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From the boardroom to the pulpit

Businessman sets out to become a pastor

Posted: June 14, 2008 2:32 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Four years ago, Mark Giganti began to feel a deep sense of emptiness in his life and asked his business associate about how to attain happiness.

"He told me to do three things," Giganti recalled while sitting inside Sloan Canyon Church's worship center.
His friend advised him to start reading the Bible, find a "good" church, and for the two of them to get together for a lunch at some point in the future.

Giganti, a corporate man who owned three business-coaching companies, said he began reading the Bible.
He read the Book of John in one day.

He visited Oak Hill Bible Church in Castaic on the recommendation of his personal trainer.

On his first day at Oak Hill, Giganti met Pastor Jeff Noe. The two grew to become friends.

Two days later, he had lunch with his business associate.

From that meeting, Giganti grew deeply involved with Christianity and more distant from his life as a businessman.

Now the 47-year-old Stevenson Ranch resident has decided to dedicate himself to the church by selling his businesses and enrolling in seminary to become a pastor at his nondenominational church in Castaic.

A higher purpose
As Giganti learned more about Christianity, he found himself attending events to learn more about his purpose in life.

A year and a half ago, he attended the Shepard's Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, where he listened to a speaker discuss how pastors reach people and how they deliver the word of God.

"I listened to him and I thought about the job I had," he said, referring to his career as a coach for managers and company leaders.

Giganti now believes that his position as a business coach served as God's training for him to do exactly what pastors do, just in a secular way.

During the speech at Grace Community, Giganti said he experienced a moment of clarity.

At 9:32 that night, while in the car with Noe, Giganti realized his calling.

At that moment, Noe advised Giganti: "Mark the time. Remember the date. This is your first call to ministry."

But Giganti said he did exactly what so many others do in uncomfortable and even scary situations: He ignored what he felt and got more involved with his businesses.

Unable to fight what he believes is his calling, Giganti faced his feelings and started praying. He sold two of his three businesses, became more involved at Oak Hill Bible Church and enrolled in seminary. He plans to attend Talbot Theological Seminary in the fall; it will take three to five years for him to finish his training. He currently serves as youth director at Oak Hill.

In looking to the future, Giganti hopes to continue his efforts at Oak Hill with Noe, a Castaic resident who also switched from the corporate world to the church setting about seven years ago during what he calls a mid-life change.

"God gets hold of your heart and changes your priorities," he said as Giganti listened.

Much like Giganti, Noe said his corporate job became "unsatisfying" and he learned that what really matters in the end is relationships.

Noe, who also attended Talbot Theological Seminary, said he began questioning things in his life that related to his career.

"You experience the American dream and in the end, it falls short," he said.

After studying at Talbot, Noe became pastor at Oak Hill Bible Church, which officially formed nearly two years ago.

During Noe's time as pastor, the church has moved its Sunday afternoon worship services from the Castaic Sports Complex to Sloan Canyon Church, also in Castaic, after the October 2007 wildfires. Noe said they hope to build a permanent home once they find open land in the area.

And even though Giganti is unsure what the future holds for him in terms of paying for school while also supporting his wife and two young children, he remains confident that God will create a path for him.

One goal
But with his adventure, Giganti wants to keep one goal.

"I want to be as true to God's will as I can be," he said, adding, "And still operate in the world."

Even as Giganti explained how he was unsure about how the finances would work or what the future brings.

He said he is confident that God has plans for him and is beginning to reveal them.

"I'm like a kid on Christmas morning," wanting to unwrap present after present, he said.


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