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 Mark Bitner

    Assistant Pastor

    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. In November of 2018 Mark moved into the Assitant Pastor role. 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.

  • Fred Eshleman

    Traditional Worship Director

    Fred was born in Lancaster, PA to parents Martin Handel and Nina Ruth Sowers Eshleman. He graduated from Solanco High School in Quarryville, PA then went on to graduate from Lebanon Valley College and received a Master's Degree in Music Education from Temple University and a Master's Degree in Administration and Supervision from Florida State University. Fred has taught music education in K-12 schools where he organized choirs, performances, and taught vocal performance. He was the Director of the Daytona Beach Choral Society from 2009-2012. Fred was previously the Minister of Music at First Presbyterian, DeLand where he served for twelve years. Fred has a passion for music, fundraising, and the development of student musicians, singers, and music programs. 


    Contemporary Worship Director

    Amanda was born in Boston, Mass. but has lived in Florida her whole life. As a PK (preacher's kids) Amanda has lived in Tampa, Plant City, and Leesburg where she graduated from Leesburg High School. Amanda went to and graduated from THE Florida State University, GO NOLES! In college she was a member of the award winning A Capella  group All Night Yahtzee for three years and a Worship Leader at the FSU Wesley foundation. During her summers in college she worked at the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp where she was a worship leader and where she met her husband Asa. Amanda and Asa married at camp in 2012 and is a proud mommy to two boys Asher and Arlie. Amanda has a passion for singing and worship arts and is so excited to be a part of this amazing community. Amanda enjoys spending time with all her boys, cooking, and going to DISNEY!

  • 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.

  • Asa Quinn

    Youth Director

    Asa grew up in DeLand as a member of First Church DeLand along with his Mother Sherri Quinn, Father Chuck Quinn, and Brother Adam Quinn and participated in its youth group throughout middle school and high school. Graduating from DeLand High in 2007 he went on to earn a degree in Sport Management and Recreation from THE Florida State University. GO NOLES! Through out his summers in college he worked at the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp as a summer camp councilor. There he met his wife Amanda and got married at camp in 2012. He then worked full time at the camp for six years running their after school and day camp program and then became the Program Coordinator where he oversaw the Summer Camp and Year Round Retreats. In 2016 he and Amanda welcomed their son Asher into the world and their second son Arlie in April of 2019. Asa has a passion for sports, youth ministry, and camping ministry. "It is truly an honor to come full circle and give back to the community that helped make me the person I am today. Also GO NOLES!!!!" 

  • 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.