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Get To Know Us

Our Senior Minister

The Rev. Dr. Arlene K. Nehring has served as Eden’s lead pastor and teacher, staff supervisor, pastoral care provider, and community organizer since November 2002.

Pastor Arlene was raised in rural Iowa and called to ministry at age 14. She was ordained by the Central Association of the Iowa Conference in 1988, and holds ministerial standing in the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Prior to serving as Eden’s pastor, she was a member of the United Church of Christ National Staff in Cleveland, Ohio, where she served as Associate Director for the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries. From 1988-1992 she served as Senior Minister of The Park Church in Elmira in New York, and from 1996-2002 she was Associate Minister at The Old South Church in Boston.

Pastor Arlene was awarded the B.A., magna cum laude, from Lakeland College, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1985; the M.Div. from Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts, in 1988; and the D.Min. in Preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1995. She holds professional certifications in organizational design from DePaul University, and she completed graduate course work in nonprofit management at Cleveland State University. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, she also completed Spanish language and cultural immersion courses in Querétaro, Mexico.

Arlene and her spouse, Stephanie Spencer, live in Castro Valley, California. Stephanie (a cultural anthropologist and public health worker) was raised in the Middle East, Europe, Peru, and Virginia. She is a lay leader at Eden Church and a language interpreter and cross-cultural resource person for Eden’s Compañeras Ministry.

Our Associate Minister

Pepper Swanson coordinates our Church School program (Grades K-12) and our Education, Spiritual Life, and Outreach Committee, which facilitates our Stewardship, E-Team, Fellowship, Spirit-in-Action, and other ministries. Pepper is also coordinating our communications, including the Sunday bulletin production, weekly e-Chimes, the monthly Chimes, and social media. Pepper also leads worship, preaches, and provides emergency pastoral care to the congregation when the Senior Minister is out of town.

Pepper, whose previous career was in public policy and local government, came to ministry later in life. She completed her Master of Divinity and ministerial training at the Pacific School of Religion in 2014 at the age of 52 and was approved for ordination pending call by the United Church of Christ in late February 2015. She served as ministry intern at the Community Church of San Carlos UCC and is a member of the NCNC Committee of Ministry, Section B. She has preached and taught at several UCC churches in the greater Bay Area, including Mill Valley UCC and San Rafael UCC.

Pepper’s academic background includes a Bachelor in Political Science from Willamette University and Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Pepper is passionate about preaching, writing, and poetry. She is an accomplished and award-winning quilter, who loves to hike and camp. Pepper, with her husband Scott and daughter Lia, has been a member of Eden since 2007.

Our Designated Term Associate Minister & Compañeros Ministry Coordinator

Marvin Lance Wiser began a three-year term of service with Eden Church on June 11, 2018. His ministry portfolio is focused on youth, young adults, and family ministries. Pastor Marvin, and his spouse, Yuliana, and their daughters, Sophia and Natalia, moved back to the Bay Area after a two year hiatus in Dallas, Texas, where Marvin served as Business Liaison for the Workers Defense Project. While in Texas, the couple founded Wiser Lingual Solutions, with four other family members. The company provides professional language translation services for public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

Yuliana Wiser Leon is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a school counselor. She currently serves, part-time, as Eden’s Compañeros Ministry Coordinator. Her ministry includes providing technical services for Padres Unidos de Cherryland and coordinating cross-cultural engagement experiences within and beyond Eden’s membership. Most recently Yuliana worked as a consultant and coordinator for the North Texas Immigrant & Education Table. Prior to that time she served as a school psychologist in the Boston Public Schools.

Yuliana holds the M.A. degree in Clinical Psychology with Marriage and Family Therapy Concentration from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) School of Psychology, Mexico, where she was Valedictorian of her graduating class in 2009. She received her B.A. degree from Harding University in Searchy, Arkansas, where she majored in Psychology.

Pastor Marvin is currently completing his dissertation for the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He completed his undergraduate degree in Bible, psychology, and religion at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and the Master of Divinity degree at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Marvin also holds a certificate in International Mission & Ecumenism from the Boston Theological Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and he completed studies at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.

Pastor Marvin was born and raised in Fayetteville, Tennessee in the a cappella Churches of Christ. He was ordained in the Disciples of Christ denomination, holds ministerial standing with Southwest Region of the Disciples of Christ, and is pursuing dual standing in the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Our Music Director & Organist

jessie edenA native of Taipei, Taiwan, Jessie received her first piano lessons from her mother, SuMei Shen, when she was 5 years old and played her first public performance at age 9.  Aside from many national awards in her native country, Dr. Lo has won prizes in international competitions and her performances have been heard in many countries, including Taiwan, Japan, Austria, Germany, San Marino, Spain, Italy, Belarus, Poland, Brazil, England, and in the U.S.

Jessie received the Bachelor and Master degrees in piano performance at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, where she studied with Hans Petermandl and Michael Krist. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from Boston University in 2012, where she had been Teaching Assistant for private piano lessons, as well as Collaborative Piano Assistant. Jessie’s dissertation was Piano Music of Mathilde Kralik von Meyrswalden (1857-1944) and was also published by Certosa Verlag in Germany.

Jessie was pianist/organist for Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Vienna from 2000 to 2007, during which she performed several organ/piano concerts in various old churches in Austria. She was organist/pianist at Church of Christ, Scientist in Marshfield, Massachusetts From 2008-2012. She was the Associate Music Director and Organist/Pianist at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee Florida from 2013 to August 2015 when she began her work at Eden Church. In addition to her church service and concert engagements, Dr. Lo is a dedicated music teacher with knowledge and experience in methods taught in Asian, European, and America. She also speaks Mandarin, Taiwanese, English and German fluently and has knowledge of Italian and Portuguese. Jessie’s husband, whose name is also Jessie, is a classical guitarist. The couple has two children, Natalie and Neal, and a beloved cat, Silver.

Jessie describes herself as passionate about her work as a church organist/pianist/musician. “Playing music to serve God,” she writes, “is a way for me to connect to my deepest beliefs, and it is a way to bring people closer to the ultimate serenity/peace in their hearts.”