Jonathan Chute, Senior Pastor
Jonathan grew up in southern California. He graduated from Harvard University where he majored in the Comparative Study of Religion. There he met his wife, Thyra Endicott. He returned to California to complete his Master of Divinity degree at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. He graduated in 1985 and was ordained in the California-Pacific Conference. He served as Associate Pastor at Community UMC in Pacific Palisades for the next four years.
In 1989 he and Thyra moved to London, Ontario, where she graduated from Medical School. For nine years Jonathan served as the pastor of Trinity United Church. While in London their daughter Hannah was born. The three of them returned to California in 1998, when Jonathan was appointed as Senior Pastor at Rolling Hills UMC. Soon after Thyra joined the staff at Torrance Memorial Medical Center where she is a radiation oncologist.
Jonathan loves working with people as they discover the grace of God in everyday life. He believes that the community of faith is called to share God’s word of healing and hope in word and deed. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve with such an active and vital congregation.
April Herron, Associate Pastor
April Herron is happily at home in coastal southern California. Born and raised in San Diego, she has lived in a variety of other locations and is glad to have landed once again near the ocean. She finds the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church to be beautiful and inspiring places.
April was first ordained as a United Methodist pastor in 1985. She holds degrees from Pomona College (B.A.1982), the Pacific School of Religion (Master of Divinity, 1987) and Drew University (Doctor of Ministry, 2013). She served the Kekaha and Kaumakani United Methodist Churches (1987-1991) and the Pacific Beach United Methodist Church (1991-2014) prior to being appointed at Rolling HIlls UMC in 2015. Her primary goal in ministry to is live and share the amazing grace of God.
Pastor April likes to travel, which is a good thing since she has one daughter living in Brazil and the other is currently in Montana. April has made a long term project out of learning to speak Portuguese so that she can be more at ease during her visits to Brazil. To be conversant with her daughter’s friends in Montana, most of whom are scientists, April tries to keep up with current research in microbiology and environmental science. April’s brother lives in Seattle and her parents still live in Coronado, where April went to junior high and high school. The Coronado house in San Diego is often “home base” for family gatherings.
April enjoys walking and bicycling at the beach, swimming in the ocean, reading, and watching movies. She thinks hammocks are one of the greatest human inventions ever because they are able to successfully remind us that rest is a gift of God and that the world around us is full of wonders.
Chuck Dickerson III, Music Director
In addition to serving at RHUMC, Chuck also leads the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA). He has also been guest conductor for the Casa Italiana Opera Company of Los Angeles, and Director of Music at several churches in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. areas. He is internationally recognized tenor soloist. He has sung in choruses around the world under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Grant Gershon, John Mauceri, James Newton, Carl St. Clair, and others over recent years. He is a graduate of Howard University (B.S., Psychology, 1975), American University (J.D., 1978), and California State University, Los Angeles (M.M., 2005). He has also been active in political leadership of Los Angeles and its surrounding communities. He served as President of the Board of Public Works of the City of Los Angeles, and as City Attorney of Inglewood, California. He is an avid baseball fan. Chuck is married to the former Paula Long, and he has two adult children, Cheri Danielle, and Charles Edward IV.
Myra Ghabrial, Preschool Director
Myra was born in Cairo, Egypt. She attended a private girls school (Saint Vincent De Paul.) She speaks and writes English, French and Arabic. Myra came to the United States in 1971. She is married to Magdi, and has a daughter who lives in Palos Verdes. Myra received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from California State University, Los Angeles. She moved to Palos Verdes in the summer of 1985 where she became the Preschool Director for Rolling Hills United Methodist Church. Myra has tremendous energy and a cheerful, positive attitude toward others. She has a gift of knowing the children and parents of the preschool, current and former, by name. Myra enjoys visiting her grandchildren and loves gardening and swimming in the ocean in the summertime.
