Pastoral staff

Your pastors are here to serve and support you through your faith journey. While we all preach in worship, we are also available for pastoral counseling, home visitation, hospital visitation, and prayer.  

  • 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 has spent the better part of her time in ministry working with congregations that are engaged in the process of development or redevelopment. Prior to joining SMCC in 2019, Jessica served for five years as the first called pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in El Paso, Texas, which is a merged congregation of three legacy congregations. 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.

  • rev. becca bateman

    Associate Pastor for Family ministries

    A native of sunny Southern California, Becca loves the outdoors but also loves to travel.  After graduating from Cal State Long Beach, where she earned degrees in History, Classics and a minor in Latin, she attended Fuller Theological Seminary for her M.Div.  Following seminary, she served as Associate Pastor of Christian Life Formation at Calvary Presbyterian in South Pasadena for several years before coming to San Marino Community Church in 2013.  Her passion for ministry to the whole family is a big part of why she feels called to the community of San Marino.  Bookending 2010 were her ordination in February and her marriage to her husband Mike on New Years Eve!  They live in Pasadena with their daughter, Maisie, newborn son, Royce, and  three dogs Snoop, Stavros, and Cooper.  

  • Bong Bringas

    Commissioned Lay 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.

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.

  • Nicole Costanzo-PONCE

    Interim NURSERY SCHOOL DIRECTOR

    Nicole Costanzo-Ponce has spent six years at SMCCNS as an assistant teacher, then lead teacher. Recently  Nicole expanded her role to Assistant Director and now as Interim NS Director in 2021.  With a team of amazing and creative teachers, Nicole is committed to providing a loving and developmentally-sound foundation of learning for Nursery School children and their families. Nicole has two children, Giovanni,  and daughter, Gianna, who is currently enrolled in SMCC Nursery School.  Her husband, Mark is also involved in many church activities.     

  • Natalie MacMillan

    Director of Children's Ministries

    Natalie MacMillan is a native Angeleno, who earned a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. An actor/writer/director and teacher, Natalie has a passion for illuminating the power of the Holy Spirit through the arts. Natalie has written and acted in film and stage pieces to accompany sermons. She has been at the helm of several faith-based film projects, as well as directing the world premiere of a musical based on the Book of Ruth. Natalie has also worked with children in various capacities, including Sunday school, theater camps, and tutoring. Raised in a family where Christianity and creativity went hand in hand, Natalie loves exploring the way to impart that to the next generation.  

  • natalie day

    director of Youth Ministries

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  • Willow stephens

    CONTEMPORARY 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

    Choral and 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. Dr. Green joins San Marino Community Church in August of 2019.

  • LISA EDWARDS

    ORGANIST & PIANIST

    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.   

  • BRANDON COOKE

    Director of DIGITAL MINIStRIES/MUSICIAN

    A native of Southern California, Brandon Cooke grew up in the mountains of San Bernardino where he enjoyed the outdoor life. In middle school, Brandon began his interest in playing and recording music. After “gigging it” through high school, Brandon attended the Musicians Institute, receiving a degree in Percussion Performance and Recording Technology. Immediately after graduation Brandon began working as an engineer in recording studios around Los Angeles - working with such artists as Chad Smith and Josh Freese. Brandon also has a band, The Rebel Light, which has toured the U.S. playing sold-out festivals and clubs While not on circuit, Brandon also works part-time as the Audio Visual Technician, and drummer for the Contemporary Worship service.  

OFFICE STAFF


  • SKIP OBER MILLER

    BUSINESS MANAGER

    A native of Illinois, Skip graduated from Aurora University, in Illinois in 1988 with a double major in Communications 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 and is recording his lifetime of observations about church life in his blog: “Things I Learned In The Church Office”.  

  • PEGGY FLYNN

    ADMIN. FOR PASTORAL SUPPORT, WEBSITE & Communication

    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 many non-profit organizations for the arts, and education. Peggy joined the staff of SMCC providing support for the 2009 Capital Campaign, facility renovation and overseeing the website.  

  • 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 2 grown sons. 

  • Deborah Kwan

    Office assistant

    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.

  • EVA FARRAR

    Office assistant/Membership