I am honored to Chair the Claremont School of Theology (CST) Board of Trustees. Election to the Board is a privilege and responsibility not taken lightly. Each board member has achieved a high level of success in his or her chosen field, has made significant contributions to his or her community, and is capable of making equally important contributions to CST and to higher education.
Throughout our history, CST has remained steadfastly a Methodist-founded, ecumenical, interfaith place of higher learning. In the 21st century, we are not only changing the way theological education happens, we are leading the way. It’s a special time to be involved with the history of religion in the world and at CST.
Working together with administrators, staff, faculty, students, and supporters, we, as trustees, help Create a Difference for the World We Live In.
The Rev. Patricia Farris
Chair, CST Board of Trustees
July 2014 to present
Board of Trustees
Alumni/ae Council Representative
Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth, elected in 2022, is the Resident Bishop of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area in the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. The area encompasses the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Conferences.
Bishop Bridgeforth was born in Decatur, Alabama. His home churches were the Lakeview United Methodist and Oakville Baptist churches. Clifton and Premina Griffin, his maternal grandparents, insisted upon and modeled a Christian faith that expressed love for all, compassion in dire circumstances, and grace, especially when it seemed unwarranted from a human point of view.
Education and Ordination
Bishop Bridgeforth is a U.S. Air Force veteran who earned a Bachelor of Arts, Religion from Samford University (1997); a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from the Claremont School of Theology (2000); and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University (2005). He was ordained an elder by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson in the California-Pacific Conference.
At the beginning of his pastoral ministry, Bridgeforth served as a student intern at Crossroads UMC in Compton (1997-1999). As a spiritual leader, he has served as lead pastor in four congregations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California. Those pastorates ranged from predominantly African American congregations in the heart of the Crenshaw District to multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-site ministries in the inner-city and suburban sectors of Santa Ana. These pastorates included Grace UMC Los Angeles (2018-2021), Santa Ana UMC (2015-2017), Crenshaw UMC (2003-2008), and Bowen Memorial UMC (1999-2003).
For eight years (2008-2015), Bridgeforth served as a district superintendent and dean of the cabinet in the California-Pacific Conference (Los Angeles and West Districts) in one of the most diverse regions in United Methodism, with language and cultural ministries from over twenty regions of the world. The geography spanned coastal, mountain, rural, and desert communities.
Rev. Bridgeforth was elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church on November 4, 2022, by the Western Jurisdiction at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City on the 18th ballot. He was assigned to the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area (Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences).
Within The United Methodist Church, Bridgeforth has been a candidacy mentor for those discerning a call to ministry and a supervising elder for those in the provisional and full connection review processes. He was elected a clergy delegate to general and jurisdictional conferences in 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019, and 2020. In 2016, 2019, and 2020, he was the first elected clergy delegate for the California-Pacific Conference. Those elections led him to service on the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (now Wespath) and as a member of the Western Jurisdiction’s committee on nominations.
From 2013 to 2016, Bridgeforth served as president of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) and co-convener of the Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group.
Bishop Bridgeforth is married to Christopher Hucks-Ortiz. Hucks-Ortiz is a public health and research professional with demonstrated leadership in the US domestic and global field of infectious disease. His work and research have focused on HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, STIs, and Hepatitis prevention and intervention, with proven success in securing public funds to support research and health programs targeting key vulnerable populations.
Marian Brown has been a CST trustee since 2004. She has served as secretary of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Audit Committee, and a member of the Finance Committee. She graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, served a two-year term in the Peace Corps in Ghana, and then received her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. She taught economics at Pomona College from 1977 to 1986, with a year’s sabbatical to serve as a Visiting Scholar to the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C.
From then until retirement in 2012, she worked for Southern California Edison, nearly all of that time as manager of Measurement & Evaluation in the Customer Programs & Services Division. Her work involved: oversight of staff, consultants, budgets, and research that guided the company’s decision-making on energy conservation and other programs for its customers; frequent interaction with staff of state commissions; speaking at conferences, and teaching national seminars on market assessment and evaluation of energy programs. She served as treasurer and president of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, as Edison’s representative and president of the California Measurement Advisory Council, and as co-chair of the Evaluation Committee of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. In 2011, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work from the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference.
As a member of Claremont United Methodist Church, she served nineteen years as the congregation’s lay leader, as well as serving during various periods as chair of the Administrative Council, Finance Committee, Missions Commission, and Vision Team. Now retired and doing volunteer work and occasional consulting, she and her physician husband Kenneth Brown live in Claremont.
