Where were you born?
When and how did you come to know Jesus Christ?
When I was five years old, my sister pulled out her VBS Good News glove and walked me through each of the colors. I was so deeply troubled at the meaning of “black” on the glove, and my own sin (what little I could understand at 5!), that I prayed with her that day.
At a high school summer camp, I was gripped by the truth that I really needed to decide, as a young adult, if Jesus meant more to me than simply a family “heritage.” Soccer was my god, and at this camp I decided that athletics and friends could no longer take first place.
Since that time, I could name a number of times and places when I have come to a deeper knowledge of Jesus. I am grateful that conversion is a process and that we are constantly being changed into the image of Jesus.
Describe your personal journey that led you to ordination. Include education, training, mentoring, service, and giftedness.
Growing up as a “pastor’s kid,” ministry has been always been a way of life for me. But, I never imagined I would become ordained! I began leading as a high school and college student, and that ministry experience catapulted me into full-time collegiate ministry for 10 years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UCSB. While working full-time, I pursued a Masters of Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary with the expressed goal of integrating my learning into the “lab” of campus ministry.
After ten years of discipling students, engaging in evangelism, seeking justice, pursuing racial reconciliation and teaching in a variety of settings, it was time for a change. That change was more substantive than I had imagined as I moved from doing campus ministry to running a medical management/financial services company! Within my first 3 months in the business world, I had someone ask me, “So do you miss doing full-time ministry?” I considered the question briefly and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I AM doing full-time ministry still, it’s just in a new setting!” I have believed and lived out that conviction every day since.
Along the way, God grafted me into the Free Methodist Church! As I completed my ordination coursework of History & Polity and Wesleyan Theology, I had a very clear sense that I had “come home” both in theology and praxis. It is a blessing to belong to this family!
Describe how you intend to fulfill your ordination vows.
My calling, at this season of my life, is to break down the divide between the “sacred” and “secular” that exists in our culture by advocating for all of life as mission! I want to empower the next generation of leaders to see themselves as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries in all the places they live life – from the boardroom to the classroom to the ball field to the sanctuary to the margins and beyond.
God has called me to serve as a pastor of two contexts – in a local business and a low-income neighborhood. As a business executive, I have 50 employees in Santa Barbara and 250 more scattered throughout California. Each one of these persons is someone made in the image of God who I am called to love, serve and shepherd, whether they realize it or not. As I lead, it is my hope and prayer for this “congregation” that they would experience the love of God, love of neighbor, and the transformation that comes from the Gospel. I have also committed to use this business as a context and placement for the Center for Transformational Leadership internship program. Each summer, it is my joy to personally train young, future business leaders to see business as a context for mission and ministry.
Equally compelling at this season of my life is seeking shalom for a high poverty tract in Santa Barbara. Two years ago, a core group of Millennials (led by me, Kelly Soifer and Rich Sander) felt called to seek solidarity among the poor in our city. As we explored poverty in Santa Barbara, we were quickly drawn to a neighborhood within less than 2 miles of the FMCSB church campus. The Westside is the most densely populated neighborhood in Santa Barbara whose residents are 70% Hispanic (many undocumented immigrants from Mexico), 25% of whom are considered the working poor. There are only two health and human services in the entire neighborhood. Our Missional Community functions as an extended family on mission together bringing the kingdom of God in all its fullness to and with the Westside. It is a gift to get to serve as a leader in this community.