Regional Executive Minister: Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri
The Reverend Dr. Marie Onwubuariri has been serving as the Regional Executive Minister (REM) of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin since August 2014. What originally drew her to ABC/WI is the region’s mission statement highlighting the centrality of the love of God known in Jesus Christ, and the call for covenantal unity (not uniformity) and for a shared faith and missional journey. What continues to compel and excite her about this ministry call are the people who strive for these values and the multiple avenues and expressions available in the region to live into this mission. Rev. Marie understands her role as REM is to build upon this strong foundation and shepherd a new chapter of associational life in which the region office, its staff, and leadership continually become an effective resource that compels and equips our ministers and ministries toward rootedness, collaboration, growth, and transformation for the sake of a relevant and engaging Christian witness in Wisconsin and beyond.
In her pastoral, administrative, and educational ministries Rev. Marie strives to embody an approach that integrates cultural self-knowing, interpersonal and organizational practices that affirm the value of and ensure equity for all people, and a deep trust in the work of the Triune God. She has been shaped through her work experiences as a seminary admissions director, Pastor and ministerial staff member at three America Baptist churches in the San Francisco Bay area, crosscultural competency trainer, volunteer in various roles within the denomination, executive in the retail industry, and from a lifetime of straddling the intersections of multiple cultures. She also offers her gifts in bridge-building, gracious and collaborative leadership, hospitality, communication, and holistic administration.
Her educational training includes a BS in Business Management at Binghamton University (NY), and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry at ABSW (Berkeley, CA). She looks forward to continue to develop her doctoral work focused on raising up a new generation of holistic intercultural transformational leaders through a character-forming spiritual practice incorporating cultural self-knowing and negotiation, cross-cultural competency, and self-care. She also is co-editor and chapter contributor of Trouble the Water: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice (Nurturing Faith, 2017).
Rev. Marie is grateful for the diverse realities within her region, among her ministry networks, and in her personal life as wife, mother, family member, friend, and community member, which all continue to teach her and keep her accountable to the justice call of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Her balancing grace is each opportunity she can take to share her gifts as poet, photography, and pianist with others. Rev. Marie’s home is in Brookfield, Wisconsin where she lives with husband Franklin, and children Anaya and Sol.
Associate Regional Minister - Camping: Rev. Carolyn Dugan
In this role, I try to keep the past, present and future of camping in mind as we plan the summer youth camps, winter youth retreats, work with various rental groups and offer retreats. I have been attending, volunteering and working at Camp Tamarack since I was in 5th grade and I realize there is a nostalgia and sense of home when it comes to Camp Tamarack for anyone that has been there. I also realize change is inevitable as we evolve the Camp into what the Region and the campers, leaders and staff need in the 21st Century. I am reminded of the words in Deuteronomy 6 and 11 where we are commanded to teach the words of God to our children in all matter of life. I believe we are all children of God and Camp Tamarack is a place where this teaching and learning can occur in many different ways for individuals and groups.
In Numbers 9:18 the Lord commanded the people of Israel to camp, so we should too.
Prior to working for American Baptist Churches of WI, I used my BS in Zoology from UW-Oshkosh working for Covance Laboratories 18+ years in Toxicology and Human Resources as a Study Technician, Supervisor and Manager. In these capacities I learned various leadership skills and was able to use them working with clients, regulatory agencies and delivering training to several laboratories in the U.S. as well as working with laboratories in England, Germany and Shanghai.
During my tenure as part time Director of Camping Ministries from Jan 1, 2012 –Dec 31, 2016, I was also the Christian Education Director for The Federated Church of Green Lake, a basketball coach for the Fall River School district, delivered leadership training at several sites around the US for ICON Laboratories and provided Pre-Leadership Development for Covance Laboratories virtually as well as working in their BioAnalytical Department in Madison, WI.
In May of 2016, I graduated from Central Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. During the ceremony I was awarded the Harvey E. Dana award for writing.In August of 2016, I was Ordained within the American Baptist Churches - USA Denomination at The Federated Church of Green Lake.
I live on a 5 acre farmette with my husband Jim, daughter Emma and various furry and feathery pets including a donkey, llama, sheep, mini horses, 3 dogs and many cats. Taking care of and being part of Creation is a big part of my identity. I also enjoy working out, photography, indulging in my geek side, finding ways to be creative and listening to my family make music and watching my daughter compete in marching band and play volleyball.
I am looking forward to continuing the work of Camp Tamarack along with the many partners that call the space home.
