clergy staff


  • Rev. Jessica Vaughan Lower

    Head Pastor

    Jessica Vaughan Lower graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a B.A. in English before attending Princeton Theological Seminary and graduating with an M.Div in 2006. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church, USA that same year, Jessica believes that the church is a people, not a building; that faith communities hold the power to connect us to the eternal in a way that can transform our lives; and that the best days of the Christian church are ahead of us, not behind us. Jessica has been married to Andy since 2004, and together they live with their two children, Marloe and Levi, and their dog, Winston Churchill PM. Jessica did not help name their dog, but she did help name their children. Jessica loves learning useless facts, sharing random music trivia, trying new recipes and restaurants, fitness and health, and creating an event out of most any moment.

  • bong bringas

    commissioned pastor

    Bong resides in La Crescenta, California. He became an Elder in the Presbyterian Church in 2004. Upon entering the seminary he served as Pastor's Assistant, and Youth and Children's Minister at the Filipino Community Presbyterian Church in Eagle Rock. He was in the M.Div. program in San Francisco Theological Seminary and Fuller Seminary and hopes to return in the near future. Bong serves as Assistant for Worship and Pastoral Care in San Marino Community Church and is in his third year as a Commissioned Lay Pastor of the Presbytery of San Gabriel. Bong has been a member of the Presbytery Executive Council for the past four years and is the current Moderator of the San Gabriel Presbytery. He is an active volunteer in the Guardian Angel for program for undocumented minors under the leadership of the Pacific Presbytery. Bong is married with three lovely children.

  • Rev. Dr. Marilyn Manning

    Parish Associate pastor

    Marilyn began with a degree in Music Performance at SDSU and served as organist and choir director in several churches. She then accepted her call to ministry and received a Master’s of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, followed by a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Her five children, now grown and married, have blessed her with 13 grandchildren. Marilyn has served over twenty years as Solo and Associate Pastor for multiple churches across the country. While at Valley Presbyterian Church, Marilyn worked with Ministry of Hope for seven years and led ministry teams to Malawi annually. Since retiring in 2014, Marilyn moved to Monte Vista Grove Homes, Pasadena and has been attending San Marino Community Church. 

  • Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell

    Preacher in Residence

    Tom and Suzanne Tewell met at Muskingum College in Ohio where they married in their college chapel 50 years ago! Tom attended Princeton Seminary for his Master of Divinity Degree and earned a Doctor of Ministry at Drew Theological School in NJ, before serving congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, and New York. Tom served as Sr. Pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in NYC. on 9/11. Tom has received two Honorary Doctoral Degrees, numerous awards for social justice ministry, and served as a Trustee of Princeton Seminary for 15 years. An entrepreneur at heart, Tom founded Macedonian Ministry to resource congregations in changing times as well as the Zick Preacher Scholar Program to assist young preachers who want to hone the craft of preaching. The Tewell’s have two grown sons, Ryan, married to Holly, and Toby, married to Katie, and 7 grandchildren between the ages of 3 and 21! They moved to Claremont in 2018 to live close to their three youngest grandchildren under the age of 6.

  • Dr. Ron C. White

    Scholar in Residence

    Ronald C. White is the New York Times best-selling author of the presidential biographies A. Lincoln: A Biography and American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant. His biography of Grant won the William Henry Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography. White is also the author of Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, honored as a New York Times Notable Book, and a Washington Post bestseller. The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller.  He has lectured around the world including the the White House. He has degrees from Northwestern University, UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary, He has taught at UCLA, Whitworth University, Colorado College, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a Reader at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum in Washington, D.C. He lives with his wife, Cynthia, in Pasadena, California. White's latest book Lincoln in Private, was published May of 2021.

