This is the team that makes our church the blessing that it is!
Matt Sanders became senior pastor in August 2015. Most recently, he served as a professor at The College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Matt and his wife, Cheryl, grew up in Hawaii and lived most of their lives here. They have three daughters, Kiyomi, Ariel, and Keiko. Matt has a Ph.D. in theology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, a master of arts in theology from Southwestern, and a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of Hawaii. His favorite theological topic is anything to do with the Trinity. His desire is to see Waialae Baptist become a disciple-making and disciple-sending church all to the glory of God. In his spare time, Matt likes to run, lift weights, and play golf poorly.
Cheryl Sanders is serving as interim music minister, beginning in September, 2015. Cheryl has many years of experience performing musically, teaching music, directing choirs, and coordinating and leading worship services. She has a music education degree from the University of Hawaii and has done post-graduate work at Oberlin University, the University of Hawaii, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Most recently, Cheryl served as an assistant to the worship leader at McKinney Memorial Bible Church where she helped organize and prepare music for the worship team, played keyboard and piano, and directed a fine arts program. In addition to her passion for God and music, Cheryl has a heart to use music to help people in the special needs community, not only to use music as therapy, but also to develop ministry potential in all people.
John Kaneshiro became an associate pastor in June 2021. John and his wife, Erica, both grew up in Hawaii and spent most of their lives here on the island. They have a son and daughter who both love music and singing. John’s family moved back on the island in the summer of 2021 from North Carolina, where John worked on his Master of Divinity Degree in Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He enjoys meeting new people, especially young families, and ‘talking stories’ with them about Jesus. In his spare time, he enjoys surfing, playing music, and spending time with his family. John and Erica are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of what Jesus is doing here in Hawaii. Their passion for Waialae Baptist is to forge relationships and grow as a church community that joyfully participates in their Great Commission calling. – Soli Deo Gloria.
Stacy Hirano has been serving as office manager since November 2016 and youth director since 2013. Stacy graduated from the University of Washington School of Law, practiced law in the areas of civil litigation, administrative, real property, and natural resources law. She has served on a number of non-profit boards, including the Hawaii Baptist Foundation, Waialae Elementary Public Charter School, The Early School, Boy Scout Troop 115, Pew Civic Entrepreneur Initiative, Young Business Roundtable, and Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce. Stacy enjoys Bible study, listening to audiobooks, teaching and/or facilitating small groups, and learning to play new instruments.
“Mr. Sam”, what the kids call him, has been joyfully serving as preschool director and lead pre-k teacher since January 2016. He has been working and volunteering with children to young adults for over two decades now, and has taught preschool in fun and innovative ways for over the last 14 years! He has a M.Ed. in curriculum studies with an emphasis in early childhood education from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, as well as a B.A. in Liberal Studies in Music, Spanish, and Theater. Mr. Sam is married with three sons (ages 7, 10, & 11), and is active in fitness and coaching, playing on worship teams, and having a blast with the church hiking club-which he has hiked 56 different hikes on O`ahu since 2011! He has been a member here at Wai`alae Baptist Church since 2016, and is so excited to be teaming with the church and leading the preschool toward becoming one of the highest quality Christian schools on the island and beyond!