About Us


Derrick and Zelphia Raines are the Lead Pastors of EXCEL Church, in Jacksonville, Florida. They have been devoted to each other in marriage for over 20 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.

Our Beliefs

Is the Bible true?

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)

What happens to people after they die?

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)

What is the Lord’s Supper?

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)

Should we live differently than the people who don’t know God?

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)

Do you believe in divine/supernatural healing?

We believe God still heals from 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; we simply must believe His Word to receive. (Acts 4:30; Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 12:9; James 5:14)

Do you believe in miracles or supernatural abilities?

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)

Is the devil real?

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)

Do you believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

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.

Why do people get baptized in water?

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)

How does a person become “born again”?

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

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

What happened to Jesus after He rose again?

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)

What do you believe about Jesus’ death and resurrection?

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)

Do you believe Jesus was born of a virgin?

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)

What do you believe about the creation of mankind?

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)

What do you believe about the creation of the universe?

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

What is the “Trinity”?

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)

Our Vision

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. We desire for people to Excel in Life and Excel in God.  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.


At EXCEL Church we have a distinctive culture. Our culture code consist of God, Jesus, Wisdom, Mankind, and Excel. These five “pillars” provide the framework for all we endeavor to do in ministry. Without these, we would cease to be EXCEL Church.

Core Value #1. GOD-FIRSTNESS - Live a life that honors God.

 God is our life.

Core Value #2. JESUS - We are TRUE Vine Seekers. – John 15:5

 We must consistently seek God as our vital necessity.

Core Value #3. WISDOM - Wisdom is the principal thing. – Proverbs 4:7

 Practical biblical teaching.

Core Value #4. MANKIND - All people are worthy of Kindness, Compassion, and Dignity.

 Dignity and compassion for all.

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

 We believe you should be winning in life.