Malibu Methodist Church’s Pastor Andy

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Pastor Andy Mattick with his wife Camille, son Jackson and daughter Maddie. Photo by Dana Fineman / TMT

Mattick transfers his ministry to Simi Valley

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

After three years as senior pastor at Malibu United Methodist Church, Andy Mattick will this week depart from his position to head the United Methodist Church in Simi Valley.

Replacing Mattick is Pastor Lynn Westover from the Native American United Methodist Church  in Anaheim. Westover, a Texas native who went to seminary at Claremont School of Theology, says she “is thrilled to be returning to the seashore.” She is married and has two grown daughters.

As senior pastor, Mattick has brought a somewhat New Age presence to a nearly 300-year-old branch of Christian Protestantism that has straddled both mainline and evangelical movements and currently is the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. (behind the Southern Baptist Church), with eight million members.

“I’m not doctrinaire,” Mattick said in a phone interview while discussing his tenure. “Some of the southern Methodist churches are a little more rigid about dogma. But the west coast Methodist churches seem to focus more on social justice. I think this ties into (Methodist Church founder) John Wesley’s emphasis of social holiness and the power of connecting our works of piety with what we preach. Our acts of mercy and justice should change the world.”

During Mattick’s tenure, the church’s ministry has focused on feeding the homeless, including their annual Thanksgiving feast for the needy and playing host to youngsters incarcerated with the L.A. County Probation Department at Camps David Gonzalez and Vernon Kilpatrick through programs like “Locked Up in Malibu.”

The improvisational youth troupe headed by Malibu resident Susie Duff centered last Sunday’s performance at the church on the theme of ordination, prompting Mattick to reflect on his own process of investiture.

“I’m not a Biblical literalist,” Mattick declared. “I’m a huge fan of science, the Big Bang theory and other processes that don’t always fit with conservative philosophy. I began to think the idea of Original Sin wasn’t fruitful when I had children. How could this sweet baby be sinful? They’re so angelic! Of course, they’ve grown up since then.”

Mattick’s father is also a Methodist minister (he helped at his son’s ordination ceremony) and Mattick attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX before he attended the Claremont School of Theology. He was the associate pastor at a Methodist church in Long Beach before moving to Malibu. He described the formative years of his clergy instruction as “rich and involved” in challenging and clarifying his convictions.

“They really push your buttons to make sure you have courage and character,” he said. “Ultimately, it all circles back around to the principal that God cared enough about us to offer us a way out of despair.”

Mattick’s full ordination was celebrated on Father’s Day. He said that the etymology of the word “ordain”-meaning to prearrange unalterably-resonated deeply with him.

“For me, it speaks of a profound sense of timelessness,” he said. “I thought of how the church has been with me for such a long time-baptism, confirmation-and how grateful I am for all the ways God has been in my life. The same spirit that brought me to Malibu takes me to Simi.”

The young pastor sees his move to the Simi Valley church less as a “promotion” than a new way to use his gifts at a church that has five times the membership of Malibu’s.

“I want to grow this ministry,” Mattick said. “The church is looking to respond to a growing demographic. It’s funny, but more people claim spiritual lives than ever before, yet church memberships are dropping across the country. As a church, we have to figure out how to be relevant and intentional in people’s lives. Giving someone a Bible and asking him to read it with no context is like giving someone an iPad with no instruction in how to use it.”

Mattick is also not shy about addressing the current social mash-up of faith and politics in American culture.

“Given the fact that faith is such a big motivator, it’s no wonder politicians appeal to that as a way to resonate with their political base,” Mattick said. “But I’m not a fan of using religion for political gain. Christ was not a Republican or a Democrat and churches that push a political conviction only cause problems with their tax-exempt status and create partisan pews.

“As a man of faith, I hope people vote their personal convictions,” he continued. “But you don’t want people showing up in church expecting affirmation of what some talking heads said on a morning news show.”

Dr. Lewis Fry, senior pastor at the Simi Valley United Methodist Church, said his congregation has been preparing for Pastor Andy for six months.

“I think what Andy will bring to us is a sense of youth and vitality,” Fry said. “This church has not had a pastor with young children in a long time. He’s also into triathlons, so he will be a good model to our community to stay healthy. We are ready to welcome him with open arms.”

Fry said that he gave a flowering plant to Mattick for his ordination, a symbolic passing of the reins from the old generation to the new, younger ministry. Mattick said he is ready to charge forward.

“People today claim a religiosity in a Diaspora of faith without having a community of faith to live in,” Mattick said. “It is up to us to bring a message from God to people who live in their time.”