I've had the privilege of being the pastor at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church since July 2017. I grew up in San Diego, serving in youth ministry and teaching high school there in the inner city. I left San Diego for New Jersey, enrolling at Princeton Theological Seminary to explore pastoral ministry. After graduating with a Master of Divinity from Princeton, my plan was to return to the West Coast, but God surprised me. He called me to become pastor of a small Presbyterian Church in New Egypt, New Jersey. A year later, God surprised me again by calling me to teach as a Visiting Lecturer in preaching for Princeton Seminary, in addition to my pastoral duties.
After a while, God called me back to southern California where I joined the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. Over many years I taught courses there in preaching and communication, serving for a time as Fuller’s Director of Chapel. I earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller, with further graduate study in Scotland. I've served on several occasions as an interim pastor for churches in the US and in England, including at the historic City Temple in London. I've presented papers at theological conferences, spoken at numerous churches and colleges, and taught for a couple of summers at Allahabad Bible Seminary in India.
I'm delighted to be serving again as a pastor, especially in a congregation small enough to be an intimate spiritual community! God is helping St. Stephen Presbyterian Church become a loving and growing family of faith which studies the Word, worships the Lord, and prays for each other. We invite you to join us on our journey with Jesus!
I became the Worship Leader at St. Stephen in July, 2017. I feel blessed to be able express my love of the Lord through music and I am passionate about sharing this music with St. Stephen Church and the world.
Since beginning formal piano lesson at eight years old, my life has been about sharing my musical knowledge, using my talents to help other performers create inspiring music, and now sharing my own music with the public in hopes that it brings them pleasure and a sense of peace. My career accomplishments include a wide variety of styles and sensibilities. I enjoy using and sharing my abilities as a pianist, composer, vocalist, and arranger, in virtually all art forms of music… including performances everywhere from the Grammy Awards®, to the Nobel Peace Prize to the Michael Jackson Memorial concert, from a cappela choral work to full symphony orchestras. I have done vocal coaching, recording projects, and faith based performances in local churches and Japanese Akira Takimoto Ministries. I have provided instrumental music for digital and streaming sights as well as being seen in high profile commercials for Apartments.com (in a Super bowl 50 spot), Chrysler and Hewlett Packard.
I hope that you will join us at St. Stephen to join your voice to ours as we worship the Lord in song and music.
Let me start by sharing my joy in joining your happy, uplifting community. As with most things 20/20 hindsight, it seems perfectly clear that I was meant to arrive as Director here at St. Stephen Presbyterian Preschool. I am an Angelino born and raised, and spent my first years of religious tutelage attending Sunday School and singing in the children's choir at Hollywood Presbyterian.I frequently left my own 1st grade Sunday School class to help one of my mother’s best friends who was teaching Preschool children.
I attended CSUN and UCLA and hold degrees in both Child and Adolescent Development. I have spent over 35 years enjoying the many varied and overlapping facets of education. Working in and running programs including parent ed. and infant/toddlers, through preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. Each of these brings new challenges and insights every day. I have also had classroom and one on one assignments with special needs and gifted students of all ages. It’s impossible to compare these and to discern which I prefer. It’s like kumquats and kiwis, impossible to compare. No two days (or children, or families, or teachers, or …) are ever the same. You never know what lies around the next corner or what small act will change – everything. Infinitely interesting and rewarding on so many levels.
The other most precious joys of my life are my two daughters Erika (28), a marketing professional who lives in Washington,D.C. and Alexis (25) an art director/pro photog for a modeling agency here in Los Angeles. In spare moments I might be found playing with our pups Tallulah and Summer, reading, riding our pony Emmy or coaching an equestrian event. If you can't reach me … I'm hopefully exploring a new destination or at the beach. Current favorite quote: Love, is love, is love. ~
My wife and I joined St. Stephen in February 1991. We came to St. Stephen as a result of our oldest daughter being enrolled in the excellent preschool here. The congregation and staff were very welcoming and before long we became involved in the life of the church beyond just Sunday morning. I became a Sunday School teacher for the elementary grades and joined the Children's Ministries Committee.
Not long after that, I was honored to serve as co-elder for Children's Ministries. I have also served on a Pastor Nominating Committee, several Nominating Committees for elders and deacons, and the Personnel Committee. I currently serve on the Stewardship and Finance Committee.
I have also spent nearly ten years as the leader for an adult small group Bible study.
In July of 2009, the church office contacted me to “fill-in” as church secretary for a few weeks while a search for a permanent secretary could take place. I felt called to the work, applied for the job, and was hired. I still enjoy the work but more importantly, I really love the other staff and the wonderful congregation here at St. Stephen.
I was born and raised in southern Illinois, part of America’s Bible Belt. I moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1971 with my family after graduating from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. degree in Mathematics. I later earned a Masters of Information Systems from West Coast University in Los Angeles. My work experience began in August 1972 when my son started school and has been in bookkeeping, accounting and tax preparation.
At my church, I am a member of the Prayer Team and I worked for about 12 years in the Children’s Ministry teaching preschool and elementary age children. I also have volunteered as the Church Bookkeeper since October 2010.
I truly believe God’s hand led me to St. Stephen in June 2012. The elder of Stewardship & Finance mentioned to one of her employees that St. Stephen was in need of a Financial Secretary. This employee is a member of my church and she asked our Church Office Manager (my daughter-in-law) if she knew of anyone who might be interested. My daughter-in-law told me about the opening, I called the Elder of Stewardship & Finance and the rest is history.
Although I am not a member of St. Stephen, I love being able to use my 45+ years of bookkeeping experience in God’s service. I also love the people I work with and the church members and I value them as friends.
Below is a list of our current Session Members (the ruling body of our church):
|Jay Clifford||Elder of Finance and Preschool|
|Gloria Ellis||Elder of Personnel & Fellowship|
|Carol Gorton||Elder of Worship|
|Bette Williams||Elder of Outreach and Mission|
|Greg Myers||Elder of Property|
|Jennifer Woods||Elder at large|