Ray Andrew Navarro was born in Los Angeles at the White Memorial Hospital in July 1962 and grew up with two older sisters and two younger brothers. He attended public schools during his childhood and teen years graduating from Eagle Rock High School, Los Angeles, CA in 1980. Unsure of what to do with his life, he took a few classes at Los Angeles Trade Tech and Glendale Community College (CA) while in the workforce. After some years of uncertainty, “I went through a coinciding powerful spiritual transformation that proved to be pivotal in my life,” he says.
On April 10, 1985, he decided to study theology at Pacific Union College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in August 1989 and was hired prior to graduation by the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His junior year he attended Montemorelos SDA University in Montemorelos, Mexico. As a senior theology major, he was the recipient of the American Bible Society award and was also a Greek reader. During his college years he served as a summer ministries youth pastor at the Spanish American SDA Church in Los Angeles, CA in 1986, a summer ministries youth pastor at the Stockton Central SDA Church in Stockton, CA in 1987, and a literature evangelist in El Paso, TX and Albuquerque, NM in 1988. He also worked as a tour guide at Elmshaven, the last home of Ellen G. White in St. Helena, CA.
His first appointment in the Northern California Conference was as the youth pastor at the Santa Rosa SDA Church from 1989-1991. Then he attended the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University and graduated in 1993 with a Master of Divinity. During that time, he was involved in youth ministries at the Berrien Springs Spanish SDA Church and was a chaplain at AIM, Andrews Information Ministries which was an 1-800 hotline for their television ministries.
He has pastored several churches in both the Northern California and Arizona Conferences including the Alturas and Cedarville SDA Churches (1994), Chico Spanish and Live Oak Spanish SDA Churches (1994-1997), Hollywood Spanish SDA Church (1997-1999), East L.A. Bilingual SDA Church (1999-2002), Glendale SDA Church, Arizona (2002-2006), and the Tempe SDA Church, Tempe, AZ (2006-2022). On July 1, 2022, he transitioned to the position of Executive Secretary of the Arizona Conference Corporation.
He has served as a board member of the Arizona Interfaith Movement since 2008 and was a member of the Council of Religious Advisors at Arizona State University. Elder Navarro continues to grow in his personal ministry. “I have one CPE unit of chaplaincy and my goal is to receive my chaplaincy certification someday,” he says.
He met his wife, Elisa, at the Rio Grande Spanish SDA Church in Albuquerque in 1988 while I was a literature evangelist. They were married in March 1989 in Napa, California. Elisa has not only been supportive of Elder Navarro’s ministry in every church he’s pastored, but is a minister in her own right, having served a church leader in many capacities. She is also an ordained elder and is a graduate of Montemorelos University with a Bachelor’s in Theology. She holds a certificate of Chaplaincy and is currently the lead chaplain at Wings of Hope Hospice, in Phoenix, AZ. They have one son, Ramon, who is married to his wife Stephanie.
Elder Navarro likes to read about different subjects—religion, history, politics, social issues, etc. He describes himself as being very creative and visual. “As a youngster, I loved art, drawing, and creating things,” he says. As a novice graphics designer, I design my own promotional materials for church functions. Working with my hands and creating is a passion.”
One of his major creative outlets has been the earliteen division every summer at the Arizona Camp Meeting where he has been the director from 2003-2022. The building that hosts the earliteen program has been transformed in various ways and themes each summer. Perhaps the biggest single event where he used his creative skills was at the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where he designed a 1,600 square-foot interactive Medieval structure entitled, “Reformation Expo.”
As he looks to the future at the Arizona Conference he says, “I am not afraid of change and like to acquire new skills.” Part of that foundation is his love and passion for serving God.
“I love God and am continually challenged and moved by His grace and His Word. I love reading the Bible and journaling my thoughts. For me, the Bible is the one supreme source that increases not only my love and admiration of God, but also my intellectual powers.”