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© Canyon Ministries
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Our Team

What We Do, We Do Together!


Tom & Paula VailCanyon Ministries was established in 1997 by Tom and Paula Vail.  Having served as a river guide at the Grand Canyon since 1981, Tom’s journey took a significant turn when he met Paula on the river in 1994.  Her influence played a pivotal role in leading him to embrace Christianity.

Inspired by his newfound faith, along with what he felt was the best explanation for the geology he spent years surrounded by in the canyon, Tom felt compelled to share the wonders of the Grand Canyon from a biblical perspective.

United by their passion for sharing the beauty and significance of the Grand Canyon, Tom and Paula embarked on the journey of founding Canyon Ministries. Since its inception, the organization has been dedicated to offering river trips, daily tours, and backpacking adventures that provide thousands of participants each year with a unique perspective rooted in God’s Word.

Discover more about Tom and Paula’s remarkable journey and the rich history of Canyon Ministries by exploring their story.


Nate Loper at Desert View Grand Canyon

Nate Loper

Nate has been with Canyon Ministries since 2014 and became our Executive Director at the end of 2020, following Tom Vail (our founder) and Jon Albert in this role. Prior to joining our team, he served as a pastor and school teacher for over 12 years.

He has traveled the nation teaching in churches, schools, and Christian universities and has also led tours through dozens of national parks and natural history museums in both the United States and the United Kingdom for the past 20 years.  Apart from graduating from seminary in Denver, his post-graduate studies are in ancient civilizations and archaeology.

Luke Wayne Grand Canyon Square Med

Luke Wayne

Adam Huff Backpacking in Coyote Gulch Canyon Ministries

Adam Huff

Adam Huff is the Director of Operations for Canyon Ministries. He also oversees the growth and development of our backpacking program.

He and his wife Jen, along with their two amazing kids moved to Arizona from northern Kentucky, where he was employed with Answers in Genesis for 11 years, and served as the Director of Operations for the Creation Museum.

Katrina Mendez Grand Canyon Ministries

Katrina Mendez

Bryce Brothers Canyon Ministries

Bryce Brothers

Bryce serves as our Office Administrator and oversees guest relations. For years he has been and continues to be part of the Canyon Ministries team as a guide as well.

Bryce grew up in Northern Arizona and is quite familar with everything we have around here. If you call our office, Bryce’s cheerfulness is sure to help make your planning your Grand Canyon experience great from the very start.

Jon & Kathleen Albert

Jon was our Executive Director from 2013–2020. He now is part of our resource development team and remains as a river guide for Canyon Ministries. Kathleen oversees the planning and management of events and group tours.

Together, they have recently founded Gloryview Ranch, a partner ministry designed to engage couples and families in abundant and biblically centered Christian living.


From rim to river and everywhere between, our entire team is dedicated to making your Grand Canyon experience the trip of a lifetime!

They are also highly experienced in leading people in God’s great outdoors, specifically the Grand Canyon and areas throughout the American Southwest.  Our team members share a biblical worldview and our same Foundational Beliefs.  More importantly, every team member has an understanding of why the Grand Canyon and surrounding area is significant from a biblical perspective and will convey that to you on each and every tour we conduct.

Get to know the folks who are our boots on the ground and feet in the water!

Jon Albert Grand Canyon Ministries

Jon Albert

About Jon

Jon Albert has been a wilderness guide since 1992 around the U.S., Canada, and the Dominican Republic. The wilderness has always been a powerful place of worship for Jon. God has enabled him to apply his passion for the outdoors to the advancement of the kingdom.

Jon has been studying geology in Grand Canyon since 2008 and has an infectious joy for life and the Lord, which impacts every trip he guides. He has this to say about leading a trip, “Spending time in the Grand Canyon is like being invited into the workshop of a master craftsman and listening as He displays and explains His work. Leading a trip in the Grand Canyon is like being the one who opens the door to the workshop and excitedly says, ‘Listen to the master.’”
Bryce Brothers Grand Canyon Ministries

Bryce Brothers

About Bryce

Bryce has been a long-time resident here in Northern Arizona and has a wealth of knowledge about its various highlights and history. He is also a fantastic storyteller and communicator.

Before joining our team full-time, Bryce was at Coconino High School for years, where he was an English teacher and headed up one of the top Speech and Debate teams in Northern Arizona!

Apart from having the best smile on our entire guide team, Bryce is a great “people person” and loves sharing the beauty of God’s creation at the Grand Canyon with folks from around the world.
Bryan Osborne Answers in Genesis Grand Canyon Ministries 2023

Bryan Osborne

About Bryan

Bryan Osborne holds a master’s degree in the Art of Teaching from Lee University. Bryan taught Bible history in a public school for 13 years, and has been teaching Christians to defend their faith for nearly 20 years. Bryan is a speaker and author for Answers in Genesis.

