Our United Methodist Alums Making a Difference
Diane Rehfield (MDiv 2011)
Revitalizing and Growing a Once-Dying Church
Diane Rehfield is an Associate Pastor at Rolling Hills UMC in Los Angeles County. Three years ago she was asked to take on an additional part-time role serving nearby Walteria UMC - a small church with a shrinking congregation that many assumed would close. Diane didn’t believe it should close however. Through her dedication and the commitment of Walteria’s members, the church has been growing more than 20 percent each year, and they now have a thriving ministry to the homeless.
Rob Rynders (MDiv 2006)
Engaging Youth and Growing the Church
Rob Rynders has taken Arizona State University’s Wesley Foundation from a small, part-time ministry to a major center that is now building a new campus meeting and residence hall. He has led students in expanding their social conscience with international and local mission trips, and exposed them to various vocations within the church through RelevanceX, the popular conference for young adults. This July, Rob and another pastor will be planting a new UMC church in Downtown Phoenix, aimed at young adults and those looking for an untraditional Sunday worship experience.
James Kang (MDiv 2010)
Church Planting and Asian-American Outreach
James Kang launched Good Neighbors Church, a unique UMC ministry with predominantly Asian American college students and young adults in Pomona, Calif. The church blends spiritual enrichment, fun, and social action, including projects that help improve local neighborhoods. He’s also founding editor of Subtle, an online magazine that examines issues in Asian American Christianity.
Lynne Austin (MDiv 1994)
Compassion, Healthcare, and Christian Ed in Haiti
Lynne Austin served for many years as a pastor in the churches of the California-Pacific Annual Conference. But after her first mission trip to Haiti, Lynne decided this was to be her life’s work. She and her husband, Ray, organize regular trips to Haiti. She arranges for teams of psychologists, social workers and pastoral counselors to do training and support for the staff of Grace Children’s Hospital.
Mazvita Machinga, PhD Student
Healing and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe
After receiving her MDiv from Claremont, Mazvita Machinga returned to her home in Zimbabwe to offer pastoral counseling to the men and women in her community. They, like many Zimbabweans, have been exposed to high levels of interreligious violence, which can manifest as depression, anger and anxiety in day-to-day life. After receiving her Ph.D. from Claremont, she plans to continue this vital work through her Hope for Healing Project.
Christian DeMent (MDiv 2005)
Melissa Spence, MDiv Student
Planting a New Church Near San Diego
When San Diego County’s Foothills UMC noticed the nearby area of Otay was growing, they tapped Rev. Christian DeMent to plant a new church in that area, and Foundry UMC in Otay Ranch was born. The new church just happens to be in Claremont MDiv student Melissa Spence’s neighborhood, so she is assisting Christian by working with small groups, representing Foundry at City festivals, helping identify neighborhood needs, and doing whatever it takes to grow a young church community!