Our Ministry Team
Senior Pastor - Richard Thompson
Richard came to First Church, Bakersfield in 2005 from Palo Alto, California (Bay Area) where he was pastor at Wesley Church for nine years. He brings to First Church energy and enthusiasm for reaching people with the saving power of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Believing that God calls all people, from all walks of life, Richard encourages growth in Christian spiritual maturity. His passion is for all people to sense God’s call on their life and to help them to know Jesus on a deep level and to live out His call. He is a strong preacher and has gifts of teaching, exhortation, and hospitality.Richard has a B.A. from the University of Montana, an MDiv. from Pacific School of Religion, and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. Richard and his wife, ‘Ofa Halatanu, have been married for over twenty years, and they have two wonderful children.
Worship and Music Ministries Director - Andrew Irvin
Andrew came to Bakersfield from the Chicago area where he was Pastor or Worship and Music Ministries at a nondenominational church in the near West suburbs. Prior to that, he grew up, worked, and ministered in his home state of Ohio. He is a 1989 graduate of The Ohio State University where he was a voice major with choral music emphasis. Andrew has taught music in two Christian schools and ministered as a pastor in three churches prior to coming to FUMC in July of 2007. Andrew loves Jesus and people, loves seeing children, youth, and adults grow in their relationships with Christ and discover and enjoy using the talents and gifts God has given them in any context, and particularly the context of worship and music. Andrew and his wife Christina have two young adult daughters and a son in elementary school. Andrew attended seminary at the Moody Theological School in Chicago, IL.
Family Ministries Director - Darrell Arnold
Darrell came to First Church from Haviland, Kansas in 2014 where he was a Youth Pastor and Graduate Student. He brings to First Church energy and excitement for sharing the gospel through active relationships with young people and their families. He believes that God is calling all people into a passionate, transforming, and authentic relationship with him. His passion is for all people to come to understand that God loves them and that it is the depth of that love that motivates God to seek after all people until they find relationship with him, through Jesus. He believes that this love motivates us to go and share Christ with the world at large. Darrell's main focus is relationship building, teaching, and creating all aspects of Student and Children's Ministry programming. Darrell has a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and Bible from Barclay College as well as an M.A. in Transformational Leadership from the Barclay College School of Graduate Studies.
Office and Administrative Staff
Director of Administrative Services - Julie Vawter
Office Assistant - Leslie Koehler
Treasurer - Robyn Valenzano
Finance Secretary - Linda Funderburk
Campus Host - Nitasha Bhatti
Facility Staff - Hector Lopez Jr.
Preschool Director - Julie Elsberry
Pastoral Assistant - Marti Ingalls
Music and Worship Staff
Worship Assistant - Beren Canlas
Audio Coordinator - James Dethlefson
Pianist - Char Gaines
Handbell Choir Director - Ashley Kersten
Organist - Eric Holderman
Chancel Choir Director - Kathleen Schaffer
Family Ministry Staff
KidsMin Lead - Kayla Burrell
KidsMin Staff - Serena Alamshahi