Pastor Portraits: Rev. Sam Powell


Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, the Beatles had just come to America, and America was reeling from the assassination of John Kennedy. But Anderson was a sleepy little burg in Northern California, not yet touched by the events that would shape America. Apart from the continuous discussions in George’s Barbershop, the British Invasion and the hippies had yet to make their appearance. I still recall the first pair of bell-bottomed trousers to make their appearance, and the accompanying tremor of fear. It was into this town that I first made my appearance into this world. The rumor is, although it could simply be a memory from a forgotten movie, that my first words were “wait ‘til they get a load of me.” I can neither confirm nor deny that.

My parents are Rev. Bud and Mrs. Penny Powell, and I am the second of six sons. My father was the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Anderson, which would become Faith Reformed Church in just a few years. The current building was completed the year that I was born. Since my father was not yet fully convinced of infant baptism in the year of my birth, I was not baptized until I was 3 or 4 years old. It is one of my earliest memories.

My father was headmaster of Northstate Christian School in Anderson, and I was educated in the classics by my dad, my mom, Rev. Gene Sawtelle, Rev. Gerald Latal, Mr. Greg Uttinger, and others. My early education formed a solid foundation for what the Lord would call me to in this life.

I was raised in the covenant, trained on the Heidelberg Catechism. Although there was never a time when I could say, “Yesterday I was lost, but today I am found,” the first time that I became aware that I was truly a child of God was when I was walking down the aisle at Faith Reformed Church preparing to take my confirmation vows. It occurred to me that I truly believed what I was about to vow, and that I had eternal life by that faith. Although it took me years to learn how to live consistently with that faith (and I will continue to learn until I see Him face to face), the seeds of faith were planted when I was quite young.

I attended Biola University and studied music (emphasis on piano performance). After school it occurred to me that it would be necessary to pay bills, so I started working in the Food and Beverage industry. I remained there for the next 20 years.

In 2003, my father-in-law, the late Rev. Dorman Savage, asked me to help supply the pulpit in the various church plants that he was working with – places like Swink, Calhan, and Limon (all in Colorado). His health was failing and he was no longer able to keep up the work load. As an ordained elder at Trinity Covenant in Colorado Springs, I was able to do that under their oversight while continuing to work in Food and Beverage.

I had toyed with the idea of going full time into the gospel ministry, but I was afraid of pushing myself into an area where God had not called. But while I was supplying these pulpits, I believed strongly that now was the time to begin my education for the ministry. So I enrolled at New Geneva Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs.

In 2004, South Central Classis approved me as Stated Supply in Calhan, Colorado, for a period of three years while I finished my education. At the end of those three years, I received and accepted a call to First Reformed Church in Yuba City. I arrived here the first week of May, 2007, and the saints here are a joy to know and to work with.

In 2008, I was ordained by the Western Classis and continue to serve the saints at First Reformed Church. I have been privileged to conduct two of my daughters’ weddings, and all three of my grandchildren’s baptisms.

I am married to the love of my life, Susan (nee Savage). We have one son and four daughters, (James, Morgan, Amanda, Kaerie, and Margaret); two sons-in-law (Michael Opie and Jared Brown); one daughter-in-law (Jenni); and three grandchildren (Wesley, Allison and Wyatt Opie).
We are truly blessed!

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