Karen G. Prudente — Steering Committee, Chairperson
Karen is a lifelong United Methodist and a member of Christ Church United Methodist, a progressive and reconciling church in Manhattan. For 17 years, she served as Assistant Treasurer and created dynamic programs as Executive Secretary for International Ministries for the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, the mission agency of the United Methodist Church. Karen has also served as Vice President of United Methodist Women – NY Conference. Working with and advocating for those marginalized in their communities is Karen’s ethos and witness in sharing God’s love, grace and mercy. Karen continues to hope that the United Methodist Church be a truly welcoming and authentic host to all who serve and are served. Currently, Karen is the NYC Director of Finance & Operations for The Nature Conservancy.
Rev. Martha E. Vink — Steering Committee, Vice Chairperson
Rev. Martha E. Vink is a child of the NYAC, privileged to be born to Rev. Hal and Jane Vink who have served in this conference for decades. She spent her growing up years involved in the local church, the Conference, and the youth and camping ministries of the NYAC. After attending High Point College in North Carolina, she found her home at Yale Divinity School. There she was schooled not only on Liberation Theology, but on the ways social action and spirituality go hand in hand. Upon graduation Martha served churches on Long Island and upstate NY and as Campus Minister and Community Service Coordinator at SUNY Delhi. While pastoring the United Ministry of Delhi, she helped lead the church to “Proclaim your welcome out loud!” and become a Reconciling Congregation. In July 2017 she became the Lead Pastor of the NOW Cooperative Parish in the NY-Connecticut District. For many years Martha has been part of the movement of clergy and laity working for change in the UMC around sexuality issues. She was blessed to be among the group of 15 NYAC LGBTQI clergy and 125 LGBTQI clergy nationally (now more than 200) to come out in 2016 – a transformative and freeing moment which has been life-changing! She is on the leadership team for the national Queer Clergy Caucus of the UMC.
Michael Cobb — Steering Committee, Coordinator of Communications
Michael Cobb is an Associate Pastor at Yorktown UMC and has recently earned his M.Div at Yale Divinity School. Prior denominational activism work included co-founding of a congregational task force at Jesse Lee Memorial UMC in Ridgefield, CT that created opportunities to discuss how the congregation could better live out Christ’s love towards LGBT people: SAFE (Sacred Access For Everyone). His professional work has included serving as Director of Outreach and Communications for the Religious Institute, a multi-faith nonprofit working for sexual justice and education in faith communities and in society, including abuse prevention, sexuality education, and LGBT inclusion, and the National Black Justice Coalition, a national nonprofit advocating for African-American LGBT people. He is passionate about justice, faith, comics, cooking, good tea, and his wife and two sons (not always in that order).
Rev. Scott Summerville — Steering Committee, Treasurer
Scott has been a clergy member of the New York Annual Conference since 1976. Currently retired, he has served churches in Kingston, NY, Stamford, CT, Brooklyn, and Yonkers. He is married to Rev. Mary Ellen Summerville, who is also a NYAC clergy member and psychotherapist. They have two adult children, Meredith and Thomas, and two grandchildren, Zoe and Ronan. In addition his work for MIND, in retirement Scott is engaged in a specialized ministry as a trainer and consultant in congregational conflict and mediation.
Rev. Melissa Boyer — Steering Committee
Melissa grew up in Arkansas, the youngest of five in a family of Christmas-and-Easter Catholics. It was in the context of the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) that she first felt a calling to ministry, but she couldn’t be a priest and didn’t want to be a nun. She attended the United Methodist-related Hendrix College, and there found a home in United Methodism. She earned her M.Div. in 1999 from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. While at Union, she seriously considered moving to a denomination that did not profess that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” She was inspired, however, by the strength and power of the movements for justice for LGBTQI people within the United Methodist Church. She has served UM churches in Manhattan, White Plains, Coppell, TX, Buchanan, NY, and currently, Katonah, NY, where she is also active in prison ministry. She is married to Barry Mangione, a pediatric physical therapist, musician, and awesome stepdad to their two teenage kids.
Rev. Thomas Carney — Steering Committee
Tom is a native New Yorker who is currently serving the United Methodist Church of Babylon on Long Island. He was ordained an Elder in the New York Annual Conference in June of 1980. He has also served churches in Palenville, Quarryville, Malden-on-Hudson, Lamb’s Corners and Greenville-Norton Hill, NY. He served the Greenville-Norton Hill Church for 36 years. At this time in his ministry the full inclusion of LGBTQI persons in the Methodist church is a priority in his witness. He has five children and twelve grandchildren.
