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BPFNA Board Member Bios

Alison Amyx • Fela Barrueto  Peter Carman • Teresa Diewert  Kadia Edwards • Rick Harris • Monty Kearse • Kristin Kelly  Viola Mayol  Anita Peebles  Mayra Picos-Lee  Josue Saldivar  Asaf Vera Baltodano • Michael Ware

President

Mayra Picos-Lee ('19)
Wayne, PA USA

Dr. Mayra Picos-Lee (she/her/hers), a native of Mexico, teaches in the area of pastoral counseling and practice of ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in King of Prussia, PA. In 2015 she was also appointed as Coordinator of Latino/a Initiatives at Palmer, and in collaboration with Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), American Baptist International Ministries (ABIM), and American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), is launching a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) in Spanish language in the Fall of 2016. This is a fully accredited degree that prepares women and men in pastoral ministry and/or church leadership through a series of courses in the areas of biblical studies, theology, and practice of ministry in a manner that is contextualized to the needs of Latino/a communities in Latin America and the USA. Mayra holds a D.Min. (Marriage and Family Ministry) and MDiv from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She earned a BA in Business Administration and a BA in Psychology from Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas and Universidad del Noreste respectively. She is also a marriage and family therapist licensed by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and has served as a board member for BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz since 2013. As a Mexican immigrant, Mayra is keenly interested in issues of immigration, and her teaching experience at Palmer Seminary has contributed to the broadening of seminarians’ perspectives on immigration and other issues that affect our ability to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Beyond her experience at Palmer, Mayra has extensive experience teaching pastoral care and counseling in Mexico and Central and South America. Over the past years, she has also been involved in interfaith dialogue. Mayra believes that learning to love one another is a biblical mandate that extends beyond the barriers that we, as human beings, have created due to our differences in language, culture, ethnicity, and religion. The fulfillment of this mandate is made possible when we befriend those who we have been taught to fear. Being an immigrant has increased Mayra’s sensitivity to the importance of extending hospitality and welcoming the stranger, and she uses her educational platform to teach, discuss, and explore ways in which, as Christians, we are called to love one another by extending hospitality to all of God’s children. Mayra also maintains a private practice as a marriage and family therapist in Devon, PA, serving immigrants, bicultural families of various backgrounds, women, and other populations who have been historically disempowered.

Vice President

Michael Ware ('19)
Rochester, NY USA

Rev. Michael A. Ware (he/him/his) has resided in the upstate community of Rochester, New York for the past 16 years and is currently in his 10th year as pastor of Webster Baptist Church. He has a bachelor’s degree from Albion College in Michigan and a Master of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Before attending Colgate Rochester, Michael held an 18-year career in the pest control industry. It was when he became an active youth leader in his church and the New York State American Baptist Youth that inspired him to attend divinity school. Michael has a wife, Barbara, who works in the non-profit sector; a daughter, Jestine who currently works at the University of Rochester and takes graduate courses; and a son, Jason who is a freshman at DePaul University in Chicago. Both of his children grew up attending the annual BPFNA Summer Conference (aka Peace Camp). Michael’s involvement with BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz began after a 2006 mission trip to El Salvador, where he walked beside and listened to the stories of the folks at Shakkina Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Ruth Orantes. In 2007, he became an active participant of BPFNA and attended his first summer conference. This defining experience truly solidified the meaning of community for him and gave him a place of belonging. Beyond the singing of songs and inspiring presentations, peace camp reminded him of a message from his journey the year before: there was so much work to do. In 2010, Michael was the worship leader for the BPFNA summer conference at Keuka College. It was here where he saw a presentation from Churches Helping Churches (a global partnership of church communities who help to rebuild other churches following natural disasters), which led him to co-lead three delegations of churches to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. When asked why he joined the BPFNA Board of Directors, he said: “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”(Micah 6:8). This has been the scriptural basis of his faith journey long before his ordination in 2006 and what he seeks to live out every day! To BPFNA Michael brings his lived history of the civil rights struggle, his personal experience of justice and peace, and his dedication to work for positive, peaceful change everywhere.      

