Noe Garcia is the senior pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church, where a memorial service was being held Thursday, August 30th to honor Senator John McCain. Pastor Garcia presided over the memorial service, giving the welcome, invocation and the benediction.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Dr. Noe Garcia Has Been Preaching for More Than a Decade and Joined the North Phoenix Baptist Church in 2016
Noe Garcia joined the North Phoenix Baptist Church as its Senior Pastor in May of 2016. He’s been preaching for more than a decade, after earning degrees in kinesiology and religion at East Texas Baptist University. His roles as a minister and then a pastor have taken him to communities across the south and southwestern regions of the United States.
He began his career as a young adult and sports minister at Second Baptist Church in his hometown of Houston, Texas in May of 2006. In 2008, he moved to California to further his religious education. Garcia earned a Master’s degree at the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which has since changed its name to Gateway Seminary. While there, Garcia served as a singles and youth pastor at the Valley Baptist Church in San Rafael.
After four years in California, Garcia, who had gotten married by this point, moved his family back east to Nashville. Garcia joined the First Baptist Nashville church as a minister to young adults in July of 2012. After just over a year in Nashville, however, Garcia felt called to work with students again. He became a college pastor at Cross Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He and his family stayed there for nearly three years before deciding to join the North Phoenix Baptist Church in May of 2016.
In 2018, Garcia also earned a doctorate in Executive Leadership from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
2. Garcia Has Described a Difficult Childhood That Included Drug Use and a Suicide Attempt
Senior Pastor Noe Garcia is open about his difficult and traumatic childhood. He grew up in inner city Houston, and has shared that his father was a drug dealer. Garcia followed his father’s example as a teenager. He went into detail about his upbringing during a speech at Grand Canyon University in 2017. You can watch the speech in its entirety in the video above.
Garcia began using drugs and drinking alcohol when he was in sixth grade. He told the university crowd that this was only the beginning of a downward spiral. “I was so lost and I was so hopeless and I was so broken, I just gave myself to the world and said, ‘Here.’ I became a prostitute to the world, letting the world use me however it wanted to use me.”
In November of 2002, when Garcia was 18 years old, he attempted to take his own life. When that did not happen, he began turning to faith. Garcia said that moment inspired him to change his life and ultimately led to his becoming a minister.
3. Pastor Noe Garcia and His Wife Clancey Got Engaged After Seven Months of Dating and Have Four Young Children
Pastor Noe Garcia and wife Clancey had a whirlwind romance. According to the Collegiate Collective in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Garcia met his future wife in San Francisco in 2010. He was working toward his master’s degree at the time.
Just five months after they started dating, Garcia proposed. Clancey accepted, and the couple did not waste any time before becoming spouses. They were married two months after the proposal.
Noe and Clancey are raising four children that are absolutely adorable. They welcomed their first child, a son named Baylen James, about one year after tying the knot. Noe and Clancey added a daughter in 2013, naming her Mamie Caroline. Daughter Hallie arrived in 2016. Their fourth addition, baby boy Fallon, was born in January of 2018.
4. Garcia Often References His Family in Sermons, and Is Unafraid to Talk About His Childhood Failings to Get His Message Across
Pastor Noe Garcia has spent much of his career trying to help college students. One of his consistent messages is that a failure does not have to define a person or be the end of the story. He uses his own struggles with failure as a teenager to help deliver his message. For example, in the video above, he mentions his former drug use.
In a sermon at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, he stressed that challenges and struggles make a person stronger, especially challenges to faith. He quoted a passage from James in the Bible: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
More recently, Pastor Noe Garcia focused extensively on families in his sermons. On August 19, 2018, he addressed same-sex marriage. “I do believe that God has created from the beginning of time heterosexual unions. Now as a church, hear me. That doesn’t mean that we sit here with anger and bigotry. If the Christian response to homosexuality is hostility and hate, then I question that person’s walk with Christ. That should never be the response, from a Christian.”
Garcia also addressed the passage in the Bible that states that a wife should submit to a husband. He states the passage has been misinterpreted and manipulated over the years, by men and even by religious leaders, to be discriminatory against women. “Male and Female, God created them. Different roles, equal value. There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. He created them with equal value.”
Garcia referenced his own marriage to get his point across. He joked that he and his wife Clancey trade roles when it comes to taking care of household issues, such as getting up to let the cat inside the house, or scaring away snakes or a mice from the yard. “I’m joking. I obviously do not send my wife to kill rodents. I send my kids!”
5. The McCain Family Have Been Members of the Congregation at North Phoenix Baptist Church For More Than 25 Years
John McCain, Cindy and their children began attending North Phoenix Baptist Church in the early 1990s. Cindy was baptized in the church. Senator McCain addressed his religious affiliation during his 2008 presidential campaign. Baptist News quotes him as saying, “I am a Christian, and I attend a Baptist church. I’m very aware that immersion is necessary to be considered a Baptist. So my comment is and my statement is: I was raised an Episcopalian. I have attended the North Phoenix Baptist Church for many years, and I’m a Christian.”
The North Phoenix Baptist Church released a statement following Senator McCain’s passing. It reads,
“Pastor Noe Garcia and the North Phoenix Baptist Church community are mourning the loss of Senator John McCain. Senator McCain was a man of courage and faith and he loved his family. He and his wife Cindy have been part of the North Phoenix community for many years and we are committed to ministering and praying for them during this difficult time.”
The megachurch gave out tickets to the memorial service but the tickets quickly ran out. The service was also streamed live online.