CALIMESA, California – Pastor Chris Oberg of the Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church announced today that she will accept a call to serve as senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church in Riverside, California. Oberg will be the first woman to serve as senior pastor of an Adventist university church.
The announcement came at the end of the Sabbath worship hour. After delivering the sermon to a packed church, Oberg revealed that she had received and accepted an invitation to return to La Sierra where she served as associate pastor before coming to Calimesa. With tears, she acknowledged that her positive reception at Calimesa, a church of 1,200 members near Loma Linda, played a role in her historic appointment to the La Sierra University Church. She thanked the church for embracing her ministry over the past four years. She cited the openness of a college church to hire a female senior pastor and the opportunity to serve in an academic environment as two factors that led to her acceptance of the call.
Oberg received a standing ovation as she left the platform.
Oberg will succeed pastor Dan Smith, who resigned as senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church to become Southeastern California Conference’s Specialist in Creative Evangelism. In addition to his focus on evangelism for the SECC, Smith also joined with The Quiet Hour, an Adventist evangelistic broadcast media and publishing organization based in Southern California.
See press release.
Trained in dietetics, Oberg sensed God’s calling to ministry and left her career as a maternal and infant nutritionist to pursue a BA degree in religion from La Sierra University. While studying at La Sierra, she served on the pastoral staff of the university church. Oberg subsequently competed a master's of arts degree in religious studies in 2005. After completing her master’s degree at La Sierra, Oberg received a call to Calimesa to replace Derek Morris, who transferred to the Forest Lake Church in Apopka, Florida.
Oberg was honored by the La Sierra University Alumni Association during the 2007 alumni weekend (along with Spectrum editor Bonnie Dwyer and five others).
Oberg’s appointment as senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church is an historic step forward for advocates of full equality for women ministers.
On March 16, 2000, the Southeast California Conference Executive Committee voted to give male and female pastors equal credentials. During the Southeast California Conference Quadrennial Session in October of this year, a report revealed that women currently comprise 8.5% of all pastors in SECC (down from a peak of 12%). Of the 19 women pastors that serve in SECC, only two are senior pastors--Chris Oberg, and Hyveth Williams of the Campus Hill Church in Loma Linda.
Chris Oberg is married to Kerby Oberg who teaches pathology and anatomy at Loma Linda University. They have two daughters who attend La Sierra University.
For more on the history of Adventist women in ministry, please visit the following links from the Spectrum archives:
Refocusing the Ordination Discussion as a Local Issue
Landmarks in Women's Ministry Since Utrecht