Rev. Tom Tarver, Lead Pastor
Tom has been a United Methodist pastor since 1984 and has served churches in South Texas, the Texas Hill Country, and Wisconsin. He was the MSUM regional director for the Russian Far East from 1995-2000. He has preached in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He has coached middle school and freshman football and has been an assistant JV baseball coach. During baseball season, he makes regular visits to Whataburger Field and roots, roots, roots for the hometown Hooks. In introducing Tom, one friend said, “He’s a sports nut.” When asked about desire for Asbury Church and the Corpus Christi community, Tom says, “I want us always moving toward the heart of God and the character of Christ.”
Rev. Trudy Sparks Paul, Pastor
Trudy Sparks Paul was appointed to Asbury United Methodist Church during the Annual Conference of 2002. She continues to attend Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Her main focus and ministry at Asbury is Pastoral Care. She received training in Pastoral Care at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial Trauma Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was a student and Chaplain from 1998 until 2001 at Christus Sphon. Her ministry includes visitation to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and the homebound. She is a Stephen Leader and, along with two other leaders, trains and supervises the Stephen Ministers at Asbury.
Essence Chicoine, Worship Leader / Director of Music Ministries
Essence Johnson-Chicoine was born in Los Angeles, California, raised in Texas, and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio for music. She moved to New Mexico, where she was married and raised a family and continued her degree in music at the University of New Mexico. She has now accepted God's call to return to Texas to use her gifts and talents as Asbury Church's Worship Leader and Director of Music Ministries. Essence brings with her a lifetime of experience in all types of music ranging from opera to gospel to contemporary Christian music. She is excited to be back home in Texas with her husband Randy and children.
Ellen Tarver, Office Manager
Ellen grew up in Wisconsin and is happy to be where it's warm. She's married to the pastor so never gets away from her job. In her spare time, she's a freelance editor for a couple of publishing houses and a bunch of private clients. In her spare spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, walking Penny, and arguing politics with Tom.
Tad Gilstrap, Director of Children & Family Ministries
Tad Gilstrap came to Asbury Church in January of 2016. Prior to his arrival at Asbury, he served as a children's pastor for over twenty years with the Church of the Nazarene. He has ministered in congregations in Corvallis, Oregon, Rocklin, California, and Yuba City, California, as well as other churches here in Corpus Christi.
Tad's passion is to see boys and girls come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior, while mentoring and disciplining them in their faith, and creating fun, purposeful events and activities that reach kids. He also loves to work and partner with adults and teens to help them develop their faith, talents, and skills as they also minister to children.
Tad and his wife Debbie have been married for 35 years. They have two grown chilren and a granddaughter.
Melissa Leija, Director of Asbury Creative Learning Center
Born and raised in Texas, Melissa moved to Corpus Christi in 2004 to attend school. She joined Asbury Creative Learning Center in February of 2004. She and her husband were blessed with son in 2006 and a daughter in 2008. More recently, Melissa completed her Bachelors degree from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. She has a passion for working with kids in a Christ-centered environment, helping them to create a solid foundation for their educational and spiritual journeys in the years to come.