Meet our Apprentices and Residents

 


 

JC Arce

Los Angeles, California

JC Arce is originally from Puerto Rico but has spent half his life off the island, living in places like the Dominican Republic, Italy and New York City. He never imagined that landing his dream job on Wall Street would turn into a full-time position at a church and lead to planting a church in Jersey City. It is this diverse professional and cultural background that makes JC passionate to participate in God’s work of building bridges of reconciliation among seemingly incompatible groups. Currently he is involved in advocating for undocumented immigrants in the Los Angeles area and hopes to explore what church might look like for first- and second-generation Latinxs in the future. Every day JC is grateful to be married to his patient and encouraging wife and to learn from his two sons. In his free time, he can be found reading and watching the latest news on the best soccer team in the world — Real Madrid.

Elijah Cooper

Santa Cruz, South Carolina

Elijah Cooper ended up in Santa Cruz on an extended vacation from the East Coast. He drove his VW van from Lake Placid, New York, two years ago and now considers California his home. Elijah spent some time traveling, climbing, hiking and biking around the country before attending undergraduate school in Colorado. He majored in being a “ski bum” until going back to the Adirondacks and graduating from Plattsburgh State University. After graduation, he started a nonprofit organization in Lake Placid that opened the park up to many activities for people needing assistance. As his passion grew for helping people, he attended graduate school at Cortland State University and received his master’s degree in recreation therapy. He is now a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and outdoor guide, playing outside for work. He loves the California lifestyle and is a great addition to Team Sweaty Sheep. We are lucky to have him on board.

Dan DeBrucker

Syracuse, New York

Dan DeBrucker currently lives in Syracuse, New York, with his partner. He has worked in social services nearly 20 years, focusing on individuals who are homeless or living with HIV/AIDS. He will receive his bachelor of science degree in community and human services in June. Dan is a recipient of the 2017 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. He plans to answer God’s call to ministry and to pursue a master of divinity degree. His plans also include working with runaway and homeless youth who are caught up in human trafficking. He sees this apprenticeship as an opportunity to research how a new faith community could come together working with a transient, diverse and fragile community. Dan is treasurer and national organizer of the Presbyterian Network to End Homelessness and is a ruling elder at Robinson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Syracuse, where he serves on the Leadership Team and moderates the Presbytery Vision for the Future work group of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse. Now that his undergraduate studies are complete, he is looking for new adventures to try out his newly found spare time.

John Engelhard

Scottsdale, Arizona

John Engelhard was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, and grew up in various parts of the western United States, spending time in San Diego, Hawaii and Washington state, in addition to Arizona. John grew up the youngest of four children in a Christian household, though they didn’t go to church regularly. He has two sisters and a brother. He remembers that he first prayed a salvation prayer in grade school, but had a messy faith journey filled with several mini conversion moments over the next 20 years. John earned his master of arts degree in theology from Azusa Pacific University in 2005 and his master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2008. He worked as a pastor in Los Angeles for seven years. He and his wife, Kassandra, enjoy traveling, exploring new restaurants, hiking, reading and playing soccer.

Bethany McKinney Fox

Los Angeles, California

Bethany McKinney Fox is interested in churches where people share life together, and where the voices and gifts of each person are celebrated. She has participated in several intentional communities, including L’Arche Wavecrest in Orange, California, where she’s been a volunteer and part-time assistant for over 10 years. She earned a PhD in Christian ethics from Fuller Theological Seminary, a master of divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California – Los Angeles. She’s worked for Catholic Charities, for the Los Angeles Unified School Districas a special education teacher, for First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood as a youth minister, and currently works for Fuller as an adjunct professor of Christian ethics and director of student services. Bethany lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Michael, a fiddle/violin teacher and performer. Together they explore LA, discover what other people are passionate about and make music in their band Toucan Panda. Bethany also likes doing improv comedy.

 

Alvin Frierson

Pasadena, California

Alvin Frierson is originally from Marshall, Texas. He moved to California in the mid-1990s after finishing a four-year stint in the United States Army. His life has been deeply impacted by the people and circumstances that he has encountered. He was licensed as a minister with the Shield of Faith Fellowship of Churches International and is currently seeking ordination within the PC(USA). His hobbies include all things outdoors. He enjoys hiking, camping, fishing and bird-watching. He is currently enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary’s master of divinity program and, upon completion, he plans to plant a church and go into pastoral ministry within the PC(USA). He is excited to be afforded the opportunity to participate in this apprenticeship program and can’t wait to start.

Steven G.

