Our staff

  • Pastor Owen was appointed to the First UMC of DeLand in June of 1999. He is a graduate of Asbury College (1980) with a B.S. in Music Education and Asbury Theological Seminary (1989) with a Masters of Divinity. Owen has served the United Methodist Church in many areas. He served as Youth Director at Aloma United Methodist Church of Winter Park, FL and served as Music Director at Murry Hill UMC in Jacksonville, FL and Christ UMC in Lexington, KY, before being ordained in the United Methodist Church. Pastor Owen came to us from Lake Worth, FL where he served St. Luke's UMC for six years after having served in Madison County and Jacksonville in previous years. His ministry is blessed to have his wife, Barbara, serving as our Discipleship and Program Director. He and Barbara are joined by their children, Jeffrey and Mary Elizabeth. Some of Pastor Owen's hobbies include High School Marching Band competitions, ventriloquism, and watching his son and daughter perform their music. Our pastor has served our community well and was named the West Volusian of the Year in 2010.

  • Mark Bitner

    Youth Director

    Mark was born and raised in the great state of Minnesota, don't ya know. He attended North Central University in downtown Minneapolis, studying youth ministries. While in college Mark worked as a 6th grade pastor at Lord of Life Church for one year. After that he spent four years as a high school pastor at Horizons Community Church, interning part of the time and working on staff. Mark felt called to full-time ministry and warm weather, and in July of 2006 he moved to Leesburg, Florida to serve as a full-time Youth Pastor. Mark started here at FUMC in March of 2009 as the Director of Student Ministries. It was at North Central University that Mark met his beautiful wife Mae. They got married in July of 2005. Together they have two daughters, Isabel who was born in December of 2007, and Isla who was born in February of 2012. Mark enjoys all sorts of sports and everything that goes with them. He plays golf, football, basketball, raquetball and anything else with a ball. He is also a huge fan of his Minnesota sports teams, Florida sports teams, and a fan of the only university in Florida worth watching...The Gators.

  • Aaron odom

    Minister of  worship arts

       Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Aaron eats hot sauce on just about everything. A preacher's kid, Aaron was raised in the church. A graduate of Louisiana State University, he also received Master's degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Liberty University Theological Seminary.

       As a classically trained vocalist, Aaron has sung in more than five hundred churches throughout the U.S. and has performed in at least twenty different countries. He has partnered with renowned pastors and musicians including:  Jerry Falwell, Bill Gaither, John Hagee, Terry Blackwood, Larnelle Harris, Roger Breland, and Marilyn Horne. He has also provided special music for organizations, including The Congregational Methodist Church, The Southern Baptist Convention, Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, The Association of Related Churches (The ARC), Kempke Music, Greater Grace World Outreach, and National Center for Life and Liberty.

       Aaron is a single dad raising his thirteen year old son, Ramsey, here in DeLand. They enjoy the beach, camping, white-water rafting, tennis, fishing, visiting theme parks, and spending time with their amazing extended family.

  • barbara Stricklin

    Director of christian education

    Barbara Stricklin was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. She is a graduate of Florida Southern College where she majored in Christian Education. Barbara has served in ministry for more than 30 years and is blessed to be currently serving as the Director of Christian Education  at First United Methodist Church in DeLand. Barbara is blessed to be in ministry with her husband Pastor Owen Stricklin. She and Owen have  two adult children, Jeffrey and Mary Elizabeth.  Barbara enjoys singing and spending time with her husband and family.

  • Donna Then

    Preschool Director

    Donna was born in the state of New Jersey, but has lived in Florida for the past 35 years.  She has a husband Ron, and son Thor who is in college.  She has been a teacher at the preschool for over 15 years and has recently stepped into the director's role.  

  • Dean Thomas

    Facilities Manager

    Dean grew up in Dade City, Florida and is a graduate of UCF in Orlando. He has an extensive property management background and enjoys surfing and fishing. 

  • Barb Garich

    Administrative assistant

    Barb was raised in Pennsylvania and has lived in Illinois, Texas, and Ohio before relocating to DeLand. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Psychology and has worked in  hospitals and schools in a variety of roles. Barb was active in her previous churches and also volunteered as an Usher Captain for the Cincinnati Open Tennis Tournament for 25 years. Barb and her husband, Matt, have two grown sons, Jonathan and Ryan.