Pastor Dennis Laherty was Called as Pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church for a second time in 2023. His first time serving Emanuel began in 2005 and ended in 2018 with his retirement. After serving for two years on the Pacifica Synod staff and actually retiring for two years, the Spirit Called him to come back to Emanuel, as did the congregation.
Pastor Laherty is a graduate of Christ Seminary/Seminex in Chicago. Following his Ordination he served congregations in Los Angeles, California, South Bend, Indiana as well as rural southern Indiana and Garden Grove, California. During his tenure at Emanuel, he has worked with a Co-Pastor as well as several seminary interns from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Pastor Laherty served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy as a Chaplain. Currently, in addition to serving Emanuel, he is also a member of the La Habra Heights City Council. He believes that the church is a significant part of the Kingdom of God and that the Bible is not only a God-given guidebook for life but leads individuals to forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. Pastor Laherty preaches only sermons based on Biblical texts. He also firmly believes that life in Christ is strengthened by the frequent reception of Holy Communion.
Pastor Laherty is married and has four adult children who live in four different parts of the country: Fresno CA, Dallas TX, Bloomington IN and Charlotte, NC.
Jonine Sodders has served as our Preschool Director since 2000. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from Cal State Fullerton, and an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Cerritos College. Working with children in many capacities, she has found her love in the preschool environment.
Jonine is married, with two energetic boys. While not at our preschool, she can be found at the local inline hockey rink cheering for her sons.
Stephanie joined the music staff at Emanuel in August 2006 and serves as the Director of Choirs. Stephanie received her Master of Music degree at Cal State Fullerton in May 2007. Stephanie studied voice as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon as well as a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In addition to being a full-time student and serving Emanuel with her talents, Stephanie also offers private voice lessons to students in Irvine, CA. She performs in a couple of operas each year at Cal State. Stephanie is a member of Music Teacher’s Association of California as well as Mu Phi Epsilon.
Kevin Wiley has served as the Organist/Accompanist at Emanuel since June 2006. He has served liturgical congregations over the past 20 years. Kevin earned a Master’s Degree in Music from Cal State Fullerton in 1989 with an emphasis in Keyboard and Vocal Performance. Since 1989 he has been a member of the staff at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA where he serves as Full-time Staff Accompanist and Music Librarian. In recent years Kevin has performed with the chorus of Opera Pacific in Costa Mesa as well as the Pacific Chorale. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity.