Senior pastor Jim Birchfield was born in 1956 in Waukegan, Illinois, and received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1979.
In 1989, Jim accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and sensed a call to full time Christian service. In 1992, this call became irresistible; Jim resigned his position as senior vice president of an international advertising agency and entered Fuller Seminary. At Fuller, he earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry while working at Los Angeles’ Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Throughout his four years at Bel Air, Jim served as director of high school ministry, director of missions and director of ministry to single adults.
In 1996, Jim accepted a call to St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, where he spent the next thirteen years as associate pastor for young adults, singles, missions, and discipleship and then executive pastor.
Jim is a voracious reader, who tries to stay current on Christian theology and its practical applications to his ministry. For pleasure, Jim also reads history, biography and modern fiction. In addition, Jim enjoys playing golf with friends and is a huge fan of college football, basketball and professional golf.
Since arriving at First Pres in 2009, Jim has continued to remain active in encouraging FPC ministries locally and globally. Currently, Jim serves on the board of The Outreach Foundation and Houston Christian Foundation, and on the advisory board for SRG.
In Jim’s own words, “The most critical issues facing today’s church are remarkably similar to those confronting the early church. On the surface, the symptoms may seem different, but the core problems have remained the same for 2,000 years. We were created to be in a close relationship with God and in healthy association with each other. Instead, we are broken and self-centered, struggling with fear, isolation, and futile striving. Left to ourselves, we are threatened with alienation from God and from each other every day of our lives.”
“The Lord directs the New Testament church to address this brokenness by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, warmly supporting each other in Christian fellowship and service, undergirded by sound Christian doctrine. We must endeavor, as the community of God’s people, to witness about Jesus, by boldly proclaiming the good news, and, even more important, to live as witnesses of Jesus’ healing power in our lives, by encouraging each other to live the way powerfully taught and perfectly modeled by our Lord.”
The Birchfield Family
Jim and his wife, Marta, both grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan where they fell in love in their senior year of high school. After high school, Jim and Marta both attended Michigan State University. Throughout their ministry, Jim and Marta have led many covenant and discipleship groups and intentionally mentored young adults. The Birchfield’s also love to entertain in their home and to travel, including serving together on short term mission trips.
Marta Birchfield, a certified public accountant, spent five years with Deloitte & Touche in Detroit and four years with Arthur Andersen in Los Angeles. Once their two daughters arrived, Marta reduced her work schedule and eventually left public accounting to establish her own consulting practice. A Christian since her youth, Marta has participated in dozens of foreign mission trips and frequently donates her professional gifts and experience to Christian organizations. Marta enjoys taking long walks, swimming, and yoga.
Family is a top priority for the Birchfield’s. Married for 39 years, Marta and Jim have two daughters, Lauren and Emily, and three grandchildren; Eleanor, James and Ava.