Inglewood, California

Steven G. is a recent seminary graduate who is currently working at Inglewood Presbyterian Church. He is the executive director for the Joshua Initiative, which is designed to address the needs of youth in the church and the community. It is based on Joshua 1:1–6. Steven is a filmmaker and photographer, a military veteran and a former gang member. He is working on planting a black-cultured intersectional church community that is intentional in its diversity and purpose

Jordan Hertz

Roanoke, Virginia

Jordan Hertz was raised in the country and still retains a great deal of that country spirit despite having resided in Roanoke, Virginia, for the past 11 years. Jordan attended the University of Virginia, where she received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in teaching. She also met her husband, Michael Hertz, there. In between degrees, she did missionary work at a home for children with disabilities in Maneadero, Mexico. In 2006 Jordan lost the most influential individual in her life when her brother, Hunter, died of muscular dystrophy. His life and death have profoundly shaped Jordan’s life.

Jordan taught at the middle and high school levels before deciding to stop working full-time and revel in the early years of her three daughters. Her children led her to choose Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church, where she is an elder and preschool teacher. Last summer Jordan began feeling a call to ministry that crystalized as she experienced God’s grace manifested in community during her husband’s cancer diagnosis and treatments. Jordan accepted her call and is now a student at Union Presbyterian Seminary and a candidate under the care of Presbytery of the Peaks. Through these experiences, Jordan received an additional call to work with two friends to begin an ecumenical ministry that provides mentoring and job training for women coming out of incarceration. Jordan feels blessed to have received the support of the apprenticeship program at such a crucial time.

Dea Jenkins

Pasadena, California

Dea Jenkins is an artist and arts producer who is originally from Houston, Texas. She endeavors to discover ways to integrate spirituality and the arts. She believes that art is a transcendent experience through which God can speak to believers and nonbelievers alike. She has recently relocated from New York City to Pasadena, California, to study at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Sarah Jordan

Mobile, Alabama

Sarah Jordan, originally from Mobile, Alabama, is a community-taught artist and soon-to-be pastor. She received a bachelor of arts degree in religion from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, and a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is excited to return to Chicago, where she completed a service year with the Episcopal Service Corps and a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. She hopes to continue dreaming and building ways of being the church that are moved by the Holy Spirit, deeply rooted in the gospel, and oriented toward collective liberation. As an artist, she mainly works with recycled materials in the mediums of embroidery, collage, assemblage and bookmaking. She enjoys making and creating with her loved ones, whether it be art, food or community.

Alex Largusa

San Francisco, California

Alex Largusa is a pastoral intern at First Presbyterian Church of Hayward, California, and has been serving in this capacity since August. Previously, Alex was a missionary based in Hawaii and the Philippines with the nonprofit Christian organization Youth With A Mission. He also served as a summer camp director at Mount Hermon, California. Alex is a student in the commissioned lay pastor training program through the Presbytery of San Francisco. Last year Alex started a missional community that leads young professionals in the East San Francisco Bay Area into an authentic expression of church. It’s called Come Be. Go Do.

Elena Layton

Pilesgrove, New Jersey

As a junior in high school, Elena Layton went on her first mission trip, to the Dominican Republic. She credits this trip with sparking her passion for mission. During her college years, Elena took a hiatus from mission work and found herself striving for “success” based on the “American dream.” After graduating from Stockton University, where she majored in social work, Elena pursued her master’s degree at Widener University. During her last semester at Widener, she was diagnosed with leukemia. This was a pivotal time for Elena’s faith, as she experienced God’s unwavering presence during her two-year chemotherapy journey. Once in remission, Elena entered the social work field as an addiction counselor at a methadone clinic. Elena has finished her master’s degree and has become a licensed clinical social worker, as well as a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Elena has felt God’s call to ministry, which has led her to a semester-long discipleship program in the Adirondack Mountains, as well as three weeks in Ecuador and four months in the Dominican Republic. She is excited about her 1001 New Worshiping Communities residency as director of discipleship at the Journey in Charleston.

Beth Smith McCaw

Nashville, Tennessee

Beth Smith McCaw was transplanted from the Midwest to middle Tennessee in 1989. She has the unusual distinction of having graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School twice—25 years apart. She spent the time between those degrees as a clinical social worker and a homeschooling parent. When she’s not preparing sermons for pulpit supply gigs, she can be found knitting, swimming or reading murder mysteries.

Michelle McMahon

Altadena, California

Michelle McMahon is originally from the Northwest, where she graduated from Seattle Pacific University and met her husband, Brian James McMahon. They currently reside in California. Michelle is always asking questions and is eager to discover more about the kingdom of God in various contexts. She was a youth pastor for six years and cares deeply about developing disciples of Jesus. For the past three years, she has been a senior pastor and has navigated the challenging call to help her church die. Currently she leads discernment groups in her home in Altadena, California, where about 30 people gather regularly. Michelle wants to discover how polycentric leadership can form, thrive and help worshiping communities keep their eyes and focus on Jesus, not on their leadership. In her spare time, she loves to hike, lift weights, participate in urban farming, play with her dogs and cook.

