Our staff is passionate about welcome and hospitality. Learn more about who they are.

Amanda Bennett | Co-Pastor

Amanda, who self-describes as a disillusioned evangelical, was lured into the La Verne Church of the Brethren by its progressive theology, authenticity, and focus on justice. After spending years working in fundamentalist ministry settings, she threw in the towel until she found a theologically safe space among this church community. Amanda earned an M.Div. from Bethany Theological Seminary and feels honored to serve this congregation, where her children were dedicated.  

At home, Amanda likes to play both board games and video games with her family. Her favorite Mario Kart picks are Donkey Kong and Tanooki Mario. Amanda lives with her partner, Jeff Neu, their children, and dog.


Ronald Faus | Interim Co-Pastor


Karinna Escobedo | Church Office Manager

Karinna has an associate’s degree in early childhood education and previously spent several years working in the field of education. It was during that time that she found her passion and gifting in administration, as she took the lead in licensing a preschool with high-level accreditations.

In another life, Karinna says she’d be a movie critic. Karinna lives in Pomona with her boyfriend, daughter, and their two dogs.


Efrain Aguilar | Online Worship Coordinator

Efrain Aguilar was born in El Salvador. He moved to Southern California in 1987 and graduated from Covina High School in 2001. He studied History at the University of California Riverside before graduating from the New York Film Academy’s directing program in 2005. In 2008 he moved to Austin Texas, where he worked as a corporate trainer for 12 years – including working for Visa, one of Fortune 500’s best companies. Growing tired of the corporate world, Efrain moved back to Southern California in 2020.

He first started attending La Verne Church of the Brethren in 2021 and soon after volunteered to help in the audio/video department.

Efrain loves movies, TV, and podcasts and has an endless supply of film trivia.  He spends most of his time with his loved ones, including Tank the dog and Walker the cat.


Shawn Kirchner | Pianist/Organist

Shawn is a composer and songwriter active in the musical circles of Los Angeles. In May 2012, he was appointed Swan Family Composer in Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. His choral compositions are performed throughout the United States and abroad in concert halls, churches, schools, and on radio, television (and YouTube!).

He is best known for his arrangement of the Kenyan song Wana Baraka. To learn more about Shawn’s music you can visit him at

Kirchner also maintains an active performing career as a singer and pianist. A tenor with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, he sings regularly with the Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and at the Hollywood Bowl in collaborations with the world’s leading conductors and composers.

Kirchner was raised with his triplet brother and sister in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Niké St. Clair | Choir Director

Being the choir director at the La Verne Church of the Brethren is only one of the many pursuits of Niké St. Clair.

Hungarian born, Niké studied at Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest Hungary and has finished her doctoral course work in choral conducting at USC Thornton School of Music.

She also sings with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and teaches and directs choirs at Azusa Pacific University, Cal Poly Pomona and Santa Monica College. During summers she teaches musicianship with the Hungarian Kodaly Methodology.

Niké gives impeccable direction with a heart for what it means to be part of a volunteer choir. She enjoys life with her husband, Gabe and her dog, TJ.

Heidi Brightbill | Handbell Choir Director | Sanctuary Choir, Soprano Section Leader

Tron Passmore | Kitchen Ministries Coordinator

Facilities Staff

Matthew Martinez | Lead Custodian


Steve Kovach | Part-Time Custodian


Tim Morrison | Part-Time Custodian