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 attended 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 who 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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Austin Karber

Children & Youth 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!

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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 five daughters out of six 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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Robin Karber

Ministry Coordinator

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Howdy! I’m Robin Karber - Ministry Coordinator for St Jude Oak Cliff. One half of the dynamic Karber duo, you probably already read about how I came to marry my high school sweetheart in 2013 & moved to Dallas in 2014 a few paragraphs up (see Austin Karber, Youth Pastor, for reference.) Communication enthusiast with a 7 year marketing & 3 year administrative professional background, I run the ship behind the scenes at SJOC so our pastors can focus on pastoring, our creatives can focus on creating, and we can all work together toward helping make our church the best it can be to love God & Oak Cliff. Affinity for caffeine, clothes, and books. Low tolerance for sitting still. Pittsburgh Steeler in the wrong part of the country. If I can ever do anything to make your life a little easier around SJOC, never hesitate to ask! 

 
 
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Jessica Johnson

Communication & Creative Design Manager

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Hey friends! This is Jess. As the Communication & Creative Design Manager, it’s my job to keep you all informed on what’s happening around St. Jude...and design a few stickers every so often. Although I’m a native Texan (born & raised in Fort Worth), I’ve spent quite a bit of time in East and Southern Africa. It was while I was living in Zambia that God began to poke holes in my definition of the gospel. The longer I lived and worked alongside my Zambian brothers and sisters, the more I realized that the gospel I grew up with was defined less by what was found in the Scriptures and more by my American individualized worldview. And then I began to observe how this worldview negatively impacted how we (the American evangelical church) “do” global missions, particularly regarding orphan care. So, I decided I wanted to do something to change this. However, my narrow understanding of the gospel, as well as my glimpse into the complexities of poverty and systems of injustice had convinced me that I was not yet equipped to do this well. This led me to Denver Seminary’s Justice and Mission program. After graduation—armed with a master’s degree—I decided I was ready to go change the trajectory of American evangelical global missions. God, of course, had a different plan, and I ended up spending a year Uganda helping to launch a new initiative designed to empower the local church to support vulnerable families and children. Eventually, I made my way to Dallas where I spent several years with an African organization focused on leadership, justice, and reconciliation. Through all my studies of Scripture and time spent with believers from around the world, I am convinced now more than ever of God’s desire to restore this messy, broken world back to himself. And I continue to be amazed that the God of the universe invites us—messy, broken people—to join him in this mission of reconciliation…all because He loves us. And because God loves and saves us, in return we get to sacrificially give love, grace, and justice to our family, our neighbors, and the world. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s SJOC’s main thing. It’s part of what drew me to St. Jude—that and the St. Jude family. If you want to hear more about my story, how I ended up at St. Jude,  tips on where to travel in Africa, or what it's like to be the favorite aunt of six nephews, let’s grab some coffee.