Pastoral Staff


José "Ricky" Ayala

Senior Pastor

Pastor Ricky was appointed as Senior Pastor on July 1, 2017. He became only the second Pastor in this church’s history. He works with and leads our talented staff to provide effective programs and ministries within the church and surrounding communities. He was Active Duty with the PA National Guard before answering the call to ministry. He is married to the love of his life Annie Ayala, and has two daughters, Jannineris and Italina, and one son, Natanael. He is a thrill-seeker, loves amusement parks, camping, going to the shore, reading books, singing, watching most sports, and that’s to name a few. Pastor Ricky reminds us that our church is open to all Christians, not just Methodists. It's not a church that someone just attends for an "attendance check mark". It's a church that spiritually feeds the individual and teaches them how to be a part of a greater mission to serve others and God. His sermons are practical and relative to everyday life. Maybe you have a church, but just don't attend. Maybe you go, but just can't relate to the message. Maybe you don't have a church at all. Whatever the case, Pastor Ricky encourages you to come see and be a part of what’s happening at NHUMC this Saturday or Sunday worship services!



Gil Vining

Associate Pastor for Outreach

Pastor Gil leads our Outreach Team and preaches at Saturday night service. He also works with our ushers and greeters to make our church welcoming for both guests and regular attenders. Pastor Gil is a graduate of Liberty University and Trinity University. He is passionate about pastoring the hearts of people, writing scripts and stories, hunting, fishing, and sports. Pastor Gil and his wife Dawn have four children: Brandon, married to Shannon, with daughters Reagan and Allegra and son Malachi; Jonathan, married to Amanda, with son Lance and daughter Lilyana; Keisha, married to Tom; and Laura.



Todd Pearage

Pastor for Students and Their Families

Todd was born and raised in a Christian home in northeastern PA and became a Christian at an early age. He is a 20-year veteran of youth ministry and is excited to be joining the team here at New Hanover UMC. He and his wife Lynda both graduated from Cairn University, and together they have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson. Todd is also a contributing author for three of today’s leading youth ministry resource providers. Todd is a huge fan of Apple products, chocolate chip cookies and the Pittsburgh Steelers.




Ministry Directors


Kristin Schmidt

Director, Creative Moments

Before becoming Director, Kristin taught a 4-year-old preschool class at Creative Moments. She has a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. She taught 4th grade in Indiana before staying at home to raise her children, Brynn and Mallory. Kristin, her husband, Fred, and children live in Gilbertsville. Kristin loves getting to know the students at Creative Moments and has been a member of NHUMC since 2001.


Eric Sweinhart

Director of Technical Arts

Eric grew up in Barto, Pennsylvania and from a early age enjoyed shooting and editing family videos on their old camcorder. In 2009, he graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in Electronic Media. After graduation, he worked for MedStar Television in Allentown, Pennsylvania creating news packages sent to stations across the country. During his time at MedStar he also served for 2 years at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Bechtelsville, Pa. He created graphics, promo videos, and maintained their website. In 2013, Eric began serving at New Hanover United Methodist as their first full time Technical Arts Director. During his time there he oversaw major technology upgrades including full renovations of the chapel. Eric has a passion for leading teams and teaching others how to communicate the message of Christ through the use of technology and media. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Kate and children Logan and Levi.




Heather Wallace

Director of Small Groups

Heather serves part-time as the Director of Small Groups, overseeing training, recruiting and spiritual life of small groups. She is also lay leader of the Disciple Bible Study program and has served with the Drama Ministry and Lay Pastor team. Heather works full-time as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Education. Heather enjoys serving the church, walking, cooking and baking. Heather, married to Darrin, have two children: Skylar and Tatum.


Worship Ministries Staff


Dale McCauley

Instrumental Support


Debbie Madden

Instrumental Support


Laura Vining

Worship Ministry Coordinator/Student Ministry Girls Director


Administrative Staff


Liz Buckwalter

Administrative Manager


Curt Erb

Coordinator of Human & Financial Resources

Curt serves part time as Coordinator of Human and Financial Resources, overseeing staffing, budgets, and engagement with new attenders. Curt and his wife Dory are long-term members of NHUMC. He is a retired human resources professional. For nearly a decade Curt and Dory have been blessed to lead Disciple Bible studies. On any given Sunday, he can typically be seen greeting in the lobby, while she shepherds toddlers and infants into the Nurturing Center. They have two grown children, Jerry and Jenna, and two grandchildren, Skyler and Gavin. Both love to get away to the Turk & Caicos Islands.


Diane Shultz

Administrative Assistant


Teresa Mantle

Financial Secretary


Anita Kratz



Jillian Halbe

Graphic Designer


Children's Ministry Staff


Amy Bates

Director of KidMin

Amy serves as our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, overseeing and working with numerous volunteer teams and the children they serve—birth through fifth grade. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas, and has experience in the education field. She has served in various roles in ministry throughout her adult career, with an emphasis on children. She enjoys traveling to visit her family, getting lost in a book, and watching true crime shows on television. Amy and her husband, Mike, are empty nesters, while their son and daughter-in-law, Taylor and Lauryn, live in San Diego, CA, and Ross attends college in Tennessee.


Dory Erb

Nurturing Center Coordinator


Student Ministry Staff


Jenna Krause

Student Ministry Coordinator


Laura Vining

Worship Ministry Coordinator/Student Ministry Girls Director


Facilities Staff


Tiffany Brooks



Carl Zerr