Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

For the next quinquennium, the New Jersey Conference leadership team is comprised of (pictured top row, left to right) Wilman Polanco, Anthony Ponterio Jr., Jean-Michel Etienne, Carl Rodriguez, Eduardo Monteiro, Carlos J. Torres, Daniel Cabezas, (bottom row, left to right) Mario Thorp, Elisa Maragoto, Cinthia Portanova, Treasurer Carlos Portanova, President Jorge Aguero, Executive Secretary Stephen Lee, Amalia Aguero, Juliana Marson and Samuel Jerome.

New Jersey Conference Celebrates Departmental Directors

Story by Stephen Lee

At the recent New Jersey Conference (NJC) Executive Committee meeting, delegates appointed or reappointed 13 departmental directors.

Carl Rodriguez, the conference’s new Youth and Young Adults director, has more than 27 years of experience in this area. Rodriguez has a Master of Business Administration from Frostburg University (Md.), a Master of Divinity from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary (Mich.) and is working on his Doctor of Ministry in Urban Ministry from the same institution.

Jean-Michel Etienne is the new director of Sabbath School, Stewardship, and Health Ministries. He has served as a senior district pastor for more than 20 years. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Theology and Leadership from Cairn University (Pa.), a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, and a doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Newburgh Theological Seminary (Ind.).

Samuel Jerome serves as the senior pastor of the Maranatha District and new Prayer Coordinator for the conference’s Franco-Haitian Ministries. After graduating from Atlantic Union College (Mass.) with a bachelor’s degree in Theology, Jerome received a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Elisa Maragoto has served at Lake Nelson Adventist Academy in Piscataway for 28 years—15 as principal—and now adds superintendent of schools to her plate. She has degrees in Elementary Education and Social Studies and has a Master of Education from Montclair State University (N.J.). Currently, she is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Andrews University.

Carlos J. Torres, Personal and Family Ministries director, who was reappointed, received a bachelor’s degree in Theology at Universidad Adventista de Venezuela. He later received a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from the University of Montemorelos in Mexico. After that, he earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Juliana Frida Marson, who received her master’s degree in Pastoral Ministries from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, is the new Women’s Ministries director. Marson currently pastors the Grace Place and New Birth churches, which she planted. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Evangelism and Church Planting from Liberty University.

Wilman Polanco continues to serve as the Tranquility Camp director. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biblical-Pastoral Theology at Antillean Adventist University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from NUC University, both in Puerto Rico. Prior to coming to the NJC, he served as the senior pastor for the Western Conference in Puerto Rico. 

With more than 27 years of service in the Adventist Church, Daniel Cabezas serves as the new Spanish Prayer Ministries coordinator. He received his bachelor’s degree in Theology from Universidad Adventista de Venezuela and a master’s degree in Pastoral Leadership from Seminario Teológico Adventista Interamericano in Venezuela.

Anthony Ponterio Jr., currently serves as a pastor in the Tranquility district and the new English Prayer Ministries coordinator. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Theology at Andrews University and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry, also at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Amalia Aguero has been serving as the Ministerial Spouses director for the last five years and will continue for the next quinquennium. She also serves the conference as a junior accountant and ARM representative, among other duties. 

Working in Children’s Ministries at the local church for more than 30 years, in 2018, Cinthia Portanova became the Children’s Ministries coordinator for the conference and is now the director. She is also the administrative assistant for the Communication and Youth and Young Adults Department. Portanova received a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Leadership from Southwestern Adventist University (Texas).

Eduardo Monteiro was reappointed as the Ministerial and Evangelism director. Previously, Monteiro has pastored English, Spanish and Brazilian churches. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Theology with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry from the Latin-American Adventist Theology Seminary in Brazil, and a master’s degree in Family Relations from Montemorelos University in Mexico. 

Mario Thorp is the new Adventist Community Services/Disaster Response director. A native of Costa Rica, Thorp has served the church for 29 years as district pastor, evangelist, youth leader, departmental leader, and most recently, NJC’s executive secretary.

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