Bryan is also a leader on our Grand Canyon river trips, where he focuses on teaching creation and biblical apologetics.
Terry Mortenson Grand Canyon Ministries

Dr. Terry Mortenson

About Terry

Terry has an MDiv and a Ph.D. in the history of geology, and is well-informed on the relationship of the Grand Canyon, geology, and Scripture.  After serving with Campus Crusade for Christ for 26 years (mostly in Eastern Europe), he joined the staff of Answers in Genesis in 2001 as a speaker, writer, and researcher.

A revised version of his Ph.D. thesis was published as The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—Before Darwin.  He also co-edited and contributed to Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, which gives an in-depth biblical, historical, and theological defense of young-earth creation.

Terry has lectured on creation and evolution in over 25 countries and has helped lead many trips through the Grand Canyon.  Terry’s knowledge and passion for helping people see the connection between biblical teaching and the age of the earth are obvious both in and out of the Grand Canyon.  He also serves as an associate member of the Canyon Ministries Board of Directors.
Luke Wayne Grand Canyon Ministries 200

Luke Wayne

About Luke

Luke is a prolific writer of biblical apologetics material and church history.  Having written over 1,000 articles for CARM, he has a great way of communicating spiritual significance across a wide range of God’s creation.

Kathleen Albert

About Kathleen

Besides loving Jesus, Jon Albert, and their three kids, Kathleen loves the color purple. Kathleen also LOVES hiking! She’s hiked hundreds of miles through Yellowstone, the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, Grand Canyon, and trails all over Northern Arizona. She has a degree and background in Travel and Business Management, and has worked as a corporate travel agent for ten years. One of her favorite times was spent working in and exploring Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park, which was established in 1872.

Kathleen has gone on multiple river trips with Canyon Ministries, and is always a delight to our guests. She also manages our office and guest relations. If you don’t see her at our Flagstaff office, you can probably find her horseback riding or cleaning up after her chinchilla.
Emily Cable Grand Canyon Ministries

Emily Cable

About Emily

Emily Cable is out one our outstanding backpacking guides.  Having lead Christian wilderness adventures and backpacking trips for years now, Emily has probably out-hiked anyone else on our team!  When she’s not helping lead trips for Canyon Ministries, Emily serves as a guide with Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries in Laramie, WY.

Emily’s incredibly uplifting and encouraging personality is further complimented by her years of experience and wisdom in the outdoors.  If you want to get on her good side, bring her a bag of quality coffee at the start of your trip.  You’ll have a friend for life!

John Kelley

About John

John is an Arizona native who loves hiking and exploring in God’s amazing Creation. John attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences with an emphasis in Mathematics.

Since he recognized God’s call on his life in seventh grade, John has enjoyed serving God through various opportunities of leadership, pastoring, and teaching. After graduating college John has gone on to teach students in both Arizona and Alaska, Co-hosted “Grace Talk” (a weekly round table radio talk show), and has led hundreds of people on tours in Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, and Israel.

John remembers his first river trip in the Grand Canyon as the time Genesis chapters 1-11 went from “black and white to living color” and compares that experience to the first time visiting Israel where “the Bible came alive as it never had before.” John’s passion for God’s love and truth is evident each time you interact with him.
Bob Smart Grand Canyon Ministries

Bob Smart

About Bob

Bob retired after decades of serving the State of Arizona and its citizens as a Highway Patrol Officer, and is now part of the Canyon Ministries team. Bob has a great deal of knowledge about the Grand Canyon, and has spent more time hiking its trails than anyone else at Canyon Ministries.

Bob’s intrigue and love for the Grand Canyon dates back to the mid-’80s when he took his first backpacking trip exploring the South Rim. Being thoroughly captivated by God’s majesty through His creation, the canyon has since held a special place in his heart and spirit. When you have a tour with Bob, you will undoubtedly hear his passion for proclaiming God’s Word at the canyon, and using God’s creation as a great way to communicate that.
Dr John Whitmore Grand Canyon Ministries

Dr. John Whitmore

About John

John earned his Ph.D. from Loma Linda University in California.  He now serves as a professor of geology at Cedarville University, where he started the geology major and has been teaching since 1991. Prior to that, he taught high school science and math and spent time working for the United States Geological Survey.

John serves on the board of the Creation Geology Society and is a member of the Creation Research Society and the Geological Society of America (GSA). His publications include many GSA abstracts, journal articles, book chapters, popular articles, and an adventure book titled The Great Alaskan Dinosaur Adventure.

John speaks internationally on the topics of creation, geology, and Noah’s Flood, and has helped lead many river trips through the Grand Canyon.  He is one of the the world’s leading  geologists on the Coconino Sandstone, and has been conducting research and publishing papers on it and other geology found in and around the Grand Canyon for years.

