We are a community from all over Orange County that loves Jesus. For us, love is being a community for the community. Where people can rest. And grow. Make friends. Learn. Gather. Dive in and make a difference or take time to renew themselves. Together.
PURPOSE OVER PREFERENCE: We choose humility in order to place our greater purpose over our personal preferences.
DEMONSTRATION OVER DICTATION: We value demonstrating God’s love with our actions instead of just dictating what love means.
AUTHENTICITY OVER FLAWLESS PRODUCTION: We choose to be honest, authentic, and vulnerable as we strive for excellence together rather than trying to create a flawless production that looks perfectly polished.
PRESENCE OVER STRUCTURE: Our structure and plans always bow down to what the Holy Spirit is doing in a room, leaving freedom for God to move.
BELONGING BEFORE BELIEVING: No one has to believe all the “right things” in order to be welcomed into our community. We create a safe environment where anyone can belong as he or she explores who God is, asks questions, and walks out his or her faith journey.
City Gate is the melting pot of various church communities. The River Community Church of Tustin was started in 2002 and merged with Newport Vineyard in 2013, eventually becoming Vineyard at the River. After years of serving on staff, in 2019, Don Wheeler became the Senior Pastor of our blended church community. Following several years of transitions involving leadership, vision, physical location, etc., Pastor Don felt a prompting to “rebrand” the church with a new name reflecting a new identity. Just as God renamed people in the Bible whenever He launched them into new identities and missions, the church leadership felt God renaming our community as:
In biblical times, the City Gate was where people came to gather – to buy and sell, to have fellowship, to be together and connect.
Our church feels called to be a “city gate” in Orange County.
We offer a place where anyone can gather, feel a sense of healthy family, and connect to a welcoming community. We foster an environment where people can truly belong, ask questions, take risks, make mistakes, and be embraced as they begin and grow in their journeys with Christ.
City Gate is full of unique, messy, imperfect people who come from all walks of life and have chosen to love one another with authenticity as they pursue God’s purpose for their lives.
A COMMUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITY.
Don wears a lot of hats: pastor, counselor, grandpa, father, husband, and avid frog lure collector. He grew up enjoying the outdoors, with a special love for fishing. Don studied psychology and biblical lit at Oral Roberts University and later earned his Masters in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine with an emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy. Don has served in ministry for 15 years. He has traveled to Africa multiple times and has a deep passion for missions.
Don has been married for over thirty years and adores his wife, Kelly, and their amazing daughter, son-in-law, & new grandson!
Administrative Pastor & Missions Director
Caitlin has been involved in missions for about 15 years. She has lived and served in Latin America, Micronesia, Mozambique, and Uganda. As a side project, Caitlin manages a nonprofit, Thrive Global, that empowers vulnerable communities in Africa. She is passionate about serving both overseas and in her local community here in Southern California.
She loves writing, the art of storytelling, and spending time outdoors with her friends and amazing husband, Brian. Caitlin and Brian are looking forward to welcoming their first son into the world this summer!
Aeron was born and raised in the Inland Empire of Southern California. At the passing of his father at a young age, Aeron dove into his father’s sketches, lyrics, and creativity. As any son would, Aeron wanted to connect with his father in the very few ways he knew how – art and music. Aeron shares his vibrant, colorful, creations all over Southern California and has now become a very well-established artist.
In addition, Aeron has served for many years in ministry, both as a pastor and worship leader.
Aeron finds joy in being married to Tracy, the love of his life, and raising their beautiful children together.
Nicole is the newest member of the staff here at City Gate. She has been in ministry for almost a decade with a heart for the needy and children. Having served in our body since 2011, Nicole, along with her husband Peter, have managed our Heart to Every Plate homeless outreach as well as served as volunteers for our Kids Rock program. They have also been on 2 mission trips to Africa.
She loves being crafty – sewing, knitting, and crocheting are all up her alley. She also loves getting outdoors with her husband and 2 young sons and watching them discover all the cool and awesome things God has created.