Blog Index
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Jeff Wenke,
Lead Pastor

Contact Jeff

Jeff is a Kalamazoo native who spent over 20 years living in California leading a youth ministry and then planting a church. His return to Michigan happened when the Bridge was almost 3 years old and needed someone to organize and lead as the ministry grew. Jeff and his wife Heidi, along with their 3 children Joshua, Nathan, and Sarah made the trek across the country. Now as Lead Pastor, Jeff provides direction and alignment for all aspects of The Bridge as we move towards multiplication and mission.
Important words in Pastor Jeff’s life: Fun, Family, Friends, Authentic Relationships, Coffee, Water Skiing, and Camping.
Key Verse: Romans 12:1-2, especially as it relates to the transforming power of God to change lives and help people know the will of God in their lives.


Jeff Fernandez,
Director of Youth & Children

Contact Jeff

Jeff F. is a fantastic asset to our staff, adding strong leadership and a strong desire for the growth and development of our Student Ministries and Bridge Kids programs. He’s a Holland native and resides here in Portage with his wife of 21 years, Teresa, and their two teenagers, Riley and Clara. Perhaps one of the most relatable people you’ll meet, get Jeff talking about his family, football, outdoor activities, movies, music, sun, sand, and/ or food: you’ll have a buddy for life. Jeff’s willingness to invest in others is authentic and his inspiring testimony makes him the right guy for this ministry. His passion for Student Ministries comes from his own High School experiences where despite an extremely difficult home life, full of violence, arguments, and addictions, he was able to make his way through the muck of adolescence and find the love and acceptance from our Heavenly Father. God has wired him up to dig in, challenge, and encourage students to know that THEY ARE LOVED BY GOD as they are. His life verse is from the book of Colossians, Chapter 2, verses 6-7: “So then, just as you received CHRIST JESUS as LORD, continue to live in HIM, rooted and built up in HIM, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”


Katie Cugliotta,
Office Manager

Contact Katie

Katie fell in love with the heart of The Bridge four years ago when she walked in the doors for the first time and felt “home.” She’s worked in administration and office management for the past 10 years and has providing her quirky, creative, and fun administrative support skills around here since 2012. With Dean (high school sweetheart and husband of 12 years) by her side, she tackles being a part-time working mom while also being employed full-time by the Three-Toddler Corporation. Also known as her kids... Taylor(4), Dean(1), and Chloe(1). When the opportunity presents itself (like every other leap year) for Katie to enjoy free time… you’ll find her in line at Starbucks talking to each and every person as if they were #besties; or perhaps on her way to TJ MAXX to return items that were not in her FPU approved budget. She enjoys ruining recipes found on Pinterest, photography, OCD behavior, germ-killing, coffee dates with friends, and most importantly loving others.

Simply reading the book of Esther can sum up her heart. She hopes for others to find hope and glory to God, in all of their life experiences. “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will perish. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” ESTHER 4:14



Kayleigh Lohse,
Office Assistant + Graphic Design

Contact Kayleigh

Kayleigh set foot inside The Bridge for the first time in the 2013, dropped her Connection Card in the offering basket, and was all but tackled by a loud man in a lime green shirt, who was really, REALLY excited that she was there. That over-joyed stranger turned out to be Pastor Jeff Wenke, whose effort to not let a single stranger go un-greeted made a big impact on a young couple looking for a church home. Pastor Jeff came to say “hi” to Kayleigh and her then-boyfriend, Jake, and gave them these wise words: “Don’t get married. At least, don’t do it soon. Wait. A long time.” Jake and Kayleigh were engaged two days later and were married (by Pastor Jeff) in 2014. Fast forward three years and the Lohse’s have grown their family and service to this ministry. Together they serve in a variety of ministries, including the Worship Team and Finance Team, Newcomer Dessert Night, and leading a Life Group. Getting plugged in at The Bridge was the catalyst for developing amazing friendships with people who will be lifelong friends.

Kayleigh has spent an impressive decade in college, waffling between wanting to be a writer, a lawyer, a communications director, and for a semester sophomore year, a pottery thrower. After (finally) embracing the fact that art IS a real job, she began her freelance graphic design career in 2015. At The Bridge, Kayleigh works with staff, team leaders, volunteers, and other Bridge folks to turn their creative ideas into reality. Her dream here is to help ministries at The Bridge broaden their reach and connect with their audience through powerful, beautiful graphics.

When she’s not manufacturing our weekly program, flyers, and posters, Kayleigh is likely hosting friends for a euchre tournament, watching college football (Go Big Red!), feeding at least one child at all times, and begging the baby to stop kissing the dog. If you need to sweet-talk her into a last minute design project, Starbucks or dark chocolate will almost always do the trick.


