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Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo

Pastors and 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.

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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

Associate 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

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

Women’s Ministry Director 

Melinda has a passion to connect women to Christ and to each other. Her roles as Women’s Ministry Director give her plenty of opportunities to minister to mothers and women of all ages. She and her husband have seven children whom they have homeschooled over the last 25 years. In 2021, she graduates her last child from high school. Her family has been attending CMV since 1993. When Melinda was a freshman in college, she accepted the Lord as her savior. He miraculously healed her that summer while she was in the hospital. The verse from Psalm 103:3  “He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases” speaks volumes to her. When Melinda is not with her family, with friends, or at work, she is usually on the couch watching Netflix and eating a box of See’s candy (most likely peanut butter patties).

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

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.


Heidi Hoover

Chief Randomness Officer

For over 18 years, Heidi has been a valued and valuable member of our congregation. She first used her administrative gifts as our Children’s Ministry Director and then put those talents to work as Church Administrator. When she’s not balancing the books, printing reports, repainting classrooms, or fixing our computer problems, Heidi can be found hiking any of the beautiful mountain trails in California and beyond.


Desiree Hernandez

Director of Communications

Desiree Hernandez began her ministry at Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo as a youth leader for High School girls. She graduated from San Jose University with a degree in Public Relations and has been serving at the church for 8 years and is now the Director of Communications. She handles social media, marketing, website content, our app, and so much more.  After six years of serving in the youth group as “Mama Des,” you can now find her on Sundays with our preschoolers. She is always willing to give help wherever needed. She has one child…Luna, her puppy who she loves to take on long walks.


Nancy Travisano

Administrative Assistant