Church Leadership

Mary Dennis, interim PastorIMG_0340

Pastor Mary came to us in March of 2018, after having been educated in interim ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary and having served as an interim at Montgomery UMC in Damascus, Maryland in 2016. She was ordained in 2003 and served churches in Laurel and Ellicott City, Maryland before arriving in Damascus. Pastor Mary also served on staff for the Baltimore-Washington Conference for five years coaching pastoral leaders, producing videos for their continuing education and writing and producing small group studies for congregations. In addition, she has served as the Director of Programs for the School of Christian Mission at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Pastor Mary earned a BA in Psychology at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, Class of 1978. She earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2000 and her Doctor of Ministry degree in 2012 from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

Pastor Mary is known for her coaching skills, contagious evangelism and creative teaching and preaching. She has engaged in mission opportunities in Nigeria, Louisiana, Texas, the Bahamas, Baltimore and New York City. Her interests include interior design, gardening and traveling.

Pastor Mary has two daughters, Laura who is a music teacher in Baltimore County and Julia who is an actress living in North Hollywood. She has just arrived in California and is looking forward to visiting places of interest in the state and learning about the plants native to the area.

Favorite food: All things chocolate
Favorite movie: Hope Floats
Favorite song: I Will Sing of Your Love Forever
Favorite place to visit: Maryland (to visit my family and friends)
Favorite Bible verse: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Favorite book: Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times by Adam Hamilton

Steve Peralta
Pastor (on leave)steve p

Pastor Steve joined us in July 2016, after having served Thousand Oaks UMC since July of 2006. He was first ordained in 1998 and served in Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara before landing in the Conejo Valley. His experience in ministry includes youth and young adult ministry, visitation ministry, mission and service work, Biblical study, worship design and leadership, and evangelistic outreach.

Pastor Steve possesses a variety of interests, styles and skills. He loves music of many styles, including rock, pop, Celtic, and classical. However, he more than listens; he also sings, plays guitar, and has been known to pen a tune or two. If you know the music of U2, The Violet Burning, Radiohead, and Social Distortion, you can get an idea of the soundtrack playing in his mind.

Pastor Steve loves to run, work out, and play most of the traditional, recreational sports such as softball and basketball. He also enjoys adventures:  backpacking, mountaineering, snowboarding, river rafting, canyoneering, and international travel. When not on the go, he enjoys reading, writing, and cooking.

Pastor Steve earned his BA in English at California State University, Humboldt, Class of 1992. He earned his Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, Class of 1998.
Both degrees are cum laude.

Pastor Steve is known for good pastoral care skills, creative worship, powerful preaching, and an ability to minister across generational gaps. He is a part of the emergent conversation, yet is quick to honor and remember the traditions of Methodism. He is equally comfortable singing modern worship songs or the traditional hymns. He believes that ministry is a work of the entire church body:  all Christians are called to ministry.

Favorite Food: Thick cut Filet Mignon, Medium Rare (with many vegetables on the side!)
Favorite Movie: Waiting for Guffman
Favorite Song: Right now it’s probably “Ship to Wreck” by Florence and the Machine.  This changes fairly regularly.
Favorite Place to Visit: Sonoma Wine Country
Favorite Bible Verse: Philippians 4:7-8 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

In Memoriam
Peter R. Falbo

A memorial service for Pastor Pete was held here at Valencia UMC on Saturday, June 25.  His obituary is below, as well as a slideshow of memories and audio recordings of past sermons at VUMC.

FALBO, Peter R., 73, passed away in his home on April 30, 2016. Born in Phoenix, Ariz., he was the son of the late Peter Falbo and Virginia “Dede” Falbo. He is survived by his wife, Susan; sister, Rae Chornenky; daughter, Catherine Falbo; son, Brian Falbo (Jenn); stepson, Brian Morris (Maile); stepdaughter, Sarah Morris (Chris); six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Raised in Phoenix, Ariz., Pete graduated from Arizona State University before attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. A dedicated and progressive pastor, Pete served the United Methodist Church in various churches in Southern California for 37 years before retiring in 2007. After moving to Glen Allen, Va., Pete continued to work part-time with churches that needed interim pastoral leadership. In his years of ministry, he enjoyed being up to date in contemporary New Testament and Jesus scholarship. An avid golfer and sports enthusiast, Pete could be found on the golf course in nearly all kinds of weather, and following sports on TV when he wasn’t at church or on the golf course. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Peter Falbo Memorial Fund at Valencia United Methodist Church.

