July 3, 2016


Rev. Mark F. Sturgess is the son of Presbyterian preacher, raised in the small church tradition of rural Missouri. Mark graduated from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, where he received Bachelor degrees in Computer Studies (B.A.) and Pipe Organ Performance (B.M.). At Northwestern, Mark specialized in 19th and early 20th century French organ repertoire and period keyboard technique of the Baroque era. Mark has appeared in recital at the RLDS Auditorium, Independence Missouri, Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, Christ Church Cathedral of St. Louis, and for the mid-Missouri chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In March 2016, Mark appeared on the Riviera UMC arts series, presenting his first pipe organ recital in 25 years. Mark is also a singer -- bass baritone -- and has been a devoted member of the Camerata Singers of Long Beach for over a decade.

After graduating Northwestern in 1991, Mark was hired by a Chicago based consulting firm and was promptly transferred to Southern California. Mark’s first career was in database design and systems analysis for major manufacturing companies. "Working in corporate America, I learned how healthy and unhealthy corporate culture impacts employees. I also learned what organizational efficiency looks like and how to achieve it."

According to Rev. Sturgess, “When I heard the call to ministry, I was not a professional musician: I knew music ministry was not my vocation. At the time, I was also terrified of public speaking; biblically, that wasn’t a decisive excuse. Through the encouragement of others, I recognized that God was calling me to be a pastor.” Mark received a Master of Divinity degree with honors, from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin Texas, and later completed United Methodist studies at Garret Seminary, Evanston, IL.

In 2002, Mark was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in June 2014 was admitted as a full Elder in California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. His call to ministry has now been vetted by two denominations. According to Mark, “Life is too short to go for three."

Rev. Sturgess served as associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Torrance, CA for six years, and as Sr. Pastor of Riviera United Methodist Church of Redondo Beach, CA since July 2008. Mark's gifts and passions for ministry include preaching, teaching and worship; coaching congregations to spiritual vitality and wholeness; advocacy for the full inclusion of all in the life of the church; and post-modern biblical interpretation.