Secretary

Fela Barrueto ('19)
Valley Forge, PA USA

Rev. Fela Barrueto (ella/su/suyo) was born and raised in Lima, Perú. She currently lives in Fresh Meadows, NY and works for the American Baptist Home Mission Societies as the National Coordinator for Prisoner Reentry. She studied Literature at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Perú and moved permanently to New York in the ‘80s. Fela served as lay leader with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, both in the local church as well as at a regional level. In 1996 she became a member of an ABC church and started working for the American Baptist Home Mission Societies. In 2004 she received her Masters in Theological Studies from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) and moved back to New York where she served as associate pastor at Iglesia Bautista de la Comunidad in Elmhurst, NY and became licensed to preach the Gospel. Fela was ordained to ministry in January 2011, and her main goal is to be an instrument of peace and justice, especially for the ever growing prison population and their families. 

Treasurer

Kadia Edwards ('19)
Nashville, TN USA

The Rev. Kadia Edwards (she/her/hers) currently lives in Nashville, TN where she works as Chaplain at the Martha O’Bryan Center, an organization founded on Christian faith that seeks to empower children, youth, and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship. She also does work with the Oasis Center where she seeks to educate faith communities about the effects of trauma especially related to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). In June of 2015, Kadia participated in a Conflict Transformation training led by Dan and Sharon Buttry and is now a certified Conflict Transformation trainer. She and the Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski recently collaborated to create and and now currently offer a Conflict Transformation training related to racial conflict. She earned her MDiv from Duke University after graduating from Howard University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism. While at Howard, Kadia also served as a Chapel Assistant at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. Kadia often travels throughout the United States to share her story of growing up in the foster care system in hopes that a young person will be inspired and encourage to continue on this journey called life. 

Youth and Young Adult Representatives

Josue Saldivar ('18)
Tucson, AZ USA

Josue Saldivar is an activist and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient who was born in Agua Prieta, Sonora and currently lives in Tucson, AZ. He is also a graduate from Pima Community College. Josue started his activism back in 2009 with ScholarshipsA-Z whose work focuses on providing resources to students, parents, and educators in order to make higher education accessible to all students regardless of their immigration status. He later became part of Mariposas Sin Fronteras in 2014, a group that focuses on providing resources and support to LGBTQ detainees both during and after immigration detention. Through his lived experiences in Tucson, Josue’s activism keeps changing as both progress and new obstacles keep emerging in his community. Josue has attended several BPFNA Summer Conferences and was elected prom king at the annual Prom For All in 2015. 

Asaf Vera Baltodano ('19)
Ciudad de México, México

Asaf Vera Baltodano is currently living in Mexico City, but was born and raised in Ensenada, Baja California. He is a member of Shalom Baptist Church in Mexico City. Asaf is in the middle of his Theological studies and is starting a program for a Degree in Pedagogy at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). From an early age he has dedicated himself to working with youth and supporting the work of his churches in Ensenada and in Mexico City. He is also in the Federation of Young Baptists of Baja California and supports projects in the National Young Baptist Union. Asaf has also participated in some youth and teen camps and has given talks about integral mission, justice, and peace. Since he began his walk with Jesus on issues of social justice and peace, it has been a stronghold for his faith. Asaf attended the 2016 Summer Conference in Philadelphia, which was where he first became involved with BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz. Asaf says, “I am very encouraged to know men and women [doing this work]. Mexico has been the Jerusalem to which God has called me and I trust that God will continue to do his work calling more and more young people to work for a better world.”


Board Members

Alison Amyx ('18)
New York, NY USA

Originally from Georgia, Alison (she/her/hers) now lives in New York City where she works as the senior editor of Believe Out Loud, an organization that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) equality. She has previously worked with Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Beatitudes Society. Alison was recently chosen to participate in Union Theological Seminary’s Millennial Leaders Project, a summer program that will explore the intersections of spirituality and social justice activism. Alison is a graduate of both Mercer University and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where she received a Master of Theological Studies. Alison has served for two years on the BPFNA board as a Youth and Young Adult representative.


