New Leader Joins Congregational Church

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Neighborhood Congregational Church announced this week that Rev. Rodrick Echols, a new spiritual leader, has stepped up to the pulpit and began his duties May 15.

Rev. Rodrick Echols
Rev. Rodrick Echols

Born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., Echols’ professional life includes pastoral care, leadership development, communication, fundraising, and counseling.

Echols replaces pastor B.J Beu, who resigned in February 2016 following a vote of the congregation asking for his dismissal. A shrinking congregation and tighter budgets contributed to the decision, a board member said at the time.

Though Echols set out to study medicine with a scholarship to Brown University, in Providence, R.I., he discovered his real passions lay in progressive matters of the Christian faith, community development and public policy.

Since graduating with a Master of Divinity from Boston University, Echols has led United Church of Christ and American Baptist congregations, and held development posts with UC San Diego, Brown University, United Way, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, says a church statement.

“Neighborhood Congregational Church has over 70 years of history serving Laguna Beach and surrounding communities, and I look forward to enriching the church’s community and inter-faith partnerships,” he said in a statement.

“We are very proud to be one of the first open and affirming congregations here in Laguna. Neighborhood Church welcomes gay families and has performed same sex weddings since 2008. We are also committed to community leadership in justice support as a progressive Christian Church, impacting not only Laguna, but the wider world as well. I am so proud to join this wonderful church by the beach,” he said.

Sunday services begin at 10 a.m. and dress is casual.


An article in the July 22 edition about a new pastor at the Neighborhood Congregational Church incorrectly reported the circumstances of his predecessor’s departure. The Rev. B. J. Beu was terminated without cause with neither severance pay nor health insurance coverage, said his wife, Mary Scifres.


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