Our Founding Pastor
Our founding Pastor, John Austin Withem was 58 years old when he entered into the presence of Jesus Christ on Sunday, November 4, 2012.
Born on September 8, 1954, to Lowell and Norma Withem of San Bernardino, CA, John was the second of three children. As a child, John’s grandmother left him a legacy that he followed for the rest of his life: to do all things whole-heartedly for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Under the musical tutelage of his father, a professional violinist, John also studied violin. At age seventeen, he performed as concert master in Carnegie Hall with America’s Youth in Concert.
In 1977, John graduated with bachelor’s degrees in both theology and music from Western Baptist College. He then served in various churches in Washington, Oregon, and California. From 2003 until the time of his death, he served as the lead pastor at Bayside Church-Woodland. He also served as chaplain for the Pioneer High School Varsity Football Team, founded Heroes’ Weekend honor local public safety personnel, and was a member of YGRIP, an anti-gang taskforce.
After surviving his first battle with cancer in 1992, John was diagnosed with cancer again in February 2012. Throughout both battles, John fought the good fight, kept the faith, and left his own legacy of living whole-heartedly for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John is survived by his wife of thirty-three years, Nancy; daughter Cristen Johnson and her husband, Benjamin; and son Jonathan; mother Norma Withem; brother, Ron and his wife Shelley; and sister Connie Dillon. He is also survived by many amazing nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces. He was preceded in death by his father, Lowell Withem.
Approximately 800 family and friends gathered on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at the Community and Senior Center in Woodland, CA to celebrate and honor the life and ministry of John Withem.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bayside Church-Woodland (P.O. Box 2389 Woodland, CA 95776) or to the Wiseman Cancer Research Foundation (8900 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211).