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Tom and Paula Vail founded Canyon Ministries in 1997. After being a long-time river guide at the Grand Canyon since 1981, Tom met Paula on the river in 1994. She helped lead him to the Lord, and soon after Tom became a Christian he felt the desire to start taking folks on river trips through the canyon from a creation perspective.
Together they started Canyon Ministries, which continues to provide river trips for hundreds of people each year, and rim tours to thousands along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’re interested in hearing more of their story and the history of Canyon Ministries, click here.
Jon became the Executive Director of Canyon Ministries in June of 2013. He and his beautiful family make their home in the mountains just west of Flagstaff, AZ. With a master’s degree in theology, Jon has been a pastor, Christian school Bible teacher and administrator, public school administrator, and coach.
If you’ve ever called the office and been greeted by a cheery voice, that was probably Kathleen! She is in charge of Guest Relations and our office manager. Together Jon & Kathleen make a great team in guideing the operations and development of Canyon Ministries.
Nate is our Director of Rim Tour Operations and Technology. He oversees our guide training, tour development, and relationship with others at the Grand Canyon National Park. Prior to joining our team, he was the director of the Genesis Creation Science Institute, a youth pastor, and has spoken at churches and colleges around the nation on various topics of creation science.
Nate also has a background in Information Technology and manages our technology and online presence. He and his half-Brit family live in Flagstaff, where they also raise honey bees.
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.’”
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.
Brynn serves as one of our rim tour hosts, and brings great joy and a friendly atmosphere whenever she’s around. She is currently a student at Northern Arizona University, studying geology and English. Not only will she be able to understand the rocks around here, but write about them as well!
Her love for earth science started in middle school, and God has since brought her here to one of the best places in the country to study it! She loves exploring the fantastic features here in Northern Arizona, which are very different from the flat terrains of Florida and Illinois where she grew up. One of her interests is hiking around the large number of cinder cones and other volcanoes that exist here on the Colorado Plateau, in particular the San Francisco Volcanic Field surrounding Flagstaff, which is the largest volcanic field in the contiguous United States.
Dr. Bill Barrick
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 is also the Biblical Editor for Creation Research Society Quarterly. 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, 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 a member 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 an interest in survival techniques.
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.
When Bryce is not leading tours at the Grand Canyon you might find him at Coconino High School, where he is an English teacher and heads 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.
Danny has a PhD 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!
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.
Abbey is a Forestry major at Northern Arizona University. She has a vast knowledge of both flora and fauna throughout the Colorado Plateau, and has been involved in a number of study programs in the region. As one of our rim tour hosts, she’s our go-to gal for information on trees and plants here in the Flagstaff and Grand Canyon areas. Abbey is also an avid hiker and adventurer, and has rafted the canyon a number of times.
Abbey’s zeal for the outdoors and her love of people make her a great addition to the team, as she serves to share her passion for God and His creation.
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 of God’s love and truth is evident each time you interact with him. He also serves as a member of the Canyon Ministries Board of Directors.
Nate has been leading trips and tours throughout the Southwest for over 15 years, and has spent hundreds of tour days at the Grand Canyon. Having lived in the Four Corners most of his life, he has a passion for Native American culture and Wild West history, and is also a requested guide for organizations like Tour the Southwest and various Flagstaff school field trips to local ruins and historic sites. Over the years he has guided multi-day trips to places like Sequoia, Yosemite, and other National Parks, as well as creation science tours through natural history museums 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 and work with the US Forest Service, Nate felt God call him into ministry, where he switched paths and became a student ministries 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!
Terry has an MDiv and a PhD 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 PhD 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.
Bob recently 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-80’s 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.
Andrew possesses a PhD 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 an associate member of the the Canyon Ministries Board of Directors.
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 of 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 rim tours and river trips for the past 22 years.
John earned his PhD from Loma Linda University in California. He now serves as 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 trips through the Grand Canyon. He is the world’s leading creation geologist 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.
Tom Vail - Chairman
Bill Barrick - Vice Chairman
Kym Varner - Compliance
Matthew Peterson - Finance
John Kelley - Personnel
Bob Sheldon - Policy
Gary McCaleb - Policy