It feels like I have spent half my life as a minister for the Conejo Valley Church…that may be because I have. When my family moved to Thousand Oaks, I was 30 years old, Tami was 29, Brendin was not quite 3, Caleb was soon on the way (but we didn’t know it) and Alicia wasn’t even a glint in her mother’s eye. As I am writing this, I am 60. How did we get here so fast? In many ways I still feel like the same enthusiastic, idealistic youth minister who landed here 30 years ago!

Back then, we just wanted to make a difference for teens. We wanted to come to know the group here, put in a few good years of ministry and see what God had lined up for us next. Little did I know that this place, and our ministry that blossomed into relationships and influence all over Southern California and beyond, would largely be my life’s work and one of my greatest joys.

While walking with you, Conejo, God impressed upon me the importance of positive memories. Not just memories that make you smile, but good, positive memories that confirm our value and guide the trajectory of our lives. Great memories of laughter and hard work with friends; memories of holy moments and encounters with Christ; memories of people who have become more than friends as we walk through crises together and come out changed for the better on the other end; these are the stuff of which lasting ministry is made.

Through trial and error, and an ongoing prayer-walk seeking vision for ministry, I learned that effective ministry is about building positive memories and tying those memories to Christ. You, my Christian siblings of Conejo, and the ministry of this church, are the playground and laboratory that God used to teach me the truth of this hypothesis. Once I had the inkling that positive memories might be a key to spiritual disciplines and discipleship, I tested the theory. Through crazy mission trip fundraisers and wild antics at camp, through prayer stations and drive-by donut days, through experiential Advent and Good Friday events, I learned that God is present and makes himself known when we build memories together. He loves to be an integral part of the fabric of our lives. With your help I learned that my greatest skills and my best role lie in helping you come together and build memories that will make you smile and be grateful to God.

I have loved being a minister for this church. My children learned to love God and love others through each of you here who helped us raise them. I am a richly blessed man. My family has a rich legacy. That is all largely due to what God has done in us because of you, Conejo. The richest treasures I take with me into our new adventure in New Mexico are the positive memories of what God allowed us to share with you. Thanks for the memories!

Jack Williamson
Author: Jack Williamson