Pastor Shawn Thornton
Mishawaka, Indiana. Named after an Indian princess with a legendary history (you can look it up), and once known as the peppermint capital of the world, this mid-western town cradled the childhood and teen years of future pastor and radio teacher, Shawn Thornton. Though his childhood was not always ideal, his Christian home and Bible-teaching church provided the foundation for developing a life-long goal to “live and love like Jesus.”
He received Christ in middle school and in his early teen years stood before the congregation to announce his availability for Christian ministry.
From conducting children’s bible classes, to anchoring his high school debate team, to working summers at Christian camps, God was preparing him for future pastoral and teaching roles.
At Bible College in West Virginia and Seminary in Washington DC, people around Shawn saw something special and believed God was going to use him in meaningful ways to advance the Kingdom.
His first full-time ministry was as an associate pastor in a church near Philadelphia, PA. He then was offered an opportunity to serve as a member of the faculty and administration of Appalachian Bible College, his undergraduate alma mater.
At the age of 30 he was invited to become the Senior Pastor of Bible Center Church in Charleston, WV—a high profile congregation in the state capital. Since 2008 he has served as Senior Pastor of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, CA—which now sees an attendance of about 4,000 people each Sunday and minsters effectively to the community, the state, and beyond.
God has brought together in Shawn, as in all of us, a unique combination of childhood foundations, formative transitions, educational experiences, and adult opportunities. We now see this preparation in full bloom as Shawn continues to serve and work daily to “live and love like Jesus.”
Lesli has been an elementary school teacher, a stay-at-home Mom, and currently works in the Academic Support Services Department of Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, CA near the church where Shawn pastors.
Shawn and Lesli have three children. Their oldest, Jon, is a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Katie, their middlest” child (an affectionate term invented by Mom), is a junior at Wheaton. And the youngest, Megan, is a senior at Oaks Christian.
Together, for nearly eleven years, the church—and Shawn—grew! He made it a priority to gather an outstanding staff of talented, committed, and godly pastors and ministry directors. The church building had to be expanded and, ultimately the congregation relocated to a new campus of nearly 100 acres. The new building proved to be a wonderful tool for ministry incorporating a unique West Virginia flair, an attractiveness for men, and an entire floor given over to a outdoors-themed children’s ministry area.
With God’s blessing, under Shawn’s leadership, the church grew from an attendance of about 750 to about 2,300. Bible Center Church continues as a vibrant congregation and serves its community and beyond. Since 2011, Eric Mounts, from Springfield, Ohio has served as Senior Pastor. Interestingly, Shawn’s only sibling, a brother named Troy, joined the pastoral staff at Bible Center in 2013 as the Pastor of Outreach and Small Groups.
Calvary’s weekly attendance is nearly 4,000 people with as many as 25,000 people in the area identifying Calvary as their church. Several different factors over the last decade and a-half affected the growth, vitality, vision, and impact of Calvary. With the Elders and Ministry Leaders, Pastor Shawn has sought to replant the heart of the church and establish a new, fresh vision for the future. With the vision, Calvary 20/20,” being introduced in the fall of 2011, the church body has a new sense of God’s direction and passion for what God has ahead. Pastor Shawn loves the Calvary family, the Conejo Valley area, and the opportunity to be a part of the amazing work God is doing in and through Calvary Community Church.
At the personal level, Shawn seeks to walk with the Lord daily in such a way that every day he is becoming more and more like Jesus as the Spirit of God transforms him from the inside out! It is no wonder that the mantra of his life and the mission of Calvary Community Church is “to live and love like Jesus.”