Program Staff

 

  • victoria smith

    director of development & communications

    Victoria Smith is a graduate of Biola University. She worked for eight years in the university’s Integrated Marketing Communications department overseeing events, eventually becoming Associate Director for University Events and participating on the planning team that led to Biola’s $214 million capital campaign. In 2013, she accepted a position as Director of Events for Fuller Seminary. While at Fuller, Victoria revamped their events team, overseeing a wide variety of events from the Presidential Inauguration and Commencement, to national fundraising events and major conferences, including the N.T. Wright Conference in 2014. Victoria is a Southern California native and grew up as a pastor’s kid in Irvine and the Lake Arrowhead area. She lives in Claremont with her husband, Steve, and their three children: Beckett, and twins Parker and Margot.

  • Jiji Massoud

    Nursery School director

    Jihan Massoud, also known as Jiji, was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. She joined SMCC in the summer of 2021. She has known it was God’s calling for her to work with children ever since she was young. She began at fifteen years old as a Sunday school teacher, and stayed in the early childhood development field for over twenty years, earning credentials from Pasadena City College and UCLA. "It is such a joy and pleasure to work with little ones. They are so impressionable and the Lord has given me the gift to be able to connect with them on a deeper level." Jiji has two kids and an amazing husband, Romani.  

  • Natalie MacMillan

    Children's  Ministries Director

    Natalie MacMillan has worked with children for over 10 years. Her experience includes teaching Sunday school, providing church childcare, tutoring SATs and ISEEs, and teaching at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Natalie enjoys bringing her theatrical background into her work with children. Raised in a family where creativity and Christianity go hand in hand, Natalie loves exploring ways to impart that spirit to the next generation. “As deeply valuable - and equal - members of God’s kingdom, children teach us and each other how to receive the kingdom of God.” She is also overjoyed and in awe of being a first-time mom herself, welcoming daughter Emily in March of 2021. 

  • Natalie Day

    Youth Ministries Director

    Natalie Day grew up in Portland Oregon, and moved down to California in 2017 for school. She earned her degree from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, focusing on the way in which people understand each other in personal and professional environments. Natalie has been heavily involved in youth ministry for eight years, working in both a church context and with Young Life. She genuinely enjoys hanging out with middle school students, and first fell in love with youth ministry when she was 15. For ten months she served as the interim youth director at her home church in Portland. While she does not think she's cool enough to hang out with high school students, she enjoys spending time with them. One of her favorite parts of being in ministry with people is equipping leaders to build healthy relationships with students. Outside of ministry, her favorite things to do are try new coffee places, go for runs, sing karaoke (preferably a Taylor Swift song), and listen to the role Jesus plays in people’s lives.

  • Willow Stephens

    worship leader

    Willow Stephens is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where she majored in Hispanic Studies and Music. She started her career playing in coffeehouses and spent several years serving as a worship leader in the Pacific Northwest, and performing at YoungLife camps across the western US and Canada. A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, and recording artist, Willow has released several projects of her original music. Her first full-length album, “All That Glitters”, was debuted on BuzzBandsLA, Its release was celebrated with a nearly sold-out show at Doug Westin’s Troubadour in January 2020. Willow and husband, Adam Jones (a pastor in Burbank), currently live in LA.

  • dr. peter green

    music director

    Dr. Peter Green was born in Newfoundland, Canada. He has a Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California. In 1989, Peter received first prize in the national piano competition of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association. Peter currently serves as Chair of the Visual & Performing Arts Division at Glendale College. He is also director of the Glendale College Concert Singers, and on the board of directors of Glendale Arts and the Mark Thallander Foundation.  Peter has recorded several collaborative albums, and been nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008. Recently, he recorded a CD of new music for French horn and piano that will be released in early 2020. He is also a frequent recitalist, adjudicator, and is a clinician in both piano and choral music throughout Canada and the US. 

  • Lisa Edwards

    organist

    Lisa Edwards is a graduate of North Texas State University in Piano and Organ Performance with a Master's Degree in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from USC with honors. She plays with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and assists in rehearsals and performance for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is part time organist for other congregations, as well as teaching piano at the college level. She is also the pianist for Vox Femina under the direction of Dr. Iris Levine and choral director at Alverno High School in Sierra Madre.   

