2015-09-04 / Faith

Spiritual center’s new pastor dedicated to serving the community

By Melissa Simon


NEW BEGINNING—The Rev. Steve Rambo, the new lead pastor of Simi Valley’s Center for Spiritual Living, will deliver his first sermon at the local congregation Sept. 13. He takes over from former lead pastor Jim Lockard. 
JOAN PAHOYO/Acorn Newspapers NEW BEGINNING—The Rev. Steve Rambo, the new lead pastor of Simi Valley’s Center for Spiritual Living, will deliver his first sermon at the local congregation Sept. 13. He takes over from former lead pastor Jim Lockard. JOAN PAHOYO/Acorn Newspapers Though he was never forced to go to church as a kid, the Rev. Steve Rambo said, he always knew there was something greater out there organizing the universe in a way that works for everyone.

The son of a psychologist and an artist, the Studio City resident said he was what people could call “unchurched” because his grandmother was Episcopalian, one of his grandfathers was Catholic and the other was Baptist.

“I grew up around all these different churches, but none of them ever really resonated with me,” said Rambo, 58. “There was something missing in my life and I didn’t even know it until I was invited to three different Centers for Spiritual Living by three different people in two months (in 2001).”

That year, Rambo bought a book available through the Centers for Spiritual Living called “The Science of Mind” and discovered that the “something greater” he’d been aware of was called “it.”

“The ‘it’ is something really important to each individual and is as different as a fingerprint or a snowflake,” he said. “It’s something that’s uniquely yours to do in the world. I began taking classes in 2001 to learn more.”

Now Rambo will deliver his first sermon Sept. 13 as the new pastor of Simi Valley’s Center for Spiritual Living at 1756 Erringer Road. The 200-member congregation is celebrating its 30th anniversary in October.

Journey into ministry

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rambo worked as an environmental reporter and weathercaster in the TV news industry for 30 years before becoming a pastor.

The pastor said his TV news days were over in 2001 when his contract with CBS wasn’t renewed.

“I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my life at that point,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to leave Los Angeles, but there were no other weather jobs available at the time and I didn’t know what to do.”

Rambo’s aunt invited him to attend the Founders Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles, one of hundreds of Centers for Spiritual Living throughout the world. Over the next few months Rambo was invited to two other such centers.

When he visited his mother in Oakland, she invited him to visit the East Bay Church of Religious Science. Shortly afterward, a close friend of Rambo’s asked him to join her at the North Hollywood Church of Religious Science.

“The opportunity to learn this (Science of the Mind) teaching really helped me understand there are no mistakes and you can move beyond wherever you are to what you need to be and do,” he said.

In 2005 Rambo joined the Founders Church as an administrator. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology and liberal arts from Antioch University in 2007, as well as a master’s in consciousness studies from the Holmes Institute in 2013.

In 2013 Rambo became an assistant pastor at Founders Church.

Last October, the Rev. Jim Lockard, who headed Simi Valley’s Center for Spiritual Living for seven years, announced he would be retiring. The church has been operating without a lead pastor since January.

Rambo, one of eight candidates for the job, was selected at the end of June by the center’s board of trustees to lead the center in Simi Valley.

“There was no drop-off in numbers, collections and enthusiasm because this is a community, a family, and they love each other,” the new pastor said of the congregation. “That’s the stuff that gets me going and this church proves what we teach: There is one life common to all. Who could ask for a better place to work? What I want to do is to really tap into the community.”

Leading the church

Rambo said his first goal is to get to know city officials, law enforcement and nonprofits to learn where the church can fulfill needs throughout the community.

“There are a lot of places where government cutbacks and fiscal constraints are challenges . . . and centers like ours can create nonprofits (to collect) funds to provide services to the community,” he said.

Growing the church doesn’t necessarily mean adding new members but being able to improve lives, the reverend said.

“It’s not about making more people come to church; it’s really about taking the church to people, and I think we have the ability to do that.”

Drawing inspiration from everywhere, one of the pastor’s recent series at his former congregation was based on old soap operas like “Days of Our Lives, “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live.”

“I also plan to draw from the metaphysics of “Star Wars” (for upcoming talks) because Yoda is a great philosopher. Even Darth Vader has some good philosophy he can share,” Rambo said.

For more information on the church, visit cslsimi.org or call (805) 527-0870.

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