November 26, 2021

Ten Lake Union pastors receive ordination or commissioning

Even with countless pages published about ordination, the focus of ordination to the gospel ministry distills to one factor: It is a calling. It is...

Even with countless pages published about ordination, the focus of ordination to the gospel ministry distills to one factor: It is a calling. It is more than a choice for a career; because, if the Lord calls someone a numinous disease beckons one until that calling is followed. 

H.M.S. Richards, Sr. would emphatically state, “If you can do anything else, do it!” Of course, the intent of his comment was “Have you been called?” It is not pleasant to disregard the Lord’s calling. 

Take David, Moses, Samuel, or Paul as examples. Any reluctance by them when called into ministry eventually led to obeying the Master’s bidding. Thus, when one receives a divine tap on the shoulder and the mantle descends (i.e., Elisha), that supersedes all other attractive or disconcerting factors whether a financially enriching career (Abraham & Nicodemus) or affliction (i.e., Jeremiah & Ellen White). 

And by the way, there are multiple joys in the gospel ministry. The pinnacle of joy is confirmed even in Heaven as angels rejoice over one soul saved for eternity (Luke 15:7, 10, 24). 

There have been moments when younger folks have wondered, “How can I know the gospel ministry is my mission in life?” A helpful reply is “Have you sensed a call by God for gospel ministry?” If so, do not pursue any other career, but follow God’s call upon your life.  

The foregoing message is not to say that God and I are the only deciding participants. Scripture reveals that the church body confirms the calling (i.e., Paul & Barnabas, Acts 13:1-4). That call may be confirmed in various ways such as support from a local congregation, teachers, pastors, peers, parents, and the fruits of soul-winning in ministry.  

After extensive examination by church leadership, the pastors and their congregations below have celebrated God’s calling in their lives. Maybe God is tapping you on the shoulder for the gospel ministry? If so, He will facilitate and confirm your call to His service. Remember, “All His biddings are enablings”(Christ Object Lessons, p. 333). 

 - Steven Poenitz, retired Lake Union executive secretary



David Kokiong served as pastor to the Hinsdale Fil-Am Adventist Church in Hinsdale, Illinois, before leaving the area.

During his pastoral service he has helped to revive his youth group, train and equip Pathfinder Teen Leaders in Training (TLT’s) to give small group Bible studies to younger youth, established a young adult small group, and connected the Hinsdale Fil-Am Adventist Church with Ray Graham, a special needs center, to share parking, buildings and community help. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University and a master of divinity degree from Andrews University.  






Brinton McKenzie is the Lake Region pastor of East St. Louis New Jerusalem and Springfield Bible Chapel in Illinois and also currently serves as an adjunct professor of psychology at Harris Stowe University.  

In pursuit of the Lord’s call to ministry, no money, or educational requirements, McKenzie left his home in Jamaica to attend Northern Caribbean University and became the first student in history to become a director of a department. 

In 2008, he joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2012. 

He earned a BA in theology from Washington Adventist University, an MA in psychology from North Central University, and a Ph.D. in addiction psychology from Capella University. He is currently completing his M.Ed. in clinical mental health counseling at the University of Missouri. 


Nikolai X. Greaves has served in the Champaign, Decatur, and Peoria churches since 2017. 

His pastoral achievements include restructuring the financial management of the church and identified areas need improvement, spearheading a large-scale debt-free church renovation project, brought churches within the district into compliance with church policy, developed a vibrant children’s and young adult ministry program, created innovative means of evangelism, developed an online presence by developing new church website and online services, conducted evangelistic meeting in Cuba, Barbados, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and across the U.S. In 2021, he conducted a week of prayer at Andrews Academy in which 18 students made a decision for baptism. He is also host of the God and Money podcast.

Greaves holds a BA in Business Administration, an MA in Business Administration from Washington Adventist University and an MDiv from the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. 





Since 2016, Darlene Thomas pastors the Chicago Beacon of Joy church. She was previously a chaplain intern at Kettering Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, and has received the NAD Ecclesiastical Chaplaincy Endorsement in 2011. She has also conducted three Revelation Seminars, served as a volunteer Youth and Young Adult Pastor for the Emmanuel church in Chicago Heights, Ill., and led small group Bible studies and discipleship training at Beacon of Joy church. 

Girls for Wisdom Mentoring Program is a non-profit she founded to serve girls between the ages of 7 and 17. The goal is to empower them to make informed decisions, encourage them to establish healthy relationships, while also equipping them for service in their communities. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Governors State University and an MDiv in pastoral care from Andrews University. 









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Jermaine Gayle serves as pastor of East Lansing and Lansing Spanish churches. He previously served as assistant pastor at the East Lansing Church from 2016-2020 and Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students (CAMPUS) assistant director from 2019-2020. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Hartland College. 







Jose Rodriguez has served as pastor of Escanaba and Riverside churches since August 2017. He holds a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Andrews University and a bachelor’s in Theology from Ouachita Hills College. 









Leeroy Hernandez has served as program director and evangelist at Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students (CAMPUS) since September 2014.

Previously he has served as Literature Ministries assistant director from 2014-2015, Grand Rapids Central and Lowel Riverside churches assistant pastor from 2015-2017, and the Grand Rapids Maranatha Spanish and Kentwood churches senior pastor. 

He holds a BA in theology from Ouachita Hills College.






SB Luan Ngaih Cin pastors the Grand Rapids Zomi Campany and Battle Creek Zomi Group since 2018. He holds a BA in religion and education from Myanmar Union Adventist Seminary and a MA in education from Spicer Memorial College. 

“My life and ministry objective are to be a humble under-shepherd akin to the master shepherd, being God’s able servant teaching the Word of God and sharing the everlasting gospel to all people, and to empower Seventh-day Adventist members to hone and use their spiritual gifts to collaboratively work together for the salvation of all people,” says Cin. “Following the footstep of Christ, it is my utmost desire to bring his wondering, ailing, and discouraged sheep with compassion and tender love to the master shepherd: the only source of healing and hope.” 




Jeanmark A’Kessler has served as the Rhinelander district pastor in Wisconsin since September 2015.   

“A’Kessler has shown himself to be proficient in church administration, vision casting, preaching, evangelism and soul winning. He continues to grown and is one of Wisconsin’s bright young pastors,” says Wisconsin Ministerial director, Adam Case. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology, a bachelor’s of science in speech language pathology and audiology, and a master of divinity from Andrews University. 




Kevin Moreno has served as associate pastor to the Green Bay District in Wisconsin Conference since April 2015. Moreno has also served as pastor to the Rhinelander District in Wisconsin Conference from 2015 to 2017. 

“Pastor Moreno has served us well in two districts where he has demonstrated his God given gifts of relationship building, community building, and team building,” says Wisconsin Conference Ministerial director, Adam Case. “He and his wife make an excellent ministry team and have pointed people to Jesus successfully for years. We are excited to see what God will do through him in the future in our conference.” 

He holds a BA in theology and a MDiv from Andrews University.




Katie Fellow, Lake Union assistant Communication specialist