  • jonas streffer

    director of digital ministries

    Jonas was born in Germany and moved to Los Angeles in 2012. He attended Los Angeles College of Music and graduated with an Associates Degree in Musical Performance and has played concerts all around the world, including China. Jonas started at San Marino Community Church as part of the Virginia Road Band back in 2017, and joined the A/V tech team in 2019. Since September 2021, he is our new Director of Digital Ministries. He lives in Lake Balboa with his girlfriend Sam and their dog Caico. Traveling, hiking, and cooking are his favorite things to do when he’s not playing drums.


  • Carol Rush

    church librarian

    Carol Cleek Rush grew up in Santa Barbara.  She earned a Masters in Library Science from UCLA and has worked full-time at The Huntington Library in San Marino, interned at The Getty and was the Reference Librarian at Monrovia Public Library.  Carol has been a SMCC library volunteer since 2016.  She is also President of the L.A. Chapter of Childhelp International, Secretary of the Shakespeare Club and in charge of the International Graduate Scholarships as a member of the Council of Phi Beta Kappa Alumni in Southern California.  Carol and her family have been members of SMCC since 1997.

Administrative staff


  • skip ober miller

    business manager

    A native of Illinois, Skip graduated from Aurora University, in 1988 with a double major in Communication and Christian Studies, and a minor in Accounting. He received his Master of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, IL in 1993. Not long after being ordained to pastoral ministry in the Church of the Brethren, he discovered his true calling to church administration. Skip has previously served as Co-Pastor of South Bay Community Church of the Brethren in Redondo Beach, California, and as Administrator at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena. He has a daughter, Lauren. 

  • Peggy flynn

    Administrative assistant for communications & Development

    Peggy graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology/Communications. She brings experience as an account executive in advertising in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. Upon moving to San Marino with her husband and two children, she managed a satellite office for a worldwide film distribution company and served as board member of local non-profit organizations. Peggy joined the staff of SMCC providing support for the 2009 Capital Campaign, facility renovation and overseeing the website and other formats of communication.   

  • eva farrar

    administrative assistant for membership

    Eva began working at San Marino Community Church in 2008. She is the Administrative Assistant for Membership. She had previously been a stay home mom for 16 years during that time she home schooled her children. She later joined the teaching staff at Calvary Road Baptist Academy as a preschool Teacher and later an Assistant Teacher. Eva is very involved in her church and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She lives in Monrovia with her husband and has 4 grown kids, 3 sons and one daughter. 

  • sharon Grosshans

    Receptionist & Event coordinator

    Sharon began work at San Marino Community Church when her youngest entered college. She is Administrative Assistant for Events. On her off days from the church she can be found instructing Equitation for 30 years and for the past 12 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. A graduate from SDSU in Environmental Design she enjoys spending time at nurseries, flower marts, gardening and walking her Shelties. She lives in Pasadena with her husband and has two grown sons. 

  • deborah kwan

    administrative assistant for facilities

    Deborah began assisting in the church office at SMCC in January 2018. She holds degrees in Dramatic Arts and Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley.  She has experience heading hospitality committees for non-profit organizations, and auditing for a large multi-national corporation. Deborah is always looking for a reason to travel, and is interested in history and cultural traditions of all kinds. Other hobbies include reading, cooking, and Disneyland. She lives in Monrovia with her husband and two sons.

  • vicky & Jimmy guzman

    head custodian & custodian

    Vicky Guzman & Jimmy Guzman have been working for the church since 2009 in custodial and facility operations. Vicky originally pursued a career as a medical assistant but "God had other plans, placing me at this wonderful church.”  With experience in computer hardware and network installation, Jimmy also assists the tech team with audio/visual needs. They have two wonderful children. In their spare time, they enjoy spending time with family and friends.  

  • Patty Ladd

    Bookeeper

    Patty graduated from USC with a Bachelor of Science and a degree in Dental Hygiene. She also attended California State University at Northridge and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She has traveled extensively and lived for five years in London. She has three daughters one of whom was born in England and now resides there with her husband. Patty is an avid horse woman and enjoys riding and showing her Saddlebred horse. She has been involved in the business world for many years and has owned a jewelry store and a construction company.