Memories of Pete

Pete’s Sermons

June 21, 2015
November 23, 2014
June 15, 2014
November 24, 2013
November 17, 2013
June 16, 2013
November 18, 2012
November 11, 2012
June 17, 2012
June 19, 2011
June 20, 2010
November 8, 2009
June 21, 2009

Michelle Andrews
Director of Discipleship and Care

Michelle has lived in numerous places in the United States as the oldest child of an Air Force officer, but settled with her family in southern California where she attended San Diego State University. She and her husband, Mike, have lived in Santa Clarita since 1993 and have two college-aged daughters, Megan and Katie.

Following in the footsteps of several generations of her family, Michelle is currently a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. She is a student at Claremont School of Theology, working toward a Master of Divinty degree in Ministerial Leadership.

Michelle enjoys reading, running, and spending time with friends and family. A member of the VUMC staff since 1999, she has a heart for the Lord, the church, and her family.

Favorite Food: anything Mexican
Favorite Movie: Top Gun
Favorite Song: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Favorite Place to Visit: The Big Island of Hawaii
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 46.10 – “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Karyn Malchus
Director of Family Ministries

KarynKaryn grew up in San Diego, attended the University of Southern California where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She tried her hand at acting, but preferred her day job at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. Eventually, she owned her own My Gym in Encino, California where she loved working with the kids and mentoring her staff, who were mainly young adults.

Karyn and Budd have three children; Max, Zachary and Megan. They have been attending VUMC since moving to this valley in 2001. Over the years Karyn has been involved with Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Pioneer Club, Christ-Centered Kids for 5th and 6th graders and small groups.

In 2004, when she was expecting her third child, she decided to sell the gym. Since then she enjoyed staying at home with her children, but when offered an opportunity to come on board the staff at VUMC in 2011, she took it enthusiastically.

Favorite Food: Any kind of steak (I would never make it as a vegetarian!)
Favorite Movie: Tootsie (It’s a sister thing)
Favorite Song: Everyday by Lincoln Brewster
Favorite Place To Visit: Anywhere in Hawaii (paradise on earth)
Favorite Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-7 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him and he and he will make your paths straight.”

Steven Applegate
Director of Music Ministriessteven2a_crop

Steven has been Director of Music Ministries at VUMC since May 2005. He is a self-taught musician who began his music career at age 17 in the Midwest. He has been involved in church music since then and his church work has taken him all over the world… Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Kuwait and Italy. He has shared his gifts in the Crystal Cathedral, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and many local churches and concert halls.

Steven is an award-winning Musical Director in the Los Angeles theatre scene and has worked in the Dorothy Chandler, Disney Concert Hall, Shrine Auditorium and the Mark Taper Forum. His music clients have included such notables as Shirley Jones, Lorna Luft, John Raitt, Melissa Manchester, Cybill Shepherd, and Maureen McGovern. He has extensive experience in the recording studio as a pianist, a conductor, a producer and arranger with several album credits.

Favorite Food: Italian
Favorite Movie: The Wizard of Oz (Ok, so I live in a fantasy world)
Favorite Song: The Beatles library (sorry, way too hard to give you one song)
Favorite Place to Visit: Paris, France
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 8 – “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth!…”

Sherry KlahsSherry
Director of Worship

Sherry has been a member of the staff of Valencia since 1994. She has served in various capacities and currently is responsible for Worship Planning. A lifelong Methodist, Sherry has served in the church since singing in Children’s Choirs at age six. Over the years she has volunteered for numerous leadership positions, from worship planning to organizing Women’s Retreats.

Sherry was also the Chairman of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and is active in the National Association of Church Musicians. She has a BS degree in Business Management – Human Resources from California State University at Northridge. Sherry has been married to Don for over 40 years and they have two daughters, Dana and Erica, and four grandchildren, Ava, Tristan, Isabella and Leila.

Favorite Food: Anything chocolate!
Favorite Movie: ET
Favorite Song: Candle in the Wind/ I Guess that’s why they Call it the Blues – both Elton John – it’s a tie!
Favorite Place to Visit: Kapalua Bay, Maui
Favorite Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

David StradlingStradling
Youth Leader

David grew up in La Canada, CA, attended La Canada High School, Pasadena City College, and Cal State Northridge.  He holds a B.A. in Physical Education, Minor in Biology, and a Masters in Education.  David has been teaching for 28 years and currently teaches Biology and Marine Studies at Saugus High School.  He has also been the Head Golf Coach at Saugus since 1998.   David, known by the Youth as DStrad or “The Old Guy,” has been a member of VUMC and worked with the youth for since 2000.  He is married to Jennifer and they have three grown children:  Daniel, Katherine and Kimmie.

