Red River is fairly unique in that it ascribes to leadership by elders.  We know God uses all forms of church leadership for His glory and yet it is clear in the New Testament that a plural, elder form of leadership was the prescribed form of government of the early church.   


We reject the clergy-laity division that often defines the church and believe strongly in the “priesthood of all believers.” Ordinary people, from all backgrounds and professions led the early church and we believe that is possible and even preferable now.


A plural leadership helps emphasize the need for community, reciprocity and accountability in the church.  Elders routinely defer to each other in the Lord and value God’s glory and purpose over who actually is doing the work.  So in this way, the elder teams helps form a microcosm of what the church should actually be as it follows the Lord together as His body.


Elders’ Roles According to the Scripture:


  • Servants (Mark 10:42-45)

  • Overseers of the congregation (1 Timothy 3:2)

  • Shepherds (Pastors) of the Flock (1 Peter 5:1-2)

  • Teachers (1 Timothy 3:2)

  • Equippers (Ephesians 4:12)

  • Examples (1 Peter 5:3)


Elders’ Qualifications (based upon 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9):


  1. Above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled

  2. Respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunk

  3. Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, manages his family well

  4. Has obedient children, not a recent convert, good reputation with outsiders, not overbearing

  5. Not quick-tempered, loves what is good, upright, holy

  6. Disciplined, holds firmly to the trustworthy message of the gospel


Jeff Bennighof

Jeff is married to Linda, who coordinates children's ministries at RRC, for 30+ years, with daughters Natalie and Caroline, who have both graduated college. I've been an engineering professor at UT for more than 25 years.

A big passion of mine is for each of us to understand what our walk with the Lord can be like, and to realize that potential in our day-to-day experience. I'm currently teaching an adult class called "Jesus in the Gospels" which looks at the life and ministry of Jesus in the four gospels. 




The Red River staff is a group of diverse, talented, and approachable believers who strive to advance the kingdom of God.

Keith Atkinson - Elder, Pastoral Ministry

I am a native Austinite (one of the few) who was ambushed by Jesus Christ in 1973 and I have never been the same since.  I have been involved in Christian ministry in some capacity since I was seventeen years of age. I love being a pastor and realize how blessed I am to have this vocation.  I am also a pastoral counselor who loves to accompany those who are on the journey of healing and growth.    Red River is a great place to serve Christ and grow in grace.


I am married to Melinda Peinado.  Melinda is a professional actress and communicator. Melinda is vibrant, intelligent, creative and beautiful. We love growing together, being together, learning together and serving together.  She presently acts, helps lead Red River Arts and is very active in dog rescuing.


I am the proud father of four children: Luke, Alexandria, Sam, and Isaac.  We also have three very intelligent and active dogs.


I love playing the guitar and writing original songs. In 2004 I recorded Dwelling Place, a CD based mainly on the Psalms. I have also recorded songs with Red River Arts.


I am constantly reading. My favorite Christian authors include Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Brennan Manning, Scot McKnight, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton. I also love reading non-fiction books of all kinds, with a novel thrown in occasionally. 


Dennis & Nikita Weaver - Missional Leaders

Dennis & Nikita Weaver have spent the last 6 years living the dream. Because what could be better than partnering with GOD and seeing Christ formed in the lives of the next generation? Nothing! So yeah, they're pretty blessed.

Dennis & Nikita.jpg

Valerie Rychlik - Administrative Assistant, Financial Coordinator


Jim Stutsman - Facilities Maintenance

Jim takes care of our facilities with expert repairs and upgrades.


David Murray - Worship Leader

I grew up in Austin and came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior while in high school during the Spring of 1976. My first prayer was, “Lord, if You are real, I will follow You.” I can relate to Randy Stonehill’s song “First Prayer” where he sings “I don’t want my life to end, not ever knowing why it began.” If you have come to the same point in your life, I am confident that God will give you purpose, hope and joy if you ask Him. The Lord had mercy on me and granted me a powerful conversion experience.

At the time I was playing electric guitar and singing in various garage bands. Very quickly I began to dedicate my music to God. This was near the beginning of contemporary Christian music, with groups such as Love Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, etc… gaining prominence. I had to decide whether or not to pursue a music career or become an engineer. I decided on engineering which was another passion of mine, but as in Colossians 3:11, I’ve held to what is written, “whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. For the last 40 plus years I’ve played in worship teams or led His people in worship as a volunteer in churches around the Austin area. It has been a labor of love and a true honor to lead His people before His throne.

In Dec 1991 I married my lovely wife Laura, who has great insight into God’s heart and His word. She is an inspiration to me and I feel like the luckiest man alive to have her in my life. We have three boys: Philip, Andrew, and Daniel whom we love and who have become accomplished musicians themselves.

My interests include electric and acoustic guitar, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, electronic and computer projects, and very hot and spicy food (Thai and New Mexican in particular).

My desire is to serve God in worship, not for personal recognition but for His glory. Those of us on the worship team always pray that God inhabit our praise (Psalm 22:3) and receive our prayers as incense (Psalm 141:2). Thank You Lord for showing mercy on us, Your people.

To meet other members of the church and learn about their many colorful and diverse activities, check out CHURCH ON MISSION.