About Us

Chris PanChris Pan


He’s our Executive Director, working closely with Executive Coordinator Ron Mathieu in the overall leadership of the church staff, and the financial and business operations of the church. Let’s get to know Chris. 

Tell us a bit of your background.

I was born and raised in New Haven where I grew up in a small Chinese church and accepted Christ as a teenager. I went to Yale for undergrad and then to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Next was Berkeley, California for a few years, where my then-fiancé (now wife) Alia was completing her Ph.D. (We became part of First Pres Berkeley where we first met Pastor Tim Shaw.) From CA, we spent a few years in New York while I got my law degree from NYU, then a few years back in the San Francisco Bay Area while I worked for a big law firm. In 2010, we moved to Hawaii where Alia is originally from. 


Why First Prez?

Our family first started coming to First Prez because Shayna Kusumoto invited Alia to to her small group and Josh Hayashi invited her to the parenting class taught by Sam and Karen Lee at the church. We had just recently moved back to Hawaii and had thought that we would go to a church closer to our home in Kaimuki, but we very quickly fell in love with First Prez. The parenting class, the Children’s Ministry, all the young families with children, the preaching, and all the great people made us feel right at home. I have “kicked against the goads” (as Pastor Dan preached) for many years, resisting entering full-time ministry. As I’ve gotten more involved with First Prez over the past year with the denominational discernment process, my love for this church has only grown. Even though I was happy with my career at a law firm here, when the opportunity came to work at First Prez, I knew the answer was yes. 


On a side note, when Alia and I got married in 2002 in Hawaii, it was Pastor Dan who officiated our wedding. We didn’t know any pastor in Hawaii but someone referred us to him. I had never met him before the wedding and didn’t see him again for eight years. Now he’s my boss!


What is your spiritual gift?

Administration. Seriously. In college, I went to the InterVarsity Urbana Missions Conference, and I took the spiritual gifts assessment test on the flight home. I was hoping for something glamorous, but got administration.


What inspires you?

People who sacrifice for others. People who work to combat injustice. I actually went to law school after divinity school because I heard Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission (IJM) speak at the First Pres Berkeley Church retreat. During law school, Alia and I spent a summer as interns for IJM in Mumbai, India, combating forced child prostitution. It was an amazing experience. 


What is something most people don’t know about you?

I am a big New York Mets fan. 


Who lives at your house?

My wife Alia, daughter Kaira Grace (age 7), and son Isaac (age 5). We also have four chickens named after various Wellesley alumnae. 


What’s your favorite food?

I have many, many favorite foods. I really like xiao long bao, which are the round Shanghainese dumplings with soup inside. Every time I go back to New York, I go to Katz’s Deli on Houston Street and have a pastrami Reuben sandwich with a bowl of matzo ball chicken noodle soup. Having lived in California for a few years, I’m a big fan of Mexican food trucks—burritos, tacos, and sopes in particular. My wife is an amazing cook, so anything that she makes is my favorite too. 

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