Sandra Matoushaya, Mission Engagement Coordinator for the Western PA Conference, has been named to an advisory panel to work with the UMC Board of Church and Society on training efforts to help congregations engage in Ministry WITH the poor to address causes of poverty.
Over the past few years, Church and Society has engaged in conversations with more than 250 ministries across the United Methodist connection. These ministries are in relationship WITH their communities in meaningful ways that address root causes of poverty for sustainable transformation.
To build upon this work in 2019, Church and Society wants to create opportunities for intentional conversation between Ministry With practitioners. Results from their recently conducted survey show a deep desire for a gathering of Ministry With partners that provides time for learning and collaboration.
The small Advisory Team that Sandra will serve on was formed to ensure that programming meets the hopes and needs of our Ministry With partners. The team participants are viewed as "lived experts" with experience facilitating relationship-based ministry. They will lead in planning content for an event that speaks to these topics.
The "Ministry With" Advisory Team includes:
Rev. Mary Downey, Chief Executive Officer for the Community Hope Center in the Florida Annual Conference
Director of Missions at Community Presbyterian Church of Celebration, she is a Provisional Deacon in the United Methodist Church for the Florida Annual Conference. Downey’s focus is on missional outreach through social justice in non-profit organizations. Previously Downey served as the Deputy Director at Helping Others Make the Effort (HOME), a non-profit committed to ending homelessness in Osceola County from 2008-2011 and Downey was also the Program and Evangelism Director for the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee, from 2006-2008, where she focused on spiritual formation, outreach, and missions. Before moving to the central Florida area, Downey was a feature reporter, columnist, and page designer for The El-Dorado News-Times in El Dorado, Arkansas. In 2004 Downey graduated cum laude from Henderson State University with a Bachelor of Art in Mass Media. In 2006 she graduated from Henderson State with a Master of Art in Art History and Liberal Arts. In 2012 Downey graduated with a Masters of Christian Leadership with an emphasis in missions from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Sandra Matoushaya, Missional Engagement Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference
Sandra Matoushaya is a native of Zimbabwe and coordinates global partnerships, including the Western PA Zimbabwe Partnership
. She has always had a desire to help as many people as she can, in particular people from Zimbabwe. After receiving her Master’s degree in international development, she had hoped to work for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) or non-profit to gain experience that could be applied in Zimbabwe. But God had other plans for her by providing the opportunity to work on the Western PA Conference staff. With the Zimbabwe Partnership, not only does she assist in fundraising for projects in Zimbabwe, but helps to build relationships between Christians in her native land and the United States. In addition, she coordinates Volunteers in Mission opportunities and training and works with other Western PA Partnership committees.
Rev. Paul Perez, Associate Director for Mission and Ministry for the Michigan Annual Conference
Rev. Paul Perez is an ordained deacon with years of service in The Detroit Conference. God’s call to ministries of Word, service, compassion, and justice as a Deacon animates his professional life. This “call” has not been a solid, steady, stabilizing force; instead, God’s calling continues to be an unfolding, on-going process of engaging in ministries of compassion and justice through adapting to challenges, discovering new possibilities, and listening and learning from those affected by systems of injustice and oppression. During college at Michigan State University, he discerned my call to ordained ministry while serving as a peer minister at The MSU Wesley Foundation and as an intern at Metropolitan UMC in Detroit through the Detroit Conference Mission Intern Program. His service as the founding director of Justice for Our Neighbors – Southeastern Michigan shaped him into the Deacon and the leader he is today.
Shellie Ross, Executive Director for the Wesley-Rankin Community Center in the North Texas Annual Conference
Shellie joined the staff in 2010. Prior to serving as Executive Director, Shellie held the Director of Children's Education and Senior Director of Education positions on staff. She holds a Bachelor of English from The University of Mississippi and a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology. Shellie has experience in youth ministry and teaches with The Academy for Missional Wisdom. In addition, she is a member of the Leadership ISD Class of 2017. Shellie has a passion for justice, is a life-long learner, and has a gift for building community among diverse groups of people.
Rev. Gary Bernard Williams, Lead Pastor at Saint Mark LA in the California-Pacific Annual Conference
Rev. Gary Bernard Williams is the Lead Pastor and Elder in full connection in the California-Pacific Annual Conference. He received his Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology; studied Pan African Studies at California State University; has an Associate’s Degree in in Liberal Arts at Los Angeles City College; and completed the Certificate Program for Chemical Dependency Counseling at Los Angeles Southwest College. “For 33 years I put drugs and alcohol into my body. For the last 14 years I’ve been clean and free from that destructive lifestyle. God has blessed me through my life and spared me from death and a lifestyle that wanted to kill me.”
Church and Society Staff
John Hill, Assistant General Secretary for Advocacy and Grassroots Organizing Director of Economic and Environmental Justice
John oversees Church and Society’s advocacy and organizing department. In addition, he directs the economic and environmental justice program work. John studied international affairs at the University of Virginia. Upon graduation, he was awarded a fellowship to teach politics in England. He then served as a legislative aide in the U.S. Congress before working as a lobbyist in the private sector. During his time as a lobbyist, he realized a growing disconnect between his faith and his work. Since joining Church and Society in 2002, John has enjoyed engaging United Methodists as they seek to better align their daily living with their faith. He also is inspired and energized by the children he teaches each Sunday at Foundry United Methodist Church.
Amber Feezor, Senior Coordinator for Ministry With the Poor and the UM Seminar Program
Amber works with Annual Conferences to celebrate the ongoing work of Ministry With the Poor. She also focuses on connecting with partner organizations for the Seminar Program. She was formerly a manager of a nonprofit coffeehouse. Amber felt called to work for social justice while studying Public Relations at Arkansas Tech University. She created campaigns for issues of homelessness, addiction, and childhood hunger. Her work with marginalized communities illuminated the need for greater awareness. As a result, Amber became eager to merge education and justice. Amber seeks to build social awareness through creative partnerships.