Sociology Professor at Vanguard University

Relevant or Redundant? Work Well for Change in Town


Ed Clarke, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Vanguard University writes this month. He would love to help resource churches and pastors as we reach out to people in our cities!


As a masonry contractor, I participated in construction projects that changed the lives of people.  In Haiti, for instance, we built 22 schools that offered education and a healthy meal each day to children, and gave parents some hope and economic relief.


I now am a professor of Sociology at Vanguard University. I lead community-based research to understand better the issues related to homelessness in Orange County.  It takes a while to learn what really helps to relieve social problems!  Many believers are looking for ways to use their unique skills, and we need to do it well.


Here are a few basic steps I have learned in my search:


1. Identify and understand the problem.  Ask questions at City Hall. Do research to understand the community needs and select a focus.  Look for and listen to the concerns of the community.

2. Avoid redundancy.  Find out what others are doing and look for ways to address different problems.  Doing what is already being done limits the types of support possible.

3. Work with others.  Find friends and allies. I need to collaborate with others because my skills are limited.  God has placed in my hand particular tools; the larger the group the greater is the range of possibilities.


Christ followers all over America are becoming important and valued community partners.  Churches are helping to address serious and enduring problems within communities including poverty, homelessness, education, immigration and more.


May God help us “add value” to life in our cities!


To learn more about how this can be applied at your church, contact Ed at


More Caught than Taught


Natalie Garcia became a student intern last spring, and her life took a whole new direction.


A junior, as part of the Vanguard University and SoCalNetwork internship, she served at Santa Paula, under Pastor Adelita Garza’s supervision, ten hours a week for ten weeks. She drove there every Friday night to rehearse with the worship team. Then Saturday morning, join in the prayer times, work on a joint outreach to the city, spend some time with Adel, and stay over to help lead the Spanish and English services on Sunday. And to watch.


She watched Adel, a female church planter/pastor, as she preached, prayed, led the growing congregation, interacted with the other pastors in town, and led helping ministries in city outreach, touching the needs of the town.


She thought: “What a wonderful way to live, and to impact people!”

And then she thought: “I’d like to do that. I think I could do that!”


Then came the day, and the new assignment from Adel:
“Don’t just lead worship. Next time, you do the teaching!”


She did. And the congregation affirmed God’s touch on her speaking.


She has been going there every weekend ever since, long after the internship program ended, and has become part of the congregation. Her focus, and relationships, have changed.


Now she is preparing for the pastoral life she saw modeled, close up. Internship does good things for interns.


In February, a new group of interns will go to some of our churches. Let us pray for divine appointments as they go.


Ministry is still more caught than taught.


Contact Adel at for more information.


To learn more about the VU and SoCal Network internships, contact Dave Gable at


Religion Department Colloquium

Religion Department Colloquium

Topic: Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture

Speakers: Dr. Richard Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary

and Dr. Jason Sexton, Co-editor of the Volume and Faculty member at Cal State Fullerton, Honors Department

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time: 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm

Great Commission Hall, Vanguard University

Refreshments will be served

Chapel credit


A Hebrew Thanksgiving


Rich Israel, Chair of the Vanguard University Religion Department and Professor of Old Testament, wrote our featured article this month. As we prepare for Thanksgiving this month, he writes this –


George Washington initiated it nationally, on November 26, 1789, and Abe Lincoln institutionalized it in 1863, but Thanksgiving began here in America much earlier.

Claims for the first one include Texas, at San Elizario in 1598; Florida, at San Augustine, in 1565; Virginia, at Berkeley Hundred in 1619, as well as the Pilgrims, in Plymouth, in Massachusetts, 1621. The Pilgrims set theirs separate from Sabbath worship, held on a weekday, and ours is most like theirs.

But let’s step back even further, to Bible days. Let us consider Thanksgiving from the perspective of biblical festivals.

The Hebrew word for ‘thanksgiving’ is todah (תּוֹדָה). The todah offering is one example of a ‘sacrifice of well-being’ (zevach shelamim) (זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים) according to the instruction in Leviticus 7:11-15. Prayers of thanksgiving in the psalms are offered with sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 107:22, 116:17 for example.)

For a parallel to the Pilgrim festival of Thanksgiving, Deuteronomy 26:1-11 provides instructions for thanks to God as the Hebrews entered the promised land. The verses describe a harvest festival of first-fruits, probably celebrated in conjunction with the festival of weeks (called Pentecost in the New Testament.) The ‘order of service’ in the text indicates several steps:

  • A pilgrimage (vv.1-2)
  • A declaration by the worshipper (v.3): A testimony that God has been faithful to his promise of land (‘erets)( אֶרֶץ)
  • A transference of the offering to the priest (v.4)
  • A response by the worshipper (vv.5-10): A ‘historical credo’ (Latin for “I believe”) that acknowledges the “fruit of the ground (אֲדָמָה)” comes from the “gift of the land (אֶרֶץ).”
  • A communal celebration (v.11)

Through this festival, the Israelites were bearing witness that bountiful blessings come from a promise-keeping God, not the fertility deities of their Canaanite neighbors. Thanksgiving calls us to the same confession.


Contact Rich at for further information.



