General Secretary, Andy Samuels
Pastor Andrew Samuels has been serving as the Pastor of the Miami Seventh Day Baptist Church in Florida in the United States since June, 1988. Born on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean, he grew up as a third-generation Seventh Day Baptist and migrated to the United States when he was 20 years old. He made his first public profession of faith at age 11 and was baptized a few months later at his home church, Mountain View SDB.
His very first personal experience with the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation was in 1986 when the Sessions were held in Rhode Island in the United States. He was living then in New York City and working as part of the diplomatic delegation of the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations. He remembers being asked by then World Federation Executive Secretary, Pastor Dale Thorngate, to obtain flags for each of the countries represented by the World Federation membership. He was able to borrow a flag from each country’s Mission located in New York City and that enhanced a beautiful parade of flags at both World Federation and the USA and Canada General Conference in Massachusetts that year.
He also attended the World Federation Sessions in 1997 as an Observer, in his native land of Jamaica. Three years prior to that, his local Church in Miami, seized the opportunity to nurture a Church in Haiti which had recently decided to become Seventh Day Baptist. Since then, he has made about 10 trips to that country as a natural outcome of the establishment of that relationship. In 2003, he regards it as an absolute privilege to travel to Brazil for the World Federation Sessions there, and his passion to become a world-class Seventh Day Baptist was greatly enriched. At that World Federation Session, he was elected as Vice-President for North America. He was re-elected to that office in 2008, the year when he also served as President for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of USA and Canada. In addition to 25 years of pastoring the Miami SDB Church, he has done a short-term Pastorate at the Mill Yard SDB Church in London, England, as well as pastoring SDB Churches in New York City, New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pastor Andy’s desire to fulfill the Great Commission has led him to engage in mission trips to Malawi, Brazil, Haiti, England, and Jamaica. He lists his primary spiritual gifts as Leadership, Teaching, and Shepherding, with a secondary gift of Evangelism.
He believes that his international experience at the United Nations community in New York City, his relationships with the SDB Churches in the United States & Canada, England, Brazil, Malawi, Jamaica, and Haiti, plus his attendance at the past three consecutive Sessions of the SDB World Federation, have prepared him well to serve as General Secretary for this fraternal organization of God’s people called Seventh Day Baptists. He aims to play his role in helping the Federation to achieve among member Conferences, its vision of quality communication services, meaningful fellowship, the coordination of mutual endeavors, and the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Samuels has a Bachelor’s degree from Miami Christian College, and has done graduate studies at Knox Theological Seminary. He is also a graduate of the SDB TIME Program, and has served as an Instructor at both the Florida Leadership Training Institute and the South Atlantic Leadership Training (SALT) Institute, ministries of the South Atlantic Association of Seventh Day Baptist Churches in the United States of America. He was the author of the 2007 World-Federation sponsored SDB Week Of Prayer booklet, and has also authored one book, “From The Foundation To The Pinnacle”, which is a chronicling of three decades of history of the Miami Seventh Day Baptist Church (1981-2011).
He has been married to Kay, an Educator, for 30 years, and they have two daughters, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
Recording Secretary, Karen Umana
I was born in El Salvador on April 21, 1979. My grandparents along with our 11 aunts and uncles raised me and my brother, then my parents after being able to save up enough, brought us to the United States in 1985. I was born into Christianity, so when we moved to California and immediately started attending church it was an easy transfer. I accepted God as my Lord and Savior at the age of 13 and got baptized. At that time I felt the music ministry was my calling, and so I worshiped God with my voice for years to come. In 1993 we moved to Maryland and I continued in the worship ministry in the new church we attended. After graduation I started working with my dad at our family business and I’ve worked as an office manager for the past 15 years building my management skills as I go along. Working for the family business I was able to put my bilingual skills to work, those same skills have helped me not only at work but in the church. Sometimes translate for our English speaking members and our visitors into Spanish, as well as other jobs I’ve taken over the years like doing taxes for Liberty Tax, and working in a women’s clothing store, and my latest venture, trying to get my real estate license. I have taken a few computer courses at the George Washington University adult center, and took courses in our local community college. In my mid-twenties I started attending the Women’s ministry meetings and loved it and God called me to serve as the women’s ministry president for 2 years. When we joined the Seventh Day Baptist Denomination, I learned about many different ministries and events. I was blessed to meet Bethany Chroniger and we have become good friends. We attended events like NABWU and got the opportunity to attend the Baptist World Alliance in Hawaii in 2010 with the help of Robert Appel. We were able to help out with a presentation for the young women’s ministries and we had a blat. I have also attended “The Women of Faith” events for the past 4 years. Through these events I have been able to get closer to other women and it has changed me, and I’ve learned to love being a woman and learned about our roles in Christ. My last calling so far came as our churches program secretary. I also served as recording secretary for our Eastern Association in 2010. I’ve been serving as a secretary for 4 years while always helping as a children’s ministry teacher also recently a youth ministry teacher as well as helping the music ministry with projecting the music slides in our church services with the help of my faithful helper Keila Velasquez. I thank God for the opportunities he’s given me in the different ministries I’ve served in so far. I have served in the church from a young age and cannot imagine not serving God or my church with the skills He has given me to help and do my part.