Associate Regional Minister - Education: Rev. Dr. John Jones IV
Dr. John A. Jones IV was appointed as Associate Regional Minister-Education, effective January 1, 2017. This appointment includes responsibilities of the Site Coordinator of CENTRAL Wisconsin CBTS, inclusive of the Hispanic Lay Institute and the Korean-Language program that meets at the Elm Grove offices. Prior to assuming this position, John has taught classes at CENTRAL since 2008.
Originally from the south, John grew up in Georgia, graduating with a B.A. from Mercer University in Christianity, Psychology, and Greek in 1991. He enjoyed a year at Regents Park College of Oxford University in England before pursuing the M.Div. degree at the Baptist House of Studies of Duke Divinity School in North Carolina where he graduated in 1995. Soon thereafter he received Southern Baptist Church ordination through his home church Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Georgia. He served as pastor of Crystal Hill Southern Baptist Church in Virginia for about one year before moving back to Georgia to be with his father after the passing of his mother from cancer.
In Georgia, he taught middle school mathematics, coached softball and soccer, and prepared to continue studies in theology and ethics. In 1999, John moved to Milwaukee to begin a doctoral program at Marquette University. He successfully defended his dissertation, The Costly Witness of the Church in 2006. Prior to that defense as well as in the time since, he has had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct instructor at various local schools including Marquette University, Lakeland College, Cardinal Stritch University, Mount Mary University, Viterbo University, and CENTRAL Wisconsin seminary.
In 2008 he had the good fortune of marrying Katherine Valentyn. They have two daughters, Martha and Alicia, who teach them valuable lessons daily, helping them be better parents and better people by providing both laughter and challenge. The family is involved in the congregational lives of both First Baptist Church of West Allis and St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee. John very much enjoys cooking for the family and trying to do some running or cycling to work off all that good food. During summer holidays you can usually find the family camping in one of the wonderful Wisconsin State Parks.
The position of Associate Regional Minister – Education is a new position in the ongoing growth and evolution of the Region ministries. The hallmarks of rootedness, growth, and collaboration that lead to transformation are built into the responsibilities of CENTRAL Seminary site coordinator, and they have been born out through John’s experience over the last several years teaching students responding to God’s call. Our rootedness in the story of God’s work in the world enables growth to meet new challenges through collaboration – we need each other to let our faith shine. That makes possible transformation: personal, communal, social. John considers it an honor to serve in this position.
Hispanic Liaison: Rev. Dr. Jim Carlson
Dr. Carlson serves as the ABCW Hispanic Liaison. He serves as a ministerial support for the four Spanish Speaking congregations in the region. His duties involve consultation, ministry support, leadership development, and advocacy for the Hispanic community. He sees his ministry as one of walking along with Hispanic congregations as they go through the different congregational life events and stages of church development. He is a resource to church leaders and seeks to empower them to respond to God's call.
Assistant Minister - Camping: Facilities and Guest Services: Rev. Kim Drost
Kim’s official title is Assistant Minister - Camping: Facilities and Guest Services; another way of thinking of the position is Minister of Hospitality. She is the one who supports the programming and usage of the camp by making sure all of its facilities are maintained and in good working order. Kim gets to help people enjoy all that Camp Tamarack has to offer and through it encounter the loving God who created it. It is her heart’s desire to do everything she can do to help more people find and enjoy this place and, more importantly, find Jesus in it.
Kim was raised Roman Catholic and decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in college. Baptized as an infant, she was also baptized as an adult at Bethel Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) in Oakway, SC. Her very first experience with American Baptists was in 1986 at Immanuel Baptist in Brookfield, WI, and she joined the First Baptist Church of West Allis in March of 1999. She served that church officially as Mission Education Chair and Sunday School Superintendent. She played bells in the bell choir, sang tenor in the chancel choir, and played bass with the praise team. She was active in their American Baptist Women’s Ministries (ABWM) circles, and during that time visited many of our region’s churches to do pulpit supply. She served as the ABWM State Secretary for three years and has been the President of the Wisconsin ABWM since 2014.
She has served as Camp Tamarack Head Cook as part of the Summer Staff since 2010. Cooking at Camp was her “summer job” while she spent three winters ministering in Death Valley National Park with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. In August of 2011, her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, so she did not return to Death Valley. Instead, after her father passed in early 2012, she was called to pastor the Indian Baptist Church in Wisconsin Dells, WI and Grace Community Church in Mauston, WI. The churches were gracious enough to let their pastor continue her summer ministry at camp for the three years that she served them. In addition to the two-church pastorate, she also served as a Head Cook in the Portage, WI Community School District during the school year. You could say she takes Jesus’ command to “Feed my sheep” literally.
Kim has a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. As part of CENTRAL-Wisconsin CBTS’ first class, she received her M.Div in May of 2010. She was ordained by the First Baptist Church of West Allis, WI in November of 2010. She also attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and has ½ of an Electrical Engineering degree, which she hopes to finish someday.
