Pastor Mike Lacaze
Lead Pastor and Elder
Pastor Mike and his wife, Ersilia, have two young boys, Joshua and Jonathan. Throughout his time in ministry, Mike has served in various churches and in the California Southern Baptist Convention office. Prior to planting Soma, he served for five years as Associate Pastor of Student Ministries and Missions at Woodward Park Baptist Church. For graduate school Mike attended Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary), and earned his Masters of Divinity at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. Mike grew up in a Christian home. He gave his life to Christ and was baptized at nine years old. Ersilia is the Marketing Director for the Central California Blood Center. She was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and grew up outside of Naples, Italy. She and her family immigrated to the United States when she was fourteen years old. It was during her college years that God began to draw her to himself as she began to understand what it meant to know Christ personally. She was baptized when she was twenty-two years old. In 2010 Pastor Mike and Ersilia, in obedience to God’s call, took a leap of faith and set out to plant a church. Their mutual desire is “to be a church that sees lives changed, our city transformed, and the nations impacted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Minister of Worship
Denise Nicholes began serving as our Minister of Worship in the summer of 2020. She is a mother of three, and a graduate of a Christian college with a degree in Music. Upon graduating, she served at the college for six years as Promotional Director and Music Instructor. She led worship for twenty years at Harmony Free Will Baptist Church in Fresno and served the Children’s Ministry by teaching music and drama. She has a deep love for music and for worshiping with the people of God. She has a passion for building music teams, finding hidden talent and watching that talent grow. She grew up in Oklahoma in a Deacon’s home and started serving in various areas of ministry at an early age. She describes herself as a very shy little girl who was petrified to be in front of any group, but God gave her a love for music, which helped her grow into a worship leader.
Minister of Outreach & NextGen
Justin married the love of his life, Alyssa, in 2016. They met during their first year of college while attending Fresno State and have been inseparable since. Together they have a baby boy named Josiah who brings laughter and joy to everyone that meets him. Justin served as an officer in the United States Air Force for five years until hearing God call him towards full-time ministry. He attended seminary at Liberty University where he received his Masters of Arts in Theological Studies. Justin also works with Every Neighborhood Partnership as their Recreational Resilience Coordinator. He leads recreational events and activities for inner city youth to help empower and build resilient leaders of tomorrow. Alyssa is the Director of the San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium. She was born and raised here in the Central Valley and has great pride in loving and serving the people in her hometown. Both Justin and Alyssa have faithfully chosen to go where God has called them in order to serve Jesus and bring glory to His kingdom. For the meantime, they are thankful and excited that God has called them here to the Central Valley.
Keirsten Craig and her husband, Justin, have two daughters. Between work, small group Bible study, worship team and her daughters’ activities she keeps very busy. The Craig’s have been attending Soma for several years. Keirsten enjoys serving where she can connect people with ministry/service opportunities and help them grow with God in new and exciting ways.
Youth Ministry Director and Elder
Ryan and his wife, Nicole, married in 2017. He spent four years serving in full-time vocational ministry as a youth pastor and as a team leader for an evangelistic para-church ministry. Ryan left full-time ministry in the summer of 2015 when he moved to Clovis to return to school. While in school, he began working for the Clovis Unified School District, where he spent one year as a special education aide. He then moved to Clovis High School to work with the Transition Program providing academic, social, and emotional support to foster youth, homeless students, migrant students, and economically disadvantaged students. In May of 2019, Ryan graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in History from California State University, Fresno, and began teaching History at Clovis High School during the 2019-2020 school year. Spiritually, Ryan was raised in the church, came to saving faith early in life, and has served in various capacities since junior high. Ryan and Nicole have been members of Soma since 2016.
Jesse Hemstad and Maria were married in 2011 and began attending Soma that same year. They have one precious daughter, Alanna. In 2002, Jesse graduated from Hope International University in Fullerton, California with a business degree. He is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Lotpath, a software company for the agriculture industry. Jesse came to love Christ at a young age and desires to see His kingdom grow in breadth and depth. He is honored to serve Soma as an elder, as well as singing on the worship team, leading a small group, and teaching Sunday School to 1st and 2nd graders.
Jason Blankenship married Alex in May of 2017. They have 2 beautiful girls – Sami and Mia. Jason serves the Fresno area as the Evangelism Team Leader for the California Southern Baptist Convention. He has served Corcoran as pastor of Harvest Community Baptist Church for seven years, and in Ojai at Ojai Valley Baptist Church for four years. Jason graduated with a BA from Fresno Pacific University in Contemporary Christian Ministries and Non Profit Administration, and earned a Master of Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary). He was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley and has spent almost all of his life here. He has also served as a Sheriff Chaplain for five years. He enjoys time with his family, friends, and fishing.
Bryan Griffith has been married to his wife Jennifer for three years, and their blended family includes five children. Bryan graduated from Fresno Pacific University, where he studied mathematics and served on the student executive team. Immediately after college, he began working in the financial services industry with Principal Financial Group. He now owns his own wealth management firm, Cornerstone Advisory Group, Inc., where he provides financial planning and investment management services to individual and corporate clients. Bryan has been blessed to grow up in the Church and has been a follower of Christ since he was a young boy. At Soma, Bryan is currently serving as a teacher in the 3rd-5th Grade Class, and he has been working with our team as we transition to live-streaming of our worship services. In all aspects of his life, Bryan is passionate about serving others and continually pointing people towards Christ.
Pastor Mike Lacaze