Peg Weaver,
Prayer & Care Director

Contact Peg

Peg is passionate about helping you deeply understand the love and grace that Christ has for you. Not much gets her more excited than seeing you live a powerful Holy Spirit filled life!! She is the Spiritual Director of Prayer & Care here at the Bridge, and will let you know that there is nothing more important you should be doing with your time, than praying! :) She has many years of ministry experience in team building and leadership development… and joyfully focuses on being a catalyst for a foundation of prayer at 7200! A native of Iowa, (better known as heaven) Peg has lived in Michigan since graduating from the University of Iowa… Go Hawks!!!! She and her husband Garth love to watch sports (GO HAWKS!!!) together and spending time with their children and grandchildren. Besides being a Jesus-freak, Peg LOVES to read and has the books to prove it (just ask Garth, his back still aches from moving them) She wants to go drink some coffee with you and find out how she can help you become a Jesus-freak too.


Will Alderman,
Worship Director

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Will is a Southwest Michigan native born and raised in Plainwell. His passion for God, worship and music fuel his daily life. Will graduated with his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from WMU (Go Broncos!) and his Master's Degree in music performance from Ithaca College (Go Bombers! ...anyone?) Currently, he lives in on the south side of Kalamazoo and has spent the last two years of his life working as a freelance musician in the area, teaching, writing, and gigging. In addition to Leading Worship at The Bridge, Will is a worship leader at the Kalamazoo House of Prayer. In his spare time, you’ll find Will hanging with friends, family, or playing soccer.

Favorite Verse: Romans 8:38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Heidi Wenke,
Bridge Kids Director (K-5th)

Contact Heidi

Heidi is a West Michigan girl, born and raised in Grand Rapids and then graduated from Calvin College with her degree in education. Soon after college, she married Pastor Jeff and the two headed west to begin their life together as well as their call to ministry. While in California, he started seminary and Heidi fulfilled her life-long dream of teaching. Part of that California journey took them to San Jose to be part of a church plant, where for 18 years, Heidi continued teaching and raising their family of 3 children: Joshua, Nathan, and Sarah. In July of 2012, Heidi and Jeff moved their family back to Portage to begin life with The Bridge (everyone asks her… why would you move from California to Michigan!) Heidi serves as the Bridge Kids Director overseeing the Kindergarten through 5th grade discipleship program. Her commitment and passion for Bridge families has been obvious to all from the beginning of their time here. We’re blessed to have her serving and loving on our kids. Heidi loves to read in cozy chairs and she is happiest when she is in a camper. Drive by her house and you’ll probably see her walking her dog Bailey or hanging clothes outside to dry.


Gynetta Thompson,
Nursery Director (Infant-PreK), Women's Ministry Director

Contact Gynetta

Gynetta and her family have been residents of Michigan for almost 4 years, and although not a native, she has but has fallen in love with this state. Gynetta and her husband, Christian, have been married for around 20 years. Together they have a 9 year old son, Mark, and a Golden Retriever Fur-Baby, Lincoln. When not home with her family or serving at The Bridge, Gynetta enjoys reading, walking, cooking and baking.  (Have you had her chocolate chip cookies?) She also enjoys running, and although the love does not come naturally, her desire to compete in marathons has given her the satisfaction of reaching a goal, being disciplined, and remaining focused to conquer a fear.

Gynetta’s passion comes from being around people; which makes her the ideal candidate for both of her ministry roles. As the Bridge Kids Nursery Director, her love for playing and teaching the kids about Jesus is obvious to all who encounter her bright smile. Gynetta also thrives working in Women’s Discipleship. She enjoys leading Bible studies and encouraging other women to develop authentic relationships that push each other to grow spiritually.


Josh Wenke,
Tech Director

Contact Josh

A dog is man's best friend, according to some. However for Josh, his best friend is food. If you want to get to know Josh better, we recommend a food incentive. Lucky for us, this college students has other talents and loves that make him a qualified staffer of The Bridge. Josh’s other passions include leadership, music, and technology. He enjoys playing piano, running track & field, and fixing computers in his spare time. Growing up in California and moving to Michigan just 4 years ago provided Josh with a unique set of challenges but he quickly made new friends and gained comfort with these crazy Michiganders at Kalamazoo Christian High School. Between school and church teams, Josh has exceled in many leadership roles. (Chapel Worship Team, Math and Engineering Team Captain; which took 1st place at a Regional match, church Worship Team and Sound/Tech Booth volunteer.) Recently, Josh was offered a job as the Tech Director for the Bridge, combining his talents and passions for music and technology. We keep him busy making sure the worship experience look and sound their best. He manages our website and keeps our podcasts up-to-date. Perhaps most importantly, Josh is using his giftedness to teach others and build up our Tech & Sound team, so they can use their abilities to further the Kingdom. We’re blessed to have such a mature young disciple of Jesus, sharing his gifts with us before he graduates and attends college in the fall of 2016.


Larry Reed
Facilities Director

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Larry grew up here in Kalamazoo, married Charmaine and raised 3 children. His careers have included Real Estate, commercial banking, and mortgage broker. He now serves The Bridge by managing the maintenance of all the facilities and grounds at our 7200 Campus. His passion is to keep God’s house clean.

Larry is an avid fan of baking, euchre, music, and riding motorcycles.