Michael Brown, a partner at Musick Peeler in the firm’s Orange county office, has a general litigation practice, with expertise in the field of labor and employment matters, including litigation and preventative counseling with management clients. Mr. Brown sits on the board of a publicly traded company, and assists in the formulation of human resources policies and procedures for a number of publicly traded companies in the western United States. Mr. Brown’s past experience includes the position of Vice President of Legal Affairs for Thrifty/Payless Corporation.
University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1975
University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1978
Bar Admissions: State Bar of California
Practice Areas: Labor & Employment Litigation
Larry R. DeJarnett is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Claremont School of Theology (CST) and Chair of the Board’s Committee on Trustees. A member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church of Palm Desert, CA, Larry retired from full-time work as Vice President of Kearney Management Consultants and CEO of the Kearney/EDS Enterprise Solutions joint venture. He has continued a “fifth career” on a part-time basis, as founder and Managing Director of The LAMAR Group, which provides Board advisory services to both for-profit and non-profit organizations and has continued to work with several non-profits and religious organizations. Presently, he is: an Emeritus Director and past Chair of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (GII); past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Goodwill of Southern Los Angeles County and a member of their Finance Committee; Past-President of the Board of Directors of the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Foundation, and a life-time Emeritus Director and member of its Development Committee. Previously he has served on local, regional and national governing or advisory boards for United Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal denominations; he also has worked closely with several academic institutions in a consulting or advisory capacity.
The Rev. Patricia Farris is the Senior Minister of the 1,100 member First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica. Recognized for her leadership in “Excellent Protestant Churches,” Rev. Farris has served as a director of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and is a member of the UMC Committee on Faith and Order and the Episcopal/UMC Dialogue. She has been elected to eight General and Jurisdictional Conference delegations. She has participated in three Assemblies of the World Council of Churches, the WCC Team Visit to Madagascar, and a Women’s Division study trip to Mozambique.
Rev. Farris has mentored many ministerial candidates and taught Methodist History as an Adjunct Professor at CST. She serves on the boards of CST, Upward Bound House, and on the Advisory Board of the Everychild Foundation. She is the author of SHINE! Light for All Pe0ple (an Advent Study Guide) and Five Faces of Ministry: Pastor, Parson, Healer, Prophet, Pilgrim. She is a contributor to Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches.
She received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Carleton College and her Master of Divinity degree cum laude from the Harvard Divinity School. She is married to David Bremer, retired Associate Professor of Literature and Ombudsman at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, Resident Bishop of the California-Pacific Conference, has been on the leading edge of church vitalization and transformation. She has served the church and community in progressive roles and responsibilities including working with people on the street, founding a church Farmer’s Market, working with immigrant populations, the opening of The Inn, and gathering a community rich in diversity. Bishop Dottie is a preacher, speaker, writer, community leader, wife, mother and grandmother.
Bishop Dottie grew up as a daughter of Lutheran missionaries, living on the border of Arizona and Mexico. A social worker, she specialized in foster care and medical pediatric crisis management. She earned a Masters of Social Work from Arizona State University. Later, she completed a Masters of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology. She earned her Doctorate of Ministry from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Bishop Dottie has pastored six churches: Liberty UMC, Mission Bell UMC, Community Church of Joy (ELCA), CrossRoads UMC, Catalina UMC, and Paradise Valley UMC. She has also served as South District Superintendent, and Dean of the Cabinet, in the Desert Southwest Conference.
Bishop Dottie authored several books on the subject of church vitalization and transformation: Advent & Christmas; Sermon Seeds, 40 Creative Sermons; Jesus
Insurgency, The Church Revolution from the Edge (co-authored by Rudy Rasmus); ReStart Your Church; Our Common Sins; Give It Up!; and The Sacred Secular, How God is Using the World to Sharpe the Church (co-authored by Robert Rynders). As a preacher and speaker, Bishop Dottie’s voice brings courage and hope to pastors and church leaders around the world.
Bishop Dottie believes that living in a time of epochal change requires the church to find sacred ways to die in order to be reborn. Death moments in the church are the impetus for Her resurrection. She calls for a church structure in decline to ‘embrace’ the pain of loss, so that the joy of life can be found again. Bishop Dottie calls for “heretics” to lead the church forward. As the ones who create movements, as the ones who see clearly the Church’s true vision, edge-dwellers are now recognized and rewarded by society, while at the same time rejected by the Church. Now is the time, she says, to push these new leaders, these edge dwellers, to the forefront of church restarts.
