United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks
Thursday, November 26, 2015


Reverend Steve Peralta   Senior Pastor
Pastor Steve arrived at UMCTO in July of 2006 to serve as pastor. A product of Anaheim, California, he was first ordained in 1998, and holds a B.A. of English from Humboldt State University and a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. He often says that God “dragged me kicking and screaming into the ministry.” He is equally comfortable singing modern worship songs or traditional hymns from the past. He enjoys the mysterious presence of God in silence and chant and believes that ministry is a work of the entire church body: all Christians are called to ministry.
When he isn’t busy pastoring, Pastor Steve enjoys keeping his body on the move: running, cycling, backpacking and mountaineering, snowboarding, and international traveling. His non-active interests include reading, loud music (both listening and making), and eating really, really good food.
Gabe Salazar    Director of Worship

Gabriel Salazar, Director of Worship, was born in Houston, Texas, the eldest of six children.  No one else in his family is musically inclined he says, but he must have had a musical ancestor somewhere because from high school on, he knew music would be his future career.  So, after high school, Gabe moved to Phoenix, Arizona to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at Grand Canyon University; then traveled to the eastern U.S. where he completed a Masters Degree in Music Performance from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. 


At both colleges, Gabe was active in vocal performance.  While at Grand Canyon U., Gabe formed The New Life Singers in 2010. This group is now Grand Canyon University's  premiere traveling performing group.  He successfully facilitated and executed over 400 performances for The New Life Singers across the western United States for over 3 years. He also produced and managed The New Life Singers very first album, "Captivate".  While at Lee U., Gabe was a member of the Lee University Singers, performing around the U.S. and abroad; and for three years he was Director of Second Edition, a small vocal group that performed throughout the U.S. every summer.

Returning to Grand Canyon University to work toward an MBA, in 2013, Gabe was named Grand Canyon University College of Fine Arts and Production Faculty Member of the Year.

Gabe has used his vocal and musical training as a worship leader or musician for several churches, including Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago; First United Methodist Church of Phoenix, Arizona; as well as Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix. 


He is affiliated with American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and is a Board Member of the Arizona District Metropolitan National Opera Council.  In his spare time, Gabe enjoys running marathons, and is currently training for an upcoming race in Hawaii! 

Robert González
  Director of Children & Youth Ministry

Robert González came to UMC Thousand Oaks in the Spring of 2015. He received a Bachelor’s degree in sociology at UC Santa Barbara and Master’s in religion at Azusa Pacific University where he is also an adjunct professor in their school of theology. He lives in wonder and deep appreciation of the strangeness in our all being called and built up to be living members of the Body of Christ, but then, he’s a soccer fan in the US so strangeness is kind of his thing. 

He was born and raised in Southern California so no matter where else life or travels take him, he prefers to be some place with dramatic elevation changes and more days of sun than rain.


May Simonds   Office Administrator

May Simonds was born in Farmington, Maine, the third of four children of a Methodist Preacher's Kid.  The family moved to Alaska in 1967, and she grew up skiing, hiking, fishing, camping and generally, enjoying life in the Last Frontier. 

She attended college at Oregon State University, and married high school sweetheart Michael, on July 26, 1978 at First United Methodist Church (on the Parkstrip) in Anchorage.  Michael is a corporate pilot with close to four decades of professional piloting and more than 20,000 accident-free hours in the cockpit. Naturally, next to Methodism, aviation has been a dominant life theme and area of interest.  May and Michael have two daughters, Eden, an artist living in Seattle, WA; and Monica, who is attending art school in Chicago. 

May has been a member of UMCTO since 1994, and office administrator since January, 2011.  

Diana Rainer
  Assistant Director of Children's Ministry

Diana Rainer, Assistant Director of Children’s Ministries, started her career here at UMCTO as a part-time babysitter at least a decade ago. She earned a B.A. in History with an emphasis on Medieval Studies in 2011 from CSUN, but her love of children continues to direct her in work and ministry at our church, and is a blessing to our families.

Diana is a native of Thousand Oaks. Though she was born here, her love of travel has taken her to various countries around the world, including England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Korea and Mexico. She even spent the summer after her graduation, studying more Medieval History at Cambridge! “I would travel anywhere”, she says, “though, the one place I’d love to see is Easter Island.”

Here at UMCTO, Diana is responsible for administering the Safe Sanctuaries policy, as well as organizing the children’s Sunday school program and our annual Vacation Bible School. The latter event regularly sees enrollment of close to 100 children and as many teen/adult volunteers. Her organizational skills are becoming legendary!

Diana keeps her Christian faith strong through her membership in and support of the Channel Islands Emmaus Community.

Mitch Schrader
   Facility Manager

Although Mitch was born in Indiana, he moved to Thousand Oaks in 1961, so has called California home for over 50 years now.  In fact, his first residence was on Whitecliff Road, just around the corner from the church, and he has had a close association with UMCTO since joining in the early 70’s.  Mitch and his wife, Debbie, are owners of a handmade toy company, Imagination Depot, creating charming, old-fashioned wooden toy trains that they sell online, and at arts & crafts shows locally and as far away as Kentucky. 

They have three grown children; Lisa, and twins, Candace and Miranda.  Mitch likes to tell people that he “knows a little about a lot of things”, and this hands-on aptitude, whether crafting wooden train engines or repairing a broken faucet, are what make him the perfect Facility Manager.