Wilshire Presbyterian Church

Who We Are

Presbyterian College Art Class
Wilshire Presbyterian Church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Since 1912, WPC has stood on the corner of Third and Western in Los Angeles, witnessing and taking part in the life of this city. Over the century, the surrounding area has transformed from cornfields to single family dwellings, apartment buildings and businesses, and immigrants from all over the world have settled in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Wilshire Presbyterian Church mirrors this diversity. We are an inter-cultural congregation that welcomes and embraces people from all different walks of life. Our motto is: "Come As You Are, Be Inspired, Share God's Love." In short, we are a church for everyone.
 

We invite you to come and check us out, wherever you may be on your journey of faith. It may turn out that we are the spiritual home you were searching for, a place where you may encounter and experience God, feed your soul, become part of a caring faith family, and a place where you may discover the Divine's call for your life, who calls upon each of us to live a deeper and richer life of love and service.



Join us!
Worship: Every Sunday at 10:30 a.m.


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Pastor Kobie





Staff

Meet Pastor Kobie!



Rev. Kobie Vermaak,
Pastor

My name is Jacoba, but you can call me Kobie (pronounced qwih-bee... it's Afrikaans).  I have been the pastor at Wilshire Presbyterian Church since 2012 and love pastoring this amazing, diverse, and loving faith community.  I am like so many of the other people who attend our church an immigrant.  I emigrated with my family in 2001 from South Africa and became a USA citizen five years later.  My husband is also a pastor (at a different church) and we have two teenage children.

My faith story begins with God.  I do not have a Damascus (like the Biblical story of how Paul came to faith after meeting Jesus in a blinding light) experience to share.  My story is similar to the story of Timothy in the Bible.  Frankly, I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't aware of God’s presence in my life.  Just like Timothy, my grandmother planted and nurtured my faith.  Above my grandmother’s bed hung a framed verse from 1 John 4:19 in which the writer profoundly states, “We love (God) because God first loved us.”  This basic truth about God would become the very foundation my faith was built upon.  My grandmother was my first faith mentor.  Although she never even finished elementary school (I was the first in my family to attend college),  she possessed a wisdom and knowledge that cannot be found in books.  I can describe her faith in one simple statement: she loved God.  It is from her that I learned how to pray.  I loved hearing her sing hymns in church.  When she lifted her voice up to God in praise I could hear that same adoration I felt when I was overwhelmed by God’s presence in a beautiful sunset. 

Looking back over my life I can name two realities that were major influences in shaping me as a person of faith and as a pastor today.  The first was growing up in poverty – as in not being able to go to sleep at night because of hunger pains.  The other reality was coming of age during the height of Apartheid in South Africa.   Growing up poor can be brutal.  I discovered at a young age that not only children but even grownups can be really cruel.  Feeling both ostracized and invisible at the same time, harboring resentment in my heart, I turned to Jesus for comfort; he was the only constant presence in my life that I could trust in.  The story of Jesus blessing small children always spoke to me on a very deep level.  I understood that Christ Jesus came to earth for people such as me.  People that needed his help that could not help themselves -  who desperately needed the presence of his compassion, care, and love in their lives.  Through the Holy Spirit I not only received strength and comfort, but also peace and joy.  My faith in Christ was indeed like having a house built on a rock, no matter what life would throw at me, no matter how fierce the storms, my house would stand. 

This brings me to the role the church played in my life.  My church was the one place where I experienced the love of Christ in a tangible way.  I was welcomed into the community of faith with open arms and loved, despite the fact that I came from the “wrong side of the tracks.”   It was in those formative years that I became a follower of Jesus and started to strive to model my life after the life and teachings of Jesus.

