The HGW STAFF TEAM

  • Sara ewing-merrill, LEAD pastor

    Sara's mission in life is to create safe places for people to encounter God. She finds great joy in accompanying people on their journey of faith – especially when she can help people wrestle with questions and doubts, explore faith for the first time, or take new steps on their journey. Sara grew up on the prairie in South Dakota, the daughter of two preachers’ kids (her grandfathers are both retired pastors). After graduating from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE, she moved to Washington, D.C. l to pursue seminary studies at Wesley Theological Seminary, graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 2003. She has served churches in Old Orchard Beach & Saco, ME and Sudbury, MA, and she's so grateful for the opportunity to serve in Portland. Sara and her husband, Allen, came to Portland in 2007 to plant a new church that has grown into HopeGateWay. Sara and Allen live with their two youngest daughters, Rachel and Kathryn, in Portland and look forward to visits home from their eldest daughter, Gloria.  In addition to her ministry with HopeGateWay, Sara serves as Executive Director and co-founder of Greater Portland Family Promise, an affiliate of the national Family Promise program, dedicated to addressing the needs of families facing homelessness in the Greater Portland, Maine area.  Email  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

  • Tricia Gilbert, Administrative & PRogram ASSt.

    Tricia lives in Old Orchard Beach with her wife, Barb and their 17 year old cat, Gizmo. A new resident to the state of Maine, she enjoys exploring and photographing the picturesque small towns and villages. Tricia is an ordained minister within the United Church of Christ and she is a member of Woodfords UCC. She attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and has served three congregations - Sunburg, MN, Edgewood Arsenal, MD and Cleveland, Ohio - but primarily has served in chaplaincy settings over her past 23 years of ordained ministry. Tricia brings a rich chaplaincy experience as well as a deep love for social justice ministries. She has served as a chaplain in the US Army, a brain injury rehab center, hospice, and hospital settings. She has also worked at an Emergency Homeless Shelter for Women. Before moving to Maine, she most recently served in the administrative role of Director of Spiritual Care/Healing Services at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Tricia is very interested in the mind, body, spirit connection and is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Reiki practitioner.  Email

  • Mike Davis, Program Coordinator

    Mike lives in Wells, Maine with his wife, Janice and their two dogs. He loves spending time with his children and grandchildren, who all live in Maine. He enjoys gardening, house projects, reading and participating in a writing group. After attending seminary, both Mike and Janice served churches in Maine for 23 years and then as supervisors of 74 churches for 8 years. Mike and Janice were the first United Methodist clergy couple in the northeast to job share in this way. In 2012, Mike participated in his first service trip to Guatemala. This trip so profoundly impacted his life that he has returned five times, co-leading trips for Works of Grace (www.guatemalagrace.org). Mike believes these service trips make a difference in the lives of the people served AND in the lives of the participants. Mike also enjoys teaching, facilitating small groups and mentoring individuals. He has particular interest in understanding and navigating our changing cultural context. Email


  • Erica LoveJoy, Children & Family Ministries Coordinator

    Erica is a USM graduate with a background in Sociology, Education and Biology. She works as a volunteer coordinator with Senior Corps, and enjoys overseeing meaningful volunteer opportunities with some of Southern Maine's coolest senior residents. Erica has been a part of HopeGateWay since 2007, and began teaching HopeGateWay Kids shortly after. She particularly loves the intergenerational aspect of HopeGateWay and looks forward to creating opportunities where all types of families can engage with each other for support, wisdom sharing and fun! Erica lives in Portland with her wife, Ali and two young daughters, Emilia and Madeline. Together they enjoy camping, eating ice cream, reading good books, visiting family, and laughing! Email

  • Ophelia Hu Kinney, Worship Coordinator

    Ophelia Hu Kinney is a second-generation Asian American and a Midwestern transplant. She and her wife Hayli have belonged to HopeGateWay since 2016. She enjoys trying to translate God and learning others' translations, though she's perpetually at a loss for words. Ophelia works as the Communications Specialist at Reconciling Ministries Network - to which HopeGateWay has belonged since 2009 - an international movement of LGBTQ-celebrating Methodists fighting for justice and inclusion in the Church. She enjoys short poems and long days, a picnic at the beach or a good talk with a friend. At HopeGateWay, Ophelia seeks to empower members to lift their own and each other’s voices to co-create an authentic worshipful experience. Let her know if you want to be a part of HopeGateWay's Sunday worship!  Email



  • Nathan Ndayiziga, Intercultural Community Coordinator

    Nathan Ndayiziga has been part of the HopeGateWay community since arriving in Portland in December 2016. Nathan worked as a primary school teacher in Burundi from 1980-1990. He then attended the University of Nairobi in Kenya, pursuing Biblical and Theological Studies, graduating in 1996. He was ordained as a pastor in the Anglican church in 1997 and served for 13 years before joining the United Methodist Church. As a part of his ministry in Burundi, Nathan did extensive work partnering with community organizations and advocating for compassionate care for those suffering from AIDS and advocating for accurate information and training to stop the spread of AIDS. It is with great joy that he takes on this role of Intercultural Coordinator, working alongside others on their spiritual journey.  Email

  • Jeff Huot, Community Care Coordinator

    Jeff is a native Mainer, currently living in Westbrook. Jeff was ordained by the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine as an Interfaith Minister in June 2017. Jeff was introduced to HopeGateWay during a ChIME workshop, when Sara was a guest presenter. Subsequently, he completed an internship at HopeGateWay as part of his ChIME curriculum. He has continued to resonate with this vibrant and loving community. Jeff volunteered as a mentor at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in his first year of ChIME and more recently was a Chaplain Intern at the Cumberland County Jail visiting inmates. Jeff is looking forward to serving as the Community Care Coordinator at HopeGateWay and welcomes feedback from everyone, whether by email or in person at one of the Sunday worship gatherings. In his free time, Jeff enjoys reading, walking Back Bay and spending time with family and friends.  Email

  • Kelly Muse, Lead musician

    Portland musician Kelly Muse has nearly two decades of experience as a performer, bandleader, and educator and recently earned his MBA at the University of Southern Maine. Kelly enjoys bringing a hint of variety and spontaneity to the worship music at HopeGateWay. He encourages all to sing, harmonize, even bring instruments to join in!

  • Evelyn Atwood, Childcare Provider

    Evelyn Atwood is an elementary school teacher who loves to travel! Recently returned from a year teaching in France, she is happy to be back in Maine, where she grew up. She is excited to be a member of the HopeGateWay community.

  • Katie Holicky, youth group coordinator

    Katie serves as the Youth Group Coordinator in a joint ministry collaboration with Woodfords Congregational Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral. She grew up in Richmond, Virginia and studied Religion at Virginia Commonwealth University, eventually earning a Masters of Divinity, with a focus in Intercultural Social Justice, at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. 

    Her passion for helping to create space where people can openly wonder and find/be their authentic self is the foundation of her work in formation with children, youth, and young adults. She loves creating custom curriculum for small communities, planning and leading worship and community events, and spending as much time as possible in fellowship and formation! In her free time she loves to bake, read, and spend time outdoors with her husband, Phil.  Email


the HGW LEADERSHIP TEAM

  • Martin turnidge

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  • don rudalevige

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  • chris abbott

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  • eric mutombu

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  • cliff ives

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  • wanda stahl

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  • armand turinyungu

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  • elizabeth beane

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  • matt frey-davis

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