Pastor Manuel Retamoza, III was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern CA. He received his bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Seattle Pacific University. After spending three years as a teacher for Head Start, San Joaquin County, CA, Pastor Manuel and his family relocated to Minneapolis, MN where he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary. It was during his time in seminary that Manuel transferred his church affiliation from the American Baptist Churches USA to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While in seminary Pastor Manuel drove a bus for Minneapolis public schools, worked at Home Depot, was on a residential construction crew, started an after-school program for students living in shelters in Minneapolis, and as a Mission Developer in Northeast Minneapolis. After his ordination, he accepted a call to serve St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in San Diego, CA as Associate Pastor of youth and social ministry, where he now serves as senior pastor.
Pastor Manuel is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and is a first-generation Mexican American. Being raised in California means his family history includes the US/Mexico border crossing with his family and his family’s crossing the border for generations. This family history and experience inform his call to ministry as he guides several border education experiences for groups from across the country and in his own congregation each year. In addition to serving St. Andrew’s, Manuel serves on the candidacy committee for the Pacifica Synod, as a convocator for California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA, is on the executive planning team for the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza, serves as VP and treasurer of the board for American Indian and Alaskan Native Association of the ELCA, is on the MYLE Team and Tech and Talent team for the 2022 ELCA National Youth Gathering and is the chair of the board for Miracle Ranch Children’s Home in Baja California, Mexico.
Manuel spends time with his family camping in their teardrop trailer, riding his bike regularly, and working on home projects. His wife Lisa is a skilled chef who shares her skills with St Andrew’s for meals throughout the year. Manuel Glen, their son, is a student at Patrick Henry and can often be found helping his father with projects around St. Andrew’s where he is also involved in youth group.
Their daughter Isabel lives in Chicago where she is employed as Executive Assistant for the National Association of Women Lawyers.
Pastor Sarah was called to St. Andrew’s on September 1, 2017. Her previous calls were in Glendale and Arroyo Grande. She and her husband Kevin are the parents of Zoe and Ezra. After graduating from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Pastor Sarah attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, which included an exchange student year at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA, and an internship year in Sioux Falls, SD. She was ordained in the ELCA on July 1, 2007. Pastor Sarah’s husband Kevin is ordained as a deacon in the ELCA and is a hospice administrator.
Pastor Sarah has a passion for faith formation at all ages and stages of life. She serves on the planning teams for the Lutheran Middle School Youth Gathering, The Western States Youth Gathering, and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. She also serves on the board of Agape House Campus Ministry at SDSU.
Her hobbies include creative arts like knitting and sewing, but she has also participated in two different roller derby leagues since moving to CA. Her family spends most of their free time going on adventures and exploring the arts and culture of San Diego.
Meri Jo has been a member of the staff since 1998, and a member of the congregation since 1986. Meri Jo handles much of St. Andrew’s administration, including many of the day-to-day operations, as well as being one of the Sunday morning “Go-To” people (along with Sara Zimmerly). She updates much of the content on our website and creates and sends congregational emails, including the weekly email containing the bulletin links and announcements. Her passion is adult education, particularly adult Bible Study. She shares leadership of the Tuesday Morning Bible Study with Pastor Manuel and Pastor Sarah. She also is a permanent weekly offering counter. If you have a question she can’t answer, about the Bible or anything else, she will research it until she finds the answer!
Meri Jo’s has served in leadership roles over the years at the congregation, synod, and national church levels. She and her husband of 30+ years, Ed, have two adult daughters who were baptized and confirmed at St. Andrew’s. Rachel is currently a student teacher in San Diego and is seen regularly around the church. Kate, along with her husband & son, lives in Oakland and makes her way to San Diego and St. Andrew’s a few times a year. Meri Jo enjoys reading, being outdoors, a good IPA, college sports, and enjoys being Grandma more than just about anything else.
Scott received his Master of Music in Theory and Composition from Indiana University in 1975. He became a member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran in the late 1970’s and has been an employee since the early 1990’s. Prior to that, he was very active in various aspects of the music program at this church.
Presently he is in charge of the musical portion of worship at St. Andrew’s. In addition to choosing, purchasing and preparing music for bulletins and performance, he arranges a number of pieces for some of the many music groups at the church. In a normal year he also plays the organ and piano for most of the services. In addition, he is the director of several choirs and serves as an accompanist for these.
Scott enjoys woodworking, composing/arranging music and camping in the desert.
Sara joined the staff at St. Andrew’s in 2000. She has been an active member since 1981. She attended Lutheran High School of San Diego and then went on to work at El Camino Pines Lutheran Camp (now part of LRCC) as a counselor and Outdoor School instructor. This is where her faith grew strong and she knew that working in a church setting would be the most fulfilling for her. Sara is our bookkeeper and in charge of our welcome ministry. On Sundays you will find Sara on the courtyard or near the doors greeting guests and introducing newcomers to others. Sara also coordinates New Member Seminars which explain what we believe and what ministries and opportunities are available.
As a part of Sara’s love for Lutheran Camping, she is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Lutheran Retreats, Camps and Conferences (LRCC)
Sara has been married to Tom for 25+ years. They have two children, both baptized and confirmed at St. Andrew’s. Both children followed in their mom’s footsteps and worked at LRCC. Currently Joe is Director of Youth & Family Ministries at Mt. Cross Lutheran in Camarillo and Maggie attends Grossmont College.
In her free time, Sara enjoys camping with her family and friends, reading and spending time at the beach.
Paula began working at St. Andrew’s in April 2015. Hers is probably the first voice you hear when you call, and she is likely the first person you see if you drop by the office. She is in charge of our publications (including weekly bulletins, Pinch of Salt, Salt Shaker newsletters, and various other items), keeps our calendar up to date, assists Pastor Manuel and Pastor Sarah with youth ministry tasks, and generally keeps the office running smoothly.
Paula was born and raised in San Diego, the eldest of three children. In her free time, she enjoys listening to a variety of music, attending concerts, taking long walks on the weekend, and spending time with her family and friends. She is the mom to two young adult men. Her eldest son, Adam, is in the management program at In-n-Out, and her youngest, Matthew, attends Grossmont College and CSU San Marcos.
Kristin Hetrick has been a member of staff since the fall of 2019, and a member of the congregation since 1984. You can find her on Wednesday evenings in the community center as a WIN dinner coordinator, and singing during our worship services.
Kristin and her husband Jason have been together for 20+ years, and have two girls that were both baptized and confirmed at St Andrew’s. Besides having a huge love of cooking and singing, she also enjoys reading, planning and hosting parties, playing board and card games, trying different cuisines, and finding the best places for brunch.
Valerie joined St. Andrew’s for the third time in July 2022, having previously served as a teacher at St. Andrew’s preschool from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2014. During her previous tenures, she wholeheartedly shared her dedication to early childhood education with our children and families. After obtaining her certificate as a board-certified assistant behavior analyst, Valerie worked as a behavioral interventionist and clinical supervisor for several years, providing support to children and families with special needs. Now, she has returned to St. Andrew’s as our Preschool Director.
Born and raised in Fletcher Hills, Valerie and her husband, Paul, have been happily married for 25 years. They are blessed with two adult children. Joseph is presently pursuing a degree in child and family development at San Diego State University while also contributing as a teacher’s aide at the preschool. Emma, who recently graduated from Grossmont High School, will commence her studies at San Diego State University in the upcoming fall. Paul is employed in the IT department of the San Diego Unified School District. In her leisure time, Valerie finds joy in reading and cherishes moments spent with her family and friends. At home, she finds comfort in the company of her two dogs and three cats. Her fondness for the color purple is an enduring passion. 💜