Brian James McMahon

Altadena, California

Brian James McMahon
was born in a farm town in New York, raised in southeast China, entered adulthood and discovered himself in Seattle. He then blindly left Seattle with his wife to follow the call of Jesus to California. After years of being a youth pastor, he has spent the past three years as an assistant pastor, helping a congregation die.

Prince Mundeke Mushunju

Greensboro, North Carolina

Prince Mundeke Mushunju is the pastor of a Swahili-English congregation at Faith Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but was a refugee for 12 years in Uganda. He received his call to ministry in refugee life and started El-Shaddai Vision Church in Uganda. He came to Greensboro in October 2015 with his wife, Laurette, and daughter Clarice, and began his ministry in the U.S. in May 2016. He also has two other young children, Prophet and Prefna. He has a vision and passion to preach the revival gospel to refugees and Americans, and to help build strong communities in Africa and America.

Amy Oblinger

Granville, Ohio

Amy Oblinger is a church musician currently residing in Granville, Ohio. A Virginia native, she recently moved to central Ohio when her fiancé took a job with Denison University. Amy decided to use this move as a chance to explore her call to new church development. In addition to having been a volunteer with the Iona Community in Scotland, Amy has a bachelor’s degree in performing and visual arts from King University and a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Edinburgh. After returning to the U.S., she worked as an adjunct music professor and college chaplain. Once that chapter closed, Amy explored an eclectic array of jobs, including being a summer camp teacher, a nanny and a substitute teacher. She eventually wound up back in the musical world, this time as a church choir director. In all of this, God was gradually revealing a call to ministry. Amy has enjoyed building community and meeting new people using some of her deepest loves: music, theater and food. She is eager to see how God might use these passions to help her grow the kingdom, and she looks forward to bringing her other half and their two cats along for the ride.

Hannah Quick

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hannah Quick hails from California but fell in love with the fast-paced culture of the Northeast while attending Princeton Theological Seminary. After graduating with a master of divinity degree last year, she went to work at Beacon in Philadelphia full-time as a 1001 New Worshiping Community pastoral resident and now looks forward to the adventures of a second-year residency. As an admirer of the arts, she loves exploring the use of art in worship as a means of teaching and creative expression, as well as the use of art as a vehicle for community building. Hannah loves being a neighborhood pastor and enjoys extending pastoral care to children and other community members in the corner stores and on her walk home. While working at Beacon she is also exploring other parts of Philadelphia and discerning a call to plant a neighborhood-based church elsewhere in the city.

Allen Rascoe

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Allen Rascoe was blessed to live in vibrant Los Angeles for 15 years. He spent 12 of those years as a private voice teacher, and learned much through paying attention and listening to the person standing in front of him. In the gift of voice teaching, Allen developed skills of acceptance, encouragement and challenge. Four years ago he took a leap of faith and enrolled in the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Along the way, Allen has felt joyous to see the body of Christ celebrating unity amid diversity. He continues to be interested in exploring adaptable expressions of Christian faith in community and mission, knowing we are rooted in the constancy of the loving being and activity of our triune God. This past year, Allen’s skills of pastoral care and missional activity were honed in Georgia as he completed a unit of clinical pastoral education at TACC @ St. Luke’s and a nine-month 1001 NWC apprenticeship. Currently, Allen is following Jesus into a new adventure as a pastoral immersion resident at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia.

Astor Yelangueuzian

Glendale, California

Astor Yelangueuzian is a 34-year-old Armenian husband and father. Astor was born in Nigeria and soon afterward moved to the U.S., where he has been a resident of Glendale, California, for 27 years. He has a bachelor of arts degree in Biblical studies from Azusa Pacific University, a master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and a master of theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Astor served as a youth pastor at Christ Armenian Church in La Crescenta for four years and recently completed a three-year term as director of Christian education at Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, New Jersey.
At the age of 21, Astor first learned about the great love of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. As a result, Astor’s life immediately changed both spiritually and communally. Now Astor discerns that God is calling him back to his hometown of Glendale to plant a church to have the same effect on others.

 

Apprenticeship and Residency Leadership

Ryan Althaus

Santa Cruz, California

Ryan Althaus, an East Coast transplant from Annapolis, Maryland, graduated from Carson Newman College with bachelor’s degrees in English education and theology before earning a master of divinity degree in 2010 from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. During his final year of seminary, Ryan launched Sweaty Sheep Ministries, which spawned two additional nonprofit outreach athletic training programs for the disadvantaged and inspired him to earn a master’s degree in nonprofit business from Spalding University.

