The Reverend Dr. Cynthia Weems, Chair of the Advisory Board; currently serves as District Superintendent of the Southeast District in the Florida Annual Conference. Dr. Weems graduated from Millsaps College and Yale Divinity School and served as a voluntary missionary in Cochabamba, Bolivia immediately following seminary. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese. Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Weems served as pastor of First United Methodist Church of Miami. Her daughter, Mariana, is in High School.
Reverend Douglas W. Ruffle, Ph.D., Mission Interpreter for Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean. Doug grew up in New York and New Jersey. He served as a missionary in Argentina for nine years and also served churches in NJ. For more about Dr. Ruffle, click here.
Reverend Wilson Boots, Ph.D., founding Mission Interpreter, retired elder in the New York Annual Conference where he served as Director of Connectional Ministries, District Superintendent, Pastor. Served as a missionary in Bolivia and Argentina.
Bishop Jane Middleton, Retired, Northeastern Jurisdiction. Bishop Middleton was born in St. Louis, MO and studied at Oklahoma State University and Yale Divinity School (M.Div., 1978). She served churches in the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church; was on conference staff for Spiritual Life for clergy and laity; and served as a District Superintendent from 1999 until her election as a Bishop in 2004. She served the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area from 2004-2012 and the New York Conference from 2016-2018.
Bishop Joel Martinez, Retired, South Central Jurisdiction.
Bishop Joel N. Martinez is retired and residing in San Antonio. he was elected to the episcopacy in 1992 after serving as an ordained minister in the Rio Grande Annual Conference. Upon his assignment to the Nebraska conference, he was invited to serve on the Encounter With Christ Advisory Board by Dr. Wilson Boots.
Bishop Martinez served in the General Board of Global Ministries as Executive Secretary of the office of ethnic and language ministries in the national division from 1975-1981. He later chaired the missional priority committee on the ethnic minority local church from 1984-88. Later, during his tenure as Bishop, he chaired the denomination’s national plan for Hispanic ministry committee from 1992-2000. During his tenure as Bishop of the San Antonio episcopal area, he served as President of the General Board of Global Ministries from 2000-2008. He served as Interim General Secretary of Global Ministries from September 2009 to March of 2010.
He has traveled widely in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He has represented The United Methodist Church at General Conferences of the church in Mexico, and Bolivia as well as traveling on episcopal visits to Argentina, Chile, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. He currently chairs the committee on Hispanic/Latino history of the General Commission on Archives and History.
Bishop Gregory Palmer, Ohio West Episcopal Area, was elected to the episcopacy in 2000. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bishop Palmer graduated from George Washington University and earned a M.Div. degree from Duke Divinity School. He was the organizing pastor of the James S. Thomas UMC in Canton, Ohio, and served churches in North Carolina and Berea, Ohio; and served as a District Superintendent in the East Ohio Conference. He has served as Bishop for the Iowa and Illinois areas and currently for the West Ohio Conference.
Bishop Ken Carter, Charlotte Episcopal Area. Bishop Carter was raised in Georgia and graduated from Columbus College (B.S.), Duke Divinity School (M.Div.), the University of Virginia (M.A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (D.Min.). Bishop Carter has served as a new church planter, an associate pastor, and as senior pastor of two large regional churches in the Western North Carolina Conference. He also served as a District Superintendent. He served as President of the Council of Bishops, 2018-2020. He was elected to the episcopacy in 2012.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, San Francisco Episcopal Area. Bishop Carcaño was born in Edinburg, Texas. She did undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Pan American, and then earned a Master of Theology at Perkins School of Theology. Ordained in 1976, she has served congregations in Texas, New Mexico, and California. In 1986 she became the first Hispanic woman to be appointed a United Methodist district superintendent, serving in West Texas and New Mexico. From 1996 to 2001, she served as the Director of the Mexican American program at Perkins. In 2001, she was appointed district superintendent in the greater Portland, Oregon area in the Oregon-Idaho Conference. She was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 by the Western Jurisdiction, the first Hispanic female ever elected bishop. She has served the Desert Southwest, and California-Pacific conferences prior to serving in the California-Nevada Conference.
