communications director

I love TMP because it’s relaxed and honest with room for everyone. The music is awesome and the messages communicate truth about Jesus without complicated words getting in the way. 
My husband Tim and I have been part of TMP since our two young adult sons were little. At Avalon on Sunday mornings you can often find me hanging out at the info table in the lobby.
I love books as shown by my to-be-read pile and Kindle backlog, listening to my Irish boys (better known as U2), and looking for new instapot recipes. 

leadership team

My wife Linda and I started attending TMP in 2012. I really like the focus on the basics of a relationship with God. I appreciate that TMP is accessible and sensitive to people wherever they are in their faith journey. I tend to stay behind the scenes, but you might have seen me on stage (but literally in the background) with a guitar on Sunday mornings. I've been self employed for the past 40 years and I’m trying to retire.

I was raised in rural Saskatchewan and have attended church and been a follower of Jesus since I was little. A little over 7 years ago my family moved to Nanaimo from the farm in Saskatchewan. A few months later we started attending TMP and have been here ever since. My wife Colleen and I have 3 adult children, all  in post secondary education. I am currently part of the setup and take down teams for TMP. I enjoy hearing about people’s life journeys and how they are led to follow Jesus. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store for TMP.
I began attending TMP in the summer of 2022 when I moved back to Nanaimo after having lived in the US for many years. After I became a Jesus follower in my early twenties, my passion has been to ask every question and follow all the evidence. I love that TMP encourages people to do that, too. I enjoy learning more about the Bible and hosting the weekly women’s Bible study. I have four sons and twelve grandchildren, and I am so excited to be living near most of them again.
My great dream is that everyone in Nanaimo and beyond would learn about the extravagant way that God loves them just as they are.  The message is so simple, receiving that love by grace is so easy and yet, we tend to overcomplicate it. No matter where we are at, no matter what we are going through, God loves us. The Meeting Place shares that dream, and recognizes the power of one – everyone of us has the power individually to share the love of God with the people around us and collectively we can share that love in small and big ways throughout our city and beyond. If we haven’t met, it is probably because I spend many of my Sundays up in the projector room running the media you see on the big screens in the theatre and on the livestream. When I am not there, you can find me with my husband Rob, with whom I share 3 adult children and 3 amazing granddaughters, or working as a customer service manager here in Nanaimo.

My wife and I started coming to The Meeting Place in 2008, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be an active volunteer for most of that time. We love the music, the messages, and hanging out with old and new friends. I am always looking forward to wherever Jesus might lead me and to serve in whatever way he chooses! In addition to TMP, we enjoy kayaking, hiking, cycling, and traveling the world. And our dog, Jasper, of course!
My wife Julie and I have been part of TMP since our two boys (now young adults) were small enough to swing & climb on the Avalon hallway railing. I love being part of the team at The Meeting Place and watching people experience those ‘aha’ moments when something new about God’s love for them is finally grasped.