Favorite Food:  Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
Favorite Song:  (Christian) They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love,  (Country) I Loved Her First by Blake Shelton
Favorite movie:  Bull Durham
Favorite place to visit:  Cancun
Favorite scripture: Romans 8:38, 39:  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ann Moore
Pianist and TreasurerMOORE-ANN-188

Ann has served as the pianist/organist for VUMC since 1998 and also served as the Youth Choir accompanist from 1995 until 1998. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara, graduating with the highest honor in Music – Outstanding Senior.

Ann was the accompanist for the Santa Clarita Master Chorale from 1998 to 2007, rejoining the chorale in 2015. She lives in Valencia with her husband, Greg, and they have two sons, Geoff and Kevin.

Favorite Food: Seafood – especially when sauteed in lots of butter (mmm!)
Favorite Movie: What else? The Sound of Music
Favorite Song: anything by Brahms. (sorry…it’s that classical training!)
Favorite Place to Visit: Santa Barbara
Favorite Bible Verse: John 3:16, I Corinthians 13:4-13, and John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Deb Baur
Director, Business Operations

Deb Baur has been a staff member since 2003. She lived the majority of her youth in India but at the age of 17 moved back to the United States and in 1980 graduated from the New England Conservatory in Boston, and has an MBA from California State University Northridge.

Deb has worked in the President’s Office at Boston University and for World Cup USA 1994. She has been a member of the church since 1996 and is a member of the Chancel Choir. In 1998 she co-founded the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and served as CEO of the board until June 2009. She has two stepchildren, Shayla Kehoe and Sean Borpujari, and five grandchildren, Rufio, Bailey, Dexter, Jameson and Cooper.

Favorite Food: Gujarati
Favorite Movie: Best in Show
Favorite Song: Beethoven Sixth Symphony
Favorite Place to Visit: Himalayas
Favorite Bible Verse: Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Susann Sleutjessus
Ministry Coordinator

Susann was raised all over the U.S. but has been in Santa Clarita for the last twenty years.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from San Jose State University and has been married to her husband, Andy, since 2007. Their two boys, Blaze and Matthew, became brothers as a result of their union.

She was raised a Methodist, starting back East with a very traditional church, being baptized and confirmed, and happily moving forward to VUMC.  She first came here 10 years ago, and has been regularly attending and volunteering for at least 3 years.  She also loves her small group.

Susann enjoys going to the movies, live theater, reading, exercising, all amusement parks, the Ivy Day Spa, and spending lots and lots of time with her family.  One of her greatest passions is for dogs and she regularly volunteers for a local rescue organization and plays with all dogs within reach, anytime, anywhere.

Favorite Food: All Italian
Favorite Movie: Gigi and everything Abbott and Costello
Favorite Song: My Eyes Adored You by Frankie Vallie
Favorite Place to Visit:  Bora Bora, Tahiti
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.”

1917021_1159709883862_4966388_nApril Piroumian
Connectional Ministries Coordinator

April grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to Santa Clarita in 1989.  In 1990 she married Al and they have four children, Amanda, Alexander, Adam and Aubrey.  April has a background in management and networking.  She grew up in a small Methodist Church, Village United Methodist Church and thinks it’s funny that it has the same initials as Valencia UMC.

Favorite Food:  Sushi
Favorite Movie:  Princess Bride
Favorite Song:  Pieces by Rob Thomas
Favorite Place to Visit:  Hawaii
Favorite Bible Verse:  Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Erica Camara
Media Coordinatorerica

Erica stepped into the new staff role of Media Coordinator in December 2008. She grew up at Valencia UMC. Along with husband Mat, Erica has been serving in volunteer ministry for some time. They have two children, Isabella and Leila.

Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Movie: National Treasure
Favorite Song: Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
Favorite Place to Visit: Maui
Favorite Bible Verse: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

MorganMorgan Avagliano
Nursery Coordinator

Morgan moved to Santa Clarita from South Carolina nine years ago. She received her Bachelors degree in Business Management and her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina.  She was a teacher in the Palmdale School District before deciding to stay home with her kids.

Morgan also is co-coordinator of Mom2Mom, teaches the Skippers in Pioneer Clubs, and is involved with Vacation Bible School.

Morgan and Adam have two girls, Sophie and Norah. They have been attending VUMC since 2012.

Morgan is very excited to be there to welcome families into the nursery each week. She is also the co-coordinator of Mom 2 Mom, teaches the Skippers in Pioneer Clubs, and is involved in Vacation Bible School.

Favorite Food:  Mexican
Favorite Song:  A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
Favorite movie:  Safe Haven
Favorite place to visit:  Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Favorite scripture:  “Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6