Dr. Bill Barrick

About Bill

Bill is a leading Hebrew scholar and served as a Professor of Old Testament and the Director of Doctoral Studies at The Master’s Seminary for 19 years. He also served as the Biblical Editor for Creation Research Society Quarterly for a number of years.

A former missionary in Bangladesh working in Bible translation and theological education, Bill has been teaching, researching, and writing on the exegesis of Genesis 1-11, particularly Noah’s Flood and the historical Adam, for many years.  He is also well informed on the geology of the Southwest United States, having participated and led numerous river trips through the canyon over the years.  He is also a sought-after speaker and teacher, and travels worldwide teaching at conferences, churches, and universities.  He also serves as Chairman of the Canyon Ministries Board of Directors.

While Bill’s knowledge of the Grand Canyon is extensive, he specializes in the connection between the Bible, the Flood, and the Grand Canyon. As a biblical and Hebrew scholar, his background allows him to relate to those of all levels of biblical understanding.  Being in the outdoors has formed a major part of his life since childhood. Besides loving to fish and hike, Bill’s activities have included rock climbing, canoeing, wilderness camps, wildlife research with the National Science Foundation, and interest in survival techniques.

Dr. Danny Faulkner

About Danny

Danny has a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Indiana University. For over 25 years, he was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he taught physics and astronomy.  Danny retired as a full professor and now holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

In January 2013, he joined Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum full time.  He is the Editor in Chief for Creation Research Society Quarterly and on the board of Creation Research Society.  Danny has published more than a hundred papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals and is the author of Universe by Design.

Danny helps lead our special Geology by Day, Astronomy by Night river trips, where he brings a world-class telescope to show folks the amazing starry skies here at the Grand Canyon, as the “heavens declare the glory of God” overhead.  Danny’s breadth of knowledge about the universe and the night sky will fascinate you, and may even keep you up at night!
Nate Loper Grand Canyon Ministries

Nate Loper

About Nate

Nate has been leading trips and tours throughout the Southwest for over 20 years, and has spent over 800 days guiding and teaching in the Grand Canyon National Park.  Having lived in the Four Corners most of his life, he has a passion for Native American culture and Wild West history and has led trips for organizations like Tour the Southwest and various Flagstaff school trips to local ruins and historic sites.

Over the years, he has guided multi-day trips to multiple National Parks, as well as creation science and biblical archaeology tours through museums and sites around the world.  Nate and his wife also lead a 7-day London Christian Tour in England, her home country.

While originally on track to study geology, Nate felt God call him into ministry, where he switched paths and became a pastor for 12 years in Colorado and California.  Now able to combine both his passions of science and God’s Word, Nate still loves working with students and school groups at the canyon, and is great with kids on our tours!
Andrew Snelling Grand Canyon Ministries

Dr. Andrew Snelling

About Andrew

Andrew possesses a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Sydney, and is one of the leading creation geologists in the world.  He has done extensive research in the canyon over the last 25+ years, and has compiled numerous books and DVDs on geology and radiometric dating. Dr. Snelling has published more than 30 technical articles and papers in secular journals and books and has worked as a geological consultant in the mining industry for private companies and national and international governmental research organizations.

As a Research Scientist and Professor of Geology at the Graduate School of the Institute for Creation Research, he was a lead researcher on the 8-year Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth (R.A.T.E.) research project on radiometric dating methods, completed in 2005.

Dr. Snelling is currently the Director of Research at Answers in Genesis, travels around the world to speak on creation geology and related sciences, and is the author of Earth’s Catastrophic Past, Geology, Creation & the Flood.  He also serves as a river guide and an associate member of the Canyon Ministries Board of Directors.
Dana Allen Grand Canyon Ministries

Dana Allen

About Dana

Hunter Berggren Grand Canyon Ministries

Hunter Berggren

About Hunter

Guy Forsythe Canyon Ministries

Guy Forsythe

About Guy

Guy and his wife Cindy moved to Sedona, AZ from Ohio in 2003, after working as a high school technology teacher for 30 years. In 2004 they founded Crying Rocks Ministry, where they publish a creation science journal that is mailed to every address in Sedona four times a year. The newsletter explains the evidence for a created young earth, and often features technical geology information about formation in the area.

Guy is also a speaker to churches and creation groups, and has published a paper (co-authored by John Whitmore, another Canyon Ministries guide, and Paul Garner) as a result of discovering geological features in the Coconino Sandstone that had never before been mentioned in the professional geology literature, and support the growing theory that the Coconino was laid down by water, rather than being an eolian, dry desert deposit.

