Rev. Deborah Lerner
Senior Pastor

Rev. Deborah Lerner is a graduate of the School of Theology at Claremont.  She grew up on a ranch and in a small town in West Texas and spent her first career in the field of data processing as a Programmer/Analyst/Data Base Manager.  She is the mother of three sons, Josh, Ben (married to Jenna), and Sam, and grandmother to Sarah and Hailey. As a late comer to ministry, she is grateful to have finally settled into the vocation God created her for.  When she has time, she loves to read and play the piano (not well).  Pastor Deborah has served at Paradise Valley UMC, Trinity UMC, Spirit of Hope UMC, and most recently was senior pastor at First UMC of Gilbert.  She has been at Shepherd of the Hills since July 1, 2018, and looks forward to all God has for us to do together.

Rev. Alma Aguirre-Olivares    
Associate Pastor

I am serving as the Associate Pastor at Shepherd of the Hills since July 1, 2018. Before coming to Shepherd, I served as the co-pastor at Grace UMC in Mesa, AZ for two years. My roots in the Methodist Church date back to my teenage years in Northern Mexico. I completed a bachelor’s degree in theological studies at Seminario Juan Wesley in Monterrey, Mexico. My journey has been blessed with amazing opportunities for ministry such as setting up a Satellite Immigration Office at a UMC Congregation, being a facilitator for the Hispanic Latino National Plan of the UMC, pulpit supply, and Pentecost Journey Facilitator for churches exploring Hispanic/Latino Ministry opportunities. Further studies included an MDiv from Drew University in New Jersey. 2020 is the year I celebrated my ordination as an Elder. My closest family is my husband Javier, our two children Natalia and Esteban, as well as my father and three siblings. Contemplating nature, walking, creating beaded jewelry, reading, painting and making other art projects (when I am not too busy with ministry!) are some of the things I enjoy doing.

Rev. Cliff Asay   
Part-Time Minister of Digital Arts

Rev. Cliff Asay has a long and distinguished record of service in our conference.  He was the organizing pastor of North Scottsdale United Methodist Church and conducted their first building program.  In several appointments, he helped local churches develop video ministries and worked to improve their communications strategies.  He spent two years serving the Rocky Mountain Conference as their Communications Director.  He has experience and ongoing training in sound technology, video production and editing, live streaming, graphic arts, newsletter production and a variety of other helpful areas.   We knew we had found the right person for this position when we read this “Career Objective” from his resume:

To fulfill my calling to a communications ministry by empowering and assisting local churches in their mission to effectively communicate the gospel of Christ; utilize my technical and organizational skills to encourage the effective use and development of electronic communications and information delivery systems; and nurture an acceptance of and appreciation for the potential of electronic media systems in all ministry settings.

Rev. Ron Friesen     
Part-Time Assistant Minister of Care

Rev. Ron Friesen is a graduate of Fresno Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California. Ron grew up on a farm near Abbotsford, British Columbia with three sisters and brother. He has served Mennonite congregations in Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, AZ. He has been married to his wife, Rev. June Friesen, for 50 years.  They have two sons, Shawn and Wendel, and have two grandchildren. 

Ron’s ministry has extended beyond local congregations to serving as a hospital and hospice chaplain, as well as a chaplain to the homeless. He has also worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor for the past 24 years. For the past 12 years, he has been Associate Adjunct Professor in the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health program at Grand Canyon University.

Faith Community Nurse


Mr. Ken Goodenberger   
Director of Music
Ken Goodenberger has been a prominent member of the music scene in greater Phoenix for more than 30 years. Ken joined the leadership team at Shepherd of the Hills on September 1, 2003. As part of his music ministry here, Ken leads the Chancel Choir, the Bell Choir, and the Band of Believers. He is active in the community as a conductor, choral clinician, voice teacher, actor and singer. 
Ken is a Distinguished Member/Friend of the Arts of the Sigma Alpha Lota International Music Fraternity.  An experienced theater-music official, he is artistic director of the West Valley Chorale and directs the Royal Renaissance Singers and OperAntics (formerly OperaTunity). The latter two groups perform as many as 100 times a year.  Ken’s operatic credits include performances as Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni; the title role in Gounod’s Faust; and as Cavaradossi in Tosca and Rodolfo in La Bohème, both by Puccini. Ken and his wife Brenda have nine children. More about the Goodenbergers can be found at