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.

  • pastor ben collins

    Associate Pastor

    Rev. Benjamin Collins, was appointed as local pastor in September 2012, to found and pastor an extension / new congregation, sponsored by FUMC DeLand. Collective launched in February 2013, a congregation drawing people together on the thresholds of faith: those ​with a foot out the door, and those hesitant to step in.  Ben is an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies Department at Stetson University where he teaches biblical literature. Ben and his wife Stacy have a ​4 year old daughter, June, and ​a 1 year old son, Huck. Ben is an athlete, musician, surfer, and spends his free time eating, spending time with family and friends, and watching too much TV.​ 

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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


  • 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.  

  • Barb Garich

    Administrative assistant