Pastors & Staff

As humans we are actively pursuing any number of things in this life. As men in Christ, we desire to pursue the “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” the gospel calls us to pursue.

John Schaefer

John Schaefer
Executive Pastor

John Schaefer is a native Californian, born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County. John accepted Christ as his savior in High School and he and his wife, Kaetchen have been married for 45 years and met in church.

John and Kaetchen have three grown daughters and four grandchildren.

John spent the bulk of his career working in law enforcement, serving in Cypress, Seal Beach, Placentia and San Marino. During those 36 years John worked a variety of roles, including Chief of Police in Placentia and San Marino.

John finished his government service as the City Manager in San Marino.

In addition to government service John has served in various church leadership roles, and after he retired from San Marino he joined the staff at the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton where he served in a variety of roles.

John has also been a chaplain at Juvenile Hall and for the Orange County Probation Department. He is currently serving the Fullerton Police Department as a chaplain.

Brian Dagen

Brian Dagen
Senior Pastor

Brian joined the Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo staff in August 2016. Before coming to CMV Church, Brian and his wife, Jill, along with their two daughters, served the Lord as missionaries in the Czech Republic and returned to the States in 2013. Prior to their move to south Orange County, Brian served as the interim pastor of a church in Anaheim. Brian has a Master’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA. Brian enjoys sports, the beach, books, Mexican food (actually, most types of food!), and copious amounts of coffee.
Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson
Associate Pastor / Youth Pastor

Nick grew up in Mission Viejo and loves the city! After time away for law school (don’t hold it against him!), seminary, and pastoral work, he is thrilled to be serving at CMV. He is married to his wife (and way better half!), Candace, and together they have four young children. Nick serves on the Sunday teaching team, encourages our small groups, and leads our young adult and student ministries. He loves his family and the church … and finds that running, podcasts, and coffee are great fuel for those pursuits
Neil Travisano

Neil Travisano
Pastor Emeritus

Neil has been on full time at the church since 1982 and was the Senior Pastor from 1987 to February 2015. Neil stepped down from being Senior pastor and now serves part-time in various ministries as pastor emeritus. Neil is a graduate of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA, and Talbot Theological Seminary in La Mirada, CA. In his spare time, Neil enjoys surfing, fishing, and digging in his vegetable garden. Neil is married to Nancy and they have six children between them and six grandchildren. Neil currently resides in Mission Viejo.  
Melinda Woods

Melinda Woods
Women’s Ministry Director

Melinda has a passion to help women grow in Christ and to encourage their connections with other women. She loves ministering to women of all ages and helping them discover their God-given gifts and passions. She and her husband have seven children whom they have homeschooled over the last 26 years. Melinda accepted the Lord as her savior during her freshman year in college when the Lord miraculously healed her.
Darla Buckels

Darla Buckels
Family Ministries Director

Darla has a desire to introduce children to Jesus by planting seeds into their young lives and helping them grow in the word of God. Darla has a background in Early Childhood Education and has taught in Christian Preschools for over 20 years. She is married to Brian, who is currently serving on the Praise Team, and they have three grown children. They have been attending CMV since 2015. When Darla is not working, she enjoys baking, cooking, and reading cookbooks. She loves decorating for the Holidays! Fall and Christmas are her favorites! She loves quiet mornings with a big cup of coffee, the smell and sounds of rain, and spending time with her family and best friends.
Andrew DeZarn

Andrew DeZarn
Worship Arts Director

Andrew gave his life to Christ at an early age and has known the goodness of God his entire life. He grew up in Mission Viejo and cherishes the time he spent playing electric guitar in his high school youth group. Andrew met his wife Keeley during his time at Saddleback Church, where they led worship in both the adult and college ministries. Having experienced the presence of God in worship, Andrew is passionate about leading others into authentic, dynamic spaces of worship where God’s presence is felt and the gospel is on display.
Amber Ludden

Amber Ludden
Administrative Assistant

Amber is from Orange County, California and practically grew up in CCMV. She attended with her parents from at least age 8. She is an artist who loves painting God’s creation. Painting is her passion and occasionally creates artwork for the church. Her favorite subjects to paint are the ocean and people. Outside of work she loves surfing, going to the gym, playing video games, and drinking coffee!
Ari Stout

Ari Stout
Administrative Assistant

Ari grew up in the small mountain town of Idyllwild, CA. Church has always been a big and influential part of her life. She has always loved serving in any capacity, especially with worship and the youth in the past. She has a love for music and has been serving on the worship team of her home church since she was 14. She is married to her husband Andy and together they have one kiddo, Russell. Ari loves to sing and play guitar, piano, bass and drums in her down time. She also loves taking walks with her boys, baking and sharing meals with good friends/family.

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