Who We Are



Derrick and Zelphia Raines are the Lead Pastors of Excel Church, in Jacksonville, Florida.   They have been devoted to each other in marriage for 19 years and have a son and daughter, Marvionte and Zahria, who serve alongside them in ministry.Their mission is to help people win in life. Their heart and passion is to see the lives of people advance and change through the Word of God. They purpose to create an environment conducive for Christ to become the Final Authority in the lives of people. Pastors Derrick and Zelphia believe the greatest among us are servants and for years have demonstrated how each believer can successfully serve God, family, and their community.

Pastors Derrick and Zelphia have served under their Spiritual parents, Michael and Connie Smith, for 15 years and graduated from SOMET [School of Ministerial Education and Training] in 2005. Pastor Derrick later became a licensed Minister in 2005, and in 2008, Derrick and Zelphia were ordained as Elders at THE CHURCH of Jacksonville. In December of 2015, Michael & Connie Smith answered their call to return to Atlanta, GA to begin a new work for the Lord and installed Derrick and Zelphia as Pastors over The CHURCH of Jacksonville. In February of 2017, Pastors Derrick and Zelphia were led to change the name of the ministry to Excel Church.

Pastor Derrick is a Bible teacher, visionary leader, and a strategic team builder. He has a passion for developing people to embrace victory through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Pastor Derrick earned his Bachelors of Arts in 1993 from Catawba College in North Carolina.

Pastor Zelphia is a loving wife and dedicated mother with a strong commitment to helping families. Her passion is to partner with God to help women succeed in life. She strives to help women be spiritually, emotionally, and physically fulfilled. Pastor Zelphia is currently working towards completing her studies in Theology.

Pastors Derrick and Zelphia also have a very strong passion for people to have Financial Dominion in their lives. They serve as the Directors of Pathway$, a Financial Literacy program. They teach people how to gain dominion over their personal and business finances. Through their efforts, thousands of people have “broken the ceiling” financially, living out the Will of God for them to prosper.


We believe the Bible in its entirety as we have it today to be the written Word of God. God used men to write it and told them exactly what to write. It is reliable, complete, perfect, backed by God’s authority, and it contains Truth for all subjects natural (including Science and History) and spiritual. (including morality and theology) (II Timothy 3:16; I Corinthians 2:13)

We believe in ONE God Who reveals Himself in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He may reveal only part of Himself at a given time but He always remains the Trinity. (three in one) (Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 13:14)

We believe God created the universe, including Earth, and all its natural laws, including time and space, as stated in Genesis.

We believe God created Adam and Eve and from them all mankind was born. The Bible contains the accurate history of mankind on the earth. We believe Adam and Eve disobeyed God and since that time, man and Earth have been operating under a curse. We believe the Bible explanation of where the nations and languages came from. (Genesis 1-11)

We believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a virgin who miraculously conceived by God, the Holy Spirit. Even though Jesus was born a man just like you and me, He was still God and still part of the Trinity. (Luke 1:26-35; John 1:18; Isaiah 7:14, 9:6)

We believe Christ died for our sins; He was buried; and rose to live again the third day. He stayed on earth for forty days after His resurrection and showed Himself to His disciples and other people. (I Corinthians 15:1-8)

We believe after the forty days, Jesus went to Heaven. We believe He will come back to Earth a second time to get the people who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior to live with Him forever. At that time, He will be known by all people as God, the Creator and Possessor of Heaven and Earth. (John 14: 2-3; I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

We believe that a person becomes saved or ‘born-again’ when they do the following:

  1. Recognize that they are a sinner and are in need of a Savior. (Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5)
  2. Repent, which is to have a change of heart, mind, and direction. (Acts 2:37-38)
  3. Confess and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10)
    1. After these things a person is born again, however we encourage people to continue in the following scriptural practices
  4. Baptisms – Water Baptism and Baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts10:47-48, John 7:37-39)
  5. Live a life of obedience. (James 2:17,20,22, 24, 26)
    1. Continue reading and studying the Bible
    2. Develop a lifestyle of Prayer
    3. Join a Bible Based Church
    4. Fellowship with other Believers
    5. Minister or share with others what God has done in you

We believe God wants people who are born again, to be baptized in water to show their commitment to Him. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38-39; 19:1-6)

We believe God wants us to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The outward evidence of receiving this baptism is being able to pray and speak in an unknown language. (Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-17; 10:45-46; 19:6)

The Holy Spirit comforts, leads & guides, empowers us for service, brings God’s Word to our remembrance, and builds our faith. (John 14:26, Acts 1:8, Romans 8:14, Jude 1:20)

While we believe the baptism of the Holy is not required for salvation the many benefits mentioned above are why we encourage all Believers to receive.

We believe people who are born again can function in the Gifts of the Spirit just like the people in the Bible did. (I Corinthians 12-14)

We believe God will heal any sickness or disease just like He did in Bible times. We believe that Jesus already made available to us everything we need to live whole, healthy lives. (Acts 4:30; Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 12:9; James 5:14)

We believe born again people should live as the Holy Spirit directs us, trusting God in all things. We should live holy, with a reverence for God. We should think and live different from how the people who are not born again think and live. (Ephesians 5:18; II Corinthians 6:14; 7:1)

We believe in a ceremony called Communion or the Lord’s Supper. We have this ceremony to remember what Jesus did for us and to recommit to follow Him. (I Corinthians 11:23-32)

We believe there is a real devil. We believe Satan and his angels will eventually be judged by God and sentenced to the lake of fire (Hell) forever. (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10-15)

We believe our bodies here on Earth will die but our spirits will live forever. Believers will live with God in Heaven forever (John 5:24, 3:16) and unbelievers will live separated from God forever. (Mark 9:43-48; II Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10-15)


Excel Church is first and foremost a place where people can come to learn about God and receive His Wisdom on how to practically move their lives forward.  We create an atmosphere where people will feel celebrated and families have opportunities to connect. We have events and activities for members and families of all ages to come and enjoy themselves. Pastor Derrick has jokingly coined the phrase;

God forbid, we have fun in CHURCH!”

We are also a church that has opportunities for every member to get involved using their gifts, skills, abilities, and being a vessel of God’s love to meet the needs of others.


Our church is established on Five Core Values. These five “pillars” provide the framework for all we endeavor to do in ministry. Without these, we would cease to be THE CHURCH God has called us to be.

Core Value #1. Happy is the man that findeth Wisdom and the man that getteth Understanding. – Proverbs 3:13

Practical biblical teaching.

Core Value #2. EXCEL CHURCH must be filled with friends.

We believe in thriving relationships.

Core Value #3. Nothing else matters but God.

God is our life.

Core Value #4. Value people for who they are, not what they do.

Dignity and compassion for all.

Core Value #5. God’s People are to Excel in all areas of Life.

We believe you should be winning in life.

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