Born in Long Beach, CA, Pastor Brown is a long-time native of Southern California. An adopted only-child to his parents, Craig grew up in Buena Park, CA. At age twelve his family moved to rural Oklahoma and lived on a 160-acre ranch raising cattle and tending the land. It was here that three schoolmates shared the message of Jesus Christ with Craig. On a snowy day in January 1982, Craig gave his life to Christ in a school gymnasium and began attending the United Methodist Church. To this point Craig and his family had never attended any local church. After four short years in Oklahoma, Craig’s family returned to California.
Rev. Brown received his call to ministry at age 17 and began his journey toward ordination immediately after high school. At the same time he was starting college, he began serving as a volunteer with the La Palma UMC youth ministry. In October of 1987 Craig was hired at 19 years-of-age as that church’s youth director. Craig served the La Palma church until he began seminary, at which time he began serving as the youth director at the Covina UMC.
Following graduation Craig was appointed to Palisades UMC in Capistrano Beach as Associate Pastor. In 1999 he began serving the 500-member UMC of Thousand Oaks as its Senior Pastor. After six years at the Thousand Oaks congregation, he was appointed to Shepherd of the Hills UMC in Mission Viejo, CA.
Rev. Brown holds the B.A. Degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Biola University and the M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has extensive background and training in congregational development, leadership development and multi-site church ministry. He has successfully led all three churches he has served under appointment to increased growth across every metric. Most recently, he led Shepherd of the Hills UMC into a merger with Santa Margarita UMC to form the first multi-site church within the Annual Conference. In 2013, he began serving as the Lead pastor at the First United Methodist Church of San Diego. In his five years of ministry there, First UMC opened a new campus in San Diego and became a fully-inclusive church. Craig now serves as the Executive Director of Congregational Development in the California-Nevada Annual Conference as he assists the churches there to plant new ministries.
Craig married his wife Bettina in 1994 and have two adult children together. He enjoys time with family, travel, golf and any experience that broadens his thinking and perspective. He has made pilgrimages to England, Scotland, Korea, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Greece and Italy. He is the co-author of Keep It Positive: A New Approach to Successful Parenting, and is a frequent teacher and leader at conferences and retreats.