Worship, preaching, justice, mercy, and creating space for revolutionary change define Bishop Dottie’s work and passion. She is full of hope that the Holy Spirit is leading the Church in the present and into the future, and calls on churches to develop communities of true disciples of Jesus Christ who participate in this transformation.
Margie earned a Bachelor degree in Psychology with emphasis in Organizational Behavior from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Grant Hagiya is the Resident bishop of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which geographically extends to all of Southern California, Hawaii, and Guam. He chairs the Leadership Focus Area of the 4 Areas of Focus for the United Methodist Church, and is a member of the Council of Bishop’s Executive Committee. He is the current chair of the Council of Bishop’s Task Force that plans the new Learning Retreats for all active Bishops. He is currently serving as President of the College of Bishops for the Western Jurisdiction. He is a Board member of the General Board of Church and Society. He graduated with an Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University in 2012. His book, Leadership Kaizen, based on his dissertation on the Traits, Qualities and Characteristics of Highly Effective UMC Clergy was published by Abingdon in 2013. He is a professional certified coach as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation. He is also a Gallup StrengthFinder Certified Coach.
He is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology, and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in United Methodist studies and Leadership. A former full faculty member of the Claremont School of Theology and District Superintendent of the Los Angeles District, he was elected to the Episcopacy in the midst of starting a Center of Leadership Excellence for both the Cal-Pac Annual Conference and the Claremont School of Theology. His vision for this Center has been fulfilled recently in the creation of the Bishop Jack and Marjorie Tuell Center for Leadership Excellence for the Western Jurisdiction.
Is presently Senior Pastor of Prescott UMC in Prescott, AZ. He has been Pastor of 3 local UMC churches (both urban and suburban), Director of the Wesley Foundation at U of AZ and Associate in churches in both Southern California and in Arizona. He is a graduate of CST and ASU; has been active in a wide variety of community activities, including Teenage Pregnancy Prevention, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, Coalition for the Homeless and participation in Interfaith Councils and programs. He was featured speaker at ecumenical campus unity events, as well as interfaith events hosted by both Islamic and Jewish organizations. Dan’s deceased spouse, Rev. Susan C. Root, was also a graduate of CST and was ordained in the Disciples of Christ.
Disciples Seminary Foundation Representative
Jong Oh Lee served as a CST Trustee from 2017 before being appointed as Vice President for International Relations in October 2018. He served in that position before retiring in May 2023. A member of Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Lee has also been a Professor of Marketing at Yonsei University and a Visiting Professor of Marketing at CSU-LA. Previously, he was a successful businessman: working seven years with Samsung Electronics before founding his own company, Elson Co., Ltd, where he served as CEO. Following retirement, he returned to Korea to focus on family and business developments.
Dr. Lee has worked to strengthen CST’s relationships with our Korean and Korean American students, alums, congregations, donors, and supporters. His successful efforts led to the creation of the Korean Leadership Scholarship Fund, the expansion the Korean Endowment Fund, and the recruitment of countless students to CST over the years.
Carlo Axibal Rapanut is the eldest of two sons of Jose, a government employee, community organizer and ordained deacon of the UMC and Teofina, a university professor. He was born and raised in Baguio City, Philippines and was nurtured in faith in the Baguio City First United Methodist Church where, as a youth, he felt a call to serve.
Carlo went to the University of the Philippines (UP) where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1994. After college, he served as president of his annual conference United Methodist Youth Fellowship for four years and it was during that time that he discerned a call to ordained ministry.
After a brief stint working as a scriptwriter, anchor and voice-over talent for a local TV station and serving on staff managing databases for Bishop Daniel C. Arichea, Carlo answered the call. He was first appointed to serve Philex Mines UMC in Benguet, Philippines in 1998 while he was
finishing his Master of Management, major in Business Management (MBA equivalent), also from UP.
Carlo attended Wesley Divinity School in Cabanatuan City, Philippines where he finished his Master of Divinity, magna cum laude, in 2003. He served the Baguio City First UMC for 6 years, first as associate pastor while he was in seminary and then as senior pastor after his graduation.
In 2006, Carlo was ordained elder in the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference by Bishop Benjamin A. Justo who also appointed him to serve as his Assistant to the Bishop in the Baguio Episcopal Area. In 2008, Carlo and his family answered the call to serve in the Alaska Missionary Conference and was appointed to the UMC of Chugiak where he served for six years.
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya invited Carlo in 2014 to serve on the cabinet of the Greater Northwest Area as Conference Superintendent and Director of Connectional Ministries of the Alaska Conference. He also served as one of the deans of the cabinet, representing Alaska. Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky continued this appointment and then eventually invited Carlo to be her Assistant to the Bishop in 2021. It was from that role that he was elected to the episcopacy by the Western Jurisdiction on November 4, 2022 in Salt Lake City, UT.
