Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Our Senior Pastor
Rev. Gary M. Keene

Gary was born and raised in Michigan, where he was an active youth leader in the United Methodist Church at the local, district and conference levels. In high school he was active in concert band and school newspaper, and received the inaugural Guideposts Magazine national youth writing award based on his story about participating in the original Appalachia Service Project.

In 1978, Gary came to the School of Theology at Claremont, California, where he tested out of all the exams required at that time, and was one of three students invited by the faculty to compete for the Wilshire Preaching Award. During his studies, he interned with the Pomona Valley Council of Churches, and also First U.M.C. Pasadena; he later served as associate pastor at First U.M.C. Redlands while completing a Master of Divinity in 1982. Following graduation, he served as associate pastor and pastor in charge of a variety of churches, from "tall to small" steeples, including the Native American U.M.C. of Los Angeles, as well as working for Los Angeles United Way and the Conference office of outdoor ministries.

Gary was later ordained an Elder in the California-Pacific Annual Conference; he continued to serve on various district and conference committees, and was chairperson of the Credit Committee of the U.M. Federal Credit Union. Then at the age of 34, Gary became the youngest Conference Council Director in the denomination, serving Yellowstone Conference and eventually expanding to serve the Rocky Mountain Conference for the entire Denver Episcopal Area. In this role, he became involved in leading, teaching and writing about organizational change across the denomination for the General Board of Discipleship. In addition, he served as Interim National Director of Camping for the UMC; and in 2001, he received a Lilly-funded pastoral study leave grant to explore the implications of post-modernism for the main-line church.

In 2003 Gary returned to Los Angeles as Executive Assistant to the Bishop; over time the work of the Director of Connectional Ministries' and the Office of Communications were added to his portfolio. After serving four successive Bishops across 23 years, he was appointed to Camarillo UMC as senior pastor in 2013.  

Gary is an avid cyclist, and has organized and led hundreds of cyclists over thousands of miles on group tours sponsored through the UMC. Together with his wife Karen on their tandem, they have independently toured much of Western and Eastern Europe, and most recently tackled the Andes between Chile and Argentina. He is a regular hiker, and summited Mt. Rainier in 2006, and he serves as volunteer team manager for the UMC conference wilderness Camp Sturtevant near Mt. Wilson. A fan of movies, his reviews have been regularly published in denominational periodicals, as well as the occasional opinion piece. Gary continues to play piano and recorder, with various folk instruments waiting on the shelf. He currently lives with his wife, artist Karen Kitchel and their 'caramel coyote' CoCo in Ventura, California.



 Director of Worship and Music Arts
Luvi Avendano
Luvi was born and raised in a family active in the Methodist Church in Mexico and graduated from Kofa High School in Yuma, AZ. Luvi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands – his bachelor’s in vocal performance and his master’s in choral conducting and vocal performance. While at Redlands, Luvi was Youth Director at the Redlands First United Methodist Church and Choir Director at Rialto United Methodist Church and Redlands First Presbyterian Church. Luvi is currently enrolled in a doctorate degree program in vocal performance at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is conductor of the Women’s Ensemble at the university.


His parents and sister live in Arizona and his brother is a minister for the United Methodist Church of Mexico. As for hobbies, “I love a good performance of opera; I love the arts; and I am an avid soccer player,” he replied.


Director of Children's Ministry
Cynthia Loos


Director Handbell Choir, Youth & Family Ministries
Kristi VanKeersbilck

Kristi VanKeersbilck, Handbell Director, Youth Ministries Assistant, and Family Ministries Director, was born and raised in Michigan, but migrated west after college to escape the cold weather.  She does, however, visit "The Holy Land" (Michigan) twice a year and remains an avid Spartan (Michigan State University) fan.
Kristi graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Music Therapy and moved to Camarillo to complete an internship at Camarillo State Hospital.  She met her husband, David, while working on the Children's Program.  David is a talented tenor and banjo player, and they share a love of music (though not necessarily the banjo).  They married in 1992 and joined the church together.  They now have two boys: Nikolas, age 13, and Luke, age 10, who keep them well-entertained and chronically tired. 
Kristi joined the church staff after being "down-sized" by county mental health in 2003.  She enjoys working with youth, young families, and especially the bell choirs.  She currently has 3 children's/youth bell choirs and adult choir which all play in church and at the annual bell choir concert.  In her spare time she enjoys going to the beach, walking, riding bikes, taking trips with her family, and relaxing in the hot bath with a good book.

