Here in Your Times of Loss and Need
The VCFD Chaplain program is comprised of men and women who volunteer their time, talents, passion, and devotion to assist residents of our community who have experienced the death or serious injury of a loved one. They are always available to respond to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chaplains who answer your call in a time of need are here to talk with, pray for, and minister to you.
Meet Our Chaplains
Kay Wilson-Bolton became the lead chaplain for the Ventura County Fire Department in 2022. An ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church, Kay started her chaplain career in 2007 with the Santa Paula Fire Department. When she heard there was an opening with VCFD she said, “That’s for me.” Kay also previously served Santa Paula as mayor, where she signed the 1990 proclamation creating the position of fire chaplain. Kay is also an active real estate broker with Century 21 Everest and manages Santa Paula’s homeless shelter. Kay’s husband Howard Bolton passed away in August of 2021 and she now resides with more than one rescued dog in Santa Paula.
Sam Chang holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena and has served as a pastor at a Korean Community Church in Los Angeles. Sam currently attends Westminster Presbyterian Church in Westlake Village and cites compassion for people in need as the heart of his volunteer work. “My calling from God led me to the compassion ministry,” says Sam. “Be present in the name of compassion for their immediate need.”
Rabbi Mike Lotker
Rabbi Mike Lokter spent the bulk of his initial career as a physicist in the alternative energy business, working in windpower, solar, and geothermal energy. He has served synagogues in Guatemala, Montana, Arizona, and California. In 2003, Mike was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, where he also received his Master of Hebrew Letters degree. His rabbinic thesis addressed the theology of Jewish-Christian Partnership. He presently serves as Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Ner Ami in Camarillo, Scholar in Residence at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, and Community Rabbi for the Jewish Federation of Ventura County. Rabbi Lotker has also published a book entitled A Christian’s Guide to Judaism.
Ed Mills has served as a VCFD chaplain since 1997. He attended seminary, holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry, and was ordained as a Catholic deacon. Ed previously worked as a chaplain at Los Angeles County General Hospital. “As a deacon, my goal is to serve and share within the community,” says Ed. “Being a chaplain provides me a structure for doing that. It has been and continues to be an honor to work beside the firefighters of this department.”
Arnold Reyes serves as a deacon at Padre Serra Parish in Camarillo, where he resides with his wife, Anne Marie. Deacon and chaplain Larry Mogduno was a mentor and teacher to Arnold and convinced him to become a chaplain in 2015. Arnold provides spiritual direction to people of any faith tradition and participates in Illuman.org—where men support one another in deepening their spiritual lives. Arnold has three children and two granddaughters and can often be seen in Camarillo walking his spiritual companion, Koni.
Chaplain Ray Cruz was born in New York City and spent most of his childhood in the South Bronx. Ray serves as assistant pastor at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park, where he assists in the counseling ministry. Ray was ordained by the Los Angeles Urban Church Association in 2015 and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education, along with Counseling Certifications from the American Association of Christian Counselors and a Certificate in Biblical Counseling from Cornerstone Bible Institute. Ray has been married to his wife, Margarita Cruz, for 49 years, and the couple has three adult daughters and three grandchildren.
Thousand Oaks native Matt Elam has served as a pastor at Newbury Park’s Monte Vista Church for the past 14 years, working closely with youth and mission programs. After graduating from Thousand Oaks High School, Matt attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he also played baseball. “My interest in the chaplain program came in gratitude from seeing first responders in those moments of grief and loss,” explains Matt. “Understanding the need for that support, especially for people who may not have a church community of their own.”
Tyler Ripley is a firefighter at Station 31 in Westlake and currently lives in Camarillo with his wife and son. Tyler joined VCFD in 2012 as a fire control worker in the Wildland Division and became a firefighter in 2016. Tyler has been involved in a variety of ministries since 2006, including work in Australia, Indonesia, Honduras, Uganda, and Mexico. “I am honored to represent the Ventura County Fire Department as one of its first sworn fire chaplains,” says Tyler. “My prayer is to see this program be used to help others in times of hardship and to walk with our members to better love and support each other.”
Pat Coulter is a Catholic deacon at Holy Cross Church in Moorpark and has served as a VCFD chaplain since 2011. “I really, really care about the people we serve,” says Pat. “I’ve had a great life, and that has given me the chance to be there for others when they are going through some of their darkest times.”
Oxnard native Raymond Vasquez serves as a deacon in the Catholic church after retiring following 30 years of work as an electrician and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Raymond previous worked as a chaplain for St. John’s Hospital and ProCare Hospice, and has served as a VCFD chaplain since 2008. “I just want to be present to those in need in their time of grieving,” says Raymond.
Lyndon “Lyn” Thomas has served as pastor at Ojai Valley Wesleyan Church since 1992. Lyn resides in Ojai with his wife Kathy. Lyn, who also has three sons and a daughter-in-law, joined the fire department’s chaplain program in 1996. “It was just a way to serve the community,” says Lyn. “To come alongside the crews and help people in their time of need is a ministry I’ve found very fulfilling.”
LaMarcus A. Keys
LaMarcus A. Keys is the founder and senior pastor of Life of Victory Worship Center in Oxnard. As pastor, his mission is to teach on and serve by faith, unity, and love. He recently released his first book, Love Walk. His first passion is his family. Keys and his wife, Danielle, are the proud parents of three daughters. He also has a heart to help people that are hurting. “Being part of the VCFD’s Chaplain Program provides another opportunity beyond ministry to reach the people in our community through demonstrations of love, compassion, and care,” he said.