Pastors & Staff

Eric Van Scharrel

Senior Pastor 

I am a pastor. I preach, teach, lead, serve, write, visit, counsel, and listen. It’s hard to summarize what I do, which probably either means I do a lot or not much. I really love being around people. My wife Kristen is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and you’ll see our three awesome free-range children – Tate, Quinn and Jax – weaving their way through the crowd on Sunday mornings.

Dennis Hilken


As one of our two pastors on staff, I get to be in the middle of many areas of proclaiming the good news of Jesus. I share worship and preaching duties on Sundays and support almost every area of discipleship. I am so blessed to get to informally work with our school, popping into a classroom and talking (taking?) their toughest questions. And I get to regularly participate in those pastor duties such as marry, bury, baptize, counsel, and shepherd the hurting. My wife Judy and I have 3 grown, married, sons that all live in Southern CA and 3+ grandchildren as of the spring of 2019. We’ve served here at St. John’s since January of 2001 and love this amazing community of believers.

Debbie Holbrook

Administrative Assistant to Pastors

Hi! I’m Debbie, Pastor D and Pastor Eric’s assistant.
I can help you with any Pastoral Care issue, a Stephen Minister, or if you have a Prayer Request. I’m the contact for weddings, memorials, funerals and baptisms. I also calendar all events, activities, and meetings that takes place on our campus. If I can help you with anything, please give me a call.

Evan Anwyl

Superintendent of Schools

I lead a dynamic and dedicated staff that serve children, 12 months old through grade 8, at St. John's Lutheran Children's Center and Grade School. We are blessed to be able to guide students in leadership and life skills, academics, and faith formation. A high goal of mine is to partner with families to develop the whole student and be effective as we raise the next generation of leaders for Bakersfield and beyond. My wife Rebecca is a local Speech and Language Pathologist and our children, Riley and Timothy, are growing in skill and faith here at St. John's. 

Chris Cawthon

Director, Worship & Technical Arts

I’ve served in various ministry areas over the 15 plus years I’ve been on staff, but since 2008 I’ve served as the Worship & Technical Arts Director. That means I have the amazing privilege of working with an awesome group of volunteers who help musically lead and technically produce our 10:30 AM worship gathering. I’m also a part of the creative worship team that helps plan and guide the direction of our Sunday message series, build sets, and produce visual and other creative content. You’ll also find me behind the scenes keeping all of the Audio/Video/Lighting systems updated and working in our worship spaces so that technology can help us spread the good news of God’s grace to all people.

Courteney Mecomber

Director, Student Ministries 

I am the Director of Student Ministries here at St. John’s. I get to hang out with all of our Junior High and High School students!  I have a deep passion and desire to see the next generation wholeheartedly follow God. My hope is to empower young people to see themselves not merely as future leaders but current leaders of the Church. My goal is that they are able to vocalize their faith and develop a deep desire to serve. Music is another big passion of mine because I believe it has the power to speak directly to a person’s heart.

Cody Wren

Student Ministries Intern

I am the Student Ministry Intern! It is my fantastic privilege to hang out with all of our Junior High and High School Students! It is my goal and desire to help the next generation build their relationships with God.

Stacey Persons

Engagement Coordinator (in purple)

I love to have fun and bring joy to all events I am involved in. Along with Large Church Events and the Event Center, you are going to meet me if you are new to St. John’s or volunteering in any of our many ministries. As a former Kidz Ministry employee, it would not be unheard of to see me on stage doing some fun and silly illustrations for all of us that are kids at heart.

Brent Williams

Communications Specialist

I manage all of the St. John's Lutheran Church's and School's social media accounts, websites, and communications platforms. Showcasing St. John's many ministries and outreaches is what I do! I also have the joy of working with the music department as an instrumental music teacher, conducting the St. John's Jazz Band and other ensembles. My passion is to reach people for Christ, in music, in education, in communication, or whatever God calls me to do.

  Lorraine Davis, Kara Thompson, and Lisa Kewish

Kidz Ministry Team

We are Lorraine, Kara and Lisa and we joyfully serve in Kidz Ministry. It combines our three favorite things: God’s Word, His children, and their families. Kidz Ministry provides weekly Sunday School, Mid-Week AWANA Club, and Kidz 56 - our 5th and 6th ministry that combines food, friends, fun, and serving the community. If you have babies or a preschooler, we provide nursery and run the MOPS group. Annually we host special events like Pumpkinfest, the Easter egg hunt and VBS.
Yes, we never sleep. Too much fun to be had… hope you join in!!

Dwayne Clemans

Facilities Manager

I’m the guy you call when something is not working right or is broken here on the St. John’s Campus. I do everything from fixing sprinklers to security and safety. When it comes to Facility and Grounds, there is not much I won’t do.

Mike Kinsey

Director of Finance and Human Resources

My name is Mike Kinsey; I am Director of Finance and Human Resources. My assistants Michelle Fox and Monica Tudor and I count contributions, pay bills and employees, administer benefit programs for employees, implement the annual budget, provide the board with financial statements monthly, and stay abreast of all laws and regulations that the church falls under.
We can help you with any of the following items: questions on contributions and end of year statements, invoices, mission account balances, annual church budget and any employment related matters.

Michelle Fox

Finance Assistant

My name is Michelle Fox, and I am the Financial Assistant for St. John’s Lutheran Church. I am responsible for the counting of the contributions and entering them. I am also responsible for accounts payable & receivable items for the campus. I also attend St. John’s and have a daughter who attends SJLS.

Monica Tudor

HR Assistant and Office Support

I am the HR Assistant/Part Time Receptionist/Copy Machine Answer Person (not always right, but …)  Talk to me if you have any questions about payroll or navigating the website for PayCHEX. I try to help with most questions about the color copy machine, Sunday morning bulletins and bulk mail processing. I am the voice you hear on the phone in the afternoon.

Leslie Geissel

Church Receptionist and Office Support

I am the Church Receptionist, the first face you see when you come into the office. I handle the weekly News & Notes, answer the phones, and I will make copies for you, among other things. Oh, and I make a mean cup of coffee too!