From South Korea to Peru, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Long Island and California, GNJ’s newly commissioned and ordained testify to God’s spirit in the eyes of the homeless living on the streets of London, friends in the islands of The Philippines, and rich Christian community at the University of Delaware.
In pursuit of authentic faith and through deep, probing and personal conversations with God; some filled with pain, grief, confusion, anguish, and inexpressible joy, they have bravely embraced the call that’s before them. Despite their vastly different stories and experiences, these disciples are bound by a common thread: the transformative power of Christ.
From working-class roots to globe-trotting journeys, overcoming violence and abuse to finding faith that’s personal, they bear stories of family and friends committing to them in prayer, boldly asking of God and working through their deepest fears to become the women and men they are now. For some it was in soup kitchens, prisons and hospitals where they found Christ and discovered God’s call on their life. For others it was during retreats they would have never gone on otherwise, through people who took the time to invest in them, and life-altering experiences that can’t be expressed in any other way but divine. They set out on a new journey and the next chapter in their life of faith. Get to know them here:
Alison Van Buskirk Philip – Elder in Full Connection
- Alison grew up in suburban Philly and didn’t step into church until college. Although sports-centered as a teenager, she was drawn to purpose and spirituality as she grew and during college decided to pursue them. As an English major at the University of Delaware, she started to read early church writings and explored several different churches. Meanwhile she became connected with Wesley Foundation and through that rich community, she experienced Jesus. In 2007 she was baptized on Pentecost, and now 11 years later she was ordained on Pentecost at the 2018 Annual Conference. She worked for faith-based nonprofits in New York but kept feeling a pull to ministry and ended up at Princeton Seminary. She has been appointed to Franklin Lakes UMC in Franklin Lakes since 2015.
Daeil Min – Elder in Full Connection
- Born in Korea, Daeil spent his teenager years and early 20s engaged in a secular lifestyle, living in the world. But it was during a time when he was in the Philippines where God’s peace came over him and drew him into ministry and birthed in him a heart to share God’s love. He credits the love and acceptance he received from his parents as a major life influence as well.
He has been appointed to Browns Mills UMC in Browns Mills.
Dianna Stone – Provisional Elder
- Violence was at the center of Dianna’s home life growing up. She and her family were considered “white trash” by their community and grew up through abuse, hunger and homelessness. After a traumatic experience giving birth to her daughter, Diana decided she needed to raise her child in a church community. She recognized God was there throughout her whole life and had been calling her. She approached her pastor and asked, “How do you know if you’re crazy or you’re called?” The pastor replied, “I’ve been waiting for you to come to me.”
She has been appointed to Whitehouse UMC in Whitehouse.
Erik “Skitch” Matson – Provisional Elder
- Skitch grew up in a Christian home in California and was heavily influenced by the lead pastor of the church he was serving in San Diego. Seldon Dee Kelley III is the most non-anxious, God-trusting person Skitch has ever encountered and it was through him that he saw the character of God and the man he wanted to become.
He has been appointed to Princeton UMC In Princeton.
Hyun Hui Kim – Provisional Elder
- Born and raised in Korea, Kim loved to spend her time at church even early on in her youth. She came from a working-class family that lacked economic abundance but enjoyed the abundant life in God’s grace. Whenever she experienced lacking is when she more easily experienced God’s grace and decided she needed to share it.
She has been appointed to West Grove UMC in Neptune and Memorial UMC in Neptune City.
Joshua Mularski – Provisional Elder
- Joshua grew up in a Christian home outside Pittsburgh. His faith was anything but personal, but during his early adolescence he agreed to go on a youth retreat. He believed his mom must have prayed for him, because deciding to go was not something he would typically do. He felt the call to ministry and during his time serving St. John’s UMC in South Jersey, and from there felt called to pursue ordained ministry.
He has been appointed to First UMC in Williamstown.