Ryan moved to California to serve as interim director for the Homeless Garden Project. After getting the organization named a national PC(USA) hunger mission site, Ryan took on the role of San Jose hunger advocate, while launching the second chapter of Sweaty Sheep Ministries. This work has led Ryan to join in the creation of a team campus ministry at the University of Santa Cruz, where he is a member of the University of California-Santa Cruz Interfaith Council and board member of the Santa Cruz Association of Faith Community rotating shelter program.

Ryan lives in a tiny home with his canine companion, Chewbacca, in accordance with the New Monastic movement, a spiritual practice emphasizing one’s detachment from unnecessary stresses of society so to become more deeply intertwined in the workings of one’s organic community. Ryan enjoys pursuing his passion for cross-socioeconomic relationships that empower “houseless” neighbors as core community members. This work spawned the newest Sweaty Sheep initiative, a homeless community reintegration program using hydroponic produce gardens as a means of transitioning despondent neighbors from charitable recipients to valued producers.

Rebecca Blake

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rebecca Blake is the cofounder, organizing pastor and codirector of Beacon Church, located in the postindustrial and dynamic neighborhood of Kensington in Philadelphia. She followed several vocational paths before landing at Beacon. Trained as a visual artist, writer, theologian and pastor, she finds work at Beacon to be a challenging and life-giving environment where she’s able to cobble together those skills to facilitate transformation in the lives of individuals and communities. She loves laughing with kids around art tables and s’mores in the yard, getting to know the neighbors and making spaces for creative expression in worship, in the classroom and in Beacon’s programs. She believes that you can never have enough glitter and that the beauty of God lies within every person.

Rebecca is a graduate of Eastern University and holds a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She was named Eastern University’s Most Distinguished Young Alumna of 2015, and is a Philly Girls Do Good member, class of 2016. She is an ordained PC(USA) pastor; a freelance artist; wife of Sean Refsnider, a financial advisor; stepmom to two stepsons, Tyler and Jackson, and dog-parent to Hank and Gus.

Shawna Bowman

Chicago, Illinois

Shawna Bowman is an artist, pastor and activist. She is convinced that our capacity for creativity is one of the most important ways we are made in God’s image. Shawna works with communities and organizations to create art as an act of worship and/or public theology, and she loves facilitating community experiences that help people reimagine the role of art in their lives and ministry. She consults with congregations and other organizations on leading with creativity, storytelling and community organizing. She is cofounder of Creation Lab, a co-working studio space that is a creativity incubator at the intersection of arts and faith. She is an ordained PC(USA) pastor doing ministry with the creative and quirky folks at Friendship Presbyterian Church in Chicago. (Angela Jimenez Photography)

Samantha Evans

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sammie Evans, pastor and manager of faith and worship at Broad Street Ministry, was born and raised in northwestern Pennsylvania. She received a bachelor of science degree in physics from Allegheny College and a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She has been serving as a pastoral fellow at Broad Street Ministry since September 2014. In her time at Broad Street Ministry, she has engaged heavily with the Hospitality Collaborative, which serves seven meals a week in partnership with stabilizing services. She’s also served as a pastoral leader in the congregation and launched the new Garden Initiative, which enables congregants to grow food together that is offered through the Hospitality Collaborative. In November she became Broad Street Ministry’s pastor and manager of faith and worship. Sammie loves reading, watching and telling stories, gardening and building community.

Sara Hayden

Atlanta, Georgia

Sara Hayden heads up apprenticeship and residency programs for the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement, and is the Southeastern catalyst for this initiative. She owes her best training to her parents and her pastor, Jay McKell, who were involved in starting a new worshiping community in Overland Park, Kansas, throughout her childhood. Today she leads Messy Church, a multiage new worshiping community in Atlanta that is interactive and creative. Prior to being a part of 1001, Sara served for five years directing church planning efforts as executive director of the New Church Development Commission, based in Atlanta. She is a graduate of Truman State University, the University of Havana in Cuba and Columbia Theological Seminary. She is thrilled to continue resourcing communities, churches and leaders as they pursue new expressions of church that seek the welfare of their communities and reflect the God-given gifts of those communities. She and her husband, Chris Henry, live in Atlanta with their young sons, Samuel and Benjamin.

Colin Kerr

Charleston, South Carolina

Colin Kerr is the planter and director of Journey, a worshiping community for college students, which is the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery’s collegiate mission. He is author of three books (of which he says the first two are not good) and has also been a contributor to Patheos and Relevant Magazine. Colin is married to a nurse and bartender named Alexis and is currently a seminarian at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

Nick Warnes

Los Angeles, California

Nick Warnes is the organizing pastor of Northland Village Church and has a passion for seeing new churches begin and multiply. Nick and his wife, Whitney, love to check out the latest restaurants in Northeast Los Angeles. Nick spends much of his time having conversations over coffee, reading about reconciliation and baseball, and meditating while he rides his road bike through Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River Trail. Nick received his master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in worship, theology and the arts. He is coauthor of Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood.