The Sunnyside Presbyterian Church traces its roots back to 1901 and the Reverend James M. Thompson of Columbia River Presbytery. In cooperation with the Baptist, Brethren, Christian, Congregational, and Methodist congregations a Presbyterian congregation joined to become the Federated Church of Sunnyside. There were 19 charter Presbyterian members in 1901. In 1904 the Presbyterian group withdrew from the Federated Church to form their own church, the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church. In the beginning the congregation met in a building that belonged to the Brethren Church, until it was decided to build a new church of its own on the corner of what are now Eighth Street and Edison. This beautiful church with stained glass windows, bell tower, and Sunday school rooms was dedicated on June 30, 1912 and served the congregation until our current church on 16th Street was completed in 1960. In August of 2004 the congregation of the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church celebrated its 100th year anniversary. The people of this congregation, from the beginning, have devoted themselves to ministry in Christ’s name through generation of change and growth. Today we continue to serve, rooted in faith, united in ministry, and reaching out into god’s world with love.
I’m Mike Souza and I was called to pastor of Sunnyside Presbyterian Church in February of 2016. This is my first ordained call as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. although I’ve been program director on two church staffs in the areas of youth and adult ministries since graduating from college in 1986.
Growing in my Christian faith and helping others do the same means a lot to me and I am fortunate that church ministry is my vocation, but it wasn’t always that way. Being a pastor was the furthest thing from my mind when I was young until a teacher at the religious school I attended suggested that I had an inclination toward spiritual matters and gifted in working with people. That observation came as quite a shock because I wanted to be an architect at the time, so I dismissed it. However, God nudged me again a couple years later and within six months I was off to Bible college to prepare for pastoral ministry.
I have undergraduate degrees from Denver Baptist Bible College and Colorado Christian University. I also have graduate degrees from Western Seminary Seattle (now The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (now Portland Seminary), where I earned my Master of Divinity degree. My education means a lot to me because it not only prepared me for the work that I now do here at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, it also has deepened my faith in God, the ministry and purpose of the church, and the mission of taking the love of Jesus Christ into the world.
I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area when I first learned about Sunnyside Presbyterian Church and that they were looking for a new pastor after Pastor Katie Haney retired in 2015. What got my attention was their mission statement that showed “building and nurturing relationships with God, family, and community” was important to them and since “working with people” came naturally for me I immediately felt a connection to this congregation. I am now into my third year as pastor at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church and still happy to be here.