José Manuel and Vilmarie are regularly able to visit congregations or organizations. Email José Manuel and Vilmarie to extend an invitation.
About Vilmarie and José Manuel’s Ministry: As regional liaisons for the Caribbean, Vilmarie and José Manuel listen and accompany church partners in ministry in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other island nations in the region. They also work with the Caribbean and North American Council for Mission (CANACOM), an organization that enables mutual mission, accompaniment, and empowerment among churches. Their ministry involves facilitating and supporting programs of PC(USA) partner churches and organizations and implementing regional strategies. They also work with mission personnel in the region, as a resource for connection and information with other ecumenical bodies, and with PC(USA) congregations and mid-councils in the United States involved in partnerships in the Caribbean.
Regional context: When most North Americans mention the Caribbean, the conversation is usually about tourist destinations, ocean views, and tropical reveries. With a population of around 43 million people, equivalent to roughly 0.56% of the total world population, the Caribbean indeed has a thriving tourism industry, yet these island nations face challenges not usually seen by the people who visit. Faithful church communities throughout the region are bearing witness to God’s grace, love, and justice in their communities. Their ongoing work includes leading efforts that focus on church vitality and education, climate change, systemic poverty, food insecurity, land grabbing, racial discrimination, economic justice, gender violence, and human trafficking prevention, among others.
The PC(USA) has maintained close ties with partners in the region responding to their call to collaborate in mission. We join them, at their request, in justice and advocacy efforts, leadership development, theological education, and community development, among other initiatives. This connection spans decades and has enabled many U.S. Presbyterians to visit the Caribbean as part of study seminars, work groups, intercultural exchanges, and partnership visits. These visits are aimed at deepening relationships and broadening understandings of mutuality in mission, nurturing the faith of Presbyterians in the different contexts. Partner churches in the Caribbean region include denominations, ministries, and organizations in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, and, via the Caribbean and North American Council for Mission (CANACOM), Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.
About Vilmarie and José Manuel: Vilmarie (ella/she/her) and José Manuel (él/he/him) were born and raised on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico surrounded by the warm breezes of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. An educator and a presbyterian ruling elder, Vilmarie taught teens and adults for almost two decades, and, within the denomination, served in the Committee of Theological Education, the CREDO program, and, along with the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, as Co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), the first Hispanic Latina and first Puerto Rican person to be elected to this office. José Manuel’s pastoral experience spans 25 years, leading congregations in Caguas and Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. His ministry extended to teaching as a seminary instructor and as vocations faculty at CREDO. Vilmarie and José Manuel are life-long Presbyterians and celebrated 26 years of marriage in 2022. Having served the PC(USA) at different levels, they take on this role and see their call as the same vocation in a different context.
Vilmarie and José Manuel are grateful to witness and engage in mutual mission with our Caribbean siblings as they bear witness to Christ’s good news of love and justice in their communities. “It is a joy and honor to serve with PC(USA) church partners, cultivate relationships, share stories, and come alongside in mission together.”
Vilmarie: January 31
José Manuel: July 13
Wedding Anniversary: December 28