Peter J.B. Carman ('18)
Schenectady, NY USA

Peter (he/him/his) currently serves as pastor at Emmanuel Friedens Church in Schenectady, NY. Peter is a graduate of Haverford College and Yale Divinity School and has served as a minister in four previous congregations, most recently Binkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, NC, where he served a congregation with a lively commitment to peace and justice. His ministry has also included service on a Commission on Christian Muslim Relations; urban neighborhood organizing; and the welcome of refugees from Burma. Peter has been a committed pacifist since his youth and has been involved ever since with peace and justice work. Earlier in his life, he was a social action coordinator working with student, community and labor groups at Yale University. He lived at a Catholic Worker House in Connecticut and has contributed to direct actions in the anti-nuclear movement. He has also been involved in initiatives to curb government corruption, oppose the first Gulf War and challenged the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003. He was also engaged in speaking out against the passage of “Amendment One” in NC, a referendum to write a narrow definition of valid domestic partnership into the North Carolina constitution. Peter and his family are regular attenders at Peace Camp, where he has provided occasional workshop leadership. He has assisted with the organizing of a local North Carolina gathering of BPFNA members and has written for the Baptist Peacemaker. BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz offers one strong voice among Baptists calling for justice and peace, and he would feel privileged to serve with colleagues from throughout North America. He has particular interests in strengthening international ties, advocating for the human rights of  indigenous groups, and helping to create a hub of cooperation among Baptist bodies in the Americas. The BPFNA has a sacred calling to confront the consciences of Baptists in North America; to invite local churches and associations to raise up a prophetic witness in their own contexts; and to support individuals in pursuit of God’s commonwealth “on earth as it is in heaven.”


Teresa Diewert ('18)
Vancouver, BC Canada

Hailing from Vancouver, BC, Teresa (she/her/hers) has been involved in justice work for many years. She spent time in Nicaragua in the ‘80s with Witness for Peace and lived in Jerusalem for eight months during the first intifada. Upon her return home, she became involved in local struggles around poverty and housing. She and her partner helped to found, and continue to nurture, Streams of Justice, an organization that works to expose and oppose unjust social structures and open up space for imagining and advocating for human solidarity, communal flourishing, and care for the earth that sustains all life. She is also involved in migrant justice work, environmental justice work, and Indigenous solidarity organizing. Teresa’s commitment to faith has always been the driving force behind her organizing. She lived for many years in the community’s housing initiatives where she welcomed marginalized people into shared housing. She was also integrally involved in her church’s participation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada and still hopes to be a part of moving the congregation further down the road of redress/justice in that regard. Teresa has been married for 36 years, and she is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 4 ½ children. She worked as a stay at home mom for many years, taught secondary school for 12 years and then managed a non-profit social enterprise catering company, which employed people who found it difficult, for a number of reasons, to find meaningful work. She comes to this position on the board of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz knowing that she will learn much from the experience and, in the process, hopes she will be able to offer contributions to the conversations and work we engage in around justice as we journey together. 


Rick Harris ('19)
King of Prussia, PA USA

The Rev. Richard G. Harris (he/him/his) is an ordained American Baptist minister, who retired in September, 2009 after more than 40 years of active ministry within American Baptist Churches, USA. Born in Oxford, NC and reared in Toledo, OH, Rick is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Andover Newton Theological School.  For more than 26 years he served as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of North Oxford, MA from which he was called into the service of the American Baptist Personnel Services (ABPS), which is the American Baptist clergy profile system, a unit of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies of Valley Forge, PA. He was the national manager of ABPS for more than five years. Rick is married to Anne and they are blessed with a married daughter, Ericka, who lives in Massachusetts. Anne and Rick are active members of BPFNA partner congregation, Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA. From 2011-2012 he served as the Interim Minister on the pastoral staff of another BPFNA congregation, The First Baptist Church in Beverly, MA. Rick is an active retiree, participating in numerous local church, association and national ministries, including providing pulpit supply in Philadelphia area churches. He is presently leading the church’s Peacemakers Mission Group, which is coordinating the BPFNA 2016 Summer Conference Local Arrangements. Rick has attended more than 10 BPFNA summer peace conferences over the last two decades, but has spent his 40-year-plus ministry promoting the causes of peace from anti-war rallies during the Vietnam era to the annual Interfaith Walk for Peace in Philadelphia. Rick believes that peacemaking is the core of a Christian life and service and considers service on the Board of BPFNA an honor and responsibility that eclipses any he has experienced in his call to ministry. He has received many professional honors during his career, but his real privilege in this life has been his call from God to serve the people of God, who led him to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.  


