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9050 E Pinnacle Peak Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85255


The Highlands Institute equips believers to become leaders in their communities for sake of the gospel.


The Highlands Institute 







Statement of Faith








At HI all of our instructors are gifted teachers with proven effectiveness in ministry who provide real-life scenarios to enrich the learning experience. Learning ministry from those doing it and then putting that learning into practice are hallmarks of our program. 

Brendan Anderson

Brendan Anderson has served on staff in the worship ministry at Highlands Church since 2008. Brendan studied music composition at Augsburg College in Minneapolis as well as coursework in biblical studies. Brendan's background in music has led him through leadership positions for nearly every type of ensemble, from traditional choirs to jazz/gospel bands, symphony orchestras to community concert bands, contemporary worship bands and beyond. His passion is to directly connect the Word of God to engaging worship music, no matter the genre or size of ensemble, making use of modern video/audio production elements, to create meaningful worship services that are full of spirit and truth.

Gil Crowell

Gil received his ThM in Education from Dallas Seminary and his DMin in Team Building and Leadership from Phoenix Seminary. He served as pastor of outreach, personal community, and international outreach over a 9-year period at Scottsdale Bible Church. Gil also served 11 years with Search Ministries, an outreach to the unchurched in Phoenix, and for the last four years has worked locally and globally with International Students, which ministers to over 1,200 students from all around the world. Gil is married to Teri and they have 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren.

Al Fadi

Al Fadi, a former Muslim and now a follower of Christ, is the founder and director of CIRA INTERNATIONAL, a ministry focused on training and equipping Christian leaders and laypersons on effective bridge building, outreach, and evangelism among Muslims for the purpose of effectively sharing Christ and His message of salvation and hope with them. Al holds an MS in Engineering and an M.Div. in Biblical Communication. Currently he is pursuing a certification in Islamic Apologetics from the Pfander Center for Apologetics in England and his PhD at Southern Theological Seminary in the field of Christian Ethics with Emphasis in Public Policy and a Minor in Apologetics.

Joe Infranco

Joe currently serves as a Senior Attorney and Vice President for Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious non-profit that defends religious liberty in the U.S. and internationally. He works with a network of over 3,000 allied attorneys who have been trained by ADF. He has practiced law for nearly 40 years representing hundreds of churches and non-profits, makes frequent media presentations, and is a regular speaker at conferences training both religious organizations and attorneys. He is an Av Preeminent rated attorney, the highest possible ranking assigned by professional peers. Joe is an elder at Highlands Church and has been teaching Bible courses for over 35 years both in the U.S. and abroad and has been active in missions work and training pastors.

Jeff Abbott

Jeff has spent over 30 years teaching in both public and private schools. His B.S. is from Grand Canyon University and he has an M.Ed. From Northern Arizona University. Jeff works with the Christmas and Easter choir at Highlands and has been a small group co-leader for the past five years. His passion is to teach.

Ed Lutz

Ed currently serves as the Pastor of Adult Education at Highlands Church and also directed the children’s ministry at Highlands. Before entering full-time ministry, Ed taught English at both the secondary and post-secondary levels and conducted teacher-training workshops overseas. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona Christian University. He is energized by equipping people for ministry and recently developed and coordinated a 22-month training program for over 40 pastors in Haiti. Ed holds an MA in Secondary Education as well as an MA in Biblical Leadership. He has been married for over 30 years to Susie, and they have three grown children and three grandchildren.

Tyler McGrath

Tyler has been in full-time ministry for over 20 years serving as Student Ministry Director at Scottsdale Bible Church in Arizona, Student Ministry Pastor at Mission Hills Church in Denver, and currently as Outreach Pastor at Highlands Church in Arizona. He has a B.S.C.E from Arizona State University and an M.Div. from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. Tyler has led short term mission teams to four different continents, planned and executed outreach events for over 10,000 people, and specializes in mobilizing people to live out their faith both locally and globally.

Thomas Slager

Thomas and Mary have been married since 2010 and have 3 children, Elijah, Jude, and Audrey. Thomas received his undergraduate degree in Christian Ministries from Arizona Christian University and his Masters in Biblical Leadership from Phoenix Seminary. He has been Pastoring at Highlands Church since 2012 in the areas of student ministries and young adults. Teaching experience includes all ministry areas in the church, main service preaching, area school chapels, and ministry retreats and camps. His passion is to teach the Word and to see people transformed and to become more like Jesus Christ.

Randy Smith

Randy is a retired Marine after 22 years of service. Following retirement, he attended The Master's Seminary where he earned his Masters of Divinity degree. Randy also has a BA in Political Science (Pre-Law and Economics emphasis) from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. Having served numerous years of part-time and full-time pastoral experience, Randy currently enjoys serving his fellow veterans by working full-time at USAA.

Smokey Smith

Smokey (Ron) graduated from the University of Miami and served as a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ high school ministry for 10 years as an assistant to the national director. He later became the director of training, and then a regional director for Crusade. He earned his M.Div. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 1980, and following seminary Smokey served as an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church Sacramento for seven years. Smokey later became senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Redding for eleven years and retired as the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Ocean View, NJ, after 10 years. Smokey is a member of Highlands Church.

Jeff Stevens

Jeff is an author and public speaker with a passion for communicating the need for transcendent purpose within organizational culture.  In his book The Heart of Business, Jeff believes that a transcendent purpose is outwardly focused, requires sacrifice, and is intrinsically honorable: "It’s not the ‘what’ or even the ‘how’ you do, but the ‘why’ you do it that makes the difference."  In his over 30-year career in this industry and ministry, Jeff has served bi-vocationally as a senior executive and as elder and pastor in two churches.  Jeff is currently the pastor over Highlands Church Student and College Ministries. Jeff and his wife reside in Scottsdale with their four daughters.

Bob Wade

Bob spent four years at PLNU in San Diego and was hired by Youth for Christ prior to his senior year and relocated to the Fresno/Madera area where he began a ministry at a local high school of five thousand kids. Bob finished school at Fresno Pacific University with a degree in church ministry and later did post-graduate work at Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Fresno. Bob served as the student ministries pastor at Grace Community Church in Madera, CA, and in 1987 accepted a student ministries position at Scottsdale Bible Church. He attended Western Seminary Phoenix, and later Phoenix Seminary, and over the next 18 years was the pastor over singles and family ministries. Bob has been a pastor at Highlands Church since 2005.

Jim Williams

Jim received his BA in Communications and Journalism from San Diego State University and began his career in radio and television, founding and working at various Christian ministries around the country. Jim attended Denver Seminary and has served as an associate pastor and leader in multiple churches and currently is the pastor of Care & Counseling at Highlands Church. He is married to Kathy.

Mark Yule

Mark is one of the founding pastors of Highlands Church and has had responsibilities in adult small groups, men’s ministries, assimilation, administration and periodic pulpit teaching.  Mark has attended Phoenix Seminary and has completed approximately 80 units toward a degree in biblical communication. Prior to Highlands, Mark served as a lay elder for Scottsdale Bible Church with oversight in the student ministry and outreach areas.  Mark also currently serves as chaplain to the Scottsdale Fire Department.  Married to Mary Beth for over forty years, they have two sons and eight grandchildren in the Phoenix area.

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