Rev. Dr. Samuel G. Sawitski,
D. Arts, Th. D.
Reverend Dr. Sam's talents, training and degrees are extensive. In 1977,
he was ordained into the Holy Priesthood of the Orthodox Church in Moscow, Russia. He also obtained a Doctorate in Ancient Ecclesiastical Art from the Kremlin Institute of Art, Research and Science in Moscow, a Masters of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate
of Theology from the Holy Trinity Seminary. He is an expert in Ecclesiastical Slavonic, Greek and Hebrew languages. After spending two years training in Sacred Theology and Eastern Spirituality of the Desert Fathers at the Holy Orthodox Monastery, Fr. Sam did postgraduate work at the Department of Psychiatry-Medical School in Moscow to prepare for a career as a Priest-Counselor Spiritual Director. He earned licentiate in psycho-analysis, psycho-pathology, psycho-therapy and cognitive therapy. Once the walls of his home were filled with framed degrees, Dr. Sawitski applied his vast knowledge as a Professor of Arts and Spirituality at LeHigh University. He also served as a faculty member at Moravian Theological Seminary. He lectured at Lancaster Theological Seminary and at Mary Immaculate Seminary.
Dr. Sawitski left the world of academia and became a UCC minister. He served churches on the east coast for fifteen years. During this time, he headed up the challenging task of re-building his home church, St. Lukes, which had been destroyed by a fire. In addition to creating the stained glass windows for the sanctuary, he also built and voiced their new pipe organ. Before coming to Desert Garden, Dr. Sawitski served as Senior Pastor at a UCC Church in Mercer Island, WA. He started his ministry at Desert Garden in 2008.
For nineteen years, Dr. Sawitski has been a United Nations "Church in Society" representative on behalf of the UCC National Office. He was awarded an United Nations Peace Medal "In Recognition of His Role for Promoting World Peace and Interreligious Harmony."
Between his academic achievements and his ministerial service, Dr. Sawitski has thirty-two years of experience as a Pastor, Spiritual Director for clergy and monks, and as a Counselor for those who suffer from drug addiction and the disenfranchised members of society.
Sara hails from Omaha, Nebraska (go Huskers!) She spent thirty-three years with the phone company. In 1988, the company transferred Sara to Arizona. After she retired, she used her extensive financial and business management skills to assist churches in running more efficiently. She and Maggie, her faithful canine companion, have been keeping Desert Garden's office running like a well-oiled machine since 2009. Maggie, however, has yet to befriend the mailman.
Dennis and Claudia Marsollier
Director of Music
Dennis and Claudia Marsollier head our Music Department. Dennis is the Music Director and handles all those duties except the direction of the Hand Bell Choir. Claudia is our organist and Hand Bell Director. Those of you who were in church on Sunday, September 4, 2016 were treated to piano and organ duets by Dennis and Claudia which really shows us how lucky we are to have them continue the wonderful musical part of our worship services. We are so grateful that they felt that this was the path that God wanted them to follow. I know we all will want to thank them for SHARING their musical gifts with us and SERVING as our Music Team. They do this through the special CARE and LOVE they have for our church.
Margaret comes to Desert Garden Church with over 17 years of church office experience. She is the delightful first face and voice of our church. Margaret is a Phoenix native and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University. She worked in financial and customer service jobs before moving to church work. She and her husband Richard have 2 childen and 3 grandchildren. Desert Garden Church is so fortunate to have Margaret in this important position.
Duane Scholler is a guy who can do anything. Not only does he keep the Desert Garden Church buildings and grounds in ship shape condition, he can handle most maintenance activities. Duane has a special skill in overseeing projects to completion. We are so pleased that Duane found our church and we found him. Duane and his wife Ann come to Arizona from Minnesota where Duane worked managed the buildings and grounds for Boise Cascade.