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Pastor Davide Whitehurst

Pastor David Whitehurst

Senior Pastor


Pastor Whitehurst grew up in a pastor's home and as part of a missionary family, including five years of his childhood in Chile,  He responded to God's call to ministry as a college student, and has served as a pastor since 1981, at his first church for 9 years, and as pastor of Word of Life Church since its founding in 1990.  He has a Bachelor of Music degree from James Madison University, a Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, and a Juris Doctor degree from  Appalachian School of Law.  He is an attorney and works part time in that area as well.  His passion is to serve God, lift up Jesus, walk in the Spirit, and grow deep roots in God's Word.


Pastor Whitehurst has been married for 42 years.  He and his wife have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. 

Associate Pastor Ralph Jernigan

Pastor Raplh Jernigan

Associate Pastor


Dr. Ralph Jernigan has served in ministry for over forty years, at four different churches.  He has been at Word of Life Church since 2004, where he serves as Director of Worship and Music in addition to his ministerial duties.  He also teaches at Liberty University as a full-time residential faculty.  He is a member of the National Association of Developmental Educators and has presented several times at their national conference. Ralph received his Bachelor's Degree from UNC-Wilmington and Holmes College of the Bible.  He received his Master's Degree and Doctoral degree from Liberty University.

Ralph has been married to Sara for over 40 years.  They have two children and four grandchildren.

Sara and Darryl Updike

Sara Updike



Sara is a native of Bedford, having graduated from Liberty High School.  She is married to Darryl Updike (for over 30 years), and they have two children and two grandchildren.  Sara has been on staff at Word of life Church since 2012, originally as secretary; a few years later the duties of church treasurer were added to her responsibilities..  Sara also works in our Children's Church and Nursery on Sunday mornings, along with several other teachers and helpers.

Dwayne and Melissa Charlton

Dwayne & Melissa Charlton

Director of Youth Ministries, Director of Children's Ministries


.Dwayne is a veteran, having served as a Chaplain's assistant in the United States Army.  He has served in various ministry positions since then, including as a Godparent at the Patrick Henry Girls Home and as a youth counselor at the Virginia Baptist Home in Roanoke, later renamed Hope Tree Ministries.  He has served as Director of Youth Ministries at Word of Life Church since 2021.

Melissa is a school teacher at Moneta Elementary School in Bedford County.  She and Dwayne have three children and one grandchild.  She serves as Director of Children's Ministries at Word of Life Church.

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