Rev. Dr. Hermon L. Darden Jr. — Steering Committee
Hermon is a native New Yorker who attended the NYC public schools. He is a graduate of York College, CUNY, BA 1974; Johnson C. Smith Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Ga. M Div. 1977; and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL. D Min. 2011. He has served as an instructor at NYC Technical College, an adjunct lecturer at New York Theological Seminary. Hermon has served as pastor of churches in Harlem, southeast Queens, the Hudson Valley, lower Manhattan, Westchester, and Brooklyn. He worked as an officer or active member in ecumenical organizations of each area where he has been appointed. He has held leadership positions for several districts and the annual conference of the United Methodist Church. Hermon has been an educated advocate for the rights of LGBTQI people for his entire tenure in the NY Annual Conference. He has traveled for missional and ecumenical healing to South Rwanda, Kenya, Korea, and Nicaragua, Israel and Palestine. His ecumenical work includes travel with the Witness for Peace and the World Vision Organizations. Rev. Darden was a member of the board of directors of the Brooklyn Council of Churches and the 67th Precinct (East Flatbush) Clergy Council. He has served on the NYC Dept. of Health Steering Committee to reduce hypertension. Hermon has recently been invited to work with the North Bronx Racial Justice Coalition. Dr. Darden is currently appointed serve as the senior pastor of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Marble Hill, Bronx, NY.
Rev. Karen Eiler — Steering Committee
Karen is a native Hoosier, who has lived in the New York metropolitan area long enough that it feels like home. Her undergraduate degree in foreign languages led to a career in marketing and management at IBM, during which it never, ever occurred to her that she would end up as a pastor. She imagines God laughing as she worked as a pastor’s assistant (attempting to prove that God was mistaken in calling her), then as the Christian Education Director of a large program. To get God off her back, she finally made her way through Yale Divinity School. Loyal to her roots as a cradle Methodist, she has served United Methodist churches in Ridgefield and Danbury CT, White Plains, NY, and now Norwalk, CT. She also works as a rehab, hospice, and palliative care chaplain at the Nathaniel Witherell nursing home in Greenwich, CT. She is passionate about helping people connect with God and one another through high-quality and meaningful worship, engaging education opportunities, social justice and service work, and just plain having fun together. She has three young adult children, and a 9-year-old rescued Havanese named Henry. In her free time, she enjoys the arts as a participant and a spectator, and she loves to travel, especially to places that can be explored on foot.
Rev. Matt Schaeffer — Steering Committee
Matt has served at Bethel United Methodist Church in Staten Island for seven years and on the Staten Island Council of Churches executive committee for two years. His passion in ministry is for social justice, missions, and disaster relief. Originally from Ohio, he has lived in Virginia, Washington State, and South Korea. He has been married for twenty-four years and has one son who is currently applying to med school. His hobbies include music, travel, hiking, and touring Manhattan.
Rev. Cathy Schuyler — Steering Committee
Cathy is the pastor of the Catskill, Palenville, and Quarryville United Methodist Churches. She has been involved with work for justice and inclusion in the church since before her ordination in 1990. She is married to the Rev. Rick Edwards. They have three daughters, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren.
Rev. Jeff Wells — Steering Committee
Jeff Wells is the lead pastor of The Church of the Village, a progressive, radically inclusive, and anti-racist community in the West Village of Manhattan. He was commissioned in 2005 and ordained in 2008. Jeff has served on the Conference Commission on Religion and Race and the Conference Board of Church and Society, which he chaired from 2006 through 2012. As a Board chair, he also served on the Connectional Ministries Vision Table. He also served for three years as a board member of the United Methodist City Society. Jeff helped to write and implement the NY Annual Conference policy requiring anti-racism training for all clergy. He has been involved for many years in crafting legislation in the NYAC advocating for full inclusion of LGBTQI persons and against expressions of racism and white supremacy within and outside of the UMC. Jeff has been a life-long passionate advocate for social and economic justice, and human and civil rights and a member of Methodist Federation for Social Action since 2000. He served on MFSA’s steering committee for three years. Jeff currently serves as a clergy mentor in the Metropolitan District and on the District Committee on Ordained Ministry. His non-fiction writing has been published widely in print and online. He is currently working on his first novel and several short stories. He loves to sing and play acoustic guitar. Jeff is grateful to be married to Diane Barclay, a gifted psychoanalyst, leader, teacher, singer, and compassionate human being.
