Staff

 
 
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Martin Ban

Senior Pastor

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God is good and God is for us. All of us. Mari Anne and I married the year that Oak Cliff's Stevie Ray Vaughan released his song, ' Pride and Joy.' (Yes, true.). After our wedding we moved to work in the San Francisco area for a few years then I attending seminary to pursue a pastoral calling. After graduating from seminary we returned to the San Francisco area. By God's grace (and kindness and deep sense of humor), I planted and pastored a church there for more than a decade. We moved briefly to the Midwest where I pastored and helped another church plant get off the ground. In 2001, we moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I planted and pastored Christ Church Santa Fe. In 2015 God opened a door for us to come to Dallas where I served as President of Redeemer Seminary. We came to Dallas to serve Jesus and mentor young leaders in the mission of God. Throughout our married life, God has gifted Mari Anne and I with 5 children that we love dearly, spouses of our children that we love as our own, and Sam (our first grandson). Our other family member was a dumb Bloodhound named Ocho. She lived for 13 years. We miss her a bunch. The mission of God in my life took a beautiful and surprising turn in the Fall of 2016 when John Hawkins invited me to lunch at Hattie's in Bishop Arts.   That meeting eventually led us to St Jude Oak Cliff. I am thrilled to be in Oak Cliff and honored to serve at St Jude Oak Cliff. See you all soon!

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Nika Spaulding

Resident Theologian

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Twitter: @NikaAdidas

From the ballpark to the classroom, I spent my childhood competing--even when others didn't know that's what we were doing. For me, success meant love and failure meant rejection. After the years of skinned knees and paper rewards, I saw my competitive nature bleed into other areas of my life. I believed I had to earn the love of people and lived in fear of rejection in case I failed. Mercifully and kindly, God intervened in my life by providing loving friends and family who showed me a love I could not earn or lose. More than that, I began to see the love of God more purely and more truly. His love requires no winning, no competing, no keeping. He won, and I get the reward. Armed with this knowledge of God's love for me, I went to Dallas Theological Seminary and earned a Master’s of Theology to better equip myself to share this love with others. After seminary I worked as a Women’s Minister teaching Bible Studies and theology as well as writing curriculum. During my time at my last post, God opened my eyes to the need to have greater diversity in church leadership. This growing desire eventually drew me to SJOC, where we try to live out the value of “visibility communicates value” and where we desire to see every person—regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.—deployed in using their gifts and leading the church. When I am not serving at St Jude, you can find me yelling at my Sooners on Saturday mornings, eating an incredible meal with friends, or having a one-sided conversation with my cat, Clive. I cherish my role as aunt to Jayden, Nixon and Ainsley more than I can put into words, and I am so excited for the day when they take over the world.

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Debbie Epperson

Office Manager

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Hey friends, Deb here--St Jude’s resident detail warrior as Nika calls it or the boss of the bosses as Mart calls it, but most of you would probably know me as the Office Manager. You might assume that because I am one of four daughters out of five siblings in my family that I am not a huge sports fan, but you would be mistaken. My presence on the staff has now shifted us to a majority Sooner loving team. My husband, Jim, and I spent a good deal of time living between Texas, Oklahoma, and a short stint in California. I wish I could tell you we lived a fairy tale life, but anyone who is married—and honest—knows the challenges and struggles that comes with marriage. I watched my marriage come back from the brink of divorce, and all the while I felt God’s nearness and encouragement to hold on to the rope that tethered me to my husband. If you want to hear more about this miraculous story, don’t hesitate to ask! I honestly do not think I would have been able to trust God so much through those tough years if not for a foundation of trust I had built in the Lord and his promises years earlier. In 1995 one day I woke up, slapped my bed, and decided I wanted more from my relationship with the triune God. I joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and have not looked back. I have gone from a participant and now leader in this ministry, and have seen the fruit of it in my life as well as the life of my family. When I am not keeping the trains running for St Jude or doing the same for my BSF chapter, you can find me embroidering, playing Mahjong, singing, spending quality time with my wonderful home group, or talking to my cat. And, when my schedule allows, I love sneaking away to Port Aransas…this gal can’t get enough of that salt water! My dream for St Jude is that God would continue to grow and sustain us so that we can see more people transformed by the good news of the Gospel. The fact that I can play a small part in that on this team delights me greatly. If you need anything, just ask!

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Gracelyn Ladd

Digital Communications Manager

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God has been so good to me, and I’ve been so undeserving. My parents, bless them, did everything they could to raise me right. I grew up going to a non-denominational Chinese church every Sunday. I got really good at memorizing verses (and forgetting them right after), and giving the right answers in Sunday school. But I also judged others harshly and had a hard heart. I was basically a tiny Pharisee. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when in college, I strayed even further away from God. I stopped going to church. I stopped reading the Bible. I made my social circle my everything. Then, my senior year of college, a sophomore guy asked me out on a date. I talked to him about my faith, hoping that by appearing more pious than I was, that I would scare him off. But it turned out he was raised Christian as well, and we decided to pursue God together. Sadly, we were terrible at putting God first and failed a lot. But mercifully, God continued to draw us both closer to Him despite our glaring issues. Fast forward to today, that boyfriend is now my husband, and the father of our son. Our relationship is just one of the many ways God has grown my faith and opened my heart to His love over the years. (I’d tell you all about the others but we'd be here forever.) Before working for St Jude, I did digital marketing for software companies, and taught hip hop dance on the side. I now raise my son full-time, and hope to eventually get back to dancing. In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying time with my husband, our little one, and our cat who definitely thinks she’s better than us. If anything I've written speaks to you, I'd love to do a tea or coffee date, or walk around Lake Cliff park with the toddler in tow. Looking forward to hanging out! 

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Austin Karber

Youth Engagement Pastor

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A man who is far more blessed and loved than he deserves. Hoping to let that overflow towards my neighbors, friends, and family. I grew up in Amarillo, TX, where I met my brilliant wife Robin in high school. After graduating from Texas A&M University (WHOOP!) in 2012, Robin and I were married on New Year’s Eve 2013. We’ve lived here in Dallas for about four years, and Oak Cliff specifically for about two years. I’m currently working full-time downtown at a professional services firm while also finishing up my Masters of Divinity in seminary. When we moved to OC, we prayed that God would bring us into community, and we have been so much more abundantly blessed than we could have ever expected. I hope that we can bless SJOC even a fraction of the amount that St Jude has blessed us. If you’re looking for me, you can probably find me digging through crates at a local record store, in a local library researching for a seminary paper, enjoying lunch with friends at a local Oak Cliff favorite, or playing video/board games with a group of friends. Let’s go grab some coffee sometime or play a round of Mario Kart, either way, I can’t wait to hang out!