The Potomac Conference Corporation Pastoral Ministries Department provides resources to help our pastors and churches grow by emphasizing mission, vision, and values. Everything rises and falls with leadership. The Potomac Conference Corporation seeks to create an environment where our pastors have the opportunity to grow as servant leaders, both spiritually and professionally. Pastors, called by God, “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:1213 NIV). The pastor trains and equips their members to faithfully use their spiritual gifts to minister and make disciples within their communities.
The importance of spiritual and numerical growth cannot be underestimated. Both are vitally important for the health of the church. One of the most important ways to evaluate this growth is through church consultations. These consultations are like annual physical checkups. The benefits are similar to a good prescription: they lead to a healthy, disciple-making church with a clear mission and vision. We pray daily for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our pastors. Our pastors are not alone we are on this journey together.
Vice President for Pastoral Ministries
Rick Labate serves as the Vice President for Pastoral Ministries. Labate previously served as the associate for Pastoral Ministries for eight years and has been a pastor since 1983. He began his ministry in Potomac, having served in this conference except for four years in British Columbia, Canada. “Ministering to pastors, working with churches and their leaders, leading a team of outstanding associates, and finding ways to effectively and creatively help fulfill God’s mission through pastors and churches is why our department exists. We love what we do!” Labate enjoys just about anything to do with being outside, including biking, yard work, golf, projects, and landscaping. Rick is also an accomplished pianist.
Pastoral Ministries Team
Office Ext. 1238
Candy Seibert joined the Potomac Conference Corporation team in February, 2011. She grew up in Takoma Park, Md. and attended JNA and TA. Candy moved to West Virginia in the late 1970’s where she attended Fairmont State University. Candy and her husband Jamie have two grown boys and they all live in the Harrisonburg, Va. area. In her spare time, Candy and her husband enjoy riding with friends and family down the Blue Ridge Parkway on motorcycles. They also spend a lot of time boating and swimming at their cabin at Smith Mountain Lake.
Associate for Pastoral Ministries, Virginia
Heather Crews joined the pastoral ministries team as an associate in May of 2021, transitioning from her role as pastor of the innovative Courthouse Road Church in Richmond, Va..
Crews started her full time pastoral ministry in January of 1999 in the Texas Conference. Over the next 15 years she remained with the Texas Conference she pastored multi-church districts, served on a two-pastor team at a larger church, and joined the team at the 3,000 plus member university church before accepting a call to join the Potomac Conference team in 2014 at the Williamsburg, Newport News and Yale district in Virginia.
Crews completed her Master of Divinity degree through the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Mich.), and later her Doctorate of Ministry from Portland Seminary with a dissertation focus on the spiritual practices of early Adventists. Crews’ calling to serve as a ministerial associate provides the opportunity to share the same encouragement, coaching and prayer support she received while pastoring in the Potomac Conference. Her desire is that each pastor will be the effective pastor God designed them to be in their context, and is committed to walk alongside the pastor as he or she pursues that calling.
Associate for Pastoral Ministries, DMV
John Nixon, II, D.Min. is a native of Brooklyn, NY. He has been married for 21 years to his college sweetheart, the former April Mendinghall. Together they have two school-aged children; John III, a high school senior and Julia, a sophomore, both at Takoma Academy. John is a graduate of Oakwood University (BA Theology) and Andrews University (Masters of Divinity). He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in Leadership at Andrews University Theological Seminary in 2013. John has served as a pastor for 22 years
Rafael Soto accepted the call to serve as Hispanic Ministries Director in June of 2021. Previously, he served as senior pastor of the Richmond Evangelistic Center (VA.) for more than five years. He focused on missionary work to reach the community and including the second and third generation of Hispanics in the church.
Between 2011 and 2016, Soto had the opportunity to serve in the district of Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Allegheny West Conference. With the church members, he planted five churches and baptized more than 500 people for Christ. Soto graduated from Universidad Adventista del Plata in Argentina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and completed his Pastoral Master Degree at Andrews University (Mich.). Pastor Soto’s vision for Hispanic Ministries is to extend the kingdom of God in the Potomac Conference territory, reaching all generations with the message of salvation and eternal life.
Soto has been married to Laura Rosenzweig for over 19 years and together they are blessed to have a daughter named Florencia.
Associate, Evangelism & Church Planting
Steve Leddy is an associate for pastoral ministries and overseas church planting and evangelism. He has a special passion to build relevant churches and ministries that appeal to and attract young adults and people who are unchurched. Additionally, Leddy is the founder of the Church Planting and Adventist Leadership School (CPALS), which provides hands on training for exceptional young adults with no ministry experience or education; the Church Planting Institute (CPI) which trains pastors and lay leaders to plant effective new churches in the areas they are serving; and Allies In Mission (AIM) which is a training program to dramatically increase the mission effectiveness and disciple-making potential of new and existing churches.
Assistant to VP for Pastoral Ministries for Revitalization
In addition to being pastor of Community of Hope church Paul Graham serves to help churches experience revitalization. Graham most recently served as Associate Director for Pastoral Ministries. Previously, Graham spent 25 years in ministry, including as lead pastor at Restoration Praise Center (Bowie, Md.). He previously spent 13 years in the New York area engaging in youth and young adult ministries, striving to present each message with the intention of motivating his listeners to prepare themselves for the soon coming of Christ. As a result, in 2002, Graham launched Full Circle Ministries to empower youth and young adults to participate in evangelism and wholesome activities, reaching both churched and unchurched individuals. Graham loves teaching the Word of God and helping as many as possible gain a better understanding of the Gospel and stronger walk with the Master.
Development and Events
LEAD Groups: The Potomac Conference Corporation is committed to investing in our pastors. Several years ago Potomac started a program for the pastors called LEAD groups. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Encouragement, Accountability and Dream (vision). LEAD groups are an intentional way of helping our pastors grow through professional peer pastoral meetings. The LEAD groups meet monthly within their local conference areas to read, study and discuss the various ways to grow healthy, disciplemaking churches.
Elders’ Retreat: This event is a resource for local church elders to learn about the mission and vision of the conference, as well as how to be effective leaders in their own churches. Click here for upcoming events.
Impact: Camp Meeting Re-imagined: The Bible reminds us that “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:22, NIV). What a promise from Jesus. No matter the size of group, when we gather in His name, His presence is there. What a great privilege it is that we can come together for fellowship and know that He is with us! Click here for more information on upcoming camp meeting(s).
EQUIP: Organized by the Potomac Conference Corporation’s Pastoral Ministries Department, EQUIP was designed to empower lay people to lead in their local church more effectively. The event offers 14 seminars that cover various topics, such as how to give effective Bible studies, women’s ministries, how to build healthy relationships and how to be an effective church administrator.