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 in Minnesota. April has made a long term project out of learning to speak Portuguese so that she can be more at ease during visits to Brazil, which have become more frequent now that the family has expanded to include a grandson! To be conversant with her daughter’s friends in Minnesota, most of whom are scientists, she tries to keep up with current research in ecosystem balance and environmental health. 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 is married to Bob Chamberlin, appreciated within the church family for his skill in photography and his interests in Bible study and community service. April enjoys walking at the beach, swimming when the water is warm enough, reading, and watching movies. She views hammocks as one of humanity’s greatest inventions 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.
Debra DeLuca, Director of Children’s Ministry
“I grew up in Michigan and came to Southern California over thirty years ago with the intention of visiting my older brother for a week or two. After two weeks I returned to Michigan gathered up my belongings and moved here permanently. I met my wonderful husband, Steve, shortly after and we have been happily married now for 29 years this past May. We have 3 kids, 2 boys (23 & 25) and my daughter Natalie (18) who is a Sunday school teacher here at the church and who also attends Cal State Dominguez Hills. Some of my favorite things to do are baking, crafting, playing board games and reading.”
“I’ve enjoyed spending a lot of time volunteering at the schools (Elementary, Middle, and High School) while my children were attending them. After that I started volunteering here at RHUMC as a Sunday school teacher and then became assistant to Lisa Williams and then assistant to Kimmie Stradling. I love spending time with children and can’t wait to continue working with all of the wonderful families here at RHUMC.”
Kristin Reksc, Director of Youth Ministry
Kristin’s home church is Los Altos UMC in Long Beach. She has experienced the ministry there as a youth, a young adult volunteer, and a part-time staff member. She is a veteran of four summers as a site staff member of the Sierra Service Project. She has a dual Master’s Degree from Boston University in Theology and Social Work. In June 2020, Kristin was commissioned as a Provisional Deacon in the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Kristin describes herself as, “most passionate and effective when able to work with individuals on a personal level while also developing programs that nurture and collaborate with the individual to become their best self physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
As the Director of Youth Ministry at RHUMC, Kristin looks forward to working, in conjunction with the congregation, to facilitate programming that is “grounded in God’s love, welcoming of all, and integrated into the overall life and mission of the church.”
Cassie Walke, Youth Ministries Assistant
Cassie was born in Thousand Oaks, CA and grew up attending Ascension Lutheran Church were she was active in Sunday School, Confirmation, Youth Group, and Vacation Bible School. Volunteering with the church she logged over 200 hours of community service throughout her high school career. She graduated from Green Mountain College in 2014 with a B.S. in Adventure Education and Psychology. Post-college she served a year in the AmeriCorps at a Boys & Girls Club in Boston and has continued to work with youth in a variety of capacities at various non-profits.
Cassie loves finding God in the natural world and is passionate about caring for God’s creation- from kayaking to hiking to rock climbing to becoming more sustainable. She is passionate about working with youth, promoting positive mental health, social justice advocacy, and finding ways for everyone to be included in a life of faith regardless of who they are or where they come from. She strives to ensure everyone is shown God’s love.
Gabby Palacios, Kid Zone Director
My name is Gabby Palacios and I am looking forward to begin my journey as the director of Kid Zone. I am excited for the fun we will have and the memories we will create. As a brief introduction, my background is in early childhood education through UCLA. I have been working at RHUMPS for 17 years teaching and most recently as Assistant director to Myra in the Preschool. I am blessed with an amazing husband and three beautiful children.
I love spending time with family, cooking and making lemonade out of lemons. I enjoy working with the children and learning from them. It really does take a village to raise a family and I am grateful to be a part of the village here at RHUMC.
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.
Roksolana Vecerek, Executive Assistant
My parents immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, which is the origin of my unusual name. There is a legend of Roksolana who married the Turkish emperor Sulieman and became one of the most influential women of the Ottoman Empire. My life has been much more ordinary.
I am a native of New York and studied Visual Communications at the Institute of Design in Chicago. I have always enjoyed various sports and met my husband while playing competitive volleyball during college. We moved to Palos Verdes
20 years ago when my husband worked in the Aerospace industry, and raised our daughter here. One of my favorite activities is hiking around this beautiful peninsula with family and friends.
My career has been in the graphic design industry specializing in visual communication for corporate clients and non-profit organizations. I am excited to be taking on this new position at RHUMC and am thrilled at the opportunity to work in this lovely community.
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.
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 Yamaha artist and records for Kuumba Music, her new label for music projects. Her immediate family consists of her daughter, Melanie Taylor, a professional singer, son-in-law, Terry Wollman, a producer and composer, a sister and two nieces and a nephew who teaches martial arts.
Nicole Zakman, Business Manager
Nicole has worked for our church since 2006. She joined the church in 2005 and has volunteered her time helping with the 3rd service and the youth 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, Hayley, and Adam.
John Fitzgerald, Treasurer
Our Church Treasurer is John Fitzgerald. He has been a church member since 2014 and is concurrently on the staff at the Manhattan Beach Community Church where he serves as Business Manager.
John has a Master’s degree in business administration from Cal State Fullerton and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. John’s career has included public accounting experience as an auditor for the State of Iowa, and corporate accounting experience with Ralphs Grocery Company, HJ Heinz, ConAgra, Coca Cola Enterprises, and Curtiss-Wright. More recently, John has owned and operated small businesses here and in Arizona. In 2013 he and his wife, Angela sold their commercial cleaning equipment dealership in Phoenix and relocated to Palos Verdes
John and Angela have two sons, Andrew and Anthony, both attending El Camino College and daughter, Athena, who attends Miraleste Intermediate School. John enjoys writing, cooking, music composition and playing pinochle when he can find a game.
“I am very happy for the opportunity to participate in the life of my church as a staff member. I look forward to working with Church leadership and contributing to the many ways we are growing and expanding our ministries.”