Meet the teaching pastor Candidate: Rev. Julia Sandstrom

Watch Pastor Julia's Intro Video
to the Search Committee

A brief introduction

Julia currently serves as an associate pastor at a Covenant Church in Canada (who has not yet been informed of her candidacy) and serves the entire denomination on the Nominating Committee. She is ordained to word and service in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) and holds a Masters of Theology from Regent College (Vancouver). She double majored in Biblical Studies and Philosophy at North Park University (NPU). Prior to her time at NPU she attended Covenant Bible College. Born and raised in California, Julia grew up in a Covenant church and went to camp every summer at the Covenant's Mission Springs Camp. It was at camp where she first felt a call to ministry.

Preaching and discipleship are a passion for Julia. She loves studying the word, writing sermons and witnessing the Holy Spirit do its work through preaching. One of Julia's greatest joys is helping people not only learn more about God, but also experience His love for them. She is currently learning more about how to do this well through her training to become a spiritual director.

Julia met her husband, Bryan, when she moved to Canada to work in the Covenant's Canadian conference office as the Director of Ministry Support. They have two children, Hudson (7) and Hava (5). Their dog, Ollie, is a nine-month-old rescue pup that resembles a small polar bear.

Gardening and crossword puzzles are two of Julia's favorite hobbies. She also enjoys cheering for Ferrari during every Formula One Grand Prix.


  • Sustainable Faith School of Spiritual Direction - One year completed in Spiritual Direction training
  • Regent College, Vancouver, BC – Masters in Christian Studies 
  • North Park University, Chicago, IL – Bachelor of Arts – Biblical Studies and Philosophy double major 
  • Covenant Bible College, Windsor, CO - Certificate in Christian Studies 


  • Current position: Associate Pastor at a Covenant Church in Canada
  • Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada
    • Trellis Foundation – Foundation Administrator
    • Director of Ministry Support
  • First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, University Ministries Intern

listen to Julia's interview clips

What others have to say about Julia

Sue Smith,
Chair Search Committee

Our Teaching Pastor Search Committee stands in unanimous agreement that we have discerned God’s hand in bringing Julia to us as the first teaching pastor at Thornapple.

As the Search Committee sought God’s best for Thornapple, we found someone with the gift of preaching, a love of God’s Word, a passion for spiritual formation, a heart of spiritual maturity and humility, and a chemistry that could work alongside Andrew and our staff. In His perfect timing, God brought us Julia, our latest applicant who checks all our boxes! Even in our first meeting with her, it was as if the last piece of our puzzle was finally falling into place.
Julia’s personality fits Thornapple well. It was fun to see her engage with everyone on her discovery visit with ease, a quick wit and an authentic spirit. Her theology is firmly centered on God’s Word, yet her humbleness shows that she does not believe that she has all the answers. She knows that Jesus is the answer to life and sees formation as pointing people to him. She is not afraid to ask the hard questions.
God’s fresh Spirit is blowing on us, Thornapple family. I am very excited to see what that means for us with Julia as our teaching pastor!

Patty Dekker,
Elder Chair

The Elder Board stands with the Search Committee in unanimous agreement that God has led Julia to Thornapple (and vice versa) as our Teaching Pastor.

My initial impression of Julia can be expressed with two words: SOLID and AUTHENTIC. I found Julia to be solid with a depth and breadth of faith I saw expressed in a very natural way clearly permeating all areas of her life without a sense that she was trying to be “spiritual.” Julia’s grasp of scripture was also clear through both the sermons I listened to and in the conversations we had about a life of faith. The AUTHENTICITY piece came from some of her questions for us that expressed both humility and vulnerability; she is someone who is willing to admit that she is not perfect, has areas needing growth, yet is confident in her strengths, and is eager to learn. (AND I believe that she will expect the same of us!) Julia will ask hard questions of us to keep us honest and real.

I also experienced Julia as a “what you see is what you get” kind of person! After I spent more time with Julia interacting with her preaching, with one of her references, and participating in the interviews, my initial impressions were confirmed. In addition, I left seeing that Julia is mature, excited to preach God’s Word, has a deep desire for people to know Jesus and to lead believers into a deeper spirituality that expresses itself with action! I personally have a desire to learn from her preaching. Julia also just felt so comfortable, like she “fit” and it was almost like I had already known her for some time.

Brian Jensen,
Vanderbloemen Consultant

From the moment I engaged in a conversation with Julia, I knew she could potentially bring something special to the Thornapple community.

She is winsome and incredibly insightful - and her heart for serving Christ's church is evident. Julia brings a breadth of experience with her work in multiple settings within the Covenant. Being ordained in Word and Service, she excels in unfolding the Word of God for others to understand, and in discipling followers of Christ on their faith journeys.

Julia's leadership would be a welcomed addition to the Thornapple body. 

Reference #1

Julia is a highly competent person and someone who wants to grow, so I believe her leadership abilities will continue to grow. She can lead in new and large situations as evidenced at the recent ECC Annual Meeting when she pointed out a parliamentary error that happened during the meeting.

She also served as chair of the Nominations Committee. My experience of her style is that she will arrive having done a great deal of preparatory work. She is able to integrate some "fun" especially over breaks and meals. I found her committed to listening to others with whom she worked.

Julia has a keen mind and this translates into conversations, study and communication of Scripture and the ability to analyze a problem. She is not a person that only lives "in her head," she integrates her heart well into who she is and what she does.

Reference #2

This comes from a lay leader who has been at the church where Julia is serving for 9 of her 10 years there:

In regard to Julia's preaching: she is “way better than most" and it is "sound, organized, good, and centered with of course some room to grow," and that when she preaches “you don’t wonder what she is talking about.” He says she has been longing for a place to be able to preach more.
As it relates to the community, he said that “many people have kept coming to their church because of her," that she is involved in mentoring relationships, and “her pastoral relationships are great." The Spiritual Direction training has been a strength of hers and brought her experience with people having difficult situations. 

Candidate Weekend Schedule
August 19-21 (tentative)

Friday at 7pm in the Sanctuary
Candidate Forum, in person + recorded
Come meet Pastor Julia. She will have an opportunity to share more about her spiritual journey and answer your questions.
A recording of this gathering will be available immediately following its conclusion in our app and on this website 
- a link will be emailed out to all Thornapple Members.

Saturday at 9am in the Sanctuary and Online
Candidate Forum, same as above but hybrid

Saturday, 3-5pm at Cascade Starbucks
Coffee with the Candidate - open for anyone to drop in and chat with Julia

Sunday at 10am | Worship with Pastor Julia preaching
Sunday at 11:30am | Special Business Meeting (hybrid)
The congregation will vote on the call of Julia Sandstrom to be Thornapple's Teaching Pastor.
If you cannot attend, please complete a proxy (preferred for reaching quorum) or absentee ballet (available below or at the Welcome Center).
Filled out forms can be brought to the Welcome Center (on Sundays) or the church office during the week or emailed to

Have a question but can't attend a forum?
Share it below and
we'll ask it for you on Friday night...