Pastor and Staff

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The Rev. Dr. Philip Bertolo Wood, Senior Pastor

Phil was born in Los Angeles and raised in Whittier, California.  He graduated from Cal State, Fullerton in 1970 with a major in History.  In 1969 he was selected as a member of the Annual Conference Study Seminar to Bolivia, where his call into ministry was confirmed.  He attended The Iliff School of Theology in 1970, our United Methodist seminary adjacent to the University of Denver, and graduated with the Master of Divinity in 1973.  In 1998 he received his Doctor of Ministry from the Claremont School of Theology, focused upon Evangelization and Christian Ethics, and was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni/ae Award for Excellence in Community Service in 2002. 

Following his graduation from Iliff, Phil was appointed as Associate Pastor of the Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach.  The next year he was appointed as Associate at St. Paul’s UMC, Oxnard as part of the first cross-racial appointment of an African-American Senior Pastor to a predominantly White congregation in the history of the Annual Conference.  Two years later he became Pastor of the Park Hill UMC in Chula Vista, serving four years.  Since then, Phil has served as Senior Pastor at Monterey Park First for seven years, San Gabriel First for six, Glendale First for three, the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia for nineteen years, and Fullerton First for two.  In addition, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of Methodist Hospital of Southern California, located in Arcadia, for 15 years.

Phil and Elsa Cordero Wood have been married since 1990.  Theirs is a “Yours, Mine, and Ours” family, sharing four children and three grandchildren.  They have made San Diego the primary destination of their annual Anniversary vacation for many years, enjoying the Shakespeare performances at the Old Globe. They reside in La Jolla and are excited to be active in Church and community events, as well as walking together on the beach.

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The Rev. Lea M. Booth, Associate Pastor

Lea grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, a lifelong Methodist. She enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2004 was stationed at MCAS Miramar as a helicopter crew chief and had three deployments overseas. After separating from active duty in 2009 as a Sargeant (E5), Lea discerned a call to ordained ministry in the UMC. She returned to college, majoring in philosophy at Temple University in Philadelphia, then going on to pursue her Master of Divinity degree at Drew University Theological School. She will graduate from seminary as of August, and is continuing her ordination process here in the Cal-Pac Conference. 

Lea is dedicated to sharing the love of Christ with the world and to finding ways to engage the church in discipleship, mission, and service. She has a dog, Daphne, and a cat, Arthur Schopenhauer, and loves coffee, reading, and spending time outside. 

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Theresa Erb, Administrative Assistant

Theresa Erb was raised in San Diego and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University. Theresa began her formal working relationship with the United Methodist Church as an assistant working with Family Ministries at Foothills UMC. At Foothills, she progressed to positions of greater responsibility including having full responsibility for all programs in Family Ministries and finally to being the Director of the Foothills Faith Academy. Theresa is a Certified Lay Minister in the United Methodist Church. Her husband Jack is a music teacher. They have a grown daughter, Elise.

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Joyce Drozda, Church/Nursery School Accountant

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Bob Wuertz, Music Ministries Director

A graduate of University of Redlands and Claremont Graduate University, Bob's music career has focused on church music. A resident of San Diego since 1985, he has served as organist, choir director and music director at Hope United Methodist Church in Rancho Bernardo and Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in University City. Bob has two grown sons, Jeremy and Jon, and two grandchildren, Peyton and Parker.

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Bridget Musante, Director LJUMC Nursery School

Bridget was raised in the Midwest and moved to San Diego in 1992 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to becoming Executive Director of LJUMCNS, Bridget was also a teacher and an office assistant at the Nursery school since 2009. She is a parent of two LJUMCNS alumni, a former LJUMCNS Board member, and a two-time LJUMCNS Gala Chair. Bridget has close ties to the community and is actively involved in several local philanthropic and volunteer organizations including Las Patronas and the National Charity League. Bridget currently lives in La Jolla near LJUMCNS with her husband Anthony and their two children Hannah and Tate.

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Meghan Naaf, Youth Fellowship Director

Meghan and her husband Greg Halsey connected with LJUMC after Pastor Walt officiated their wedding in the fall of 2015. Meghan grew up in Northern California, a place she still holds close to her heart. Having been reared in the church, she values what a good Youth Fellowship program can mean to a maturing young person.  Meghan came down to San Diego in 2008 to attend the University of San Diego and has since called San Diego her home. She enjoys spending time at the beach and strolling through local farmers markets. Her Jack Russell Terrier named Mumford is never far from her side.

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Lee Dionne, Youth Education Leader

Lee is a student adviser and graduate student at UCSD.  He has always enjoyed working with young people and looks forward to a career as a professor.  Lee has many fond memories and lasting friendships growing out of his own experience as a youth in the Methodist church, and is enthusiastic about the chance to work with the great youth at LJUMC.  His wife and son, Morgan and Gael, also attend LJUMC.

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Ronel Wishnuff, Organist

Ronél received her B.M. from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She taught piano and freelanced as a soloist and accompanist for fifteen years, before relocating to San Diego with her American husband. In 2006, she completed a Masters degree in Piano Performance at San Diego State University. Ronél served as music director/organist for the Community Congregational Church in Pacific Beach for seven years, before joining the staff  at La Jolla Methodist Church as organist in 2009. She freelances as an accompanist and teaches piano at her home studio in La Costa, Carlsbad.

Doreen McCarty, Children's Music Director

Doreen McCarty is a graduate of San Diego State University, where she earned both a Bachelors of Music Education and teaching credential in k-12 music.  She has been a performer since an early age and has worked in a variety of teaching capacities from developing a preschool/afterschool music enrichment program to private voice lessons.  Doreen was the choral director at Westview High School in the Poway Unified District before taking leave to stay home with her three young children.

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Dave Flores, Audio/Visual Tech

Dave Flores is a native San Diegan, having been born at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. After Poway High School, he attended Palomar College, majoring in Speech and Debate before joining San Diego-based Carvin Music Corporation in 1980. He served there as Recording Artist and Music Media Relations director until 2003, when he decided to relocate to Arizona. While there, he founded and served on various praise & worship music teams. He also produced weekly TV ministry programming in the Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Sedona broadcast regions. At the beginning of 2015, he rejoined his mother, brother, daughter, nephew, niece and two grand daughters when he took up residence “for good” in the San Diego area.