Pastor Jonathan Sawyer
Pastor Jonathan Sawyer is originally from North Carolina. He began leading worship at a young age and has been a church musician for over twenty years. Before joining the First Assembly staff in November 2013, Pastor Sawyer had previously served churches in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Mobile, Alabama.
Pastor Jonathan graduated from Lee University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While in college, he traveled in the United States and abroad with The Voices of Lee, an a capella ensemble most recently featured on ABC’s “The Sing-Off” and as part of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration.
Pastor Sawyer is a skilled musician and an even more passionate worshiper. He oversees all areas of music ministry at First Assembly, including weekly worship services at the Central Campus, special events, and The Southwest Florida Creative Arts Academy. One of his greatest joys is to see people of all ages engage in worship together.
Pastor Jonathan is married to Christy who is the Dean of the Creative Arts Academy and his Administrative Assistant, and is thrilled to be a part of the First Assembly of God family. He and Christy believe whole-heartedly that “The best is yet to come!”
Zane Elliott is a musician and recording engineer who has lived in Fort Myers, Florida since he graduated High School in New Mexico in 2003. After graduating, he worked for Fort Myers Masters Commission for six years. Zane helped to pioneer the band “Interface”, serving as drummer. He toured internationally for five years with this band. Currently he plays drums most weekends at First Assembly and for the worship band “Summerlin”. He is also a recording engineer and mixer at The Vibe recording studio and also at First Assembly. He has played drums for 15 years, and has had the opportunity to play for many studio recordings. He is married to Joslyn Elliott, who also graduated Fort Myers Masters Commission.
Susie Kelly is excited to begin teaching cello at Southwest Florida Creative Arts Academy! A Connecticut native, she moved to Fort Myers in 2008 after being appointed Principal Cello of the Southwest Florida Symphony by Maestro Michael Hall. She performs regularly at Barbara B Mann, The Phil, and Van Wezel in Sarasota, and in church services and weddings throughout Florida. She received her education in cello performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of South Florida and has taken many teacher-training courses in the Suzuki method. She has over ten years of experience, and is very proud of former students who have participated in the Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Florida State All-State Orchestra and at the Cypress Lake Center for the Arts. Susie began taking lessons in first grade on a tiny 1/8 size cello, drawn to its deep tone and sustained by joyful experiences of playing with family and friends.
Joyce Marie Leyes is a Florida native who was born into a loving Christian family. At age five she began her musical journey, and later became the full-time church pianist at the age of twelve for a large church in Fort Myers. Knowing and answering God’s call upon her, she dedicated her life and professional career to Church Music and has never looked back.
Having given countless piano and vocal lessons to hundreds of students for over forty years, Joyce also taught Middle School Chorus in public schools, as well as owning her own private music studio. Joyce has been in recording studios from age 14 to the present working with many artists, as well as accompanying Grammy and Dove Award winners and well-known worldwide television/recording artists in concerts. She has been director of church choirs and vocal ensembles for many years and also recently was the Musical Director for the Creative Arts Academy’s production of the Broadway musical “Annie, Jr.”.
Joyce and her husband, Harold J. Leyes (also a musician), greatly enjoy traveling, photography, technology and attending college football games. They find that their greatest joy, throughout 28 years of marriage, has been serving the Lord through the avenue of playing together each week in their local church music ministry.
Carole Garczynski, an artist originally from Detroit, Michigan has called SWFL home since 1986. Carole and her husband Leo have been active members of First Assembly for 29 years. They have three children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Carole has been an active board member on the Women’s Ministries Board since 1987 and Teen Challenge Board of Directors since 1989. She was the designer and builder of Noah’s Ark, designer of The Living Cross, David and Goliath and many other sets built for community outreach programs at First Assembly.
Carole is the founder and director of Artful Missions, a ministry dedicated to bring art back into the church. Artful Missions benefits our missionaries every year with Global Art Around the World Art Show and anti-human trafficking ministries with its annual Emerging Artist Charity Art Show.
Carole is the founder and CEO of Sugar Spring Designs, an interior design company and most recently has branched into designing Wordy Bird and Friends greeting cards. She loves teaching art and has been with SWFL Creative Arts Academy since 2014. This fall Carole will begin teaching an art class for middle school students at SWFL Classical Christian Academy.
Piano, Guitar, Drums, Brass, Woodwinds
After 21 years of performing, leading and arranging for various Air Force Bands, George retired from active duty in the United States Air Force in 2004 and settled in Anchorage, Alaska. George and his family has since relocated to SW Florida in 2006 to devote his time to teaching, arranging and performing. George keeps a busy performing schedule traveling to Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami and all points between to play with various name performers to include the Temptations, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, Bernadette Peters, Jerry Lewis, Frankie Valli, Marvin Hamlisch, Joel Grey, Dennis DeYoung (Styx), Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis and Connie Francis. He also performed the Nutcracker with the Miami Ballet, Led Zeppelin’s Rock Symphony. Geroge has also played many Broadway tours to include “Chicago”, “Wicked” and most recently the Broadway Blockbuster “The Book of Mormon”. George has been the trombonist for Saturday and Sunday services at First Assembly of God in Ft. Myers since 2008. George is also the Trombonist at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers, FL. George started his music career at the young age of 5, taking music lessons with his father and keyboard extraordinaire George M. Mancini. After High School he received a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music and attended school in Boston for 2 years. After this, George joined the AF Bands to pursue his performing career. Over the years, George has performed with Branford Marsalis, Jeff Watts, Donald Harrison, Claudio Roditi, Steve Turre and at the Sitka Jazz Festival with jazz great Paquito D’Rivera. He has also been featured on the cover of “Jazz Player” magazine, a featured performer at the Sitka Jazz Festival and a player and arranger on many CDs. George teaches all instruments and has been the 5th thru 8th Grade Band and Pre-Kindergarten thru 4th Grade General Music teacher at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte
Heidi Thompson received her undergraduate degree in 2013 from Southeastern University in piano performance under the instruction of Dr. Poung-ah Tak. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, some of Heidi’s first musical accomplishments were placing 3rd in the Dayton Philharmonic Junior High Competition for piano and violin. She later placed 2nd in a solo music competition for the state of Ohio as a high school freshman. When she was 16 years old she began studying piano as a student of Dr. Rackman at Sinclair Community College while taking college music courses. When she was 19 she performed Carnaval by Schumann for her graduation recital from Sinclair’s music department. Some of her other musical accomplishments include performing in a public masterclass for Paul Jacobs (the chairman of Julliard’s pipe organ department) and playing first violin in the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and in the orchestra at the university of Dayton while she was still in high school.
Pastor Brandon Strickler
Pastor Brandon Strickler was born in Huntsville, Alabama but lived most of his life growing up in in Northern Carolina. Growing up he had little involvement in church and never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When he was nineteen years old, he had a life changing encounter with God that put his life on a brand new course. He moved to Southwest Florida in 2002 and God quickly directed him to Fort Myers Masters Commission where he received high quality Christian education and ministry and worship training. Through three years of Masters Commission there was a clear call on his life to enter full-time ministry.
Pastor Brandon is the student ministries pastor at First Assembly of God in Fort Myers and has been for more than six years now. He has been apart of leading multiple worship teams over the years. He started learning the guitar at a young age and has been playing ever since. Over the years he has had the opportunity to teach students to play the guitar more efficiently. He has a passion to teach students how to play the guitar and help develop their skills in different styles of music.
Pastor Brandon and his wife, Liz, have two beautiful children, Brayden and Hannah.
Nicholas Hanaburgh is originally from Poughkeepsie, New York. He attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida for drums and received his Bachelors in music. Nicholas studied under Ian Goodman while at Southeastern and specialized in jazz drumming. He was the drummer for the Christian touring group “Mike Burns Band.” Nicholas was also involved in jazz band as the drummer and percussion ensemble for Southeastern University. Nicholas has been teaching private lessons for years, and has loved enriching the lives of his students with the love of music and God. Nicholas has performed for Disney as well as for President Bush and Joyce Meyer. He has played for countless churches all over Florida and New York, but today he calls First Assembly of God his home church. Now, you can find Nicholas as the drummer at First Assembly using his gift of music for the Lord.
Steven Van Loozenoord
Steven, originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has recently relocated to Fort Myers, Florida to serve as the Assistant Minister of Music at First Assembly. Right before this, Steven received his Bachelors of Music in Jazz Piano Performance from the Jacobs School of Music on the campus of Indiana University where he studied as a Jacobs Scholar, the most prestigious merit-based honor given by the conservatory.
Steven began formal lessons at the age of five and began playing at church at the age of ten. Steven’s love for all types of music has pushed him to pursue many different playing styles. This includes, but is not limited to: classical, jazz, latin, funk, and gospel music. In 2010, Steven took 1st place in the National Fine Arts Festival in the category of piano solo. Steven is also an accomplished arranger, composer, and music theorist.
As a teacher, Steven is very passionate about bringing the best out of his students, emphasizing both reading and ear training, as well as an artistic and emotional approach to interpretation.
Allison Van Loozenoord
Allison is originally from West Michigan. Her love for music was evident from an early age and as a child she recorded several children’s CD’s and sang on the radio broadcast “Keys for Kids” with Uncle Charlie. At age twelve, Allison began playing in the West Michigan Flute Association’s junior flute orchestra. She consistently placed Superior in Solo and Ensemble competitions at the state level and also in the national Fine Arts competition. She placed first in the state Fine Arts competition in 2011 with the help of her composer and accompanist, and now husband, Steven.
Allison graduated from Lee University with a minor in vocal performance under the instruction of Dr. Cheryl Brendel, a notable coloratura soprano. During this time, she traveled the United States and abroad singing first soprano for The Voices of Lee, an a cappella ensemble recognized most frequently from their runner-up finish in NBC’s “The Sing Off”. She performed for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and in 2014 on America’s Got Talent. Since graduating in 2015, Allison married Steven Van Loozenoord and the two happily relocated to sunny Southwest Florida.