Patti MacLeod, 3rd Service Ensemble
Patti has been leading the 3rd service ensemble since it began in 2007. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Texas Women’s University, majoring in voice and piano. Following college, she performed in musical theater summer stock, travelled on the road with a rock band, played piano and sang in hotels throughout the country. After moving to the Los Angeles area in 1979, she began teaching music in Torrance, directing both elementary and high school choirs. A certified Orff-Schulwerk specialist, she used the Orff method in her elementary music classes. She currently teaches kindergarten at Victory Elementary in Torrance.
Patti is married to bluesman Doug MacLeod, and is proud mom to singer-songwriter, Jesse MacLeod. She comments, “I receive so much joy from making music every week with such a talented group of musicians, and being a part of the unique 3rd service worship team.”
Kimmie Stradling, Director of Children & Youth Ministries
My name is Kimmie Stradling and I am the new Director of Children and Youth Ministries. I am so excited to be back in amazing Southern California and to start this new adventure. I look forward to becoming a part of this church family.
Little bit about myself. I grew up in Santa Clarita and I have been a Methodist my whole life. I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. After graduation I took a job as a nanny, while I worked on figuring out God’s calling for me. God led me into Youth Ministry and I helped create the Children and Youth Programs at San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church. I have a passion for children and youth ministry, devoted to help them discover their own faith and relationship with God. I am also involved with camping ministry and Cal Pac Conference events.
Other fun facts about me. I enjoy the beach, warm weather and flip flops (closed-toe shoes are too confining). While I cannot cook, I love food. I am not picky, I will eat anything and everything. I love doing life with people and joining in fellowship over a meal. My favorite color is pink and I like elephants. My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and hope.” I look forward to meeting everyone and please feel free to come up and ask me questions.
Megan Pelc, Kid Zone Director
My name is Megan Pelc, and I am the new director at Kid Zone and Mid Zone. I am very excited to be working with this program, but first a little more about myself.
As a child of an Air Force family, I don’t have a hometown but rather I grew up all over the United States. I have lived in six different states: Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, Utah, Indiana and California. Three facts about myself, one I use to work with birds of prey (owls, hawks, eagles etc.). I enjoy watching most sporting events but my favorites would be soccer and college football. I also have a love for pizza and counterbalance it with kickboxing classes.
I am a graduate of Mary Star of the Sea High School. From there, I went to Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN to receive my Bachelors in Biology. Go Irish! It wasn’t until I completed my internship, at Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center, did I find my passion for working with children. I returned back to southern California and begin as a counselor here at RHUMC Kid Zone and Mid Zone. I fell in love with the community and the families we support. I decided to stay for seven years learning the ropes of the program and continuing to nurture my passion for working with children. I am excited to be stepping into the position of Director. I am looking forward to meeting all of our returning and future families. Please feel free to stop by with any questions you may have, my door is always open.
Annette Matsuda, Parish Nurse
Annette grew up locally and was involved at Wayside UMC as a youth and is currently a member at Rolling Hills Covenant Church. She earned degrees from UC Irvine and UCLA, in Biological Sciences and in Nursing, respectively. She worked as a hospital nurse for seven years, then as a school nurse for twenty three years, serving students from Pre-Kindergarten through high school.
Annette became our Parish Nurse in 2013. She enjoys working to promote health in our church and community. Doing blood pressure screenings, providing individual consultations, visiting with those at home or in the hospital, are some of the ways Annette encourages people in their walk with God toward optimal spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health.
Annette enjoys choral singing, beaching, hiking, and visiting with her family and friends. She sings with our choir in the first service on Sundays and for special concerts.
Curt Wuestenhagen, Administrative Assistant to Pastor
Curt joined our congregation in 2003. He was born in Sheboygan Falls, a small town in Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1998, he obtained his insurance license from the state of California and after several years in the Insurance industry, he decided to make a career change, and in summer of 2016, joined our staff as Jonathan’s Administrative Assistant. Curt was raised in the United Methodist Church, is an avid Green Bay Packers fan and loves to cook.
