Rev. Edgardo Rivera is the lead pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, appointed on July 1, 2021. Pastor Edgardo is a native of Puerto Rico and was ordained as an elder in the Philadelphia Episcopal area of the United Methodist Church in 2005.
For Pastor Edgardo, the will of God in heaven along with its kingdom values should also be the reality of God’s beloved community on earth today. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer request from the Lord’s Prayer is a call to action to love as God loves, to love those whom God loves, and to be a neighbor to all. To live within these kingdom values through GRACE becomes a vital part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus the Christ and to our identity as part of the Christian community.
Before coming to Emmanuel, Pastor Edgardo served as Frederick District Superintendent. He has pastored churches in Harrisburg and Reading Pennsylvania. He currently serves as the Wing Chaplain at the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base in Baltimore, MD.
Edgardo has two sons, two grandchildren, and is the caregiver for his mother, Nereida. Edgardo enjoys participating in local running races for fun and exercise, such as half marathons and 10Ks, fitting in at least a couple of races each year.
Donna Meoli, Director of Children & Youth Ministries
Donna Meoli is the Director of Children and Youth Ministries. In this position she oversees spiritual formation, the process by which people are shaped by God’s love and enabled to grow in their faith. It is the journey that all Christians are encouraged to take that will open our hearts to a deeper connection with God and enable us to became disciples of Christ. Donna has been a member since 1991 and has been working with the youth since 1993. It is her belief that every experience can lead us closer to a relationship with Jesus. Donna’s main focus is providing meaningful activities for the children and youth of Emmanuel including Sunday School and the Middle and High School Youth Ministry. She lives in Elkridge with her husband and three sons.
Rev. Kim Capps, Minister of Pastoral Care & New Members
Rev. Kim is Emmanuel’s Minister of Pastoral Care and New Members. She served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 28 years, 21 of those were as the United Methodist Chaplain at the University of Maryland. She is passionate about helping people experience the grace of God in a variety of ways. She is currently working with the Lay Pastoral Care Team to care for members of Emmanuel during the ups and downs of life, and seeking to connect and nurture visitors and new members of Emmanuel.
Matt Upshaw, Communications Minister
Matt Upshaw comes to Emmanuel from southern Indiana, where he served six years as a pastor in a Wesleyan-affiliated evangelical holiness denomination. In June 2018, Matt and his family moved to Laurel so his wife, Amanda, could start a new job in Washington D.C. Matt has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ministry (M.A.) and religion and business (B.A.). He enjoys serving at Emmanuel in a variety of ways, focusing primarily on communications as well as children’s ministry programs.
Becky Barbusca, Church Administrator
As Emmanuel’s Church Administrator, Becky Barbusca is responsible for the day-to-day business and operations of the Church. She is a native Marylander who grew up in Howard County, has a BA from Loyola University, and an MS from Johns Hopkins. Becky retired in 2014 after 34 years as an educator in the Howard County Public School System, is married, and is the mother of two grown children, a son-in-law, and three dogs. She loves to read, spend time with family, raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and eat out. Her position as Church Admin allows her to use her organizational and managerial skills to contribute to the EUMC community.
Andrew (Andy) Spang, Music Director
Andrew Spang has been the Director of Music at Emmanuel since 2010, and has directed choirs, orchestras, and bands for well over a decade. Andy believes that music is a pathway to God, and he strives to bring meaningful music in many styles to every service. He studied at the Eastman School of Music and The Boston Conservatory, and has worked with such luminaries at Michael Card, Donnie McClurkin, and Darin Atwater. In addition to his calling at Emmanuel, Andy serves at the Director of Bands at Folly Quarter Middle School and plays tuba with the Lyric Brass Quintet. He lives in Westminster, Maryland, with his wonderful children Ben and Sophie, and lovely wife Laura.
Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., Disabilities Ministries Coordinator
Rev. Yates, who prefers to be called Leo, is an ordained deacon in full connection. Leo brings a variety of gifts and grace that includes counseling, a passion for deaf/disability ministry, and a love for serving. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Leo has a primary appointment at the Division of Rehabilitation Services in the role of a behavioral health specialist. His secondary appointment is here at Emmanuel UMC. Leo serves as a disability ministries coordinator. He comes with previous experience as the former chairperson of the Baltimore-Washington Conference Commission on Disability Concerns. He currently serves as the secretary for BWARM, a consultant for Global Ministries’ Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, and the secretary for the Disability Ministries Committee under the Council of Bishops. As the disability ministries coordinator at Emmanuel UMC, Rev. Leo Yates provides support and care for individuals, families, and the overall congregation that fosters the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in the life of the church. Part of his responsibility is providing interpreting services (communication access) for deaf and hard of hearing persons on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month during the 10:45am service. He also looks forward to offering sign language classes to support people learning a new language. This helps to bridge communications between non-signing persons and signing persons such as deaf and hard of hearing persons who primarily communicate through sign language.
Rev. Martina Efodzi
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rev. Martina E. Efodzi is a Board-Certified Art Therapist and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor serving in Washington, DC and Maryland. She earned a B.A in political science and a M.Div. in religious studies from Howard University in 2002 and 2007 respectively, before receiving a M.A. in art therapy from George Washington University in 2011.
As an ordained Deacon in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, she serves in an appointment beyond the local church as a psychotherapist in private practice and an adjunct professor of art therapy at George Washington University. For over ten years, prior to that, she served at Whitman-Walker Health where she specialized in providing culturally competent care to marginalized groups, specifically those living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to her clinical work, Martina has facilitated a countless number of healing arts workshops with a variety of schools, government agencies, community and faith-based organizations and churches for individuals of all ages and abilities.
Damita Robinson, Emmanuel Preschool Director
Damita Robinson’s undergraduate degree in Elementary Education is from Notre Dame of Maryland University and her graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction was earned at Loyola University Maryland. Her teaching career began in 2002 after 13 years with the federal government. Damita’s teaching experience includes preschool to fifth grade, with the last 6 years of her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher. She is married with two sons, Nathan and Michael. Her position at Emmanuel Preschool allows her the opportunity to pursue a passion for providing an exceptional first-school experience for young children
Katie Baus, Office Administrator Emmanuel Preschool
Katie Baus, originally from New Jersey, moved to Maryland in 2004 with her family. She is a graduate from Park University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Psychology. After staying home with her two daughters, she decided to go into teaching. Katie was a nursery school teacher for several years at a local cooperative nursery school and loved it! She recently worked at an independent school where she was an administrator and is excited to join Emmanuel Preschool. She loves reading and spending time with her family and friends.
Alan Williams, Emmanuel Church Treasurer
As Emmanuel’s Church Treasurer, Alan Williams is responsible for for maintaining church and preschool accounting systems and payroll, paying bills, and keeping financial records for the church and preschool. He is a native ‘Bostonian’ who some times ‘talks funny’ and has been a member at Emmanuel since relocating to Maryland from Salt Lake City, Utah in 2000. Alan has a BSBA from Northeastern University and an MBA from Boston University and retired working full time in 2015 after 45+ years in information technology and management in the retail industry. Alan continues to serve as the Treasurer for three small aircraft leasing partnerships and volunteers providing personal technology support at the North Laurel Senior Center. He is married and is the father of two grown children. Alan enjoys flying missions for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, traveling with his spouse, Diane and friends, skiing with the family and friends, and relaxing by the pool with a good book to read.