Carlo’s leadership in the church included service as delegate to the Philippines Central Conference (1996 as a layperson & 2008 as clergy), Western Jurisdictional Conference (2016 as head of delegation) and General Conference (2016 & 2019 as head of delegation). He also was a director of the General Board of Global Ministries (2016-2022) where he served on the Mission Engagement and the Policy and By-laws committees. In both the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference and the Alaska Conference, Carlo served on various boards and agencies as member and chair.
Carlo is joyfully married to Zoraida “Radie” Sanchez Rapanut, a certified public bookkeeper. They make a home with their two sons Karl Caleb and Titus Carl. Carlo fell in love with long-distance running as an adult and has done many races in the past 10 years from 10Ks to Ultra marathons. He also enjoys cycling, photography, and hiking with Radie.
Sharon received the M.Div. in 1978 from CST (recipient of the Witman Pastoral Care Award), and the D.Min. in 1981. Before and during seminary, she worked at Sage UMC and Placentia UMC in youth ministry. She was ordained a deacon in 1975 and an elder in 1980 in the Cal Pac conference. Sharon’s appointment history includes Northridge UMC, Santa Clarita UMC, District Superintendent of the Long Beach District, Westwood UMC and Claremont UMC. She retired in 2014 after 39 years under appointment. In each community she served on the local Interfaith Council. Also PATH: People Assisting the Homeless, Los Angeles; Alzheimer’s Association for LA, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, Middle East Peace Group, Claremont.
Sharon has served on district and conference boards through her ministry. Currently she serves on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry where she is Conference Relations Chair and chaired the Proclamation Section. She has also represented the denomination in ecumenical endeavors, including Consultation on Church Union (1982-1988) and the National Council of Churches in Christ (1996-2000). Sharon was elected by the Cal-Pac Conference as a delegate to the Western Jurisdiction Conferences from 1988 to 2004 and to General Conference in 1992 and 1996. She was a delegate to the World Methodist Conferences in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Brighton, England. In addition, Sharon has served as adjunct faculty member at CST in Field Education, Preaching, and Worship for over 15 years.
Sharon was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from CST in 2014. At Conference she was given (along with her late husband, Al) the Mel and Lucile Wheatley Lifetime of Justice Award (2009), and the Bert All Award (for working for an inclusive church for all LGBTQ persons). She and her husband also received the Care Partner Award by the Alzheimer’s Association.
In retirement Sharon continues to be a part of Interfaith Witnesses, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, Reconciling Ministries and other justice ministries. She has two young adult children: Ben who is a mechanical engineering student at USC who, along with his wife Phoebe, works at JPL; and Rachel (trained as a social worker) – she and Elliot have made Sharon a happy grandma of three beautiful pre-school grandsons, the primary reason for retiring.
The Reverend Dr. David L. Richardson graduated from CST in 1969 with a Doctorate in Religion. Subsequently for CST, he served on the CST Alumni Board and a Presidential Search Committee, and assisted with various fund raising campaigns. Dr. Richardson served 40 years as a UMC pastor, including terms as District Superintendent for the Santa Ana District and the Santa Barbara District of Cal-Pac. He retired as Senior Pastor of Pasadena First UMC in 2005. Earlier, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and at Cuestra College, as well as at the University of California, Santa Barbara extension and at CST. He is the author of numerous publications in both national press and church materials, assisted in the founding of a SLO head start program; launched self-help, low-income housing programs in SLO, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, a Sr. Citizen’s program in Los Osos, multiple refugee resettlement programs and a Community House working with immigrants and low income people of Pierce County, WA. Beyond the local church, he served as Special Assistant to Bishop Grant Hagiya and Bishop Elaine Stanovsky; he served on the Cal-Pac Board of Ordained Ministry for 21 years, served on the Cal-Pac Board of Pensions, and assisted the Board of Global Ministries in developing mission initiative programs for Southeast Asia.
Ali Sahabi is president of the land-planning and entitlement firm, SE Corporation, winner of the California Governor’s Economic and Environmental Leadership Award for Sustainable Communities. He has directed a number of development projects across Southern California, including industrial, multi-family residential and commercial retail projects. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Vahdani Construction, with responsibility for negotiating and managing construction projects statewide. He has a Master of Real Estate Development from the School of Urban Planning and Development at USC and a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Pepperdine University.
