If you are ‘church surfing’, I’m sure you would like to know something about the pastor of the church. So, the first thing you can know about me is that it has taken me a couple of years to write this bio for the church website. In part, it’s because I believe a church shouldn’t center on the personality of the pastor. I like it when ideas and visions for ministry bubble up in the congregation. It is the spirit of the community that is important, and I see my role as a means to help facilitate and encourage our collective participation.
That is why I accepted the call to be the pastor here, beginning in September 2016. At this church, I found a group of very down-to-earth people who were committed to deepening their spirituality, developing the bonds of community, and engaging in social justice issues as a means of expressing God’s compassion for all people.
I’ve been engaged in full-time ministry for over 30 years, working in a variety of roles. I enjoy preaching and teaching, and helping people develop a faith that is thoughtful, engaged, and relevant to our modern age. Claremont School of Theology was a great fit for my seminary training.
My own faith is highly influenced by: Historical Jesus Research (Marcus Borg, J.D. Crossan), Process Theology (John Cobb), Contemplative Practices (Frank Rogers), Anthropology of Religion (René Girard), Internal Family Systems (Richard Schwartz, Tom Holmes), and the Circles of Trust ® approach to group practices (Parker Palmer). These terms and authors may not mean much to you, but happy Googling if you want to learn more, or come to church.
I taught a few college courses in public speaking, interpersonal communication and inter-cultural communication. I am a Circle of Trust® Facilitator, prepared for facilitation by The Center for Courage and Renewal (Parker Palmer). I have begun a facilitator training with The Center for Engaged Compassion.
My wife Terri is a public school administrator and we have two adult children.
For fun, I enjoy reading Kurt Vonnegut novels, watching MLB games (Cardinals and A’s) playing guitar and harmonica, hiking, biking, and just being in nature.
Well, enough about me: come and visit and let me get to know a bit about you.
Minister in Training
Originally from Orlando, Florida, Jeremiah Jenkins is currently pursuing his MDiv. A Presbyterian for over 20 years, Jeremiah joined up with the Disciples of Christ shortly after moving to the Bay Area 3 years ago. He loves the idea that the Table is central to Disciples theology and praxis and that everyone has a seat at the Table!
Emily thoroughly enjoys meeting and working with the youth, who have so many ideas and ways in which they want to be involved within the church, and she’s excited to help them do just that. She recently moved here from Florida, where she grew up in the Disciples church. She has a passion for camp ministry that began as a child while attending church camp, and later grew, when in high school, she became a counselor. Emily has worked as camp staff, and served on the Outdoor Ministries Committee in Florida. She currently serves on the Young Adult Commission for the general church through Disciples Home Missions.
Emily is a recent graduate of Stetson University, where she majored in Chemistry and minored in Environmental Science.
Rita Lilly is a professional classical singer and teacher who moved to California from NYC in 2000. Specializing in the performance of early music, she sang and toured with the renowned Waverly Consort from 1988-1997. Since coming to the Bay Area, she has been a featured soloist with numerous ensembles and orchestras in the bay area and throughout the country. Previously, she earned her BA/BS in voice with K-12 music certification from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY. She was the Music Director of St. Jerome Catholic Church from 2004-2009, is the voice teacher of the SFEMS baroque workshop, is on the faculty of the Pacific Boy Choir Academy as their private voice teacher, maintains her own voice studio in her home and thoroughly enjoys being director of the LCC Choir.
She enjoys her family time with Nitash Balsara, professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UC Berkeley and founder of SEEO and her two lovely children, Sonya and Matthew.
Born in the Philippines, Lino Rivera has performed as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician and accompanist on three continents. He makes it his mission to advocate and premiere contemporary works; to explore and meet the artistic, creative, and technical challenges of piano transcriptions; and to discover and perform obscure solo piano repertoire throughout the ages. Lino is a celebrated performer for Composers, Inc., an organization based in San Francisco that is dedicated to promoting works by contemporary American composers.
Lino holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Santo Tomas, the University of Hawaii, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. He currently serves as professor in the Performing Arts Department at Saint Mary's College of California, while maintaining active concert engagements internationally. He recently performed in Switzerland and Mississippi, and he served as soloist for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra last spring. He will again be teaching and performing at the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Germany this summer.
Hi, my name is Natalie Cruze and I have been working in the children’s program at Lafayette Christian Church since March of 2010.
My home life is shared with my three amazing children, Damien 12yrs.,
DeAngelo 10 yrs. and London 4 yrs. My days are busy, filled with school, work, homework, meals and sports. I am truly blessed to be a Mom to these sweet, smart and energetic boys! All are very athletic: the two oldest play basketball on a traveling team and tournaments and games occupy most of our weekends. London is lovingly recognized as the unofficial mascot of his older brothers’ teams. He can be seen cheering from the sidelines and occasionally breaks out into dance when the spirit moves him ot when his brothers make a basket.
Professionally, I work for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District as an aid in a special education class. My classroom is filled with the most amazing students, all of whom are on the autism spectrum. We have a very loving and supportive team who work collaboratively to provide our students with the best, most positive classroom experience as possible.
My passions are children and helping others. Here at LCC, I have the opportunity to combine both!
Spirit Kids Teacher
Madeline Dell is a teacher and caregiver for our preschool-Kindergarten class. She is a Freshman at Las Lomas High School, and she enjoys the opportunity school gives her to be with her friends. In her spare time she likes to relax with her friends or in her bed. She also spends time babysitting and and tutoring. Of her LCC job, Madeline says, "I love working with the kiddos! They're so sweet, kind and smart. I really enjoy working with them, and I'm very grateful that the church decided to hire me." The kids love her gentle spirit and and care and we are so pleased to have her!
Diana Silva is our bookkeeper. She has been a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) all her life, growing up in the San Jose church and later attending Disciple churches in Kansas and Virginia. Diana and her family joined Lafayette Christian Church in 1984, with Diana becoming the Treasurer two years later and by 1993 was taking care of all the bookkeeping for our church. In 1987, Diana became our organist with four years of previous experience in Alexandria, Virginia and for 32 years, her gift for music enriched our weekly worship. Diana retired as the LCC organist in 2019. She is married and has two grown children who consider this church part of their family.
Kelley Lawton has been our "church secretary" and Office Manager at LCC for 15 years. Kelley is the cheerful voice you'll hear on our church phone line and she enjoys creating our weekly newsletter, Grace Notes, as well as wrangling our busy church calendar. She loves coming to work in this warm and loving, close-knit community and walking about our beautiful campus, filled with lush old trees.