Ministry Staff

Love means serving others

David Hillis

David Hillis, Lead Pastor: David went into the ministry after moving from a small town in Georgia in 1995 and six years later married Teresa, a native Peruvian. He did his postgraduate work at Fuller Theological Seminary and has been serving Grace as lead pastor since 2011. David loves fitness, nutrition and the outdoors, whether it is hiking, backpacking, rock climbing or kayaking. They have a daughter in North Dakota and a teenage son at home.

Why Relationships Matter To Me: At Grace relationships matter a lot, because we know that God wired us to be in relationship. Even closet introverts, like me, cannot thrive emotionally and spiritually outside of relationship — with God and with others. At Grace, we experience how real growth comes from a personal relationship with God as well as relationships with others who also want to become fully devoted followers of Christ. When we prioritize relationships we prioritize people, just as Jesus did. Email: [email protected]

While Pastor Dave is on Sabbatical this summer, Grace will be served by pastors Duane Cross and Debby DeBernardi.

Debby DeBernardi

Debby DeBernardi moved to AZ from Illinois in 1979 with her husband, Gary. They continue to serve small businesses with Gary’s CPA practice. Debby and Gary have been married 41 years. They have two married daughters and seven, almost eight, grandchildren! Debby is excited to be a part of the Grace faith community to offer support and spiritual accompaniment in various ways to all ages such as spiritual direction, retreat, discernment processes and other offerings during this summer. 

Why Relationships Matter to Me: Nothing happens outside of relationships with God and each other! I believe relationships are the context for our growth in holy living. Relationships are not defined by schedules, activities or events. Relationship is not a “compartment” in our life. Rather, I believe and embrace the truth that God is always present and His Spirit is always speaking, healing, guiding and transforming us. Flourishing relationships are the result of living life with God and others. In John 15 Jesus tells us our part is to abide with Him to strengthen our intimacy with God and, as a result, bear fruit for the sake of others and the advancing of His Kingdom. So, a life in relationship “with" God is possible and the fruit of this love relationship overflows into all other relationships and aspects of our lives. Email: [email protected]

Duane Cross

Duane Cross was born in San Diego, CA, to a loving Christian family. He played football in high school and graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Mechanical Design Engineering. He fell in love with his beautiful wife, Sheri, in 1970 and they've been married for 48 years. 

After serving as a youth pastor, Duane felt God's call to ministry in his life. In 1978 he graduated from North Park Theological Seminary. He has served 4 churches, most recently Hope Covenant Church in Chandler, AZ.

Duane and Sheri have had 4 children: Arthur Thomas died at birth; Tamara and her husband live in Newburg, OR; Nathan and his wife live in Vidalia, GA; and their youngest son, Tyler, died in an accident in 1989, when he was 10 years old. Duane and Sheri love spending time with their 8 grandchildren! Currently Duane and Sheri live in Sun Lakes and consider it a blessing to serve where they are needed. Email: [email protected]

Brian Brinkley

Brian Brinkley, Youth and Young Adults Pastor: Brian is originally from Dallas, Texas, but has spent most of his life here in Tucson. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Religious Studies and has completed his coursework for his Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Brian has three children who attend Grace, where he enjoys building relationships with students and their parents to develop life-long disciples of Christ. Brian loves college sports and is a huge fan of the Arizona Wildcats! 

Why Relationships Matter To Me: Relationships matter because they point us towards Jesus. Through living life together, we become the very hands and feet of Jesus to our community. Building relationships with students, their parents, and our surrounding community is a foundational element of how I live out my faith. Email: [email protected]

Sue Montanez

Sue Montanez, Connections Director: Originally from the Bay area in California, Sue moved first to Evergreen, Colorado, and then to Tucson in 2006. She’s been at Grace since early 2013 and is delighted to serve as the Connections Director, helping people at Grace get connected into the life of the church, whether they’re new to Grace or have been coming for a while. Sue is a lucky mom and “gwamma” who loves boating, cooking, reading, her family, and Jesus!

Why Relationships Matter To Me: Relationships hold us; they stretch and grow us; they soften us and toughen us at the same time. When a relationship breaks, our hearts hurt, and when relationships are going well, we can be bowled over by unabashed, pure joy. I’m certain we’re wired to be connected with each other, to love and support each other, and to learn how to navigate when things aren’t right. When I live into that, when I’m really present and together with others, my own life is that much richer, and I feel that much closer to Jesus. That makes me so much more thankful for all His children, my family. Email: [email protected]

Lucy Hill

Lucy Hill, Children's Ministry Director: Lucy was born and raised in Farmington, New Mexico, and moved to Tucson with her family in 2001 from Corpus Christi, Texas. She and her husband, Andy, have 3 children. She shares the Children’s Ministry Director position with her sister, Melanie Irwin, and loves using her tools as a teacher and the unique gifts God has given her to share Jesus with the children and families at Grace.

Why Relationships Matter To Me: Relationships were designed by God. He did not create us to navigate this world alone. Scripture teaches us that we are stronger together (Ecclesiastes 4:12), and Scripture encourages us to spur each other on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). Email: [email protected]

Melanie Irwin

Melanie Irwin, Children's Ministry Director: Melanie and her husband, Kent, came to Grace in 2005 from San Jose, California. She is the proud mother of her crazy fun and adventurous daughter, Stevie, who serves in the U.S. Army. Melanie serves as the Children’s Ministry Director with her sister, Lucy Hill, and she feels blessed to be able to share Jesus with all the children who come to Grace. Melanie enjoys playing tennis, snuggling her dog, Tia, visiting Stevie, and going on adventures with Kent.

Why Relationships Matter To Me: I believe that being in relationship with one another is the way Jesus wants us to live. Life is so rich when we are relating with each other. People will lift us up, dust us off, and send us on our way as we help one another through our best and worst days. We have so much to offer when we allow ourselves to love one another. Ultimately, "Love Conquers All", so we will always err on the side of LOVE. Email: [email protected]

Sandie Ramm

Sandie Ramm, Office Administrator: An Ohio State Buckeye at heart, Sandie originally came from Toledo, Ohio, and then to Grace by way of Cape Coral, Florida. She has two children, one living in Florida and the other in Tucson. Sandie manages the administrative needs of the church and office as well as facilitates the church’s GriefShare group, helping those on their journey through grief after losing a loved one.

Why Relationships Matter to Me: From the first time I showed up here I felt more welcomed by people here than I could have hoped for — it was like people had known me for a long time and I was just part of the family. I had just suddenly moved from Florida and had no relationships here, and before the first month was up I had good friends. I want to give back in the same way, and lead a couple of LifeGroups in part for that reason. I don’t want to be recognized, I just want people to know that relationship matter — and that no one in a church community should feel alone. Email: [email protected]

Katie Good

Katie Good, Assistant to the Lead Pastor: A born and raised Texan, Katie and her family moved to Tucson, Arizona in 2011. She is married to Mack and they have two daughters. Katie is thankful to use the gifts God has given her to help support the ministries of Grace and build relationships with people in the church. Katie enjoys reading, crafting, working with children and hiking.

Why Relationships Matter to Me: From the moment we walked into Grace we were welcomed and felt part of a community. God has built us to be in community with one another, to walk through the highs and lows of life, encouraging, guiding and loving each other. Email [email protected]