We are excited to welcome Pastor George Hooper to Community UMC as our Pastor on July 7!
Pastor George was born and raised in Southern California. He grew up in Lakewood, CA, and was active in the First United Methodist Church of Long Beach. His father was head usher, mother was a Sunday School teacher, sang in children’s’ choirs before he could read, and learned to read music in bell choir.
Being a “Cradle Christian” George was raised to know and love the stories of the Bible, and to understand God’s love and acceptance. Like John Wesley, however, it was only later that he had an experience where he learned and realized that all of that information applied to him. This happened, of course, at church camp, Elementary camp at Cedar Glen, where he responded to an altar call and then came home asking “what does it mean that I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior?”
Upon becoming a believer, George began to hear a different call of God in his life. In youth group, and in madrigal singers in high school, he began to understand and practice the gifts of listening, caring, organization and leadership. As he began to practice pastoral roles, he realized that this work satisfied an inner hunger. So he set out on the path to ordination. He attended Cal State Long Beach, where he received a BA in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. He met with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, who told him that being born, raised, educated, and churched in Southern California, he should probably go somewhere else for seminary. He applied at schools around the country, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, was the first to say “Yes.” So he spent three years in the Chicago area.
George came back to the California-Pacific Annual Conference, where he was ordained and appointed to serve. He served as an Associate Pastor at the Yorba Linda UMC and Shepherd of the Hills Church in Mission Viejo. His first solo charge was the lovely, multi-cultural Artesia-Cerritos UMC. Next came Saint Andrew UMC in Santa Maria, where he went through some major life changes. At church camp – this time at Colby Ranch.
In all of these places, times and experiences, George learned to be open to the movement of the Spirit, and that the best leadership is that which points beyond oneself to what God is doing today.