by Julie Lorenz
In September and October, the Northern California Conference (NCC) ordained three pastors to the gospel ministry, confirming the Holy Spirit’s calling in their lives.
Carmichael church Associate Pastor Melissa Howell was ordained on Sabbath, Sept. 28, at her church in Sacramento. Her husband, Greg, and their children—Caleb, Toby, Brooke, and Wyatt—participated in the program.
Born in Glendale, California, Howell attended Crescenta Valley Adventist School, and she was baptized in the sixth grade. During her four years at Thunderbird Adventist Academy in Arizona, she first sensed a calling to ministry, which was confirmed by teachers, friends, parents, and church members.
Next, Howell enrolled at Union College in Nebraska to study theology with a youth ministry emphasis. While in college, she served as a student missionary in the Marshall Islands. During her freshman year, Howell met Greg in Greek class, and they married four years later. In the meantime, they built a traveling youth ministries team, which presented spiritual emphasis weekends at churches and academies.
Following graduation, Howell served as assistant girls’ dean, Bible teacher, and Sabbath activities coordinator at Auburn Adventist Academy in Washington State. After two years, the conference sent Howell and her husband to the Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan. While there, she led an evangelistic campaign in Bermuda when her first baby was only three months old.
Howell finished her Master of Divinity long distance in Washington, where Greg pastored a number of churches. Although she decided to stay home with her children, she continued to minister in a variety of ways—teaching part-time, preaching, writing, giving Bible studies, and leading two evangelistic series.
Howell is the author of two devotional books: Fusion and You’ll Laugh About This Someday. She served as a columnist for Adventist Today and Signs of the Times and writes for other publications.
In 2015, Howell became family life pastor at Carmichael. “I don’t know where this journey of ministry will lead me,” she said, “but I know Who leads me, so I say in full confidence: ‘Forever, Lord! Lead on—my life is Yours, forever.’”
Yuba City church Pastor Zach Reiber was ordained at his church on Sabbath, Oct. 12. His wife, Yvette, read the Scripture for the service.
Born in Loma Linda, Reiber spent most of his childhood in Roseville. Some of his favorite memories involve the Roseville church, where he was baptized. His first job was a summer position leading youth activities, and his first sermon was preached for a Youth Sabbath.
After graduating from Pine Hills Adventist Academy in Auburn, Reiber enrolled at Pacific Union College. During his freshman year, two special events took place. The first was meeting Yvette, and the second was his call to ministry. For Reiber, the call wasn’t immediate or dramatic but rather a gradual realization that God had a purpose for him. During college, he led a weekly worship ministry called “Lift,” and he spent a year at River Plate Adventist University in Argentina.
Following his graduation with a bachelor’s degree in theology, the Sunset Oaks (now Gracepoint) church in Rocklin hired Reiber as a local-funded youth pastor. For two and a half years, Reiber grew the youth ministry there by organizing activities, strengthening the Sabbath School program, and eating lunch with public school students. He and Yvette were married during this time.
The NCC then called Reiber to serve as assistant pastor at the Pleasant Hill church. He was tasked with organizing the worship service, giving Bible studies, and running the youth ministry. After two and a half years, the couple moved to Michigan so Reiber could attend the Theological Seminary at Andrews University.
After earning his Master of Divinity in 2017, Reiber was called to his current ministry. “I couldn’t ask for a more loving community in which to learn and grow in leadership,” he said. “Looking back on my journey, I am constantly reminded that we can trust God with our life on earth and through eternity.”
Placerville church Associate Pastor Brandon Kharns was ordained at his church on Sabbath, Oct. 19. His wife, Michelle, and two of their children, Orion and Zoe, participated in the service, while baby Jaden sat in the audience.
Although Kharns was born in Utah, within a year his family moved to California, and he spent his childhood in Camarillo and Escondido. After being involved in church music with his family, participating in Bible studies, as well as attending and leading youth conferences, Kharns was baptized.
After his graduation from Escondido Adventist Academy, Kharns worked at Timber Ridge Camp in Indiana before enrolling at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, where he was an outdoor education major. During those years, he served as a student missionary in New Zealand, founded the university’s Outdoor Adventure Club, and acted in Destiny, a touring drama team.
Following graduation, due to some research he had done, Kharns made a presentation at an international rescue conference and was offered a job in the rescue industry. Though this was a dream job, he felt like he was being called to something else. During this time, he and Michelle were married.
Then Kharns had ministry recommended to him—a surprise to him and his wife—but they saw the Lord clearly guiding, and he began studying at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan. After two years, the Nevada-Utah Conference called him to the Riverview church in Reno, where he completed his Master of Divinity online and served as associate pastor.
In 2016, Kharns came to the Placerville church, where he is the family life pastor. “Though I am certainly not where I once imagined myself, I am amazed at God’s working in the background to lead me to ministry,” he said. “It’s never easy, but I am incredibly humbled to be called to build His kingdom in this way.”