Our History

Elaine and Mitch have been married forty years and have served as pastors nearly thirty four years, nine of those with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in England. They have three children: Travis, Breanna and Brett, and two adorable grandchildren, Anora Michelle, and Rhys Henry Kowalski. Having served in ministry for three decades they are now led to serve those who are going through challenges and difficulties on the frontline. They are burdened for what many are having to go through today. The statistics are not just numbers. They are people you know, from churches you might have attended. Having experienced ministry pain themselves, they also know what it is like to endure personal loss. Elaine and Brett are cancer survivors, and their oldest son Travis lost his battle to cancer at the age of twelve. They believe that God wants to use these struggles to help others as they face the real challenges of life and ministry.

Mitch had the privilege several years ago to serve as director of a Church Planting initiative called The Blue Ridge Church Planting Network or BRX Network. BRX had the privilege of seeing three churches planted within three years. Christ Church of the Valley in Cashiers NC, Blue Ridge Community Church on the campus of Western Carolina in Cullowhee NC, and Summit Church in Asheville, NC. Today, these churches are healthy, growing and remain committed to having every man, woman and child in our region hear and receive the gospel of Jesus. In August of 2012 Mitch concluded his ministry as senior pastor of First Alliance Church in Franklin, NC and moved to Augusta, GA to oversee a Church Replant. During this one year interim responsibility, Mitch realized that God was clearly leading him to support those on the frontline of ministry. His commitment to support and mentor young church planters, and his passion to help hurting pastors and cross cultural workers, all came together at the end of 2013 to envision the launch of a new ministry now called Fruitful Vine Ministry. Mitch and his wife, Elaine, moved back to Franklin, NC and shared his vision for this ministry with the team that once made up BRX. The team agreed to come alongside him to help launch the ministry. Several of those team members now make up the board of Fruitful Vine Ministry.

In 2022 Mitch met Pastor Dan Stegeman through his ministry. They struck a strong friendship and concluded after several years that this was a synergy strong enough to partner together. In 2023 Dan joined Mitch as cohost to the Before You Quit podcast, and has recently joined FVM as a full time worker.