June Tamburro – Deacon in Full Connection
- June was raised in a working-class family with generous parents who truly lived out their faith outside the walls of their church. With limited means they never hesitated to give and help those in need. This deeply impacted June but she wrestled with her faith during her 20s, even rejecting the idea of God altogether despite being active in social justice issues. She worked in soup kitchens, prisons, and hospitals, and it was there, outside the walls of the church, where she found Christ and felt God’s call on her life. She previously served at East Millstone UMC and has been appointed as an Associate Pastor at Bridgewater UMC.
Lakesha Groover – Provisional Elder
- Lakesha grew up pursuing the fashion industry only to find her heart wasn’t in it. From there she became a social worker, ended up at Drew Theological School and made a deal with God that she would go, but it would be part time. It became full time, and she believes God kept bringing her along to where she is today, always sensing that God was working through her fears.
She has been appointed to Covenant UMC in Plainfield.
Tae Youl “Leo” Park –Elder in Full Connection
- Leo didn’t know it at the time, but when he was dating the woman who would become his wife, her mother would become the most influential person to bring about his life’s greatest change. He was 24 when his would-be mother-in-law told him he needed to believe in Jesus if he wanted to marry her daughter. So she signed him up for a Christian retreat, and it was there on July 7, 1995, that he met Jesus and his life was forever changed.
He has been appointed to Korean United Methodist Church of South Jersey in Egg Harbor City.
Michael Reed – Provisional Elder
- A pastor’s kid in a Baptist family, Michael wrestled with the idea of being a pastor despite feeling called to do so since he was young. His personal journey sought faith that was authentic while his literal journey led him to live in different parts of the world, gaining new experiences in new places with a variety of people.
- He has been appointed to Trenton to start a new, asset-based faith community known as The Maker’s Place modeled similarly off of The Church of All People in Columbus, OH, where Michael spent time working.
Miso Park – Provisional Elder
- Miso grew up in South Korea and came to the U.S. 12 years ago. When she was young she left the church because she didn’t feel welcome, but came back when she was a late teenager. It was there that she met Jesus, her life forever changed, and she felt a call to introduce others to Christ.
- She has been appointed to Bergen Highlands UMC in Upper Saddle River.
Nancy Robinson – Associate Member
- She wasn’t brought up in the church though she went through all the customs and traditions, living out a consumeristic type of faith. In 1990, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer, her mother died of a heart attack and her third child was born. It was then she started to have different conversations with God, asking questions with anger and confusion. That is when she recognized the gift of love and hope offered by God, and began an amazing journey of grace. She studied at Wesley Seminary, served several churches, and felt the call to full time ministry and associate membership.
She has been appointed to the UMC in Branchville.
Richard Romero – Elder in Full Connection
Richard grew up in Lima, Peru. He served in his local church since age 15 and went to missions serving poor children for two years. When he moved to the U.S. Richard served his local church in youth and young adult ministries. Such service confirmed his call to ministry. While completing his Masters of Divinity studies he served at the Communities of Shalom Center as a community organizer.
He has been appointed to St. Luke’s UMC in Long Branch.
Sung Woo Lee – Provisional Elder
- Before he was born, Lee’s parents dedicated him to God. He grew up in a Christian home in Korea where his father served as the church building manager and his mother cooked meals for the congregation. For 23 years he resisted the call to ministry but never missed a Sunday service. During his time serving in the Korean army he heard a sermon that moved him to surrender his life to God.
He started a youth ministry and student center in the U.S. and through this ministry realized he wanted to take it further.
He has been appointed to Evangelical UMC in Clarksboro.
Wil Wilson –Elder in Full Connection
- During high school, Wil’s best friend was a retired Methodist minister named Dan who mentored him. Dan was inspiring, supportive, and discerning throughout the formative years of his youth. During college, Rev. Dan wrote him a weekly letter sharing stories and lessons from his personal life, all of which Wil has saved and treasures. God worked through Dan’s love and support, inspiring Wil to ministry.
He has been appointed to First UMC in Freehold.
Please pray for our newly ordained and commissioned as they continue their journey’s faith and serve their communities for Christ.