Nationally known leaders join seminary as mentors

Villodas and Pathak bring wisdom, experience to Ministry, Leadership & Culture program at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary

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Fresno Pacific University is the Mennonite Brethren institution located in Fresno, Calif. with regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

Two new mentors bring national reputations to the Master of Arts degree in Ministry, Leadership and Culture at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.

Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship in the New York City borough of Queens, and Jay Pathak, founding pastor of Mile High Vineyard in Denver and national director of Vineyard USA, join as guest teaching mentors. Each will engage with students both online and in-person during the program, which is aimed at people already working in ministry who wish to expand their personal growth and deepen their understanding of service.

Authors and speakers as well as pastors, Pathak and Villodas are innovative, visionary leaders who bring a wealth of wealth and experience, according to Brian Ross, director of the program and associate professor of pastoral ministries at the seminary, part of Fresno Pacific University.

Pathak offers a deep understanding of outreach-oriented community and the oversight of hundreds of churches, and Villodas brings skills in transformative leadership and spiritual communication.

“We have chosen to partner with Rich and Jay because we feel they will be a good fit for us and helpful to our students,” Ross says.

Rich Villodas pastors multiracial church 

Rich Villodas is the Brooklyn-born lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large, multiracial church whose congregation represents more than 75 countries in two locations in Queens and Long Island, New York.

Villodas is also a key speaker for the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship movement. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Nyack College and Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. He enjoys reading widely, as well as preaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, justice-related issues and the art of preaching.

He and wife Rosie have two children and reside in Queens.

Villodas’ award-winning first book, The Deeply Formed Life was released in September 2020 and his second book, Good and Beautiful and Kind, was released in 2022. His third book, The Narrow Path, will be released in July.

New Life Fellowship Church began in September 1987 in a small wooden church in Corona, New York. Beginning with less than a dozen dedicated individuals, the congregation set out to establish a high-quality church with several core commitments: passion for Jesus, quality community life built on small groups, a focus on grace, taking the gospel to the streets, engaging the poor and marginalized and bridging racial, cultural, economic and gender barriers.

More at: New Life Fellowship – Find Community | Be Deeply Formed | Live on Mission

Jay Pathak leader in Vineyard USA

Jay Pathak is the national director of Vineyard USA and lead pastor of the Mile High Vineyard, a family of neighborhood churches in the Denver-area communities of Arvada, Northwest, East Denver and Lakewood.

With the world reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a dozen 20-somethings—including Jay Pathak and wife Danielle—arrived in Arvada after a cross-country drive from Columbus, Ohio, to start a church and minister to those far from God. They believed the gospel of Jesus is for everyone, that God heals people today, that you don’t have to be weird to follow Jesus and that justice is central to the gospel.

Pathak is passionate about raising leaders around him by placing people on teams where they thrive. He thinks of ministry in the context of culture and developing relationships and partnerships in the city, government and across denominational lines. He co-wrote the book, The Art of Neighboring, with Dave Runyon and is a sought-after speaker and coach.

In Vineyard USA, Pathak has held leadership positions from intern for Rich Nathan at the Columbus Vineyard to the Vineyard USA Executive Team. His Bachelor of Arts in philosophy is from The Ohio State University and he graduated from the Vineyard Leadership Institute. He and Danielle have two daughters.

More at A growing community of local churches committed to the message & practice of the kingdom of God. – Vineyard (vineyardusa.org) and Mile High Vineyard – Mile High Vineyard

M.A. program 

The Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership and Culture is a three-year, mostly online program grounded in missional engagement with the changing culture. It is fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Participants serve in their ministry for at least 10 hours per week, attend a weekly 90-minute synchronous discussion via video conference, attend three one-week retreats at different locations in North America and create their own cross-cultural experience by graduation. Eash student is assigned a coach or spiritual director to help them develop into a highly equipped ministry leader.

Guest teaching mentors Villodas and Pathak will interact with students in several ways:

  • Once a semester each will be in a Zoom class.
  • Once a year each will spend one full day with students on campus. The visit will also include a public day with area ministry leaders.
  • Each summer they will join students for trips to a different city that also includes observation of local ministry practices.

“The goal is for Jay and Rich to serve as very thoughtful and gifted leaders who can bring spiritual wisdom in conversation with students,” Ross says.

More information at Ministry, Leadership & Culture, M.A. | Fresno Pacific University

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