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Office of Church Relations


Office of Church Relations
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, California 90263-4270
(310) 506-4270
Fax: (310) 506-4227


Rick Gibson
Vice President, Public Affairs and Church Relations

Rick Gibson

Rick Gibson is the Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Public Affairs and Church Relations at Pepperdine University. He joined Pepperdine in 1997.

Rick leads Pepperdine's efforts to elevate the brand and reputation of the University. He works directly with President Benton to shape the University's vision, interprets it for various audiences, and provides message leadership through integrated marketing strategies. 

Prior to joining the University, Rick served for eleven years as a minister at the Mission Viejo Church of Christ in south Orange County, CA.

Rick received his BA from Long Beach State University in 1987 and his MBA from Pepperdine University in 2009. 

He and Agnes have two daughters, Emily and Abby, and worship at the University Church of Christ.
(310) 506-4125

Mike Cope
Director, Ministry Outreach

Mike Cope 

Mike Cope was a minister for 27 years, preaching at Pine Valley Church of Christ in Wilmington, North Carolina (1982-84), College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas (84-91), and Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas (1991-2009).

Mike is the author of five books, including 2011's Megan's Secrets, and edited Wineskins magazine for 12 years. He also edited 21st Century Christian for 5 years, working with Helen and Norvel Young when they were the senior editors. He started a blog in 2003,, that has received over 4 million hits.

In 1994, the Copes lost their daughter, Megan, who was ten. Their journey of loss and joy-amid-grief has sharpened their interest in those things that ultimately matter in life.

Mike and his wife, Diane, worship at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, and have been married 33 years. They have two children: Matt, a physician, and Chris, a ministry major at Abilene Christian University. Matt and his wife, Jenna, have two daughters.

Jeff Walling

Director, Youth Leadership Initiative

Jeff Walling is a nationally recognized public speaker who addresses over 65 thousand teens each year throughout the world. Using humor and audience participation, Jeff connects with young people at a personal level, drawing them closer to Christ.

Walling has served as the preaching minister of the Providence Road Church of Christ in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1997. Prior to his current role, Jeff served churches in Orange County, California, for over 20 years.

Jeff and Cathryn Walling have three sons and a daughter-in-law: Taylor and Courtney, Riley, and Spencer.
(310) 506-7109

Joella Michael
Assistant Director, Church Relations


Joella Michael

Joella was raised in Empangeni, South Africa, a daughter of missionary parents, Jerry and Kay Hayes. She attended Abilene Christian University and received her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1996.

Joella's prior experience includes: Director of Community Relations for The Community House in Birmingham, Michigan, and Director of University Communications at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Her husband was a youth minister for 13 years prior to their move to California in 2007.

They live in Agoura Hills with their three daughters and worship with the Conejo Valley Church of Christ.
(310) 506-4270

Tami Williamson
Manager, Church Relations

Tami Williamson

Tami grew up in the Northwest as a "preacher's kid" to Tom and Fran Bonner. She met her husband, Jack, while on staff at Columbia Christian College. They have been in Youth Ministry their entire marriage, and have served with the Conejo Valley Church of Christ in Thousand Oaks, California for more than 20 years.

They have 3 children and a daughter-in-law: Brendin and Kaitlyn, both graduates of Pepperdine; Caleb, who is studying at Abilene Christian University; and Alicia, who is a student at Pepperdine.

In addition to her position as the manager for Church Relations, Tami also serves as the executive coordinator for Associated Women for Pepperdine.
(310) 506-4567