Pastor Tom & Gretchen Ouweleen – Pastor
Pastor Tom loves to fish for bass, play guitar & keyboard, and especially loves to teach from the Bible. He is married to his lovely wife Gretchen and has 3 wonderful children.
His vision is to pastor a church where not only everyone is welcome, but where they can learn how to live the Christian life without feeling judged or outcast because of age, income, ethnicity or social status.
Pastor Tom’s mission is to help people progress from being curious about God to becoming fully devoted followers of Christ and to find a place to belong in the local church where they serve with God’s fulfilling purpose for their lives.
Pastor Tom genuinely loves people and enjoys answering honest questions.
The pronunciation of “Ouweleen” is probably easier than it appears… “Oh-well-in”
On his iPod: Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, Bethel Worship, and tons of 80’s music.
Pastor Tom came to Christ at a very young age and pursued a relationship with God throughout his teens and felt the call to ministry at the early age of 17. At age 19 he began to pastor a youth group as a volunteer at the Presbyterian church where he grew up. Those were exciting years of ministry that saw a local youth group grow out of nothing to more than 25 kids. At age 21 Pastor Tom decided to attend a Pentecostal church where God rocked his world and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the midst of a worship service. From then on, Pastor Tom pursued ministry with all his heart. After completing Bible School in the mid 90’s Pastor Tom became licensed in the Assemblies of God.
Later, Pastor Tom left the Assemblies of God to start an independent church in Detroit, Mi. although he always sensed a family connection to the Church of God.
So eventually he decided to pursue credentials in The Church of God, transferred in, and now pastors Northstar Church. Prior to coming into the Church of God he also carried credentials with IMF and affiliated with Willow Creek Association. Pastor Tom was originally planning to be a music teacher and studied music early on in college before leaving the program to attend Bible School. Throughout his 30 year ministry career he has continued to love playing guitar & keyboards and sing. He routinely joins the band and has a heart for worship. As a side interest Pastor Tom is also an NRA licensed firearms instructor teaching pistol safety and CPL courses. He’s also an avid bass fisherman and loves to be out on the water fishing for his favorite fish…Smallmouth Bass. He developed his love for Smallmouth fishing living near one of the top Smallmouth lakes in the world, Lake St. Clair, MI. It’s here he spent 25 years honing his skills and love of the sport. He loves taking new guys at the church out fishing to get to know them. So don’t be surprised if you get invited to go fishing!
Many who get to know Pastor Tom wonder at first if he’s really a Pentecostal because he doesn’t tend to be as charismatic as some of his ministry colleagues. This is due to Pastor Tom’s passion for those who don’t know Jesus. More than anything in the whole world he wants to see people come to know Jesus and connect with a church. So he follows the Apostle Paul’s advice in the scripture about how to practice the Pentecostal gifts in such a way that we don’t confuse people on Sunday mornings. He said in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19 “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Pastor Tom loves to pray in tongues and is often used in gifts of healing, prophecy, and words of wisdom and knowledge. However on Sundays, he feels it is of paramount importance to have a church experience that makes sense to visitors while still celebrating our Pentecostal heritage. So while you may not hear tongues shouted aloud at Northstar on Sundays (Wednesdays are a little different) you should know that Pastor Tom believes in operating in the fullness of Pentecostal power in everything he does. At Northstar we will happily pray for the sick, believing God still heals. We pray that God will use us to speak words of wisdom and knowledge to one another. People pray in tongues regularly. We believe in miracles. Pastor Tom has been used especially in gifts of healing throughout his ministry career. At Northstar you will also experience what originally opened the door of Pastor Tom’s heart to the power of the Holy Spirit…worship. As a worshiper, Pastor Tom loves authentic, passionate worship. It’s in worship you’ll most likely see that his Pentecostal roots are the engine powering everything he’s about. But most of all, Pastor Tom values authenticity. He loves to say “I just want what’s real…I just want God…if it’s God, I want it.” Authenticity is something Pastor Tom values perhaps more than any other personality trait.
In 2009 Pastor Tom married Gretchen. They have two teenage daughters and a 6 year old son. They love to camp, laugh, joke, worship, play games, and try new places to eat. Gretchen has a heart for ministry and supports Pastor Tom in everything he does. The whole Ouweleen family is involved in ministry at the church from the Tech Team, to kids ministry, to ladies ministry. They are family that loves God and serving His people. More than anything they’re just real. Some find it a little odd that Pastor Tom doesn’t always act “like a pastor” because he’s just a down to Earth guy. What you see is what you get. Come get to know him and his family some Sunday.
NS Youth Leader
Vince has been instrumental in leading the kids and teens at Northstar for years. He believes reaching this generation is not only possible, but fundamental for the future of the church. Vince has a gift for being able to relate to kids of all ages. He’s the comic relief that sets kids at ease and brings a ton of fun to the atmosphere. Vince teaches our kids and youth to be a positive influence in their schools and families. Throughout the year we provide regular services geared for kids and teens on a weekly basis in addition to opportunities to attend various Christian events and concerts. Vince is also the drummer for the Worship Team.
Gretchen has a background in event coordination and works with the Northstar team to plan all of the church’s events including outreaches, fellowships, and celebrations. In addition to event planning Gretchen also does most of the purchasing for the church. As Northstar grows and becomes more and more active in our community, Gretchen needs all the help she can get. If you love to plan events and have an eye for details, please see Gretchen to find out how you can get involved.