Guy was a rim tour guide with Canyon Ministries for a number of years before “hanging up his hat” and enjoying the beauty of the red rocks of Sedona, where he remains a hiking consultant for our team and resource for Sedona geology.
Jeremy Lyon Grand Canyon Ministries 2023

Dr. Jeremy Lyon

About Jeremy

Jeremy Lyon earned a B.A. in Religion from Carson-Newman College, a M.Div. in Advanced Biblical Studies and Biblical Languages, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

From 2012 to 2014, he served as full-time Professor of Old Testament at Southern California Seminary, where he developed a graduate-level apologetics concentration and taught courses on Old Testament, Biblical Hebrew, and creation apologetics.  He is currently an Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Truett McConnell University and a teacher on our Grand Canyon river trips.
Tom Vail Grand Canyon Ministries

Tom Vail

About Tom

Tom founded Canyon Ministries in 1997 after over 15 years of leading trips through the canyon.  He began guiding as a non-believer, gave his life to the Lord and began investigating some of the problems he always had with the evolutionary explanation he taught on canyon geology.  As he learned more about the biblical model, creation, and the flood, he found it gave a much better explanation of what he saw in the canyon, and it became the focus of the ministry.

Tom is the author of Grand Canyon, a Different View and co-author of the True North Series, which includes guidebooks on the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce, and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  Over the years Tom has led countless people on river trips through the Grand Canyon, including many pastors, professors, and leaders on our annual Christian Leaders Trip.

Since the founding of Canyon Ministries, there has been tremendous growth and expansion.  The legacy of a lone boatman who fell in love with Jesus stands strong to this day, in the hearts of thousands who have gone on Grand Canyon tours and trips for over 25 years.

Eddy Bressler

About Eddy

Eddy has lived in Flagstaff for over 25 years, and is the only one on our guide team to have biked the entire Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah.  That’s over 800 miles!  This also includes the portion of the trail which crosses the Grand Canyon, where he carried his bike the entire 22-mile Kaibab Trail, with 6,453ft of elevation gain.  To say Eddy is an avid outdoor adventurer is quite an understatement.  Just ask him about some of his recent adventure races such as “The Fearsome Four” and the “Hole to Hump”.

Beyond his physical strength, his real strength shines through in the love he shows people, and the personal ways he connects with each of our guests.  Eddy’s zeal for life is infectious.  He has a powerful testimony of living most his life as an atheist rejecting God, and then coming to faith by the Truth being revealed through creation.  Eddy received his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in the field of Forest Genetics…and it was the science of genetics that Eddy says, “Showed me that evolution cannot possibly happen at the genetic level.  So if evolution is NOT true, then what about this God I’ve been rejecting all this time.  Is God the real truth?”

With Eddy’s passion for helping others experience God through His creation, he is one of the most energetic guides that will help make your backpacking, hiking, or rim tour experience one you’ll never forget.
Adam Huff Canyon Ministries

Adam Huff

About Adam

Adam joined Canyon Ministries in July 2018. He moved to Arizona from northern Kentucky, where he was employed with Answers in Genesis for 11 years, and served as the Director of Operations for the Creation Museum.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Adam has logged hundreds of miles hiking in various terrains at locations across the country.  Having a passion for backpacking and camping, Adam is thrilled to be able to serve at Canyon Ministries, where he can combine his love for the outdoors with his passion for creation apologetics.  He enjoys exploring the Southwest with his family, learning all that he can about its fascinating geology and history in order to better serve as a guide in the Grand Canyon.

Katrina Mendez

About Katrina

Besides being a rim tour and hiking guide, Katrina is an avid backpacker and helps oversee the logistics and coordination of our backpacking trips.  If you’re on a backpacking trip with us, there’s a good chance she’ll be the one answering your questions and making things happen behind the scenes.

Paul Weaver Grand Canyon Ministries

Paul Weaver

About Paul

Paul received a Masters of Ministry and served as a youth pastor for more than 20 years.  During these years, he guided backpacking trips for his youth group, men’s groups, and for other churches as well.  He served as a full-time rim tour and backpacking guide with Canyon Ministries, but passed away suddenly in October of 2022.

Paul loved the connections that came from being a team on a backpacking trip and enjoyed friendships with people he met on trips years ago. He believed that studying the Bible in the wilderness is a great way to deepen our understanding of God and our relationship with Him. Paul loved friends, food, football, and traveling with his family.  
He will forever remain in our hearts and part of our team on the other side of eternity.


Dr. Bill Barrick

Clay Miller

Clay Miller

John Kelly Grand Canyon Ministries

John Kelley

Vice Chairman
Tom Vail Grand Canyon Ministries

Tom Vail


Kym Varner

Gary McCaleb Canyon Ministries Board

Gary McCaleb



Paula Vail Canyon Ministries

Paula Vail

Matt Petterson Canyon Ministries Board

Matthew Peterson

Andrew Snelling Grand Canyon Ministries 150

Dr. Andrew Snelling

Terry Mortenson Grand Canyon Ministries 150

Dr. Terry Mortenson

Canyon Ministries

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