James Kwak

Pastor of Worship and Music


James graduated from University of California, San Diego (2006) and Westminster Seminary California (2012).  He grew up in Monterey Bay county loving the ocean and the game of golf.  He met his wife, Alys, at UCSD and since getting married they have been blessed with their two sons, Jeremiah and Isaiah. 

For the last 12 years, James has been called to serve the church in various ways, but his favorite ministry has always been music ministry.  So, it is his hope to help members of New Life deepen their passion for Christ through joyful worship!

A Note From James

In the 119th Psalm, the psalmist says, "My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right."  Here is someone who has spent a great portion of life studying and meditating on the word of God. He has wrestled with its truth and applied that truth into his life.  And at the end of the day, his only response to God's word is to lift up praise.  I believe this is only natural.  When something really good is presented to us, what other response could we have other than praise and awe?  So, I am extremely excited and grateful to have this opportunity to sing praises to our Lord with all of you, as we bask in the glory of Christ through the preached word!

A Note From Pastor Ted

Dear New Life Family,

When we set out to find the person who would lead our music and worship ministry full-time, we joked that we were looking for a “unicorn.”  In other words, we were probably looking for a guy who didn’t exist – who was as mythical as a unicorn.  

We wanted a person who was an accomplished musician and knowledgeable of various musical genres – one who could perhaps even compose special music for use at New Life.  

We wanted a person who was an expert in the analog and digital audio/visual technologies that fill our sound room in the back of the church.  

We wanted this person to be a pastor theologically trained in, committed to and experienced with our Reformed tradition – so that our ministry of music would dovetail perfectly with our ministry of the Word.  

We wanted this person to be one who celebrated what we celebrate at New Life – that all of the Scriptures find their center and fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and that this message is not only what gets us into the Christian life but strengthens us to live the Christian life every day of our lives.  

And, we wanted this person to be “a good guy” – a person you enjoy being with, a person you could share life with, a person who would winsomely lead us as we worship, and a person who could attract new musicians from our congregation and grow our worship ministry here in ways yet unimagined.

Too tall an order?  You might think so.  But in God’s good providence, we found the person that checked every one of these boxes.  I am pleased to announce to you that Rev. James Kwak has accepted our call to be our new Director of Music and will be leading us in worship this Sunday.  

James received his A.B. in Music Composition from UCSD.  He earned his M.Div at Westminster Seminary California.  

He has been at various times in his career the Music Director at a Christian school, a College/Worship Pastor, Lead Vocalist and Guitarist in an award-winning Christian band, and a private violin, piano and guitar teacher.  Until a week ago, James has been the Lead English Ministry Pastor at The First Presbyterian Church of Orange County.

James is proficient with various stringed and percussive instruments.  He knows the A/V technologies in the sound room.  He has formal training in many different music genres.

And though he has enjoyed preaching and teaching God’s Word, he believes that God is now calling him to use his gifts primarily in the ministry of music.  James knows how faithfully to pair doctrinally sound music to the sermon being proclaimed.  

James is married to Alys. Alys teaches at Odyssey STEM Academy in Paramount. James and Alys have two handsome boys – Jeremiah, 8, and Isaiah, 7.
Like Pastor Robin did, James is going to be commuting to New Life from his home in Orange County for this school year.  We anticipate that in the summer of 2020 James will relocate to North County with Alys and the boys.  

Please give James a warm New Life welcome!  We are just so delighted that James accepted our call and will be using his specialized ministry gifts here at New Life.
I would be remiss here, as I celebrate the arrival of James, if I did not thank Jim Huston and Julius Kim for their excellent leadership of our music ministry over the 18 years that I have been at New Life.  Jim and Julius led and grew that ministry at great personal sacrifice of time and effort. Both of them had day jobs!  We are the beneficiaries of their selfless, quality work.  I also want to thank all the members of the pastoral search team who helped us find James and bring him to us.  Well done, people!

Worship With Us

We offer two morning worship services, each of which is centered around one unifying principle: the grace of God as expressed through Jesus Christ.


Sundays at 9:30am

Or Online


615 W Citracado Pkwy
Escondido, CA


Office Hours
Tue-Fri, 9:30am-4:30pm