Bishop Elías Galván, retired, Western Jurisdiction. Born in Puebla, Mexico, into a Methodist minister’s parsonage, Bishop Galván was educated in Mexico and began serving churches near Puebla. The Spanish American Institute sponsored him to study at a Methodist school in California in 1956. He obtained degrees from Compton Junior College (A.A.) and California State University in Long Branch (B.A.) and went on to study at Claremont School of Theology (Rel. D.) where he obtained a Doctor of Religion. He was ordained into the Southern California-Arizona Annual Conference where he served churches in southern California, became staff for the conference and later a district superintendent, becoming the first Hispanic/Latino DS in an Anglo Conference in the US. He was the founding Bishop of the newly formed Desert-Southwest Annual Conference and also served as Bishop for the Pacific Northwest Conference.
Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans, Director of Missional Engagement for the Florida Annual Conference. Clarke is an ordained elder in the Florida Annual Conference. He served as a Mission Intern with Global Ministries in the Dominican Republic and in El Paso, Texas. He went on staff in Global Ministries’ World Division, becoming the liaison person between The United Methodist Church and Methodist Churches in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Cuba. He served churches in southern Florida; became district superintendent for Southeast Florida. Served as a Senior Pastor in Tallahassee, Florida, before assuming his current position as Director of Missional Engagement. He joined the Encounter With Christ Advisory Board in 2008 and serves on its Executive Team.
Rev. Keith Rae, retired Global Ministries staff, was born and raised in Barbados where he grew up in the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA). He attended seminary in Jamaica and served churches in the MCCA before attending Boston University School of Theology. He became a member of the New England Annual Conference serving churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, before joining the staff of the Latin America/Caribbean Unit of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). He later served GBGM as Executive secretary for Church Development in the Program Unit on Evangelization and Church Growth.
Lloyd Ambrosius, a retired Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, served as a director on the General Board of Global Ministries from 1984 to 1992. He was chair of the Latin American/Caribbean Committee when Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean was established in 1992. He shepherded the process for creating this Permanent Fund, along with Janet Kussart and Nora Boots. For two decades he served as chair of the EWC Advisory Board to help raise funds for ministry and mission in the region.
Janet Kussart, served on Global Ministries Board of Directors; Vice Chair of Latin America/Caribbean Team. Janet served as a member of the Board of Directors when Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean was founded. She was instrumental in establishing the Permanent Fund when she served as Vice-Chair of the Latin America/Caribbean team.
Rev. Dr. Jorge Domingues, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries, California-Nevada Annual Conference, was born and raised a Methodist in Brazil. Jorge studied at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. Jorge joined the staff of the General Board of Global Ministries in 1996 and served in many positions, including Deputy General Secretary, over a twenty year period.
Rev. Emily Everett is an ordained Deacon in the Texas Annual Conference. She has had a passion for mission and ministry in Latin America ever since her first experience in Brazil as a young adult Global Justice Volunteer in 2006. After ordination, she served as an Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Pasadena and then as a Global Missionary for three and a half years in Brazil with the Methodist Church. Rev. Everett is currently training to become a Spiritual Director through Perkins School of Theology and lives in Austin, Texas, with her cat, Lenny.
The Reverend Juan Gattinoni is the newest member of Encounter’s Advisory Board. Pictured here with his wife, Patricia, Juan is a pastor in the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina. He is one of the founding pastors of Cristo Rey, a new church start in Buenos Aires. Juan has served on staff of the Latin American Council of Churches as well as Global Ministries for The United Methodist Church. Currently he works as the part-time director for El Aposento Alto (The Upper Room) in Buenos Aires. As of March of 2023, he will serve as the National Secretary for the Life and Mission of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina.