I am a second-generation Korean American, honored daughter of immigrants Wha Lim Han and Dr. Hye Kyung Kim. I am the beloved wife of my high school sweetheart, Jordan Powell, and the adoring mother of two daughters, Amelie Han Powell and Noa Han Powell.
I grew up in the East Bay, but journeyed east to study for the ministry and accept my first call. I spent ten years at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City—first as Associate Pastor, leading adult education and community groups, family ministries, and young adults; and later as Executive Pastor, overseeing the programming and administrative operations of the church. In October 2020, I was called home, and it is my honor now to serve as the Senior Pastor of First Pres.
As a pastor, my passion is helping people understand and articulate their faith in our diverse, multicultural, multifaith world. This passion informs my work on the strategy team of Next Church, the national movement that is envisioning the future of the Presbyterian Church (USA). And it is one of the guideposts of my ministry at First Pres as together we live into our mission to “love…serve…and pursue God’s restoring justice.”
Hometown Alamo, California
Education Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (minor in Dance), University of California San Diego
Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry, New York Theological Seminary
Reading The Book of Ecclesiastes, C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce
Watching “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Office,” “The Americans”
Rev. Drew PatonAssociate Pastor for Justice & Outreach
I was born in Yonkers, NY and raised in nearby Irvington—a small, affluent, 90% white village and suburb to NYC. I studied theatre at the State University of New York in Albany, and then received my BA from Hunter College while I (briefly) pursued a career as an actor in NYC. After graduation I took a job as a project coordinator for Bridges to Community in Nicaragua, where I had previously volunteered. I lived and worked among some of the most severely impoverished people in the western hemisphere—and learned from them more than I could ever possibly convey. It was there that I became committed to economic and racial justice work and to immigrant rights, and from there that I discerned a call to ministry.
While completing my MDiv at Union Theological Seminary in NYC I interned with the Poverty Initiative, Interfaith Worker Justice, and in the homeless outreach program at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church. I also met my wife Selene—a student at Columbia University School of Social Work at the time—in a joint “poverty-immersion” course. We traveled through Appalachia meeting with poor peoples organizations, wept and raged together over mountaintop-removal mining and human deprivation, and fell in love.
In the years that followed she ascended through the ranks of the ACLU to become a deputy national political director, and I went on to serve progressive, eclectic, justice-oriented congregations in urban, rural, and suburban New York. I served on the national board of More Light Presbyterians, helped to found two local chapters of Showing Up For Racial Justice, and led South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, NY, to become the first worshipping community in its county to provide sanctuary to an immigrant family facing imminent threat of deportation. We also became parents. Beckett (7) is a perceptive and deeply feeling kid with startingly good rhythm and a deep love of words. Serafina (5) is an impish and adventurous kid with a sidesplitting sense of humor and a deep love of dance. They both love bugs.
At the end of July, 16 months into the pandemic, we made the extraordinarily difficult decision to pick up and move our family across the country. This strange season—for all its challenges—has given us space to dream that was unavailable to us in seasons past. We’ve thought long and hard about what we most want for our children. We’ve thought, felt, listened, and remembered our way to some key truths: A) We want them to grow up surrounded by the splendor of the natural world—near to the ocean, the forest, the hills. B) We want them to grow up immersed in human diversity and committed to progressive social movements. C) We want them to grow up nourished by the arts—not just highly-polished final products, but gritty, playful, collaborative art in progress. As we began to hone in on these things it became clear that the Bay Area would be the place of greatest possibility for our family.
A colleague in ministry used to say that of all the words used to describe our role—minister, pastor, preacher, priest—the one he most preferred was the Old French “parson,” which simply meant “person.” It’s the simplest, oldest, most universal, most important, and, I suppose, most difficult calling which is reflected also in the mission statement of the church I served for the last five years: “To aid one another in the work of becoming more fully human.” That’s the only work that really interests me. I think this is what I’ve always been after: in punk rock and parenthood, vegetable gardening and antiracist organizing, in yoga and EMDR therapy, in slam poetry and parish ministry, in Brooklyn, the ‘burbs, and the barrios of Nicaragua, and—most recently, for me—onstage and in front of the camera, as an actor. It seems that what the world needs now more than ever is people willing and wanting and working to be human. I’m trying to answer that call.
