Our Ministry Team
Senior Pastor - Jason Thornton
Rev. Jason Thornton has pastored churches in rural North Carolina, Nevada and California for the last sixteen years. Jason is a California native, born in Sacramento, grew up in Rancho Cucamonga then graduated from Yuba City High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology from CSU Sacramento. Along the way Jason became the single parent of his oldest son Jorren. After graduating, Jason worked in the field of biotechnology for eleven years.
In 1999, invited by a friend, Jason began attending Woodland United Methodist Church. It was among the people of Woodland UMC that Jason found the life transforming love of Jesus Christ. Jason would tell you that through the worship services, sermons, small groups and working at the Wayfarer Center (the local homeless shelter), he became addicted to Jesus and the Church. Always wanting to learn more and serve more, Jason joined Woodland UMC and became involved in teaching Sunday school, helping to lead youth groups, and serving on various committees. One pastor, Rev. Doug Johnson, asked Jason if he had ever considered becoming a pastor. Jason said “no”, but a seed was planted. .
In 2002, Jason met Tammy and her two sons Bryan and Jon. In 2003, Jason and Tammy married, gathering Jorren, Bryan, and Jon into one big happily dynamic family. In 2006, Jason asked Tammy what she would think about him going to seminary to become a pastor. She replied “Yes.” In 2007, Jason and Tammy loaded their Toyota Tacoma and Astro van with everything they could, including their kids and two dogs, and set out to North Carolina, where Jason attended Duke Divinity School.
Jason served rural churches in the North Carolina Annual Conference as a local licensed pastor for seven years while he was attending school and then going through the ordination process. In 2014, Jason transferred to Epworth UMC in Fallon Nevada in the California-Nevada Annual Conference to be closer to family. He was ordained as an elder in 2016 by Bishop Warner Brown, and then moved to St. Paul’s UMC in Manteca, CA where he has served for six years until July 2023.
Jason and Tammy are excited to have been appointed to Bakersfield First and are looking forward to meeting the congregation; hearing how the Spirit is leading the hearts of the people; and following Jesus on this new adventure together!
Worship and Music Ministries Director - Andrew Irvin
Andrew came to Bakersfield from the Chicago area where he was Pastor of Worship and Music Ministries at a nondenominational church in the 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 high school. Andrew attended seminary at the Moody Theological School in Chicago, IL.
Office and Administrative Staff
Director of Administrative Services - Julie Vawter
Office Assistant - Leslie Koehler
Treasurer - Gigi Dunn
Finance Secretary - Edna Rothrock
Campus Host - Dusty Ramey
Facility Staff - Hector Lopez Jr.
Preschool Director - Samantha Olivarez
Pastoral Assistant - Marti Ingalls
Music and Worship Staff
Worship Assistant - Beren Canlas
Audio Coordinator - Ed French
Organist and Sonshine Singers Director - Rebecca Spickler
Pianist - Char Gaines
Chancel Choir Director - Kathleen Schaffer
Family Ministry Staff
Children's Ministries Volunteers:
Julie Vawter, Carolyn Morrison, Leslie Koehler, Joyce Perrone, Sky Plotner, Sarah Pitts, Patty McDowell.