Church Leadership

Mary Dennis, Interim Pastor


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)

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.

Michelle Andrews, Director of Discipleship and Care

Karyn Malchus, Director of Family Ministries

Steven Applegate, Director of Music Ministries

Sherry Klahs, Director of Worship

David Stradling, Youth Leader

Ann Moore, Pianist and Treasurer

Deb Baur, Director of Business Operations

Susann Sleutjes, Ministry Coordinator

April Piroumian, Connectional Ministries Coordinator

Erica Camara, Media Coordinator

Morgan Avagliano, Nursery Coordinator