2017-03-17 / Faith

A fresh adventure in ministry

Camarillo church selects a new spiritual leader
By Stephanie Sumell

WELCOME WITH OPEN ARMS—The Rev. David Hurtado is the new senior pastor at Camarillo Community Church. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers WELCOME WITH OPEN ARMS—The Rev. David Hurtado is the new senior pastor at Camarillo Community Church. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers The Rev. David Hurtado said he found Christ during a very dark time in his life.

When he was 14 and living near San Francisco, his mother was brutally beaten in an alleyway, leaving her severely injured, with broken arms and fingers, and extremely traumatized.

While the single mother of two teenage boys recovered from the random and brutal attack, a family friend often went to their home to help cook and clean.

The friend’s husband offered to take Hurtado and his older brother to church with him each week. The offer, the pastor said, led him to Christianity.

“It was a very difficult time, but that was the time when God got a hold of me,” he said. “It changed the trajectory of my life.”

Hurtado, whose mother eventually recovered, has made it his life’s work to help others change their lives for the better.

He was recently named the new senior pastor at Camarillo Community Church following a selection process that included a vote by church members.

The congregation’s former senior pastor, the Rev. Ralph Rittenhouse, retired recently and moved to Washington.

Rittenhouse helps to lead the nonprofit Global Discipleship Initiative, which he founded with the Rev. Greg Ogden, also a retired pastor, two years ago.

Hurtado said he has long felt called to lead a congregation, so taking the helm of Camarillo Community Church is “overwhelming and exciting at the same time.”

“It’s been a journey of trying to figure out exactly what God was going to be doing,” the 39-year-old said. “To have God open this door up is kind of surreal when you’ve been dreaming it for 20 years.”

Hurtado previously served as the executive pastor at Compass Church in Goodyear, Ariz.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Bible exposition from The Masters University and a Master of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology. Three years ago, he earned his doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Fred Jones, one of four church elders on the search committee that evaluated 15 applicants for the job, said the congregation welcomes Hurtado with open arms.

“(Hurtado) is very transparent, very open and very honest,” Jones said. “When we checked his references, everyone spoke of his integrity.”

Kelley Reid, the church’s worship pastor, said Hurtado is a great addition to the team. Reid praised the new senior pastor for his candor.

“He doesn’t shy from the truth but is always very compassionate,” the worship pastor said. “He is very good at speaking things in love without compromising the truth.”

Hurtado described his approach as straightforward.

“If the Bible says it, we teach it,” Hurtado told the Acorn. “There are times when Scripture can be very encouraging, and there are times when Scripture can be very challenging. We don’t shy away from the challenging parts.”

The church also won’t shy away from seeking new members.

Joel Morris, another church elder who served on the search committee, said Hurtado is an excellent preacher with a passion for reaching the unreached, particularly young people.

“Most churches in America are shrinking or closing, and the elders feel and David feels that’s not what God wants,” Morris said. “He just really has a heart for reaching the younger generation . . . and that’s our goal.”

Hurtado said he is eager to collaborate with church leaders and brainstorm how they can appeal to youths.

“We’ll try different things. Whatever sticks we’ll keep, and whatever doesn’t we won’t,” the clergyman said. “There was a generation that raised their children up (in the church), and now there’s an excitement to see a resurgence of that kind of thing.”

Hurtado said he is looking forward to his own family being a part of the Camarillo congregation. He and his wife, Meredith, have four children—two of whom they recently adopted after serving as foster parents.

The pastor is living with his wife’s grandmother in Woodland Hills while his four kids finish the school year in Arizona. He and his family plan to move to Camarillo sometime this summer.

Hurtado said he looks forward to leading Camarillo Community Church as it enters its next chapter.

“Everyone has been very welcoming,” he said. “I’m super excited to see what God does in Camarillo.”

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