Leadership

PHILIP AND SHERYL MCNEILL, LEAD PASTORS

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Philip McNeill was born in Ireland and grew up in Canada. His father was bi-vocational, working in the workforce and pastoring congregations at the same time. As a young man Philip worked in several businesses and eventually started his own small enterprise. With a desire for business and to learn, he attended university in Canada studying business administration but then felt a call to ministry attending Elim Bible Institute in Lima, New York and graduating in 1987. After graduation, Phil founded a traveling ministry. It had anywhere from 6 to 12 people on the team ministering in music and word. It traveled for five years mostly here in the states but also overseas. It ministered in approximately 225 churches per year. His group’s emphasis was on ministering God’s grace to people through the comfort and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In the fall of 1993, at the invitation of Pastor Michael Cavanaugh of Elim Gospel Church (now Elim Life Church in Lima, NY), Phil and Sheryl assumed the pastorate of a Saturday night church plant in Henrietta, NY. In May 1994, another church merged with this church plant, starting a whole new church using the name Word of Life Christian Fellowship. At that time, Phil and Sheryl started their family, which grew to include four children who are now grown adults.

Phil served as an area rep for Elim Fellowship from 2000 till 2006 and was appointed to the Council of Elders in December 2004. Phil graduated in 2009 from Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College with a Master of Divinity. From 2010-2014, he served as an Elim Fellowship Regional Rep. In 2015, Phil was appointed as General Secretary of Elim Fellowship, and in May 2024, he was appointed as President of Elim Fellowship.

Phil is invited many times to minister in prophetic presbytery, preaching, and has been on mission trips to several countries. Phil also teaches Prophetic Ministry at Elim Bible Institute and College, in Lima, New York.

Phil and Sheryl have been married since 1991. As much as Phil and Sheryl serve using their individual gifts, they are a team in ministry, hospitality, and parenting. They have four young adult daughters who served for decades in many areas to bless the church, from music to childcare. Their involvement was instrumental in the health and growth of Word of Life, and now they use their ministry skills in local churches where they are planted.

JIM BLAKE, ELDER

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Jim and Elizabeth Blake have been attending Word of Life since 1999. Jim came to Word of Life as a new Christian, hungry for the things of God. Elizabeth accepted Jesus about 1 1/2 years later, after a service here at Word of Life. They appreciate being involved in the church, growing in the Word, worshiping our Lord and the many relationships that have been built here. Jim has been an Elder at Word of Life since March of 2009.

The Blakes have three children, Sarah (Mike), Lindsey, and James, and four grandchildren. Jim retired from truck driving for Cardinal Logistics at Kodak Park in Rochester, and Elizabeth retired in 2022 from a position as a medical secretary for the University of Rochester. They enjoy camping in their traveler trailer with friends in the spring, summer and fall and have logged quite a few miles over the last several years. They also enjoy watching their grandchildren grow and taking walks together.

STEVE MAXON, ELDER

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Steve Maxon is from Sackets Harbor, NY, the oldest of six children. Raised in church by parents who were heavily involved in teaching and ministry, he returned after graduating from Houghton College and led worship, assisted with youth group, and co-ran a small group for young adults for several years. Steve moved to Rochester in 2007 after earning a law degree from Syracuse, but traveled home often – putting him in the perfect spot to meet his wife, Alexis, on a visit to church. They have since been blessed with six wonderful children of their own.

Looking for a local church in spring 2014, Steve and Alexis were drawn to Word of Life when Alexis remembered sermons delivered by Pastors Phil and Sheryl at Elim Bible Institute. They have attended Word of Life ever since; Steve serves often on the worship team and they co-lead the Young Families group. Steve, who received an MBA from Simon Business School in 2020, has also been the church treasurer since 2016. He works in appellate law and is a candidate for Mendon Town Justice in fall 2023. Steve became an elder at Word of Life in the spring of 2023.