About Us

Lead Pastor – Dr. Degrando Franks, Jr

Degrando-FranksBorn in Hollywood FL, third generation Church of God minister and is the son of Bishop Degrando Franks Sr. & Helen Franks. Bishop Franks Jr. married his college sweetheart April 4, 1981 and is the father of three children. He is also the grandfather of five granddaughters.

Dr. Franks currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Lakewood Community Church of God in Brandon FL since 2015, and previously Lead Pastor at North Metropolitan Church of God, Longwood FL since 2009. Prior to this assignment, Dr. Franks was Lead Pastor of International Harvest Center Church of God, Tampa FL where he served with distinction for 12 years.

Dr. Franks is the President and Founder of COPE Inc. (Community Organization to Promote Empowerment). COPE Inc. is responsible for feeding over one million hot meals in a ten year period. Cope Inc. partners with other non-profits in disaster relief throughout the state of Florida. He currently serves as Immediate Past President of the Christian Business Connection of Brandon, and was just appointed to the Brandon Chamber of Commerce to serve as Director of Diversity Business Planning.

First Lady – Cathy Franks

Cathy Franks, a Native New Yorker, was born and raised on Long Island, NY in the town of Wyandanch.

Cathy has been a Pastor’s wife a great part of her married life.  She and her husband, Degrando, currently pastor the  Lakewood Community Church of God in Brandon, FL.  They have been married 36 years in April. They have 3 beautiful children and have 5 grandchildren.
She is also a contributing author to the 2017 Women’s Book Study in collaboration with The Church of God Florida Women’s Ministries. Additionally, Cathy serves as the Director of Women’s Ministries at Lakewood Community Church in Brandon, Florida.

Reverend Clyde Stutts – Executive Pastor

Clyde is an ordained minister and has served in the ministry for almost forty years in the areas of: Outreach, Youth, and as Senior Pastor. Clyde recently completed his Master’s in Christian Counselling. In 1999, he began Flying For Joy, a non-profit organization which has assisted various ministries in all aspects of outreach. From 2003 to 2005, he was the Florida Disaster Relief Coordinator for Operation Blessing, International (The 700 Club). In 2005, Compassion Tampa (now Compassion Worldwide) was formed and he has spearheaded
the efforts of that organization since then. Pastor Clyde and his wife Michele were most recently on staff at Riverhills Church of
God in Tampa, FL as the Outreach and Singles Pastors for over 10+ years. Pastor Clyde and Michele are extremely pleased to be serving in ministry again with the Bishop who married them thirteen years ago.

Michele Kinser- Stutts – Singles Director

Originally from St. Louis Missouri, Michele now resides with her husband Clyde and
grandchildren in Plant City, FL. Michele currently serves as the Administrative Assistant to Bishop Degrando Franks Jr. and ministers as the churches Singles Director.
Michele comes to Lakewood CCOG following 38-years of marketing in the corporate
world, and serving 19-years as Singles Pastor at Riverhills Church of God in Tampa, FL.
Her fondest joy is to watch God change the lives of singles and single parents as they
begin to draw nearer to Him. Michele loves encouraging people and sharing The Word of
God with those the Lord puts in her path. Michele has three children and five grandchildren.

 Jorgie Franks-Bell -Director of Christian Education

Daughter of Pastors Degrando and Cathy Franks, Jorgie has been serving the Lord since age 8. She has cleaned bathrooms, knocked on doors, sang on the Praise Team and served as a youth pastor. She is also an accomplished author, having written and collaborated on 3 books. Jorgie is a sought-after speaker and consistently facilitates meetings, conferences and meet-ups to empower women entrepreneurs.

She works as Membership Coordinator at The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce and is the mother to 2 wonderful girls. She is also a newlywed, having married Marvin Bell this year.



Marvin Smith Bell – Trustee


A native of both Tampa and Philly, Marvin is a huge Tampa Bay Bucaneers fan. He is the host of “Buc Talk with Coach Bell” on Facebook. Additionally, he is the Site Administrator/Principal at Mendez Exceptional Center within the Hillsborough County School system. Marvin obtained his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from National Louis University.

A Trustee of Lakewood Community Church of God, Marvin strives to serve in the Lord by working hard and being faithful to the Lord, Bishop Franks and the church. He supports each in order to help them successfully reach all of their goals. Father to 4 beautiful children, he is a newlywed, having married Jorgie Franks-Bell in January 2017.


Otis Franklin – Director of Music



Born in Ft. Pierce, FL, Otis has been serving in the Music Ministry for the past 20 years. Saved at 14 years old, he has been serving the Lord within both the Community (serving on the Board of his local Community Development Board).

While not serving in the church, Otis works as a Medical Claims Adjuster. He and his wife, Joi, have been married 14 years and have two children.



Joi Franklin – Nursery Leader


Born in Georgia and saved at age 12, Joi has been ministering before the Lord since 16 years old. She is currently pursuing a Nursing degree, in addition to already having several other degrees under her belt.

She is the CEO of her home and enjoys taking care of her two beautiful children with Pastor Otis. They have been married 14 years.

Joi serves wherever there is a need in the ministry.




Shequila Malcolm – Creative Administrator


Shequila Malcolm is the Creative Administrator at Lakewood Community Church of God. At an early age, Shequila knew her calling in life was to assist helping others in the community as well as mentoring youth. She volunteered at community recreation centers teaching dance and crafts. Shequila started a mentoring program for young girls ages 5-18 to teach them about self love and confidence, as well as creating an online boutique.

However, she still felt there was more she was to do to serve the Lord. She decided to stop pursuing her dream for her life and fulfill her true purpose and join a church ministry that wants to save souls. She is a devoted wife and mother and ready and willing to lead the new generation.



Veronica Peterson- Church Administrator



Veronica Peterson is the church Clerk & Notary of Lakewood Community Church of God and is a native of Tampa, Fl.  She spent a vast majority of her life attending a Missionary Baptist Church.  She is a proud mother of two beautiful girls.

For the past 15 years she has worked as a Career Counselor assisting low-income families getting back into the work force.  She has been completing personal income tax returns for the past 20 years.  And, she has achieved her Master in Public Administration and Business Administration.



Martha Ocasio – Hospitality & Website Administrator


Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to the US at a young age. Having grown up as an Army brat led her to live in Germany, where she was saved at age 18. Diving into ministry headfirst, she served as a Ministry Leader in worship, Nursery and Youth ministries in Texas. She later moved to Tampa, Florida in 1998, where she gave birth to her daughter.

She received her undergraduate degree in Marketing in 2009 and is passionate about supporting the local community through community volunteerism and church service. Currently starting up her own professional organization business, she enjoys helping others Create Order from Chaos. When she’s not busy helping others, she spends time with her Papillon, Chica, and 18 year old daughter. She is currently working on her Masters in Business Administration.