Monty Kearse ('18)
Charlotte, NC USA

Monty is employed by Fair Isaac Corporation as a consultant in the Collection and Recovery Solution group.  He has been a member of the Fair Isaac Team or its predecessor companies for the past 17 years. Since 1996 Monty has presided over the electoral process in the Elizabeth neighborhood in Charlotte, NC. He currently serves as the Mecklenburg County Board of Election’s Chief Judge for voting precinct 109. Monty has been a member of St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte since 1970 and was past chairman of St. John’s International House Committee, the committee that oversaw the relationship between International House and St. John’s Baptist Church. Monty graduated from the College of Business Administration at UNCC and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.


Kristin Kelly ('18)
Ft. Worth, TX USA

Kristin is an Americorps VISTA for Tarrant Churches Together in Fort Worth, TX. She currently serves as an after school program coordinator for underserved communities and she works with various churches in the Fort Worth Community. Kristin’s faith journey and passion for “peacework” and “peacemaking” began in her early teen years when she moved to Silver Springs, MD and became heavily involved in ministry and leadership in her church. This is where she began to understand the interrelatedness between Church and community. At this point, she found herself desiring for the church to exist beyond the four walls of the sanctuary and become a living body that was present in the community. She became a youth leader where she planned and executed various events that catered to youth growth in mind, body, and Spirit. Kristin would continue this work during the summers of her undergraduate and graduate years by returning home and interning with the DC Baptist convention. Kristin received her B.A. in Philosophy from Spelman College and become very active in the Atlanta community while serving as president of Sisters Keeping it Real Through Service (SKIRTS), an unconventional community service organization. After college, Kristin attended Vanderbilt Divinity School where she studied Social Christian Ethics and Black Church Studies with a focus on Womanist theology and ethics through hip-hop. While at Vanderbilt, she submerged herself in a world that allowed her to engage in theological discourse while magnifying the trials and tribulations of the Christian community especially in the areas of race, class, gender and sexuality. After receiving her M.Div., Kristin returned home and worked in and attended her home church, Olive Branch Community Church, where she was licensed in the ABC. She served as a young adult leader and assisted the Pastor in figuring out ways to better serve the youth and young adults of the community. Kristin attended her first BPFNA Summer Conference in 2014 and was excited to see a group of committed individuals fight for peace. She is excited to see the direction in which this organization is moving and wants to be a part of anything that is fighting for peace and positive change.


Viola Mayol ('20)
Evanston, IL USA

Originally from the Philippines, Viola currently lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Jim Fong and son Nicholas Fong. She and her family are active members of North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago, where she currently serves as the Moderator of the Church Council. She came to the United States from the Philippines at the height of Marcos’ Martial Law. As a pre teen, that era left a big mark on her. She attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated with a B.A. in Arts and Speech Communications from North Park College. After graduation, Viola worked as an Urban Missionary for the Esther Davis Center where she lived in community in the south side of Chicago and was assigned to work with Partners in Ministry (now Family Matters) in the north side of Chicago. Viola first became involved with the BPFNA through Churches Supporting Churches. She and her family became involved with a mission project to help rebuild a church in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. She then attended a BPFNA seminar held at her church, and she thoroughly enjoyed her first Peace Camp in Spokane, WA in 2013. Viola is very involved in her church and has volunteered numerous hours in its various activities for its members and the community. She also volunteers at the local schools; helping children and teachers in any way she can. She and her husband also help distribute produce for the Producemobile Program (sponsored by the Chicago Food Depository and the Interfaith Action in Evanston) once a month.


Anita Peebles ('18)
Nashville, TN USA

Anita Peebles (she/her/hers) is an MDiv student at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN. A native of the Great Lakes bioregion, Anita is interested in ecotheology and environmental justice, children's spiritual formation, and religious social justice education. She hopes to begin a dual degree while at Vanderbilt with the Peabody School of Education. She is a 2014 graduate of Oberlin College with BAs in Religion and Environmental Studies. Anita has been part of two BPFNA partner congregations, Peace Community Church in Oberlin, OH and Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. 


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