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 in to 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.

Mrs. Esther Vallet, RN                  
Parish Nurse
Esther Vallet, R.N., has been the parish nurse at Shepherd of the Hills since April 1998 and since January 2009 has been employed directly by Shepherd of the Hills.  Esther earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y., and worked in public health, long-term care, and home health before coming to Shepherd of the Hills.  She and her husband have three children and two grandchildren. Our parish nurse is an integral part of the Care Ministry Program, serving the congregation as a health educator, personal health counselor, group facilitator, and health-care advocate.  Esther is a valuable source for information on congregational and community resources, and is available to offer spiritual care as a layperson.  She also coordinates the Heartsaver Program in which volunteers are trained in CPR and the use of the Automated External Defibrillator and then attend SHUMC services and functions prepared to handle the critical first moments of a medical emergency.  Esther has become a valued member of our leadership team.
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