Meet Our Elders

Elders are like shepherds to a flock; loving, caring for and guiding the people of our church family to safety, nourishment, and peace in Jesus. It is both a high and a humble calling. 

This group of men were carefully chosen based on:

  • their character (especially based on 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9)

  • involvement in our church family

  • and the display of leadership ability


They meet together weekly for prayer and discussion. They also each oversee a portion of our church family for spiritual guidance, leadership, advice, and prayer. 

Brandon Smallwood


Brandon, his wife Melanie, and their two sons moved to Wilmington from their home in Kentucky in just as Venture Church was getting started.

Brandon quickly showed a willingness to serve and wisdom to lead.  His daytime job as an E.R. Doctor puts him in daily contact with people in need; teaching him compassion, action, and patience. 

Brandon has served at Venture Church as a small group leader and Host, a member of the finance team, and in various roles on our Sunday morning teams.

James Smith


James and his wife Dixie have raised their two daughters to adulthood in Wilmington. They have deep roots in the city through her role as a public school teacher and his role working at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

They began attending Venture during some of our earliest months and quickly became vital leaders and volunteers with our City Team, and Sunday morning teams.

James has served as a small group leader, in various ways on our Sunday morning teams and as a mentor to many at Venture Church.

William Sanders


William and his wife Jill live in Burgaw and were some of the very first people to make Venture Church their home. After having been involved with the launch of a Church in New Bern NC, they were excited to hear about a new church a little closer to home. They have been part of the heartbeat and DNA of Venture since our very first meetings in living rooms and restaurants.

William has grown children as well as younger children at home. His experiences in the US Marine Corps, as a business owner, and as a father have all shaped the leader he has become. William has served as a small group leader, in a variety of roles on our Sunday morning teams and as a mentor to many at Venture Church.

George Bair


George and his wife Kathleen moved from their longtime home, in upstate NY, to Wilmington to retire. They have grown children. One of their first priorities, even before their move was complete, was to find a church home to serve in. They attended Venture Church on weekends when they came to prepare for the move and have been core members ever since!

George’s background includes decades of volunteer work with habitat for humanity, serving in various leadership roles in churches they’ve served with, and as a youth and adult mentor. In his “retirement” he may be as busy as ever as he seeks ways to lead more and more people to Jesus. George has served as a small group leader, part of our production team and Hosts team, youth summer camp volunteer, and is a mentor to many at Venture Church