Peggy Roulette, Administrative Secretary
Peggy began working at RHUMC in 2013 as Administrative Secretary and has enjoyed meeting many warm and friendly church members. She was born and raised in NY. That is where she met her husband while he was on a long-term job assignment for an aerospace company. Mark grew up in Torrance and was eager to get back to sunny California. Peggy finished her BS degree at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Her administrative background includes working at Mattel, Inc. for 10 years. Before that she held other administrative positions in corporate offices in New York City. While her son Ryan was young, she worked part time as a preschool teacher and thoroughly enjoyed the free spirit and lack of filters of the children. Ryan is in middle school; and Mark, is an Assistant Vice Principal at West High School in Torrance. Peggy is co-chair of Membership and Evangelism and continues to enjoy her involvement with the church. She enjoys trying out new recipes, attending live theater, taking long walks with her dog, and traveling around the country.
Rachel Stam, Family Ministries Director
Rachel joined the staff at RHUMC in September 2013. She grew up in Seoul, Korea and Moore, Oklahoma before earning a BA in Psychology from Grinnell College in Iowa and a Master’s degree in Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University. Rachel worked in Human Resources at the Ford Motor Company in the Detroit area before leaving to become a full time stay-at-home mom. While in Michigan, she served as an elder and chaired the Children and Family Ministries Committee at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham. Rachel and her husband Adam moved to southern California in 2010 and promptly switched denominations to join RHUMC later that year. They have two children, Katie who attends Peninsula High School and Caleb who attends Miraleste Intermediate.
Rachel enjoys getting to know the diverse members of our congregation and is focused on enhancing our church’s programming for individuals and families. Her hobbies include reading, Pilates, and spending time with the family’s adopted pet dog, Chilly. She also enjoys travel and hopes to explore many more West Coast destinations during the next few years.
Althea Waites, Organist/Pianist
Althea Waites is an acclaimed soloist, chamber musician and collaborative artist. She has appeared in recitals at major festivals such as Aspen, the Yale Summer Festival, and the Idyllwild Arts Festival. She holds degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana and Yale University where she studied with Donald Currier. In addition to her position at RHUMC, she is currently on the keyboard faculty at California State University, Long Beach. Her commitment to cultural and community education is evident through her work with many outreach and service programs. Althea is a Steinway artist and records for Cambria Records.
She loves that the congregation is so warm, generous and supportive in terms of her work. Althea’s late husband, Marvin Hayes, had a successful career as a concert singer, performing throughout the United States and Europe. Her immediate family consists of her mother, sister and her daughter, Melanie Taylor Kimmel, a professional singer.
Nicole Zakman, Administrative Assistant / Bookkeeper
Nicole has been our bookkeeper since 2006. She joined the church in 2005 and has volunteered her time helping with the 3rd service and the youth LOGOS program. All three of Nicole’s children are graduates of our preschool program and love seeing their former teachers when they visit mom at work. Originally from Chicago, Nicole grew up mostly in Pittsburgh, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Duquesne University. Nicole came to California in 1993 and now calls it and our church Home. Her favorite activity is being a mom to Evan, a student at University of Illinois, Hayley, a student at Palos Verdes High School School and Adam, a student at Palos Verdes Intermediate School.
Nicole Benson, Junior High Youth
Nicole is a native of Long Beach and has recently moved back to California after 18 years in the Midwest. In 2004, was licensed as a local pastor and served as a student local pastor to Paul’s Chapel UMC in Hugo, OK. In 2007, she earned her Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Pastoral Care from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and has served as a Chaplain at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX; has served as youth director at Westminster UMC, Houston, TX; First UMC, Garland, TX; and most recently at Cornerstone UMC, Garland, TX. Nicole stated, “I have a great passion for serving the people of God in all that I do. I am excited to pursue one of my passions: working with the youth and families at Rolling Hills UMC.” Some of her favorite pastimes include writing, traveling, cooking, watching movies, listening to music, laughing, and spending time with friends and family. Nicole is the youngest of two children and the proud owner of a feline.