First Presbyterian Church

of Hemet
                                             

 Pastor Tom Rennard, Transitional Pastor 

Thomas Gordon Rennard (he prefers “Pastor Tom”) is a New Jersey boy who comes to us from
San  Bernardino where he has lived since 200 He was a lieutenant and captain in the U.S. Army Artillery. He moved to California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in 1983 to pursue a career in cross-cultural ministry. While in Pasadena he discovered the Presbyterian Church. (He was raised Conservative Baptist.)

 Since 1989, Tom has served Presbyterian churches in southern California as an associate pastor, pastor, interim pastor and transitional  pastor, and one international English-speaking congregation in Lima, Peru.
Most recently, Tom served the Grace Presbyterian Church of Temecula as their Bridge Pastor 
(between an interim pastor and installed pastor) as the Transitional Lead Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Redlands. He did his doctoral work at San Francisco Theological Seminary where his dissertation/project was on “Interim Ministry in the International English-speaking Congregation.” 

Tom enjoys the Dodgers, reading books for a community-based “Manly Book Club”, biking, and walking and playing with his Jack Russell Terrier mix dog, Buddy. He serves on the Library Board
of the City of San Bernardino. He has been a member of Rotary Clubs in Claremont and Crestline, California and Lima, Peru. He and his wife of twenty-nine years, Sandy Tice, have a cabin in the Sonoma County redwoods where they go each summer. Sandy has been the pastor at First Presbyterian Church of San Bernardino for the past eleven and half years. Together they raised a daughter, Bethany (B.A., U.C.L.A., 2017) who is working in food service as she seeks employment
and further experience in the Los Angeles art world.
 
This is the fifth transitional pastor position Tom has filled, which has included ones in Claremont,
Lima, the Presbytery of San Gabriel and Redlands.  





Saw Lah Shein, Director of Music 
 
I was born in Rangoon, Burma, now called Myanmar. My name is Saw Lah  Shein. It is a very unusual name. One can call me Saw. I belong to a "Karen" ethnic, a minority ethnic group in Burma. Raised in a Christian family I fell in
love and made connection with all genres of music. I've been playing piano
since I was 5 years old and for the church since I was 12 years old. 
 
My undergraduate studies was in economics and I continued my education in Seminary focusing on church music and earned my Master of Divinity Degree.
I taught at Burma Institute of Theology for two years and I came to the United States in 1985 studying at the Divinity School, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
 I received Master of Sacred Theology degree and moved to Claremont,  California to continue my education in Theology at Claremont Graduate School. 
 
As a graduate student I worked at Claremont Graduate School as a senior secretary and a research associate. Then in 2000 I worked as an accompanist at Northkirk Presbyterian Church till 2006
when I became part time music director. Then in 2009 under the direction of the late pastor
Karen Greschel I was offered a full time position of director of worship and arts. 
 
Over the past years I have had fun teaching music and directing vocal and bell choirs, leading the adult and youth praise band, teaching piano and voice, writing original musicals, designing stage sets and organizing musical events. Music, the divine gift, inspires me personally. I cry and laugh through music. I thrive through music. I worship through music. And now I am so blessed to be a part of
First Presbyterian Church, Hemet.


Joe Smayda - Accompanist I was raised in a small coal-mining town
in western Pennsylvania. My family regularly attended the only
Protestant Church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB)
where I played the piano for Sunday school and was the only teen in
the Adult Choir. I began college at Penn State in 1953, sang in the local EUB church. They were planning a new Sanctuary, so during the four years I organized benefit concerts by students I solicited from the campus. 
 
Arriving in Los Angeles in 1957, I joined the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Wilshire because it was next to my workplace. I was active with the choir there and the Los Angeles Master Chorale for over 25 years before moving to Denver in 1984.In Denver I attend the Central Presbyterian Church and joined the Wellshire Presbyterian Church
Choir taking two trips with them overseas. I also sang with the Opera Colorado chorus and Denver Symphony Orchestra chorus.  
 
I retired to California in 1992 and immediately joined the First Presbyterian Church of Hemet choir
 but kept active with larger groups to bring back ideas to our choir. Among these have been the
Pacific Chorale in Orange County, Inland Master Chorale in Redlands, and presently Raincross
Chorale in Riverside. I have been involved with church choirs and choral music for over 60 years.


Chris Ellison - Office Administrator 

I was born in Los Angeles, CA, but was raised in Wyoming due my father’s work in the oil industry. After I married my high school sweetheart, we moved to California where my husband was attending college. Later on, we returned to Wyoming where we were delighted to welcome our first child, Lisa, into our family. Following my mother’s death, we returned to Los Angeles where I was employed in the
medical field. Our second child, Greg, was born in Inglewood, CA.
My husband worked with Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co. in building freeways, dams, bridges, etc. and we moved fairly frequently. During those years,
 I continued to work in the medical field, but after our children were
grown, my husband and I both changed careers. He worked for Penhall Co. (concrete breaking & removal) and I began working in the homebuilding industry. During these years, we attended various
churches and were members of First Baptist Church of Basin, WY
and Valley Christian Center of Dublin, CA. Following my husband’s retirement, we moved to the
Hemet area to be closer to family members. At that time, we joined Hemet Valley Baptist Church
where I teach Sunday School (3rd & 4th Grades) and we both sing in our church choir. We both love to play golf, fish and travel and enjoy spending time with our five grandchildren. I began working for the First Presbyterian Church of Hemet as their Office Administrator in 2011 and have enjoyed meeting and getting to know the wonderful members of this church.


Javier Gamon - Facilities Manager

I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and came to the United States on
July 4, 1984. In October of 1999 I became a U.S. citizen. My wife Margarita and I have three children, Maria, Hector and David. For 15 years I was the custodian at Villa Del Sol Mobile Home Park in Hemet and came to First Presbyterian in January of 2005. On Saturdays I do home maintenance jobs, tile work, reset toilets, replace windows and small carpentry jobs. My family and I attend the Roman Catholic Church and I’m glad to serve our Lord at the First Presbyterian Church.