Christmas Fantasia – Group Sales

StAndrews.Doc260Kick off the Christmas season with us! Enjoy favorite carols and breathtaking masterpieces performed by Vanguard University’s 200-member choirs and orchestra, in the elegance and acoustical perfection of two stunning venues -


Tuesday, December 2
8pm | Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Friday, December 5
8pm | St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

**Group discounts are available at the December 2 concert ONLY**


This would be a great way to bless your Church staff or board members!


Katie Heemstra
Vanguard University Special Events
(714) 966-5441 |

Event hashtags – #ChristmasFantasia #VUMusic




Missionary Intern to a “Start Up” Mission



We can’t tell the name of the places.


In at least one case, no known local Christians are there.


“Missionaries” are just at the stage of trying to “make friends,” and “making disciples” is somewhere in the future.


Vanguard University students Niki TKiera.solo560rueb ’16 and Kiera Husband ’16 spent 8 weeks last summer, with teams of Assemblies of God workers, in a pilot missionary project, learning missions at this earliest of stages.


They were Vanguard representatives among the 20 students from AG universities from across the nation that AG World Missions sponsored in this front-edge effort. AGWM picked up all the cost except $1500 in an experiment to help students learn how to introduce the news of Jesus where He is not known.


Practically speaking, how do you do this? Organized meetings are out of the question. Song services, “street meetings,” sermons? Not for quite awhile.


Instead, you introduce the idea that you are a follower Jesus in the first five minutes of every conversation. They spent time with Christ each day, focused on him, then talked about him. It is Niki.Kids560about Jesus.


They taught English, learned the local language, lived with their own cooking, and cold water only. And started friendships.


When the opportunity for followup questions came, they were ready. And the questions did come. In one case, it was a local leader who asked, “”Can you give me a French Bible? Who is this Jesus? Why do you believe this when I believe that?”


Niki.VIllage560From Niki: My biggest takeaway is definitely the fact that I have so much more confirmation in my faith after this trip – seeing these people live such empty lives based on what we know as lies, confirmed everything I have ever believed in Jesus Christ. However, these people are also the most loving individuals I have ever met, and my heart remains on that little island, with people who I was afraid of at first but are now some of my nearest and dearest friends. I was there for 58 days and my heart definitely broke in more than 58 ways, I will never forget my time there and definitely plan on returning after school!




From Kiera: I learned how to love people without needing to use words; our actions make all the difference. God showed me the importance of loving every person no matter how different they are. Sharing the Gospel requires at times being put out. GoinKiera.praying560g to Eastern Europe has showed me how big a God we serve, and the heart He has for His people. Jesus died to save everyone not just a few. When we look at people according to the worth God sees them, that makes all the difference.


Was this investment worth it, or was this just an interesting summer junket? “I left my heart there. I will go back.” That kind of evaluation suggests that it has already paid off for all.



For more information on VU’s many summer trips:

Kayli Hillebrand

Vanguard University Global Outreach

(714) 662-5262 |


Assemblies of God World Missions





Chapel Services



Chapels are the heart of the campus time in worship and the Word. Planned carefully, their pattern may help you think about your preaching themes. After sitting down with Bryan Rouanzoin, Associate Director of Chapel and Discipleship, to discuss this, here is their approach.


Who I Am In Christ (identity), and Who We Are In Christ (community), are the core themes for the two eight-week blocks of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Chapel services this fall.These themes form a good base to start a college semester, and are two on the eight themes to be presented during a four-year program.


Given those themes, how are they to be preached and taught?


In a student survey, some clear preferences emerged:

  • Students want ongoing connection with primary chapel speakers, rather than a majority of outside voices.
  • They want biblical preaching rather than organizational promotion (being “preached to” rather than “promoted at!”).


We organized a Chapel Planning team: staff and faculty members from across the campus, whose areas of expertise include pastoral leadership, worship, and aesthetics; and also mental health and multi-cultural programming.  Each of these men and women has a passion to see our students worship God, know Jesus and learn to hear the voice and leading of the Spirit.


One of the primary changes that emerged from this team was a shift to primarily on-campus chapel preachers.  This allows students to become familiar with preaching styles and grow in relationship as their professors or staff members journey with our students through scripture.


The primary speakers this fall include:

President Mike Beals

Bill Dogterom, A/G minister and Religion professor

Jon Allbaugh, Dean of Spiritual Formation

Doug Hutchinson, Director of the Counseling Center

Bryan Rouanzoin, Associate Director of Chapel and Discipleship

… Also, about one third of our scheduled speakers are women.


In addition, we will host occasional off-campus speakers, being strategic about how many are invited and how they are connected to the student body. Local pastors, such as Karl Vaters, Chris Harrell and Scott Rachels, who are known and respected by students, get priority as well.


Local campus life provides a good source as well, with departments such as Music, Communication, Athletics, and student speakers given opportunity to lead.


The Chapel schedule also includes an in-depth Monday night verse-by-verse Bible study called “Excavate,” led by Bill Dogterom, and the popular, “Shine,” a Wed 9:30pm worship service.


Click here to check out who will be featured in Chapel this semester.
May lives be changed as students meet with God!


For further conversation, contact Bryan at