If you do not find Kim in the Camp Tamarack maintenance shop or John Gray kitchen, you will probably find her “wogging” (faster than a walk but not really a jog and definitely NOT a run) on one of camp’s 2.5+ miles of trails. She likes playing the guitar, biking, reading, Brewers baseball and Packers football, but her absolute most favorite thing to do is be the “cool aunt” to her five nephews and two nieces.
Special Assistant to the Regional Executive Minister: Dawn Armstrong
Working as the Special Assistant to the Regional Executive Minister for one year now has been a very enlightening and productive experience. In addition to assisting Rev. Dr. Marie with travel arrangements and general office duties, I also have the pleasure of interacting with the many members of the American Baptist community through written and spoken correspondence and in face to face communication. I thoroughly enjoy meeting the people that come to the region office and that attend events such as the Annual Gathering. Some of the additional duties I assist with include working on the monthly Synergy E-News, putting together surveys, organizing meeting preparation, creating flyers, ordination process paperwork, and a countless variety of important tasks that help me learn and expand my knowledge base.
My diverse background may be the reason I enjoy learning so much. I have traveled quite a few different paths from working as a lab assistant while going to college, to being an artist, and also a hair dresser. Directly before working for ABC of WI I worked at a non-profit organization as a Human Resource Associate. I also like to include my volunteering with animal rescues in my list of positions because I feel the knowledge I have gained through volunteering helps in my ‘real’ jobs. As anyone who works with animals will tell you it’s more about the human communication than the behavior of the animal! In all of these careers, I have learned quite a bit about human nature and the art of ‘listening’ to really hear and feel what people want and need. These skills have helped me to establish long standing working relationships and friendships.
Education has always been an important part of my life and I have taken a wide range of classes covering everything from creative writing to legal research to photography. Art has always been in my blood. I tried a few other educational paths first, trying to fight my creative urge, but then I finally gave in and went to art school. I immediately felt like I was at home on my first day in art school. The diverse personalities, backgrounds, and thought processes told me that I was in the place I was meant to be. It also taught me that being different is far from being a bad thing and that everyone should embrace their uniqueness. Now, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and a Cosmetology license.
I have always had an interest in the ideology behind different religions. My personal beliefs lean towards a way of life where one treats people with kindness and respect, understands that everyone has his or her own story, and feels that all of humankind and nature are connected in a very special and beneficial way for each other. I stay creative by art puttering, creating social media postings for dog rescues, and doing hairdressing. I also love to read the classics and watch classic movies. One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Harvey. Here, the character Elwood P. Dowd is quoting his mother: “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ - she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ “Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.” I agree with Elwood.
Communications and Recruitment Specialist: Ericka Davis
The newest chapter of my story includes the role I play as Communications and Recruitment Specialist for ABC Wisconsin. I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people from various walks of life - something that has long been my passion. Hence, I have been in the field of Community and Patient Advocacy over 5 years as a Patient Advocate in the Greater Milwaukee area.
My college journey began in 2000 as a Computer Programmer - a degree I have yet to complete. Only one semester shy of an A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems, and little desire to enter this field, my plan, however, is to someday complete the journey. In 2010, an expectant Mom laid off from work in her first trimester, I used my savings to support my decision to be a Stay-at-Home Mom, to return to school, and complete my A.A. in Mass Communications in Spring 2013. In Fall 2013, I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, participated in Student Campus Organizations, and pledged lifelong membership to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, incorporated in 2014. “Baby” steps, perseverance, and a strong desire to show my daughters my full potential, led to a B.A in Communications with Honors in 2016. Shortly after, God’s blessings provided me an opportunity to serve with ABC/WI.
Presently, and in addition to the role I serve with ABC/WI, I am working toward my Masters in Communications and blessed to join the art of communication with the health field as a Patient Advocate doing what I love - serving the people. These things all tie in together and satisfy my strong desire to be of service to others. My past experience includes Managerial/Recruitment work as Bookstore and Professorial Manager for Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, WI.
My life’s greatest joy lies in a role I take the most pride in, my greatest identity, MOTHER. I am the proud parent of two beautiful daughters; one of which is preparing for College and the other just getting her feet wet in Elementary School. My commitment to completing journeys started and creating paths is inspired by them. My motto has long been, “The only place where SUCCESS comes before WORK is in the Dictionary”- Vince Lombardi
A Lifelong Baptist and believer in Christ, God has always and continues to fulfill his purpose for me through the work I do. I am honored to serve here at ABC of WI.
ALL GLORY TO HIS NAME.