The CWE team is the highest level of leadership at RH. This group serves in a volunteer capacity and partners with Lead Pastor, Bart Scharrer, to seek God’s vision and direction for this church. This group of volunteers has three primary areas of responsibility, which they fill in close partnership with their wives:  to oversee the vision and mission of RH, to live as an example to the body, and to shepherd our church.

Elders serve for three to six years (there is an option to step down or renew at the three-year mark) and then roll off for no less than a year so that they may rest and be refreshed before they can be nominated to sit on the board again.  There are also times when there are vacancies on the elder board for various reasons.  The CWE team continuously looks within our church for men and their wives whose life and ministry qualify them as potential elders in accordance with scripture.

For the past 3 years, the co-chairs of the CWE team have been Jim Masteller and Craig Motichko. As of October, they have both ended their term of service and have rolled off the CWE team to begin their break. Rockharbor has been immensely blessed to have had the wisdom, dedication, and Godly leadership of these two men and we thank them for their many years of faithful service to this church and to the CWE team. Though no longer serving as an elder, Jim has been invited to step into the role of  Chaplain for the Elders to spiritually and emotionally care for our Elders and their wives. In order to fill the vacancies in the co-chair role, the current members of the CWE team have appointed Steve Bender and Steve Zamora as the new co-chairs of the CWE team. They have already begun serving in this capacity and we are excited to see where God will take the Church Wide Elders during their time of service.

After months of prayer and careful vetting, the current members of the Church Wide Elder team present Jeff Thompson as a candidate. The church’s bylaws require that candidates who have been recommended by the CWE team for church wide eldership be presented to the church congregation as the last opportunity to affirm or present concerns regarding the candidate.  Attached to this email, you will see a bio and photo of Jeff and his family.

In addition, the current members of the CWE team have asked that Steve Bender and Chas Leeper, Sr. return to the CWE team.  Both served as elders for many years in RH’s history and then took the required break to rest and refresh. But if you know them then you also know that they have remained invested at RH throughout their break and have humbly accepted the invitation to step back into serving at this level. Below you will see a bio and photo for Chas, Steve, and their families.

If you have any affirmations or concerns about the candidates, please email the Church Wide Elders at to submit your info.

If you have recommendations for future elder nominations, please email to submit that information.

There will be a public commissioning of Jeff Thompson, Steve Bender, and Chas Leeper Sr. at our campuses in Costa Mesa on Sunday, November 3 and Mission Viejo in the next few weeks to publicly affirm these appointments. If you are in one of those services, please come up and meet some of our Church Wide Elders.

We look forward to how God will use this team He has placed in leadership at Rockharbor Church.

Jeff and Cherie Thompson are high school sweethearts and have been married for 33 years. As Tustin residents, they are involved with various community service activities. They have four children: Lauren (who married Jordan 3 years ago), Michael, Cherise, and Luke. Their family is still growing with the birth of their first grandchild in 2019: Wesley James. At Rockharbor, they serve in Alpha and Seriously Dating and Engaged classes. Jeff works for Rancho Mission Viejo, L.L.C., managers of the 23,000-acre “Ranch Plan”. He is licensed as a Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor. Through the years, Cherie has operated their home business.

Steve and Lynn Bender were born and raised in Ohio, married and immediately moved to Orange County 32 years ago. They have two daughters, Hope (22) and Faith (20) who have grown up at Rockharbor. They both worked in youth ministry before helping plant Rockharbor as lay leaders in 1997. Steve has served on the elder board for most of the time with a couple of breaks along the way. He now consults businesses after selling his own business of 20 years. Steve helped pioneer Rockharbor’s partnership with Harvest India having lead RH teams to India 15 times

Chas Sr. and Stephanie Leeper are high school sweethearts and have been married 45 years. They have 3 grown children and 15 grandchildren. They have served at Rockharbor for over 21 years in multiple roles. Primary of which has been the “Becoming One” marriage enrichment class that they have taught for 18 years. Has and Stephanie enjoy just about anything outdoors. The beach is their happy place. They love to travel, hang with friends, and spend time with their family. One of their greatest joys is watching their children and grandchildren serve and love Jesus.