Mary is a cradle United Methodist and the daughter of three clergy parents. She is a member of the New Paltz United Methodist Church, and she lives in Highland with her wife, toddler son, and infant twin son and daughter. Mary teaches 7th grade science at Marlboro Middle School.
Carolyn Hardin Engelhardt — Advisory Board
Carolyn Hardin Engelhardt is called to be a lay person. She has an MDiv from Perkins School of Theology, SMU, and is Director of the Ministry Resource Center, Yale Divinity School. She has been a delegate to several General and Jurisdictional Conferences of the UMC, member of the NY Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and District Committee on Ordained Ministry. Carolyn has long been a member of MFSA and MIND, was an 18 year politically elected member of the Board of Education in Cheshire, CT. Carolyn is a co-leader of an adult learning group every Sunday at Cheshire UMC. For fun she enjoys learning through world travel and exploring the outdoors. Carolyn is married to George Engelhardt as has two children, Hardin and Jeffers.
Rev. Paul Fleck — Advisory Board
Paul is committed to developing disciples at Hamden Plains United Methodist Church in Connecticut. He has served as the Chair of the MIND Legal Team since 2011, and has drafted numerous briefs to the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church on behalf of MIND.
Rev. Vicki Flippin — Advisory Board
Vicki is the Associate Pastor of New Communities at St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church in New York City, where she works with LaMP, a progressive Protestant campus ministry, and where she is creating new multi-racial, LGBTQ-affirming Christian communities. She also serves as Co-President of the Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and blogs periodically for Huffington Post. Vicki has previously served for many years with Methodists in New Directions and the NYAC Commission on Religion and Race, and she has participated in PFLAG-NY’s API (Asian Pacific Islander) Project. Her advocacy for both racial justice and LGBTQ equality have been featured in the Village Voice.
Rev. Kaiyra Greer — Advisory Board
As a child of a United Methodist Pastor, Kai was raised in The United Methodist Church. Kai was born in Wilmington, Delaware and grew up in Ohio and New York eventually making it back to Delaware and graduating from Wesley College in Dover (2003). In 2012, Kai obtained an MBA from Goldey-Beacom College and began seminary at Drew Theological School in 2014. Kai received an MDiv in 2016. Kai has always had passion for urban ministry, mentoring, and teaching. Prior to being appointed in the NYAC, Kai served with Mosaic Ministries in the Greater New Jersey Conference under the direction of Bishop John Schol. Currently, Pastor Kai is serving as the Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Stamford, CT in the NY/CT District.
Rev. Kristina Hansen — Advisory Board
Kristina is an LGBTQ married pastor. She graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 2003 with an MDiv and was ordained an elder in 2007. She is currently serving St. Paul’s (Northport) in the Long Island East District where she has served since 2010. In 2015, St. Paul’s became a Welcoming Church.
Rev. Wongee Joh — Advisory Board
Wongee serves at NOW UMC, a larger cooperative parish of five churches in the NYAC. She also enjoys serving as an adjunct professor for Vocation and Formation at Drew Theological School. She previously served as an Associate Chaplain at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie for six years. She served on the New York-Connecticut District Council on Ministry, District Committee on Ordained Ministry, Women In Ministry, Board of Church and Society, Council on Missions, Immigration Task Force, United Methodist Frontiers Foundation, and serves on various other committees and groups, including other boards within the context of her local churches. She is growing through a 2 year clergy leadership program at Chautauqua Institute, focusing on leadership development in public ministries. As a Korean-American woman pastor, she encounters challenges in ministerial contexts that require critical reflection on how biblical authority is abused and misused to legitimate injustices as well as active engagement in order to transform them. She enjoys being active in nature and raising two daughters with her husband Ben.
Rev. Bruce Lamb — Advisory Board
Bruce serves as the Interim Associate Minister of Youth and Young Adults at The Riverside Church in New York City. Bruce is passionate about reaching new generations for Christ working with youth and young adults and the LGBTQ community. Bruce has worked with youth groups all around the world from Texas, New York to Haiti spreading God’s message of love, belonging and safety leading retreats, outreach programs and confirmation retreats. Bruce served as the youth and young adult pastor at Mt. Calvary/St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Harlem tripling the size of the young adult ministry in one year taking the church out into the community with Pub Theology, worship in the park, young adult homeless outreach and working with youth and young adult LGBT youth. Bruce is provisional elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before becoming a pastor Bruce worked in journalism and NBC’s TODAY Show and CNN.
