- Pastor Chuck
Jan and I grew up in two different towns about eight miles apart in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. We know a lot about suffering and perseverance, as we have been sports fans of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns since childhood. We met at The Ohio State University in 1971 and thoroughly enjoyed attending football games of a championship team for a change. We were married in 1974 and moved to Santa Maria, California in 1975.
Jan and I came to the Lord in our mid-30s while I was employed as a petroleum engineer in Ventura, California. I got involved in prison ministries and we both enjoyed outreach to internationals. In 1986 and 1987, we hosted Japanese college students for a month in the summer and began to have a burden for all the lost people in Japan.
The Lord led us to join Christar (then called International Missions Inc.) in 1987, we went to seminary at Columbia International University (then called Columbia Biblical Seminary) where I received an MA in Intercultural Studies, and Jan earned a one year Bible Certificate. In 1990, we moved to Japan with our two young children, Melissa aged nine and Nick aged five, and studied the language full time in Karuizawa Machi, Nagano Ken for two years. In 1992, we moved to Hofu City in Yamaguchi Prefecture and served with a Japanese pastor for 5 years until the church became self-sufficient.
In 1997, we moved to Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture and started a new church plant with another missionary couple. In 2004, we started the Angelic Shout Ube Gospel choir, which grew to over 20 non-Christian Japanese singers and performed in front of over 6000 people. In 2007, a Japanese pastor joined our team and in 2008, the church purchased a building and parsonage. In 2009, another missionary couple joined the team to do language study and to continue our English classes. The Lighthouse Ube Church became self-supporting and self-sufficient and it was time to pass the baton.
In 2010, we relocated to Port Hueneme, California to become the West Coast Mobilizers for Christar. We visit schools and missions conferences and churches on the west coast recruiting and helping train people to be missionaries to the least reached parts of the world.
In 2010, we also visited JACC and Bethany churches for the first time and periodically helped with music and preaching and college outreach. In 2015, I accepted the part time pastor of the Nichigo congregation at Bethany Congregational Church and the Lord miraculously opened a door for us to move to Goleta. In May of 2016 I was blessed to become the senior pastor of Bethany Church. We have immensely enjoyed getting to know both the Japanese and English communities at Bethany Church and have never been in a more loving and appreciative church than Bethany.
We enjoy traveling, snorkeling, playing tennis, taking walks on the beach, playing guitar and piano together and spending time with our children (Melissa and Nick) and our grandchildren (Jackson, Liam, Brooklyn, Emma, and Ollie), who all live in Goleta.
Our favorite vacation is to stay near a beach and just read books, sunbath, swim and snorkel. Some of our most memorable vacations have been in Jamaica, Okinawa, Hawaii, Israel, Jordan, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel. We have also visited every state in the USA except for Vermont.
- Pastor Mariko
For those who live in Santa Barbara, both long term and short term residents, I look forward to meeting you at Bethany Church. Our church is a warm family of people that has gatherings for all ages ranging from infants to the elderly. If you are looking for a Japanese speaking community to have fellowship with, and want to get information in the Japanese language about living in Santa Barbara, or would like to attend a worship service in Japanese, then we hope you will visit us at Bethany Church.
- Pastor Derek
I was born in Los Angeles and raised in Alhambra. My parents, Bill and Lisa, took me to Sunday School from a young age. I first confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of six. However, there were many things about church that I did not understand. When I was a child, I naturally followed my parents to church but as a teenager, there were times when I did not feel like going. Despite my poor attitude, the Lord continued to be present and faithful in my life.
Before attending U.C. Berkeley, I spent one semester at Santa Barbara City College in Fall 2004. At that time, my grandparents, Lewis and Deana Abe, were occasionally attending Bethany, and they introduced me to the church. The congregation warmly welcomed me. After I started at Berkeley, I became more involved in church. In college, I felt that my faith in God became my own and not something that I simply followed because my parents did. God drew me closer to Himself. I was active at church, in our college group and young adult choir. I was baptized on Easter Sunday, 2007 at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley.
After graduating from college, I moved to Carpinteria to work at Abe Nursery. I naturally returned to Bethany and would also sometimes bring my grandparents to church. Many in the church encouraged me to become more involved. I served as a youth leader, and Tom Fukumura “recruited” me to the Stewardship Committee. I also began to attend Nichigo services and became involved with their youth activities. I was nominated to the Board of Elders. During this time, I felt the Lord’s call to serve in Ishinomaki, Japan. I went on a two-week trip to help with the tsunami relief efforts in 2012. In the following years, I spent more time in Ishinomaki, including a week with a team from Bethany in 2014 and three months in 2015. Through these experiences, the Lord gave me a heart to serve and minister to the Japanese people. He has given me opportunities to do that here in Santa Barbara with our Nichigo ministry.
Pastor Anthony, Bethany’s former Senior Pastor, encouraged me in many ways throughout my early years at Bethany, even encouraging me to speak in Sunday services. Around 2015, I began to sense the Lord’s leading toward a vocation in ministry. Through Pastor Anthony’s continual encouragement and the support of others, the Lord whispered His call. The Lord provided me with a scholarship to attend Fuller Seminary, and I graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in June of 2019. During this same period I also completed an internship under Pastor Chuck Burwell and then joined the staff as an associate pastor.
It has been a privilege and blessing for me to be a member of Bethany and serve in various capacities here. May all the praise and glory be His!
A bit more about my immediate family- I have a younger brother, Colin, who is working at KABC radio station in Los Angeles. As many of you probably know, I enjoy cooking. In past years I have offered a sushi class here at the church. I also enjoy running in my free time. You may see me around Carpinteria or along Cabrillo/Shoreline here in Santa Barbara. I also enjoy collecting coins. My dad introduced me to coin collecting at the age of five. One of my collecting achievements is a complete set of Walking Liberty half dollars. I also enjoy languages. I stumble through Japanese, and often use Spanish while working at the nursery. Lately, my time away from “home” has been spent in Japan. I enjoy many aspects of Japan, especially the culture, the history, beautiful gardens, and of course, the food! Other memorable trips are from my childhood. My grandparents took our whole family to Mount Rushmore, New Orleans, and on cruises to Mexico and Alaska.