Pastors at First Church
Dr. Jim Standiford, Senior Pastor
Dr. Elbert Kim, Minister of Education
Rev. Mary Allman-Boyle, Minister of Faith-Sharing and Spiritual Formation
Rev. Greg La Due, Director, New Life Counseling Center
Rev. Ken Licht, Minister of Visitation
Rev. Jessica Strysko, Minister of Christian Growth and Service
Jim was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, but his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona when he was about one year old. He graduated from high school in Phoenix. His undergraduate work was at the University of Redlands where he met his wife Mary Lou. They graduated from college on June 1, 1969, and were married on June 5. Jim began seminary on June 9. A busy week!
Jim and Mary Lou have two adult children and one grandchild. Jim has been an ordained United Methodist pastor since 1970, serving congregations in Southern California and Arizona. He was a District Superintendent in Southern Arizona for four years overseeing the work of thirty-six congregations. He has been the pastor at First United Methodist Church San Diego since 2000.
Dr. Elbert Kim directs the Christian Education programs at First Church. His great passion is helping people of all ages grow in faith. Whether leading the Chapel Time with the weekday Preschool or teaching the History of Christianity, Elbert is an engaging teacher. He also works with the San Diego School of Christian Studies to provide seminary-level course offerings for our congregation and community.
Elbert was appointed to First Church in 2005 after serving in several churches throughout Southern California. He received his Master of Divinity from the Claremont School of Theology and the Doctor of Ministry from the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Ordained in 1999, he serves as an Elder in the United Methodist Church and his appointment to First Church has given him opportunity to put to work his skills and passion for education and learning. His abundant energy and willingness to try new approaches serve him well in his work with young people. His love of analysis and intellect helps him connect with all generations.
Beyond our congregation, Elbert serves as the Chair of the San Diego District Leadership Team and the Registrar for the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Annual Conference. Having studied Mathematics and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Elbert uses his knowledge of technology to strengthen the ministry. His love of life beyond ministry is his family. Elbert is married to his beautiful wife, Grace, a teacher at Coronado High School. They are proud parents of two young boys, Nathaniel and Daniel. You’ll recognize the boys by the streak of lightning that shoots through the church office on their way to dad’s office or to fellowship hall for donuts.
Rev. Mary Allman-Boyle is most passionate about spreading the Gospel message. Through hospitality, the Alpha Course, small group ministry and retreats, she encourages the congregation, friends, neighbors and honored guests to explore life’s big questions in a non-threatening environment. For Mary, there is no greater joy than witnessing a life transformed in Christ. Her mission is to nurture people in their faith journey, helping them see how the Gospel message connects with their needs and aspirations.
Mary was called to ordained ministry while serving as an active lay person in a local church. With her extensive business career background, Mary can readily relate to high-stress secular settings. She values and nurtures everyone’s walk with God and enthusiastically supports those who want to explore God’s unique call. She feels deeply blessed to walk alongside fellow pilgrims, all in need of God’s grace.
Mary received her Masters in Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She and her husband, John, enjoy golf, bike rides and movies. Mary grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and while she and John enjoy returning for large Thanksgiving gatherings on the East Coast, they relish their time with his family here in California.
Feel free to contact her and share your life journey as well as humorous anecdotes. Mary loves to have fun and feels that laughter and humor are essential in both life and ministry.
Rev. Gregory A. LaDue, M.F.T., is a Licensed Local Pastor and has been a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 15 years. He is the Director the New Life Counseling Center at San Diego First United Methodist Church and is responsible for coordinating adult education experiences. Greg leads numerous retreats and teaches frequently in the adult education classes offered at First Church.
Rev. Ken Licht grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa, but chose the ministry rather than farming as his vocation, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather and two uncles who were all Lutheran pastors. After graduating from Concordia Seminary in 1967, he served congregations in Mississippi and Illinois before coming to Tierrasanta Lutheran Church, where he was the pastor for thirty years until his retirement in 2007. His post-retirement job was a staff position at San Diego’s Natural History Museum, until being invited to join the pastoral team at First Church as Minister of Visitation.
Ken and his wife, Marilyn, live in Tierrasanta, and they enjoy family life with their two daughters, their husbands, and three grandchildren who all live in San Diego. He enjoys camping in the desert and mountains and has traveled extensively, visiting all 50 states and a number of foreign countries.
Ken considers it a blessing and great honor and privilege to return to pastoral ministry at First Church!
Rev. Jessica is someone who loves to talk about God’s grace and God’s call—both in the personal experiences and lives of others and in her own life. She is dedicated to discerning God’s active presence in the church and the world community, and therefore is passionate about intergenerational ministry, Christian Education, ecumenical/interfaith dialogue, and social justice.
Jessica grew up in Yucaipa, California, the daughter of David and Lori Moore. She has two sisters, a fraternal twin, Karyn, and a younger sister Rachael. Jessica was raised in the United Methodist Church of Yucaipa and it was here that she developed a deep love for God nurtured in the youth and camping ministries of her church. As a result of these ministries, she first felt God calling her to ministry at age 14, and has been pursuing this calling ever since.
Jessica attended the University of Redlands and double majored in English Literature and Religious Studies, where she met and then married her husband, Timothy Strysko. Tim also studied Religious Studies, and minored in Creative Writing, and currently is pursuing his MBA. They met in a Christian Scriptures class, fell in love, and were married after their graduation from Redlands. Tim and Jessica then moved to Massachusetts, where Jessica attended seminary at Harvard Divinity School. After graduation, Jessica was commissioned as an elder and appointed to serve at her first appointment, here are First UMC of San Diego.
Jessica’s ministerial experience includes serving as a Christian Education Director at Arlington UMC in Riverside, a Spiritual Life Coordinator for Sierra Service Project, a hospital chaplain intern at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts, and serving as a pastoral intern and then a Coordinator of Children’s Ministries at Harvard-Epworth UMC for the past three years.
Feel free to contact Jessica—she loves to meet new people and would love to hear your story!
Randy Newton is dedicated to Youth and Family Ministries. He oversees sixth grade through high school ministries at First United Methodist Church, San Diego. Randy believes in empowering youth and families to live their spiritual lives in service to God and their community. Because he is concerned about peace and justice ministries, Randy organizes volunteer opportunities to help youth and families make a difference in their communities.
Randy has been on staff as Director of Youth Ministries since 1994 and is taking classes at Claremont School of Theology and Wesley Seminary in pursuit of ordination in the United Methodist Church.
Randy has served as District Coordinator of Camping, as well as leader at District Easter Camp and District Junior High and Senior High Camps, and has been on staff for Conference events such as “Youth Alive” and “Spirit Quest.” Each summer, Randy volunteers for Sierra Service Project.
Randy enjoys teaching, leading small group ministries, and coordinating service opportunities. He loves working with families and enjoys interacting with the congregation and staff at First Church.
Randy grew up in Quartz Hill, California, in the high desert above Los Angeles. He moved to San Diego to attend Point Loma Nazarene University but relishes his visits to Bear Valley Springs above Tehachapi, where his parents, sister, two nephews, and baby niece now live.
Randy lives on Shelter Island and enjoys traveling, golf, photography, reading, and time with friends.