Meet our staff
Rev. Dr. Jon L. Berquist is President of the Disciples Seminary Foundation, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Claremont School of Theology, and Visiting Professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is a native Californian from First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Ventura, and is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He received a bachelor’s degree from Northwest Christian University, in Eugene, Oregon, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has taught at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as New Brunswick Theological Seminary and several other seminaries. He is also the author or editor of more than ten books, including Ancient Wine, New Wineskins: The Lord’s Supper in Old Testament Perspective, Reclaiming Her Story: The Witness of Women in the Old Testament, and Judaism in Persia’s Shadow: A Social and Historical Approach.
Rev. Belva Brown Jordan is Dean of Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont and serves as the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Assessment, and Associate Professor of the practice of ministry at Claremont School of Theology. Rev. Jordan began her ministerial career as a denominational executive for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with the Division of Homeland Ministry (Indianapolis, IN) as the director of racial/ethnic ministry. Jordan’s first faculty appointment was with Lancaster Theological Seminary (Lancaster, PA). After eight years at Lancaster, having earned tenure and served as dean of the faculty for one year, she moved on to Harvard University Divinity School (Cambridge, MA). For seven years Rev. Jordan served as the assistant dean for student life at Harvard Divinity. When the opportunity presented itself to serve in a Disciples of Christ affiliated seminary, Rev. Jordan became the associate dean for admissions and student services at Phillips Theological Seminary (Tulsa, OK).
Rev. Clarence Johnson is Disciples Seminary Foundation's Director of Pastoral Formation in Northern California. He earned the Master of Divinity Degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He was admitted into the Doctor of Ministry Program at the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California in February 2015 as one of only three DSF Presidential Scholars. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Christian Church Homes of Northern California; as Moderator of the Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada (CCNC-N) and most recently as Chair of the Regional Minister Search Committee. In 2007 he was called as Senior Minister-Pastor of Mills Grove Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oakland, California where he has served continuously until the present.
Rev. Xosé Escamilla is Director of DSF's certificate in ministry studies program. This program is offered in San Diego and Claremont in Spanish for the training of pastors and other church leaders. Xosé is pastor of Casa de Oración Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in San Diego and serves the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as deployed staff for Hispanic Ministries. He holds an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Rev. Dr. Jo Ann Bynum is the Director of Student Life at Disciples Seminary Foundationin Claremont, CA.An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she also serves as Directorof African American Ministries in the Pacific Southwest Region. For several years, she served as Executive Pastor of Abundant Life Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Los Angeles, CA.Subsequently, Jo Ann served as founding pastor of Sierra ChristianChurch (Disciples of Christ) in Las Vegas, NV for a period of eight years.Sheearned a Master of Public Health degree from UCLA (with a concentration in Hospital Administration) and a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.She was conferred an honorary Doctorate degree from the Southern California School of Ministry (Inglewood, CA) wherein she served as Assistant Professor and founding Dean of the school’s Doctor of Ministry Program.
Rev. José Morales Jr. is Disciples Seminary Foundation's Director of Pastoral Formation in Claremont. He served for four and half years as the Executive Regional Minister of the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which includes Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, northern New Mexico, and southeast Idaho. He has also served as the Associate Pastor at Iglesia del Pueblo-Hope Center, a multicultural Disciples congregation in Hammond, Indiana. During his tenure in Indiana, he was an adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary (Chicago) and the Clergy Caucus Chair of the Interfaith Federation (now, Northwest Indiana Federation), an interfaith community organizing network working on justice and public policy issues in northwest Indiana. José holds degrees from Judson University (B.A.) in Elgin, Illinois, and McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div.) in Chicago. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Comparative Theology and Philosophy at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA. José is married to Rev. Daphne Gascot Arias, an ordained Disciple minister, is currently serving as the Senior Minister of Downey Memorial Christian Church in Downey, CA. In October 2015, they welcomed their first child, Daphne Magnolia.
Rev. Jinsuk Chun is DSF's Director of Mission and Peace Education in Claremont. He most recently served as Executive Pastor for Northa American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD). He graduated from Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea) with degrees of BA & MA in the area of western social history and studied the philosophy of history in the Ph.D. course of History Department at Claremont Graduate University. He is also a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary/Southern California. His wife, Rev. Myungsun Cheon, is also a DSF graduate. They planted a new Korean American Disciples church, Sallims Christian Church, which was initiated at DSF building and settled in Newport Beach, CA. They still serve the same church as Co-Pastors.
Rev. Laura Jean Torgerson is the Director of Education and Mission of DSF, Northern California. She is a DSF student, pursuing a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Graduate Theological Union. Her research interests, in Biblical interpretation among Nicaraguan Pentecostals, grew out of nearly four years of serving as a missionary in Nicaragua with Global Ministries. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and has served in congregational ministry in Chicago and Washington, DC. She holds an M.Div. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Classics from Stanford University.
Nini Mejia is DSF's bookkeeper in Claremont. As a staff member of C Business Services, she worked on the conversion of DSF's accounting system, later transitioning into DSF's in-house bookkeeper. Prior to joining C Business Services, Nini worked as an accounting manager and a realtor. Nini lives in Orange County and she has 7 children and 15 grandchildren.
Jess Kim is the Executive Assistant at DSF, Claremont. She graduated from Chapman University in 2007 with a degree in English/journalism. She is a member of Sallims Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Newport Beach.
Rev. Jenny Crosswhite is the Publicist for Disciples Seminary Foundation. She also serves as pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Santa Paula and as council member of the city of Santa Paula. She holds an M.Div. from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary where she received the “George and Jean Edwards Award in the Interpretation of Scripture to Christian Life” and the “Melanie Lane Preaching Award.” She also received a dual Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Oregon University in Graphic Design and Spanish.
As DSF's Initiatives Facilitator Leah K. Laird, a classically trained chef, arranges all the meals for DSF, works with DSF Directors on CEU courses, and acts as reseach assistant to the President.
Leah is a Ph.D. student of Hebrew Bible, at Claremont School of Theology. Her research interests include Pilegeshim in the Deuteronomistic History, and measuring the psychological impact of sacred text translation on people of faith. She received an M.A.T. in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature from Fuller Theological Seminary, and holds a B.A. in Bible and a B.S. in Psychology from Howard Payne University.
Bethany Hager is DSF's Administrative Assistant. She graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2013 with both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Theology. She has a variety of interests. Bethany comes to us with a Lutheran background.
Rev. J. Bentley Stewart is Director of Student Life for DSF in Northern California. A DSF alumnus, he is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Chrsit) and has standing in the Northern California /Nevada Region, for whom he serves as one of the antiracism trainers. He is endorsed as a hospital chaplain by Disciples Home Mission. In his decade of hospital ministry, he specialized in pediatrics, palliative care, clinical ethics, interprofessional communication, and cultural bridging. He holds a B.A. from Flagler College, and a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Currently, he is organizing the core team to befin a new Disciples worshiping community in Marin, where he resides with Janel his wife, their two sons, Carter and VanIke, and their beloved 110 lb. lapdog, Norman.