Lead Pastor-Matthew Richbart
Matthew has had many different ministry experiences both in the United States and abroad. He has ministered to various demographics including kids, senior adults, prisoners, youth, as well as on missions trips. While in high school, Matthew felt called by God to serve in full-time ministry.
After high school Matthew started out studying psychology and communications at Niagara University. Even though Matthew excelled at Niagara University, it seemed that something was missing. Matthew realized that he needed to study God’s word and to fully commit to ministry. This lead Matthew to transfer to Liberty University’s distance learning program where he graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Religious Studies.
Matthew continued his preparation for ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Matthew received a Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2012.
During his college and seminary years Matthew began to dream of planting a new church. Specifically, Matthew hoped to plant a church near his hometown. After seminary Matthew did research on different areas in wny where a church plant would be beneficial. North Tonawanda was the area that stuck out to him. After an extensive search for places to plant a church Matthew was led to an incredible opportunity at 316 Thompson St. Matthew is excited to be serving iHope Community Church and looks forward to seeing what God will do through iHope.
Matthew hobbies include: playing and watching sports, board games, and spending time with his beautiful wife and partner in ministry Stephanie. He is passionate about preaching Jesus and how the good news can transform lives. His favorite verse is Galatians 2:20 which reads, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Worship Leader-Patrick Leahy
Patrick grew up in the church, and came to know Jesus at an early age. His was the kind of family that could be found in their pew (or seats, depending on the era) whenever the doors were open. He also grew up in music – both of his parents sing, and his mother plays piano, so from singing in the children’s choir to doing special music with his parents to learning guitar and piano and playing for his church’s youth ministry, music and faith have always gone hand in hand for him.
As he grew up, Patrick taught himself guitar and piano, and began playing in bands formed with friends, and writing songs, most of which pointed towards his faith, its joys and struggles. He loved traveling and playing music more than just about anything, and hoped to continue on this path for the rest of his life, but God had other (better) plans.
After getting a taste of music ministry with his youth group from the church he grew up in, he took a position leading the youth ministry and the worship ministry at a church he’d met on tour. After returning home to finish his degree, he returned to Baltimore for a friend’s wedding, where he met the love of his life, his beautiful wife Melanie. After they were engaged, Patrick moved to her home town of Lockport, NY and began attending and serving at The Chapel. A few years later, he accepted a position at another local church where he discovered a new passion in not merely playing worship music, but building and leading a team of worshipers, growing their numbers, their musical abilities, and their hearts for worship. But trying to give his all to this endeavor while working full time left little for his family, so he bid that ministry a tearful farewell, leaving it in very capable hands. Now, after some time away and becoming a part-time-work-from-home dad, he joins iHope Community Church with renewed strength, new wisdom, and an ever-burning desire to see God glorified on their mission to see hearts and lives changed through the love of Jesus.
Associate Pastor-Phil Wade
Phil Wade has been serving God as the Director of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations of WNY (CMDA of WNY) since 2011. He has been married to Christian school teacher, Debbie, since 1981. They have 3 wonderful children, and 3 adorable grandsons. When Phil was 12 years old, he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and was baptized. At that age he did not totally understand what this meant, but he realized that it was an important thing to do. As he got older he strayed from the Lord and began living for himself and the world. In 1986, at 28 years of age, Phil severely injured his back, and from that point on, God began changing his life in dramatic ways. Phil is a jack of all trades. He has worked in restaurants, has done factory work both in production and management. He was a manager of a Car Wash. He has worked in apartment and house renovation, and has a degree in computer programming. Since injuring his back in 1986, Phil has been permanently partially disabled.Since 2005 Phil has been working as a “Professional Patient” in the Clinical Competency Center at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. This gives Phil an excellent opportunity to interact with health care students as well as other medical professionals. It is comforting to the students to know that while they are taking a Clinical Skills Exam,Phil is behind the scenes praying for them. Phil has served in many aspects of church ministry since 1993 including Head Trustee,Adult Sunday School Teacher, Kids Club Leader, VBS Leader, Administrative Assistant, Licensed Lay Pastor, and Associate Pastor.