But all was not well in the world around me.  To grow up in South Africa meant I grew up in a church which condoned Apartheid.  I slowly, by the grace of God, realized that something was wrong.   How could the church to which I belonged be a true church if it didn't practice justice for all, if it didn't work earnestly for a just world?  Tiny cracks were appearing in the make-believe world that was created in the society I was growing up in.  Reflecting back on my childhood, it all seems a bit surrealistic.  Amidst all the turmoil and suffering Apartheid caused, life went on as usual - a world in which everyone I knew thought that this segregated world we were living in was good and right and that it was beneficial to everyone.  An ideology sanctioned by church doctrine.   The realization that I lived in an unjust world came slowly, piece by piece.  It caused me to question everything I was taught, to question everything I thought was real and true.  This realization would shake my very trust in the church and its members.

I think my saving grace was that I picked up on the hate underlying the ideology.  I can still remember riding home from school on the bus.   Some of the children would hang out of the window and shout the most horrible insults to the Africans walking next to the road.  They were walking to work because they did not own cars.  Everything in my soul revolted.  Growing up poor I also had been on the receiving end of such hateful insults.  I was able to identify and empathize with these people walking along the road, everything was screaming in me that this must be wrong.   Sometimes I spoke up, sometimes I defended, sometimes I stayed quiet, but I never stopped searching for the truth.  I turned to my faith and was just more confused.  Paul taught we were all equal in Christ.  John taught me I cannot claim to love God if I don’t love my neighbor.  Jesus challenged me to love my enemy.  Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God where all are welcome.  In Sunday school I learned about the Good Samaritan, yet my African brothers and sisters were not allowed to attend my all white church and worship with me.  Eventually, it was from the example of great men of God, such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu that I learned a great deal about true forgiveness, acceptance, and loving your neighbor and enemy in a Christ-like manner. 

Coming from an exclusive society, knowing how much pain, suffering and evil it leads to, I appreciate a church who strives for inclusiveness, which welcomes all persons who respond to God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ to the church.   Such a church mirrors for me Jesus’ message of restoration, justice and love for the world.  A church which does not proclaim to be the sole keeper of the truth, but earnestly seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit to show us how to live out God’s all-inclusive love in and for the world.  Wilshire Presbyterian Church is such a church.  No matter where you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome here!  No matter where you come from, you are embraced here.  No matter – rich or poor, natural born citizen or immigrant,  old or young,  straight or gay –  you are welcome!  All the colors of the rainbow- HERE IS WHERE YOU BELONG!  So come as you are, be inspired, and go out into the world to share God’s love.




 
 

Meet Simone!



Simone Jackson,
Office Manager

Hi there!  My name is Simone and I am Wilshire Presbyterian Church's Office Manager and emerging Social Media Manager (shh... that's not a real title yet, but it's what I've been doing as of late).  I have been WPC's Office Manager since September 2011.  Goodness!  It's amazing how time flies, it feels like I just started a few months ago...

I'm a native Los Angelina and grew up attending WPC as a young person with my family. Over the years, I enjoyed participating in various church activities with WPC's Youth Group (many of whom still attend church at WPC, even though we're now "all grown up").  While growing up at WPC, I also had the opportunity to participate in many leadership development activities (such as worship leading - which I still assist with even today!). 

I'm a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and hold a BA degree in Ethnic Studies with a minor in Human Development.  In addition to working at WPC, I'm also involved with two other non-profit organizations where I serve in various capacities ranging from executive assistant to running various programs for youth and teens to teaching dance classes for children.

I love to get involved in different things. I taught English in Japan, helped build a school in Papua New Guinea and recently participated in the New Orleans Mission Trip hosted by the Presbytery of the Pacific (which you should definitely participate in when it comes around again next year).

What I like about Wilshire is that we don't fit one mold, one way of being, thinking, looking or believing.  Quite the contrary.  Wilshire has always been a warm, welcoming and friendly environment made richer by the diversity of it's people (...and when I say diverse, I mean diverse).  Wilshire truly is a church for everyone.  Come by and visit and discover that Wilshire is a church for you.  We look forward to seeing soon at Wilshire Presbyterian Church!