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Our Pastor


Rev. R. Perez Gatling, Pastor

Pastor R. Perez Gatling is the son of Russell and Cleo Gatling of Como, NC. He was born in Ahoskie, North Carolina and raised in Como, North Carolina. He and his wife, Dr. Veleka S. Gatling, were blessed with one child, Lewis Perez Gatling.


Pastor Gatling was educated in the Hertford County School System and graduated from Murfreesboro High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.


After graduating from Fayetteville State University, Pastor Gatling served as an English teacher and coach at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, VA from 1992-1999 and Heritage 

High School in Newport News, VA from 2002-2010. In the interim, he served as vicepresident for Gatling tours and Charters, LLC. Pastor Gatling spent seven years as a school administrator and one year as a personnel administrator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools from 2010-2018. He is one of the co-authors of Teaching Hope with Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writer Teachers. He is also co-author of An Inexcusable Absence: The Shortage of Black Male Teachers (2013) with his wife (Dr. Veleka S. Gatling), and Dr. Leroy Hamilton. In addition to serving as an educator for 20 years, Pastor Gatling serve as Minister of Music for several churches in the Hampton Roads area for more than 20 years.

Pastor Gatling answered the call to ministry in 2011 and was licensed to preach the Gospel by Dr. Melvin O. Marriner, Pastor of Grove Baptist Church in Portsmouth, VA in October of 2011. He was ordained by Dr. Marriner in July of 2014. Pastor Gatling served as the Shepherd of Zion 2012 Church from August of 2014 until April of 2018 when he was called by God and elected by the members of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, VA to serve as their 13th pastor.


His favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, the them who are called according to his purpose.” His personal credo is “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody.”


First Lady, Veleka Gatling

First, Lady Dr. Veleka Gatling is most grateful for her roles of wife and mother. She does not take either role lightly and enjoys coaching and mentoring other ladies to become Proverbs 31 Ladies.

Born and raised in the Tidewater Area of Virginia, First Lady Dr. Veleka Gatling has been a servant leader in several local school divisions. She is committed to supporting the continuous learning and coaching of aspiring leaders and other members of the school and church community. First Lady believes in nuturing the talents and gifts of everyone for kingdom building.

First Lady received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Education from James Madison University. Her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership was obtained from Old Dominion University. Her Ph. D in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies was conferred at Virginia Polytechnic University. She has also earned a certification in principal mentorship and instructional coaching. She has served in numerous capacities in local school divisions, including a teacher, principal and executive director. She has received numerous awards for her service to school divisions, including Administrator of the Year for Gifted Education. In additional to her professional accolades, First Lady serves her community as a member of the board of directors for the Suffolk Family YMCA as well as the chaplain for the Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

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