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Bringing faith to the Santa Clarita entertainment industry

Posted: September 5, 2008 9:57 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Andre Veluzat, right, with his son Daniel at the Melody Ranch Studio in Newhall. Both Andre and Daniel are pastors in the area. Andre is a senior pastor at The Village Church in Newhall and Daniel is an assistant pastor at Valencia Christian Center.

 
The name Veluzat is synonymous with Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio, Blue Cloud Movie Ranch and the annual Cowboy Festival.

While the Veluzat family developed strong roots in the entertainment business, many of the Veluzats maintain they serve the Lord first.

For hundreds of years, the Veluzat family has played a lead role in Santa Clarita Valley congregations and, most specifically, The Village Church in Newhall.

And through the dedication to Christianity, Andre Veluzat and his sons Paul and Daniel, who recently took on the position of executive associate pastor at Valencia Christian Center, found a balance between the church and a Hollywood lifestyle.

A new addition
Daniel Veluzat's involvement in the church goes back to when he started a career in the movie industry and felt a calling to serve God.

Before last week's appointment as executive associate pastor at the fast-growing Valencia Christian Center, Daniel was as evangelist involved in prison ministry.

"Through that ministry, we were able to lead thousands, literally thousands, of men to the Lord," he said. "It was a wonderful opportunity to reach people who really needed it."

His work at missions and shelters, where he helped the less fortunate, allowed him to see miracles in action.

"It's a supernatural act that God performs," he said, referring to instances when deaf people are able to hear and blind people regain their vision.

It's having faith in miracles and understanding the role of church in a person's life that drew Daniel to Valencia Christian Center, a multidenominational and multi-cultural congregation started by Pastor Marlon Saunders.

"I saw an opportunity to reach across the table," Daniel said, standing alongside father Andre.

Daniel appreciates being part of a growing congregation, as well.

"I like things that are new," he said. "Building things from the ground up, taking something from nothing and creating something special."

Senior Pastor Marlon Saunders formed Valencia Christian Center in the spring and the non-denominational church already boasts a following of around 250 Sunday morning worshippers.

Saunders is pleased to have Daniel on staff.

"I believe their knowledge, their history of the valley and their name in the valley will add to the mark that Valencia Christian Center will make," he said of Daniel and the Veluzats.

"In addition to that, he has incredible experience from ministry to real estate to work with kids and teen pregnancy," he said. "I mean you name it, he has tons of experience."

Saunders recalled meeting Daniel during a Sunday service and feeling an instant connection.

"I look forward to us working together," he said.

A family church
Andre, Daniel's father, serves as senior pastor at The Village Church alongside his wife, Candy, and son, Paul.

Andre Veluzat draws inspiration from his father-in-law, pastor Robert Bloom, who played a major role in establishing The Village Church, along with numerous other Santa Clarita Valley congregations.

Working under Bloom, Veluzat, who studied alongside notable religious leaders during seminary, said he started as an usher and soon found himself as an assistant.

But after Bloom passed away in 2002, Veluzat unexpectedly assumed the role as senior pastor.

Even though Veluzat helped the church find potential leaders, church officials had Veluzat in mind for the role as senior pastor.

"We think we want you to be pastor," Veluzat recalled hearing the church officials say to him nearly a decade ago.

Caught off guard, Veluzat began walking to the altar before hearing God speak to him.

"The Lord said, "I'll help you," he said. "‘If you take that step, I'll be behind you.'"

It's that calling that son Paul, who also helps run Melody Ranch, experiences as well.

"Preaching is in my blood," he said.

Like father and brother, Paul continues to be amazed by everyday miracles and salvation.

But Andre and Paul's history in the church is connected to decades of generations that served the church.

Recently, Daniel said he found a combined 500 years of serving the church, just after 10 minutes of research.

"We were really scratching the surface about going back into the history books," he said.

Finding a balance
Despite the hours the Veluzats dedicate to running their movie ranch, serving God together as a family is always the top priority.

"We kind of stick together," Paul said. "It is neat with a close family. It's awesome to work together and pray together."

To Paul, the message of the Bible needs to be with people, despite the day of the week.

"You gotta be the same person you are at the church and at the job," he said. "We try to be a light for Jesus wherever we're at" whether the family is at church, Universal Studios, Melody Ranch or Hollywood.
Andre Veluzat gave a thought inspired by Proverbs 22:6 that connects to his style of preaching and child rearing.

"Train a child in the way you want him to grow and when he's old, he won't turn from that way," he said.

"You plant that seed and you water that seed and he'll turn and he'll stay with the Lord."

Daniel said he learned to find a balance between God and the movie industry by watching his father.

"No matter who the celebrity I was sitting and eating lunch with, I always try to testify and share the Lord with him and share the good things that God does," he said.

It's a thought that continues as Daniel's children grow and find their own places in the church.

"But like my dad said, the Lord comes first in our family," he said. "And in everything we do and before everything we attempt to do."

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