Treasurer, Gavin Fox
When asked to take over as treasure for World Federation I saw an opportunity to give back to the Seventh Day Baptist, and Christian community. I don’t have any experience being a treasurer, but I feel like my accounting and business background will give me the ability to serve the board. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2010 with a degree in accounting and became a Certified Public Accountant in 2011. I have served my church in Columbus, Ohio for many years through participation in many of their activities and have been looking for ways to expand on these experiences. Recently I have moved to Washington, D.C. where I work as a financial consultant for IBM. I look forward to working hard and being a diligent steward for this organization and for the people it represents for the rest of my term.
President, Rev. Dr. Dale Thorngate
Dale D. Thorngate was elected President of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation in 2008, having earlier served as General Secretary for 22 years, from 1981 to 2003. During that time sessions were held in Westerly, Rhode Island, USA in 1986; in Auckland, New Zealand in 1992; in Passley Gardens, Jamaica in 1997; and in Bocaiuva do Sul, Brazil in 2003. Retired from the Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) ministry, Rev. Dr. Thorngate currently serves on the General Council of the USA & Canada Conference and as Elder (retired pastor) of his local church in Salem, West Virginia.
After 21 years active duty in the US Military (US Air Force and Army), Thorngate began seminary and ministry experience with Seventh Day Baptists. His first pastorate was in Columbus, Ohio. There he was founding pastor and led them through the transition from being a fellowship to a recognized SDB church. In 1981, he was called to be the Executive Director of the SDB General Conference, USA & Canada. The headquarters was then located in Plainfield, New Jersey, soon to move to Janesville, Wisconsin. After nine years in that office he returned to the pastorate for twenty years in Salem, West Virginia, where he continues to live since retirement.
“My education experience would be considered non-traditional,” Thorngate says. “I felt that God’s call to me included that I be the best qualified pastor/teacher that was possible.” He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management and a Master’s degree in Education (Administration and Counseling) while still on active duty in the Army. After retirement from the Army in 1975, he earned a Master of Divinity degree while pastor in Ohio. Following service as Executive Director of the SDB Conference, he did a year of Clinical Pastoral Education at Meritor Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin and while pastor in West Virginia completed a Doctor of Ministry degree through North American Baptist Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. His doctoral project was the development of a manual of Church Growth and Revitalization based on the SDB MORE 2000 program.
Thorngate was raised in a Seventh Day Baptist home in Battle Creek, Michigan, the son of Ernest and Leona Thorngate. At age 10, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized and became a member of the Battle Creek SDB Church. He is married to Janet Van Horn Smith Thorngate and they have three children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“My first assignment in the Air Force was in Tokyo, Japan,” Pastor Thorngate says, “and I have never been the same since. In that experience, God began preparing me for an international Christian experience. My personal vision for the SDB World Federation is that God’s Holy Spirit will work through us to bring the Gospel message of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, our Lord, complete with the blessings of Sabbath observance. As we share that message, I pray that Seventh Day Baptists will become world leaders in the growth of God’s kingdom here on earth.
Vice-President for South America, Pastor Jonas Sommer
Pastor Jonas Sommer was born into an evangelical home on August 28, 1975 in the small town of Dois Vizinhos/Parana state, Brazil. His conversion took place in January 1994 during a Youth Meeting in the town of Porto União/Santa Catarina state and he was baptized the following year. In 1996 he felt called to the ministry. He took a preparatory course for church workers run by the Brazilian Seventh Day Baptist Conference and in May 1998 accepted an invitation to be a worker in the Joinville SDB church. After two years as a worker, he studied Theology at the Baptist Theology College in Paraná, completing his bachelor's degree in 2003. He was ordained to the pastoral ministry in 16 April 2005, becoming the Senior Pastor of the First Seventh Day Baptist Church in Joinville the same year. He is married to Clarice Kollenberg Sommer, whom he met at the Theology College, and they are have two children: Marcos Paulo, born in 2009 and Paula Hadassa, born in 2013.
As a Brazilian, Pastor Jonas loves Soccer and whenever he has the chance he plays with the young people of his church. He is passionate about preaching and the study of languages. Currently he is taking a Master Degree in Theology at Luteran University.
Since 2009 he works full time as Brazilian TIME Program director. They graduate the first TIME Class last February with 18 Students. The Brazilian TIME Program has a partnership with CESUMAR College to offer a Bachelors Degree in Theology. Their Students take 3 years course at SDB Brazilian Conference plus one year at CESUMAR. Currently they have 126 Students on TIME Program.
Pastor Jonas became involved with the SDB World Federation in 2003, when he helped with the organization and hosting of the 2003 Sessions in Brazil, translating the correspondence from Portuguese to English and English to Portuguese as needed, and since then has been greatly blessed by the friendships he made. He represented Brazil at the Sessions in 2008 and currently serves as Vice President for South America. You can email him at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org