Sunday Morning Nursery Care Provider
Shannon Skeens

Shannon grew up in San Diego, CA and attended San Diego State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development with a minor in Psychology.   Along the way, she met and married her husband, Bo, who is currently serving in the Navy, and their travel adventures and family began.  They have lived in Virginia, Hawaii, San Diego and were brought to the area last summer when Bo was stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme.  Shannon previously worked as a Preschool teacher for several years in Hawaii and most recently at Point Loma United Methodist Church as their Director of Children and Family Ministries.  She is also active with Cal Pac Camps, working in the summers at Camp Cedar Glen in Julian, CA as a member of the Leadership team (Dean) for Elementary Camp and served the foster youth of San Diego with Voices for Children as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate.) She is grateful for the chance to serve CUMC in the nursery and getting to know more of our families. 

Child Development Center Director
Karen Lundberg

I am Karen Lundberg the Director of United Methodist Child Development Center; I have recently joined the preschool.  I come to this preschool with several years experience in Early Child Development; I helped open the corporate child care center at Amgen and played an integral role in the completion of the NAEYC accreditation process.  I later moved to a more traditional preschool setting and enjoyed several years with them until my heart strings began pulling me to be with my family full time. 

The position at UMCDC holds a warm spot in my heart, for my own two daughters; Melissa and Madison attended school here.  My husband and I live here in Camarillo and I have been a resident here my whole life.  We feel very fortunate to be able to raise our daughters in Camarillo.  We are often busy with soccer games or we will be off camping things we all love to do.

Financial Secretary
Kathleen Matarazzo

Kathleen began working at Camarillo UMC in January of 2007...but has been a member of the church since 1995.  She brings with her 12 years of accounts receivable experience and a love of dollars and cents.  Her primary function as the Financial Secretary is to oversee all incoming funds to the church as well as our yearly pledge campaign but is here to assist wherever the need may be.  Kathleen is a native of Ventura County and currently resides in Camarillo with her husband Ross and daughter Mickayla.  Kathleen works part time with a varied schedule and when she is not here she can usually be found at her daughter's school as a volunteer or spending time with her mother or husband. 

Caring Ministry
Evelyn Williams


Evelyn Williams was born and raised in Ventura County and has been a CUMC member since 1991.  In 2005, Evelyn retired as manager of the VCMC medical staff organization.  After retirement from her healthcare career, she completed training and certifications for: massage therapy, hospice patient care, and Stephen Ministry
Evelyn began CUMC Senior Ministry in 2008.  Additional service includes: massage therapy for seniors, prayer list coordinator, liturgist and Stephen Ministry leader.  She also serves as a Camarillo Hospice volunteer.  Husband, Michael E. Williams, M.D., semi-retired general surgeon, provides a sympathetic ear to CUMC members and their families with medical concerns. He frequently accompanies Evelyn on visits with home-bound or hospitalized CUMC members.  Along with Evelyn, he has been trained and commissioned as a Stephen Ministry Leader.  Mike & Evelyn married in 1995, and between them have four adult children and six grandchildren.

Mark Holmstrom
Mark Holmstrom joined the Camarillo United Methodist Church staff in the spring of 2010, playing his first services on February 21.  He came to the church after 17 years at California Lutheran University where he served as University Organist, Chapel Music Coordinator, and staff accompanist.  He had also been organist and music director at First Lutheran Church of Northridge for 37 years.   Mark began playing the piano at age 9 and organ at age 13.  He took lessons under Richard Warned, noted instructor and music director at Hollywood United Methodist.  After graduating from Chatsworth High School, he spent two years at UCLA pursuing a major in chemistry. 
Mark's hobbies include attending classic rock-and-roll concerts and listening to top organists such as Olivier Latry and Cameron Carpenter.  He also enjoys listening to the Pipedreams program on NPR and especially likes the organ music of such composers as Johann Sebastian Bach, Michael Burkhardt and Jean Langlais.  Mark lives in Thousand Oaks and has a sister in Sacramento.

Antonio Thomas
Wedding Coordinator
Karen Gundelfinger
Karen Gundelfinger is a long-time Camarillo resident who became a member of the church in 2008.  Karen has previous experience as a Wedding Coordinator and approaches each wedding as if it was her own; wanting to make the experience wonderful and unforgettable for the bridal couple and their families.  Karen works at CSU Channel Islands as the Executive Assistant to the Provost and also serves in other ministries here at CUMC.

Assistant to the Choir
Sally Anderson