Rev. Lea A. Matthews — Advisory Board
Lea, a native Mississippian, is the Associate Pastor of Family Life and Connection at St. Paul & St. Andrew in New York City. She served the same church as the Director of Ministry Operations before moving into full ministry. Lea received her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. She holds a Masters of Education from Lehman College, and a Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State University, where she studied literature. Lea moved to New York City in 2001, where she entered the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. For 10 years, Lea taught English in three high-needs schools in the Bronx: Grace Dodge Vocational High School, Teaching and the Professions High School, and most recently, DeWitt Clinton High School. Lea currently resides in Riverdale, with her wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Nora.
Rev. Dr. Karen A. Monk — Advisory Board
A native Texan, the Karen has been a clergy member of the New York Annual Conference since 1989. Karen has served churches in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley throughout her pastoral ministry. After graduating from Southwestern University, she migrated to New York to attend Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Karen earned the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Theology, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Union. Additionally, she completed clinical training with the Harlem Family Institute. While serving in rural communities, she was an Emergency Medical Technician for 20 years. Beyond the local church and community, Karen currently serves on the Board of Ordained Ministry, and is an Assisting Elder in the Catskill Hudson District, and has served the conference and district in a variety of roles. A country preacher who loves jazz, dogs, and football, Karen is blessed to share life with her spouse, Shannon, and her 9-year-old stepdaughter.
Rev. Siobhan Sargent — Advisory Board
Siobhan is the Senior Pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church. Prior to moving to White Plains, Rev. Sargent served as the Associate Pastor of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in Manhattan, where she worked with children and youth while also developing ministry with students at Columbia University and Morningside Heights. Rev. Sargent’s gifts rest in developing leaders within the church community. She is committed to a fully inclusive church where all ages, races, sexual orientations, gender expressions and economic circumstances are lifted up and affirmed as not only children of God but also as vital to the Body of Christ. With a heart for social justice, Rev. Sargent believes that the “Good News” of the Gospel is found in sharing Jesus’ radical message of love with the least, the lost and the marginalized.
Rev. Alex Souto — Advisory Board
Alex is a queer cisgender male, immigrant of color, serving as the pastor of the New Milford United Methodist Church and a leading LGBTQIA+ advocate in the United Methodist Church. He was one of the key persons who spearheaded the formation of the Queer Clergy Caucus in the United Methodist Church, and he currently serves as one of its national co-conveners. Alex is an advocacy strategist with Love Your Neighbor Coalition, consultant with the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, a team member of NYAC Immigration Task force, and Connecticut District Committee on Ministries. He is involved with mission partnerships in Nicaragua and Mozambique, and a passionate liturgical artist serving as co-chair for Annual Conference Worship Team.
Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller — Advisory Board
Dr. Althea Spencer Miller, a Jamaican, was ordained elder in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. She is Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at Drew Theological School, a provisional elder in the NYAC, and a Minister in Residence at Church of the Village, Manhattan. Her commitment to justice for social transformation integrates her life. She understands Christian commitment as grounded within a community of faith that is always restless for expressions of God’s “kin-dom” as an ever branching tree that can nest every seeking bird. This is a summation of all that she learned through Sunday school at Lyndhurst in Kingston, the United Theological College of the West Indies (B.A. Th.), Candler School of Theology (Th.M.) and Claremont Graduate University (Ph.D).
Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy — Advisory Board
Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy shares life with her spouse, Kristin Marcell, in Kerhonkson, NY, where they are raising their two boys, Maximillian Frederic and Rowan Crawford. Among their family members are the dog, Mister Jones, and two cats, Etta and Thelonious. After graduating from Yale Divinity School, where she won the Henry Hallam Tweedy Prize [no relation] for “exceptional promise for pastoral leadership,” Sara followed in her mother’s and uncle’s footsteps as a United Methodist minister. She served as the pastor of The Federated Church of Kerhonkson for seven years before moving on to her current work in extension ministry in higher education. In March 2013, an official complaint was filed against Tweedy accusing her of being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual,” a violation of UMC rules; the case was referred to counsel for the church in October 2013, and dismissed in May 2014. Rev. Tweedy was honored with the 2014 Gwen and C. Dale White Award from the New York Chapter of MFSA for her witness in the United Methodist Church while under complaint.