At a specially called session of the region on October 27, 2018, the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey called the Reverend Miriam Méndez as its new Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor with an overwhelming majority. With her election, Rev. Méndez becomes both the first woman and first Latinx to be called to this position. She will begin her ministry on January 1, 2019.
Rev. Dr. Elmo Familiaran, ABCNJ’s Interim Executive Minister and Senior Regional pastor, applauded Rev. Méndez’s selection,
“From the beginning of this discernment journey of the region, we were convinced not only by the quality of our search committee, but by the clear presence and ministration of the Holy Spirit in every level of the search process. I am so grateful to God for using the search committee to raise up the most qualified candidate to lead our regional family for this new season. The unanimous response of the ABCNJ Council in receiving the recommendation of the search committee was another sign of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And the overwhelming positive vote of the region to call Miriam as the next Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of ABCNJ is the consummation of this appointed time, I am personally overjoyed over Miriam’s appointment. Aside from the clear gifts and experience that Miriam brings to this responsibility, she comes with a lifetime of engagement and ministry with American Baptists, a deep spirituality, and a servant heart.”
Reverend Méndez is a native New Yorker and Puerto Rican and enjoys a deep history with the American Baptist Churches. She has been shaped by her over twenty years of extensive and high energy leadership in pastoral ministry, region work, spiritual direction, mentoring, seminary teaching, and community leadership. Throughout her ministerial career, Rev. Méndez has served as an interim pastor, co-pastor, lead pastor, associate pastor and church planter. This has given her a rich and unique insight into the various roles and complexities of pastoral leadership. For fifteen years she served as adjunct faculty at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland Oregon — where she taught in the areas of spiritual leadership, reconciliation, and prayer.
Since 2015, Rev. Miriam Méndez has served as Associate Regional Pastor and Area Minister for the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey. Prior to coming to New Jersey, she served as the Associate Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Pacific Coast in Oregon. She also served as the lead pastor of Esperanza Church, a new church plant and the first bilingual (Spanish/English) church in the ABC of the Central Pacific Coast.
As Executive Minister-Elect, Rev. Méndez will spend the next 6-7 weeks in intensive transition work with Dr. Familiaran, as the duties and responsibilities of the Executive Minister are handed over to her. She is eager to begin her new call,
“I am grateful and honored for the servant leadership that God has provided in the ABCNJ. God has led us to this point and continues to call us to a new thing. When I think of leading this region the words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind, ‘...behold, I am about to do a new thing; do you not perceive it?’ (Isa. 43:19) God continues to call us to be courageous, strong, bold, faithful and obedient. The rich diversity of our theological perspectives, gender, age, geography, ethnic, and cultural settings are a strength in the ABCNJ region. Serving in such a diverse region offers me the opportunity to lead in a manner that encourages conversation and welcomes the differing gifts of the diverse oneness of the Body of Christ. I look forward to continuing to build strong, healthy, positive and effective working relationships with the ABCNJ churches and pastors, council, team, staff, partners, and important stakeholders within the wider ABCUSA family. May God find us faithful on this new journey together.”