Ali has been widely honored for his work and contributions to the arts, Chamber of Commerce and many other human betterment endeavors. He was raised and is still involved in the Muslim tradition but attends and works with a number of Protestant Churches. He has assisted in preparation of the DVD to tell the CST Story and the University Project, and has expressed strong interest in the new direction of CST and is eager to assist in this direction as a new Trustee.
Nitin Shah, M.D. is Professor of Anesthesiology at Loma Linda University and Assistant Chief of Anesthesiology and Chief of the Surgical ICU of Long Beach Veterans Healthcare System. His medical practice has included work in India; Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa; and New York and California in the US. He has held numerous board and Officer positions in various Jain organizations, including President of the Jain Center of Southern California. He is presently a member and Chair of the Board of Directors of Shanti Charities and a Director of the American Chamber of Commerce. He has extensive fund raising experience for social and health needs around the world and has worked closely with President Kuan in sponsoring or assisting with multi-faith educational programs and conferences.
Monalisa Tu’itahi, Esq., is a life-long Methodist currently affiliated with the United With Hope UMC in North Long Beach. Beyond the local church, she has held a variety of leadership positions within almost all levels of the connection, including current member of the Connectional Table, Co-Chair of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team, Vice Chair of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and first-elected lay delegate to General Conference from the California-Pacific Conference. She brings her legal training, and experience in
working with worldwide UMC partners, and strong community involvement within the Pacific Islander community. From 2012 to 2016, she chaired the Inter-Ethnic Strategy and Development committee.
Her deep faith is grounded in personal spiritual disciplines. As an immigrant herself, she has a passion for ministry to and with immigrants and marginalized persons. Well-acquainted with CST, having lived on campus when her spouse was a CST student, she deeply appreciates the effort to broaden access to higher education, making it accessible, and supporting all races, language, faiths, sexual orientations, and generations.
Tom Wallace was born, raised and continues to live in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Notre Dame H.S., Claremont Men’s College, and the University of Southern California earning a B.A. in Business Economics and a M.S. in Systems Management. He was a decorated combat Army rotary wing aviator in Southeast Asia and attained the rank of Captain. Tom spent twenty years with the Lockheed California Company retiring as Director of the Product Assurance branch. He was the President and CEO of CC Industries where he served for ten years, and was the President and CEO of the Granada Hills Community Hospital for four years. Tom is now retired and serves on the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council, the North Valley Family YMCA, the Ventura/LA North chapter of Legatus, and as a Trustee of the Claremont School of Theology. He is a member of the Lockheed Martin retiree organization and several community social service groups. Tom has been recognized for his accomplishments in the aerospace and health care industries, and for his community service and enrichment. Tom and his wife Catherine have been married since August 1967 and are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Northridge, CA. They have four children and five grandchildren who live throughout California.
Rev. Wernett is an ordained United Methodist minister. He was one of the principals of MissionInsite. He joined Mike Regele and Chuck Salter in 2007 to create MissionInsite. He was also a principal with Percept, Inc. for 16 years, leading its client development department and serving as its president for three years. Both companies provided community-based ministry and mission decision support information to National Denominational Offices, their Conference, Synod, Diocese, Regional leaders, and their local churches.
His ministry also included:
- Eight years as a pastor of local churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Churches included a two-point charge and 400-member congregation.
- Two years as a staff member of the General Board of Global Ministries
- Four years as a consultant to the General Board of Global Ministries with responsibility of leading United Methodist Conferences through a three-year strategic congregational development process.
- Four years as a staff member of Christian Laity of Chicago, a small group ministry network of bible study/relational support to professionals working in downtown Chicago.
- Four years as a staff member of Faith at Work, an early developer of local church small group and lay ministry in the United States
He has been a member of Laguna Beach United Methodist Church for over 20 years and has served on the Leadership Board.
Peter has been a Trustee since 2014 and serves as Chair of the Library and IT/Facilities Committee and a member of the Executive committee.
Education includes Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Norwich University, Moravian Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity degree, Princeton Theological Seminary.
Peter resides in Mission Viejo, California.
Rev. Ginny Wheeler is a retired elder in the California-Pacific UMC conference. She has served over 35 years in local church ministry and is currently active in Laguna Beach United Methodist Church as pastor emeritus. Ginny also serves on the board of the international Messy Church ministry.
Ginny has a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, a Masters in Education from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Bachelor of Religion from Southern Methodist University. She has two grown sons. One works with humanitarian crisis organizations, currently with the Ukranian war response, and the other a crisis investigation reporter and producer of documentaries.
*Designated trustees, without a vote