The HopeGATeWay 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 were both pastors). After graduating from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE, she moved to Washington, DC to pursue seminary studies at Wesley Theological Seminary, graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 2003. She has served churches in Old Orchard Beach and 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

  • BETHANY SMART, Administrative ASSistant

    Originally from the Midwest, Bethany fell in love with Maine while working as a camp counselor many years ago. Bethany and her husband, Rick, have lived in Maine since 1996 and currently reside in North Yarmouth with their daughters, Ksenia and Annika - quickly approaching the inevitable 'empty nest syndrome'. Bethany has BA in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Kansas, but currently prefers studying French. She enjoys playing the piano, loves travel and photography, learning about cultures around the world, and connecting deeply with others. She loves learning and growing and is a work in progress. Bethany enjoys volunteering as a mentor with residents of Hope House, transitional housing for asylum seekers. Bethany is a trained spiritual director who loves open-ended questions, and she feels blessed to be working alongside the talented HopeGateWay team.


  • 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. 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



  • HANNAH SMITH-ERB, YOUTH GROUP lEADER

    Hannah Erb-Smith is a senior at Colby College and a member of Woodfords Congregational Church. She has worked with children and youth in Sunday School and at Pilgrim Lodge since 2013. Hannah is a Lead Interfaith Fellow with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Colby, and she is also a dynamic member of the Maine Poor People’s Campaign. She brings a lot of enthusiasm for both ministry and youth, with a palpable sense of youth being not just the future of the church, but the present! Hannah leads the collaborative Portland Ecumenical Youth Group comprised of HopeGateWay, Woodfords, St. Luke's and Williston Immanuel churches.

  • 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!

the HGW LEADERSHIP TEAM

  • Margaret Menger

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  • Don Rudalevige

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  • wanda stahl

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  • Rick Smart

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  • Elizabeth Beane

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  • Armand Turinyungu

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  • Matt Frey-Davis

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