Taylor Kern was ordained on January 31, 2016, at Ontario URC in California to pastor the church’s Spanish language ministry.
Ontario’s minister, Rev. Adam Kaloostian, led the evening worship service and officiated the ordination, assisted by Spanish-speaking elder, Gabriel Martinez. Rev. Jaimeson Stockhaus (PCA) preached and presented the charge. Other pastors in attendance included Rev. Michael Brown (Christ URC, Santee), Rev. Movses Janbazian (Pasadena URC), and Rev. Ronald Scheuers (First URC, Chino).
Rev. Stockhaus preached about “The Perfect Struggle” from Colossians 1:24-29, according to Rev. Kern. “He began by stressing the danger of the gospel ministry in that, at my ordination, I ‘awakened an ancient foe.’ Then he encouraged me to embrace the inexplicable joy of proclaiming the hope of glory found in Christ alone, that is, the hope that all things will be made right in the end through the new creational power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.”
Rev. Kaloostian noted three things that struck him in the message. First, Rev. Stockhaus mentioned how Taylor’s life and the initial stages of his ministry show positive fruit from his own work, coming to fruition after many years because of God’s faithfulness, something pastors often lose sight of in the uphill battles and setbacks along the way.
Second, “he charged Taylor to think of himself not as a cowboy, on a horse above commanding the sheep below, but as a shepherd, down on the ground with his fellow sheep,” he says. “Third, he charged Taylor to ‘always push back up over their eyes’ the lenses of the glorification, so they can see their happy future, since going through confusion and strife tends to make those glasses slip down on the bridge of our nose and disorient, discourage us.”
The ordination service caused Rev. Kaloostian to reflect on the past fifteen years. “It’s very humbling. The service was a whirlwind of emotions personally, and also thinking about our church. The strongest sense I had was how the Lord has loved and cared for me and my wife, shepherding us by this congregation. I thought about Pastor Rand Lankheet, who was the senior pastor when I came, and a mentor and friend. And how a child was prayed for ten years when we weren’t thinking one would come, and our son was born here, and baptized here, five years ago. And I have seen love grow, with so many in the church family, from me to them, and them to me. I want that for Taylor and Ariana here. And for so many more, for the English and Spanish language congregations, for our love to reach in Christ to so many who need Him.”
The commissioning part of the service most affected Rev. Kern. “The ordination service was an awesome experience, and by awesome I mean it in its etymological sense. I was full of awe as Christ was proclaimed and the ministry of the gospel was expounded, with all its dangers and joys. The sermon made mention of the fact that the Hebrew word for ‘glory’ is tied to the idea of weightiness, like a heavy mass. As the ministers and elders collectively laid their hands on me for the ordination, with their arms bearing down on my shoulders, I felt in that moment, as it were, the weightiness of God’s high calling on my life.”
The church hopes the devoted core group of Spanish-speaking church members to become a launching pad for church plants among the area’s large Latino population.
“As we look towards the horizon, our hopes optimistically rest upon the Holy Spirit working mightily through the Word of Christ,” Pastor Kern says. “We long to guide many unchurched, deceived, and damaged sheep who have wandered since birth into the fold of Christ, the Good Shepherd. Our core group is focused on witnessing to and disciplining our local Spanish speaking neighbors. In so doing we hope to increase the strength and stability of this covenant community, this local and visible manifestation of God’s family.”
Because Taylor Kern grew up in Southern California’s Inland Empire, he already understands the culture and has a heart for its people. He became a Christian in junior high and attended the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a view toward becoming a film studies major. But God changed his direction.
“Providentially I found a refuge for my soul in the on-campus Reformed University Fellowship [RUF] under the ministry of Rev. Jaimeson Stockhaus,” Rev. Kern says. “RUF connected me to the local PCA church and Jaimeson mentored me towards a more robust understanding of the Scriptures according to the Reformed tradition.”
Taylor’s undergraduate education included a stint abroad at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City. His passion for a reformation among Spanish speakers grew as he mastered the language and enjoyed the culture. He graduated from UCSB in 2011 with a BA in Spanish and married Ariana Martinez, a native Spanish speaker whom he had known since middle school. He also began considering seminary.
“My experiences in RUF leading Bible studies, planning fellowship events, and serving in other capacities both at UCSB and Mexico City, ignited within me the internal call to pursue the gospel ministry,” he says. “The church, mentors, and friends subsequently encouraged me to attend a Reformed seminary in order to test my gifts for the ministry.”
He enrolled at Westminster Seminary California and attended Christ URC during his seminary career. During his final year, he served as an intern for the Spanish language ministry in Ontario. (The position had become vacant when Rev. Ruben Sernas began serving Somerset Reformed Fellowship in Princess Anne, MD, in May of 2014.) Following Taylor’s graduation and successful candidacy exam, Ontario URC issued a call to him in December of 2015.
Rev. Kaloostian says, “While it goes without saying that the pool of guys who speak Spanish and who desire to labor in our United Reformed circles is small, such that Taylor was already on a short list by default, what led us to appreciate Taylor and his desire for this work are his gifts of a loving heart for Christ and His people, his zeal for evangelism, his evident personal piety, his range of pastoral gifts, and his highly recommended (by the Seminary community) biblical and theological competency.” He adds, “Also, and this is important to us, we think we have some good spiritual support in place for the Kerns, and we see part of our calling to upbuild Taylor and be used by the Spirit to cultivate his gifts as he starts his ministerial journey.”
Taylor and Ariana have been married for over four years and have an infant son, Josiah. In addition to the regular pastoral work associated with the ministry, Rev. Kern will also plan and host fellowship activities for the church’s high school students.
Spanish language services have been held at Ontario URC for nearly ten years. The group meets for worship in the church’s fellowship hall at 10:00 AM, and Rev. Kern teaches a survey of the Three Forms of Unity at 11:30.
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 13 & 35 of the February 24, 2016, issue of Christian Renewal.