Rev. Mark StrykerAssociate Pastor for Community Care
My three brothers and I grew up in the Garden State—New Jersey—in a family that ran a prosperous paint and wall-covering retail store. I went to college in Virginia and did my seminary work just outside Chicago. Prior to ordination, I worked in campus ministry in the New York/New Jersey area, at Drew University, Columbia University, and New York University. I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1995 and went on to serve two large congregations, first in New Jersey and then in California.
I was the Associate Pastor for Christian Formation here at First Pres for ten years before taking over our Caring Ministries in 2020. I currently serve on the Committee for Preparation for Ministry as a member of the San Francisco Presbytery. My wife, Karin, and I have two adult children (Scott and Brendan), two cats (Luna and Checkers), and one very active Australian cattle dog (affectionately known as Savannah). We live in sunny Pleasant Hill, California.
While I remain a diehard New York Mets and New York Rangers fan, the Oakland A’s are my adopted team on the West Coast. I love going to San Jose Sharks games when they play the Rangers and sitting with all the New York fans. I enjoy long trips on the open road and any excuse to go to Montana, as well as hiking, walking the dog, and ice skating (when I can find a rink).
Hometown Flemington, New Jersey
Education Bachelor of Science in Religion (minor in Greek), Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
Master of Divinity in Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois
Reading Historical fiction (all things medieval!), medieval spirituality and mysticism, and any novel by Michael O’Brien
Music Stevie Wonder, the rest of the 1970s, and anything Pat Metheny does!
Rev. Michelle Vecchio-LyzengaAssociate Pastor for Christian Formation
I was born and raised in California’s Central Valley but have long-time roots in the East Bay, where my father served as a fire captain for over three decades and my beloved, boisterous extended Italian-American family still resides. To great bewilderment of friends and family, I forsook California’s sunny skies and temperate weather to attend Calvin University in western Michigan. There, I discovered three important things:
“Layers” do not mean the same thing outside California.
Love can find you even when you’re not looking for it.
Beware general education requirements. They just may change your life.
Graduating with degrees in English Literature and Religion, I realized that what had begun as guilty pleasure courses in biblical studies, theology, and the sociology of the church had developed into an emerging call to Christian community development and formation. I journeyed further east to pursue a Master of Divinity with a focus on Christian education and public theology.
An accidental Presbyterian and pastor, I’ve been facilitating missional spiritual formation in diverse congregational, community-based, and academic settings for over a decade. I am passionate about fostering Christian community that is radically welcoming, intellectually engaged, and socially active. This passion drew me to the First Pres Berkeley staff in 2015 before receiving a call to serve as the Associate Pastor for Christian Formation in 2021. I believe that story has the power to transform us. The great privilege and joy of my work is hearing others’ stories (preferably over a cup of coffee) and exploring the intersection of our stories and God’s through narrative teaching and preaching.
My husband and college sweetheart, John, keeps me laughing and reminds me daily what grace looks like embodied. Together, we have the joy of parenting our son, Samuel, and our giant labrador Hildie (affectionately named after the church mother Hildegard of Bingen). After triangulating the Bay—from Martinez to San Anselmo to San Francisco—we are now enthusiastic residents of San Leandro.
Hometown Modesto, California
Education Bachelors of Arts in English Literature and Religion (minor in Congregational and Ministry Studies), Calvin University
Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary
Reading 19th-century British literature, historical fiction, public theology, and cheeky (i.e. honest) spiritual formation. Watching Anything by Taika Waititi. That man can make me laugh and cry like no other.
Jeff ChuParish Associate for Storytelling & Witness