Marco Ambriz, 35

Associate Pastor, Preaching, High School, and College Ministries
First Covenant Church of Oakland
Oakland, CA


Marco grew up as a pastor’s kid in a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal church, and until his mid-twenties, he was a worship leader and preacher in Spanish-speaking churches. He then became a pastor of a Korean congregation before joining the staff at First Covenant in Oakland. This journey “has led me to a richer understanding of God’s love for all people while still allowing me to embrace my cultural heritage,” he says.

In addition to his newfound love for Swedish meatballs and pickled herring, he relishes the theological and ecclesial hospitality he has experienced in the Covenant. In the ECC he has found a welcoming community of fellow Christians who are committed to the essentials of Christ, his word, and his mission, while sharing diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Marco is grateful for the resources the Covenant provides for self-care for pastors and leaders in the Covenant. “I can honestly say that the Covenant is one of the most intentional movements in spiritual and personal health for its churches,” he says.

Marco believes the biggest need facing the church today is a missional focus on Jesus. He enjoys working with the other pastors on his church staff team as well as coaching lay leaders. One of his favorite aspects of his role as a pastor is regular interactions with people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

“Many know Marco as a gifted worship leader, preacher, teacher, and shepherd,” says Greg Yee, superintendent of the North Pacific Conference and formerly Marco’s superintendent. “What I appreciate most about him is his fervent faith and the fact that he instinctively asks how it leads to action—sometimes uncomfortable, difficult ones.”

greybutton-40u40Books on your nightstand/e-reader: America Again, Stephen Colbert; The Lazy Project Manager, Peter Taylor; Surprised by Scripture, N.T. Wright; Gustavo Gutiérrez: Essential Writings, Gustavo Gutiérrez and James B. Nickoloff; Erasing Hell, Francis Chan; Faith Seeking Understanding, Daniel Migliore; The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim
Favorite way to waste time: Roasting coffee. I take raw, green coffee beans and roast them in a large pot in my backyard. I’m sure it looks interesting to my neighbors.
Favorite TV show: The Office
Choose a superpower—fly or be invisible: Flight. I’ve had many dreams that I was flying. It would be amazing to wake up sometime and realize that it wasn’t just a dream.