Founding Pastor, Co-Lead Senior Pastor
Bob Balian is the Founding Pastor of Midtown Church, and currently shares the Lead Pastor role with his partner in ministry, Efrem Smith. Bob also serves as the Chaplain for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. He’s a UCLA graduate with a degree in Economics, and earned a Masters of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Bob grew up in Sacramento, and returned to Sacramento from Los Angeles to take over a family construction and engineering business. After becoming a bi-vocational Youth Pastor he sold his business, and became a full-time, Executive Pastor at BOSS (Bayside of South Sacramento) with the late, great Reverend Sherwood Carthen.
He then planted Bayside Midtown in 2011 with his beautiful wife, Letty Balian. They intentionally planted in the heart of Sacramento — one of the most diverse cities in the country– and have been intentional about fostering and nurturing diversity and racial reconciliation in the church since the very first day of its existence.
In May of 2021, Bob led his church in a change to become Midtown Covenant Church. Midtown Church has campuses in Sacramento, CA and Elk Grove, CA with a mission to bring hope, health, and healing to its cities, and looks forward to expansion in the near future.
Bob and Letty have one daughter, Taylor, who works as the Programming Director for Midtown Church.
Co-Lead Senior Pastor
Pastor Efrem Smith is a pastor, and internationally recognized leader who uses motivational speaking and preaching to equip people for a life of transformation. He consults on issues of multi-ethnicity, leadership, and community development.
Prior to joining Midtown Church, Efrem served as President and CEO of World Impact: an urban mission, church planting and leadership-development organization; founding pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church, a multi-ethnic church in Minneapolis, MN; former Superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, and as President of World Impact, an urban missions organization.
Most recently, Efrem and his wife Donecia launched Influential, LLC:a speaking, consulting, and coaching organization, and Influential Global Ministries,a non-profit for African American and Multiethnic Church Planting, Revitalization, Disciple Making, and Metropolitan Missional Movements.
He’s the author of several books, including his latest, “Killing Us Softly.” Efrem is a graduate of Saint John’s University and Luther Theological Seminary. He completed the Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and received an honorary Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary.
Efrem is married to Donecia and has two daughters. He’s excited to be a part of all that God is doing in and through the Church.
Tyronne Gross Jr. is the Campus Pastor of Midtown Church, Elk Grove campus. A native to Northern California, Pastor Tyronne attended CSU Sacramento and majored in Business Communications. He joined the NFL in 2006, as a Running Back for the San Diego Chargers. During his second season in the NFL, he experienced what was considered a career-ending injury. Shortly after, he began volunteering as the Team Chaplain for ARC and SCC Junior Colleges in Sacramento, CA. He traveled throughout the country as a motivational speaker offering keys to success to students and business professionals alike.
In 2011, Pastor Tyronne and his wife Raquel founded The Table Community Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to serving youth and their families. The organization quickly grew, offering employment to over 180 employees and serving youth in after-school programs across two counties and 3 school districts. This was the start of operating in ministry “outside of the four walls.” In 2018, Tyronne answered the call to pastor and now serves in full-time ministry.
Pastor Tyronne and Raquel married in 2008. They are the proud parents of two amazing boys, Tyronne III (“Bubba”) and Tyrese (“Pooch”). They currently reside in Sacramento, CA.
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Merman Austin III
Kids Ministry Director