Chris Merkling considers himself an “almost lifetime” resident of Spokane. Having lived in the area since age three, he has a real love for Spokane and the people who make their home here. As a rebellious teenager, Chris followed the downward path of recklessness and substance abuse until, at age 20, he received Christ and was born again. Soon after that he felt a strong calling to serve the Lord through full-time ministry in the local church.
Following two years of study in Inland Empire School of the Bible, Chris went on staff at Calvary Chapel of Spokane, where he served as Worship and Creative Arts Pastor for eleven years.
In the fall of 1999, he began teaching a Wednesday night bible study on Spokane’s lower South Hill. As the study grew, so did the desire to see a solid, Bible-teaching church in that part of town. Orchard Christian Fellowship was officially launched in January 2000, with Chris serving as pastor, teaching the scriptures verse by verse. Chris and his wife Debbie have two kids: Zach and Anna.