After 20 years as the devoted pastor at Gateway Bible Church, Fred Hennes, 65, will retire on July 31.

The expected seamless transition will fall on the shoulders of Ron Marsh, 50, who currently serves as the adult pastor at the church.

“I have incredible peace about moving forward,” says Fred, who will relocate to Nevada with his wife of 41 years Meredith. “I have complete confidence about Ron taking over.”

This is Ron’s third time being involved with the church, with time away spent to pastor at the First Baptist Church in Watsonville and coaching churches during transition.

“I’d said goodbye to the place I love, I thought I wouldn’t get another chance,” says Ron, referring to Gateway Bible Church. He has already begun overseeing the staff, relieving Fred of that duty.

It should be noted that Fred and Ron are more than acquaintances. “He was one of the first people I hired 20 years ago,” says Fred, adding the two have always kept in touch. “We know each other well.”

Fred adds that the job of being a pastor is essentially a 24/7 job. “It’s not just giving a sermon on Sunday,” he says. “It’s so much more than that.”

In addition to controlling a $1 million budget, the pastor oversees 13 employees, makes constant decisions and provides support to the flock at all times of the day or night.

“I don’t have the energy I once had,” says Fred. “But I have an incredible amount of peace about moving forward. This is a healthy church.”

Churchgoers need not look for major changes under Ron’s leadership. “Theologically I’m on the same page as Fred,” says Ron who is married to Shae and has two teenagers. “I want people to discover they can come up with their own direction.”

In terms of personality types, Fred, who has a executive high-tech background, is more of a mover and shaker, instigating change. Ron on the other hand is a collaborator. “I don’t want to drop the baton,” he says about carrying on the church’s basic philosophy.

Look for the 350-worshipper church to continue its core programs: interfacing with Baymonte Christian School, the youth and children’s programs and Friday afternoon food giveaway. “We want to reach families and help them raise their kids,” says Ron.

Fred looks forward to continuing the Lord’s work in Nevada. “You can’t take the pastor out of the man,” says Fred. “I’ll undoubtedly get involved with a church up there.”

Learn more about Gateway Bible Church in Scotts Valley at

David Leland
David is a local resident, a writer, MSV Columnist and a heck of a nice guy who cares about our commUNITY