In June 2014, I became pastor of CityWell UMC and campus developer at North Carolina Central University. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the world in the best most effective way possible. I am reminded that we are participants in God’s mission to the world. I’m interested in bridging gaps and I enjoy fighting poverty, feeding the hungry, bringing reconciliation and peace and justice to the world.
As a native of North Carolina, my ties are deep and wide in the nonprofit sector and the grassroots community. I am a proud graduate of Duke University Divinity School and North Carolina Central University and grateful to have served in various unique ministry settings for over 18 years as a pastor and chaplain.
My passions are focused on healing and wholeness, prison ministry, community economic development, the concerns of children and special needs groups. I enjoy long walks on the beach and action movies. I am married and have a college-aged son.
Becoming the pastor of The CityWell is the latest in a series of adventures that have come my way as I seek to follow Jesus. My greatest adventure is being a husband and father. I am married to Amy, an incredible woman, who loves me well and makes me better in more ways than I even know. We have four wonderfully unique children, each a great gift from our Lord: McKenna, Ellison, John and Cayden. Life in the May house is never boring!
I grew up in Arkansas and California, and moved to NC in 1996 for school. Upon meeting Amy, a NC native, in 1999 I thought I might like to stick around for a while. Amy and I married in 2001. After college I spent three years on staff with Young Life and in 2003 returned to school to study theology and scripture. During my four years at Duke Divinity School, I served as a youth minister in two United Methodist Churches and spent two more years with Young Life. In the midst of school, ministry, and having babies (McKenna & Ellison both arrived on the scene while I was in school), Amy and I discerned our calling to pastoral ministry… quite a surprise to both of us. So, in 2007 I became a United Methodist pastor and spent four great years at Southern Pines UMC.
In 2006, when Amy and I first sensed God’s call to serve the church, we began a conversation that would carry on sporadically for the next four years…,“Wouldn’t it be amazing to get to start a new church in downtown Durham?” Well, in the UMC system, we don’t get to “write our own ticket,” so this conversation remained a private one. However, this dream proved to be God-given in August of 2010, when I received a call from the office of New Faith Communities asking if we would consider planting a new congregation in Downtown Durham! So, the CityWell dream was officially born and we began the wild adventure of following Jesus in this new direction. We moved back to Durham in the summer of 2011 and are profoundly excited and grateful for all God is doing in our midst. Perhaps God is calling you to join us in this great adventure.
My journey as a follower of Jesus led me to CityWell in the summer of 2014. Since then, I have come to appreciate our honesty in worship, fearlessness in conversation, and trust in God’s promise to make communities new–spiritually and physically–through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My particular role at CityWell consists of leading disciples in holy engagement with the world in which we eat, sleep, work, live, play, and vote. Most days, I do this by partnering with women and men seeking employment in our city through my work at StepUp Durham, an economic empowerment agency that connects people on the margins (refugees, domestic violence survivors, individuals with a criminal background, experiences of homelessness, or gaps in work history) with jobs. My full-time work at StepUp compliments my role at CityWell where I lead congregational community organizing efforts and nurture discipleship that engages the realities of mass incarceration in our country.
A Florida native, I am proud to have called Durham home for the past 10 years. I am also a double Duke grad (B.A. in Political Science and Master of Divinity), wife to Henri (the South African born love of my life), and a candidate for ordination as a deacon in the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
I grew up in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States when I was 15.
My story is one of the Lord’s nearness throughout this journey. The experience of immigration directed my time as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. I focused my studies on the history of Latin America seeking to understand how experiences of displacement form and shape entire communities.
After graduation, I worked for a legal non-profit and Christian ministry and later served as the Community Pastor for a United Methodist Mission in one of the most populous Latino communities in Dallas. Both of these roles centered on outreach, relationship-building, legal advocacy, discipleship and pastoral care for Latino families, youth and children as well as connecting communities and congregations to churches, organizations and resources outside their immediate neighborhoods.
I am now a student at Duke Divinity School and student pastor at City Well. City Well has a way of becoming home quicker than one imagines. One of the most exciting things about being in a pastoral role here is getting to build this home with each individual in the congregation through knowing them, their stories and witnessing the journey of their lives. I hope that in my time here, we discover how to be and act in this world as God has called us and that we do this by sharing our lives with each other and with the individuals, families, and congregations in our neighborhood.