Featured Preachers

Rev. Laura Bensman
Pastor, St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Rev. Laura Bensman will serve as the guest preacher for the Opening Worship - Memorial Service with Communion on Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Rev. Laura Bensman was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and moved to Perrysburg, Ohio when she was in 5th grade. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree. After college, Laura served as a US-2 Missionary from 2005-2007 at The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church in Washington, DC designing educational seminars on a broad spectrum of topics ranging from immigration to homelessness. Following her time as a US-2 Missionary, she attended Wesley Theological Seminary where in 2011 she earned her Master of Divinity degree. Since 2012 Laura has served as the pastor of Church of St. Andrew United Methodist in Toledo, OH, where she has been instrumental in creating a faith partnership between the church and Toledo Public Schools. Laura is currently serving as the Chair of the West Ohio Conference Nomination Committee. Laura has been married to her husband Rich since 2006. They are proud parents to two young and energetic girls, Cora and Paige.

Bishop Mande Muyombo
Resident Bishop of the North Katanga Area
Bishop Mande will serve as the guest preacher for the Mission Service on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 9:00 am

Bishop Mande was born in a poor family in Kambove village in Haut Katanga province. His father had two wives and 16 children.

He was an executive of the General Board of Global Ministries when he was elected on the fourth ballot during the Congo Central Conference in 2017. He is the first graduate of Africa University to be elected bishop and the youngest episcopal leader in the central conference. He holds a Bachelor’s (Department of Theology) and master’s Degree (IPLG) from Africa University as well as master’s Degree in Theology and Doctor of Ministry from Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, USA.

After working as President of Kamina Methodist University, he served as the Executive Secretary for Africa at the General Board of Global Ministries and was subsequently promoted to Assistant General Secretary in the Missions and Evangelism Department.

Bishop Mande is married to Blandine Mujinga, an Africa University alumna and they have three daughters and a son.

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
Resident Bishop of the Ohio West Area
Bishop Palmer will preach at the Celebration of Ministry Service on Wednesday, June 5 2019 at 4:30 pm.

Born and reared in Philadelphia, Palmer is a “child of the church,” the son of the Rev. Herbert E. and Mrs. Charlotte Sue Hewitt Palmer. Palmer’s father is a retired United Methodist pastor; his mother (now deceased) was a schoolteacher in the Philadelphia Public School system. Rev. Herbert Palmer and his wife Peggy reside in Philadelphia.

Bishop Palmer received his undergraduate degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. Baldwin-Wallace College, Iowa Wesleyan College, Simpson College, Hood Theological Seminary and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary awarded him honorary degrees.

He was ordained a deacon and elected a probationary member in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference in 1977. In 1981, he was elected into full membership and ordained an elder in the East Ohio Annual Conference.

His pastoral career includes student pastorates in North Carolina and post-seminary appointments in the East Ohio Conference in Cleveland, Canton and Berea. Palmer also served as superintendent of the Youngstown District of the East Ohio Conference.

Elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in 2000, Palmer served the Iowa Area until assuming responsibilities in the Illinois Area in 2008. Palmer served as president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2004 to 2008 and president of the Council of Bishops from April 2008 to May 2010. Palmer served on the Commission on a Way Forward. Currently, he is a member of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters and chair of the Comprehensive Africa Plan. He also is a board member of several organizations, including The United Methodist Publishing House, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, United Theological Seminary and OhioHealth, a family of nonprofit hospitals and health care facilities.

Married for 42 years to his wife Cynthia, they are the parents of two adult children. Monica is a high school administrator in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Aaron is a project manager for an interactive technology company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.