Pastor Search

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) of Dave Ardell, Tom Blabey (Chair), Judy Clark, Meryle Gaston, Amanda Hur, Bob Kanard, and Michelle Martinich quickly got to work following their installation in January.  After connecting with the Presbytery Committee on Ministry liaison, including a quick tutorial on process, timeline, and expectations, they jumped into the work reviewing all the current documentation, including the 2019 Mission Study (with 2020 Addendum) and Ministry Information Form (MIF), as they built a candidate profile.  The MIF was approved by Session in March and posted online shortly thereafter. Please view the MIF here.

The PNC is grateful for members of the 2019-2020 PNC who have shared learnings, best practices, and other words of wisdom as they forge a path forward in this process.

The committee also deeply appreciates the support from the congregation and feels extremely fortunate to have prayer partners assigned to each of them personally who are praying that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit in this important decision. The PNC understands the future of our church will be impacted by the choice of our next pastor and they do not take this task lightly. Each meeting begins with prayer and committee members take turns leading in a devotional.

Updates on the progress of the search are provided to the congregation weekly in the email newsletter and regularly in the service on Sundays.

Candidates are welcome to self-select, so if congregation members know of a likely candidate, please encourage them to apply.  Interested candidates may contact the PNC via email: [email protected]

Join with the PNC in lifting up this important task in prayer and feel welcome to talk to any committee member about the process.


Michelle Martinich

Michelle Martinich grew up in the Presbyterian Church and started attending First Pres of SB over 17 years ago when Chris and Michelle moved back to Santa Barbara, after meeting at UCSB and living in LA for a few years. In addition to being a mom of 3 children, Madison (17), Jacob (13), and Preslee (6), Michelle is the Chief Financial Officer at American Riviera Bank and has served in this role since the Bank’s opening in 2005. Preslee is a recent graduate of the ECC and Michelle was co-Chair of the Capital Campaign and member of the Associate Pastor APNC. Michelle is involved in the community, serving as a Girl Scout leader, volunteering at PATH and HEARTS, and is a former Board member/Chair of VNA Health. Michelle is excited about this opportunity to serve our church and congregation


Bob Kanard

My wife and I moved to Santa Barbara in 2017 and soon found a home at First Presbyterian Church Santa Barbara. Our five children (ages 7 to 18 years) have enjoyed participating in Sunday school, Club 456, and the senior youth group. I am the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Cottage Hospital. I am proud to serve on the FPCSB PNC, and I look forward to helping call the next pastor.


Dave Ardell

I became a member of First Pres 20 years ago. 16 years ago, I joined the Finance and Facilities Team and still serve. I am currently the Treasurer and have been for several years. I have served as an Elder. I coordinate the PresbyFolks fellowship group and oversee a Koininia support group. I have served on the Soul Food team since its inception. I’m looking forward to being on your PNC and finding an outstanding new Head of Staff Pastor for FPCSB, who will bring growth of Young Families and Youth to our congregation. FPC is a very attractive church for any Pastor looking for her/his call to a new church.


Amanda Hur

I was born and raised in Santa Barbara and grew up at First Pres SB. I currently work with the Youth here at First Pres. I have worked in youth ministries since 2013, first in Hawaii and then now back here in SB. I was involved with Youth With A Mission also known as YWAM for about a year in Australia and Japan, I have a huge heart for missions and evangelism. I am passionate about people experiencing the love of God for the first time and being undone by Christ’s presence. I am so excited to be on the PNC here at First Pres SB! We are excited for what God has planned and we are listening to the Lord.


Tom Blabey

Tom and his wife, Kristen, have been members of First Presbyterian Church since 2008 after having attended periodically before then as guests of Kristen’s grandmother, who had been a long-time member of the congregation. They were married by Judith Muller at First Pres in 2004 and each of their three girls attended the Early Childhood Center from infancy through pre-school. He is serving his third term as an Elder and sits on the ECC Ministry Team. Tom was a member of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) that culminated in First Pres calling Pastor Erik in 2011 and the Interim Pastor Nominating Committee (IPNC) that brought Pastor Charles in 2019.


Judy Clark

I was born and raised in Laguna Beach where my 96 and 98-year-old parents still live in the house where I grew up. I have a BA from UCI in English, a Masters in Psychology from Pepperdine, and a Masters in Theology, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Fuller Seminary. I worked 38 years in private practice in clinical psychology, was an assistant professor at USC teaching medical residents to be psychologically minded, and was an adjunct professor for Pepperdine.

Rob and I have been married for 39 years. We have 4 kids and 3 grandkids. I was on Session at Laguna Pres and am currently a deacon at our First Pres. I was on an assistant pastor nominating committee in Laguna Beach. We have one dog, Trader Joe, and we have two horses, Cash and Willow, who we ride every week. I’m looking forward to serving our church on the PNC.


Meryle Gaston

I started attending FPCSB in Nov. of 2001 when I returned to California after 21 years in NYC & 10 years in Ithaca, NY. I joined with the first class of 2002. I was 20 years a member at FPC in the City of New York, where I was an elder and a deacon. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and I am a confessed “polity nerd.” Therefore, it seems appropriate that I currently serve as Clerk of Session. Since 2004, I have served on Session several times. I have been actively involved with the Adult Spiritual Formation & Education Ministry for more than 10 years. I was chair twice, facilitate the Sunday morning adult class, and help facilitate the twice-a-year mid-week study series. It was a pleasure to serve on the 150th Anniversary Committee and to participate in the re-enactment of the first service in 1869.

I am retired from UCSB (emerita) since 2016, where I was Middle East Studies Librarian. Most FPCSB folks are well aware of my passion for & 50+ year’s involvement with the region – and that I love sharing my experiences. I have made 6 mission trips to the area since coming to FPCSB. This picture was taken on one of those trips by FPCSB’s mission partner, the Rev. Chris Callison, at a 7th c. monastery in Northern Iraq.