International Children’s Ministries is pleased to announce the selection of Pastor Jonathan Olavarria to serve as Child Discipleship and Faith Formation Specialist for the global ministry. Jonathan will be responsible for developing resources and coordinating training events that aid local church congregations and parents/caregivers in sharing their faith and values with their children.
Jonathan serves as pastor of The Hub Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, a ministry of the Church of God of Prophecy. He and his wife planted this growing congregation in 2016.
In addition to his leadership of the local congregation, Jonathan has 15 years of experience in urban public education, serving as a History teacher, special education teacher, and bilingual education teacher with middle and high school students. In the past five years, he’s served as a vice principal of a grade school in Newark, New Jersey, serving children from preschool through 8th grade. Much of his work in public education has been concentrated on school culture and climate, interventions and supports for school subgroups, curriculum design, and school-home partnerships.
Jonathan is a first-generation college graduate. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Kean University, a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University, and a Master of Arts in Religion concentrating in Urban Ministry and Christian Leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is pursuing his Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Leadership, also with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Jonathan accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the age of ten. He grew up in a vibrant children’s ministry in the Church of God of Prophecy of Hoboken, New Jersey, under the leadership of Bishop Mario and Tomasa Bonilla. He started his ministry as a youth director and was later appointed regional youth camp director for the Northeast Spanish Region. He has also served the church in various levels and capacities, including Media Ministry, Pastoral Care, Christian Education and Discipleship, as well as Evangelism and Community Engagement.
“Our team is filled with anticipation and expectation for all this new position will allow us to accomplish to advance God’s purposes for this generation and support families,” said Dr. Shaun McKinley, international director of Children’s Ministries. “There were many qualified candidates for this position who were passionate about our mission; however, Jonathan’s expertise not only working with families in the public school system but also witnessing the impact of vibrant family ministry in the church set him apart.”
Pastor Jonathan has contributed his expertise to local, regional, and international ministry, serving on multiple committees advocating for children, youth, urban church planting, leadership development, and family discipleship. He is a contributing writer to a few church publications under Leadership Development and Discipleship, including the Foundations: Minister’s Development Program.
Working closely with the international director of Children’s Ministries, Jonathan will develop training resources and events for local church congregations, produce printed manuals on subjects relevant to faith formation within the various contexts of our churches, and launch regional retreats/conferences for Christian parents and grandparents, among other responsibilities. Pastor Jonathan will remain serving as lead pastor of his congregation while serving in this role.
“Our team sees great value in the perspective Jonathan will bring to our ministries as a lead pastor,” says McKinley. “The insights that he will offer will not only inform this mission of equipping parents and discipling kids but also support us in the development of children’s ministers who are meeting the current needs of our congregations.”
Jonathan was born and raised in Jersey City with African American and Puerto-Rican familial origins. He is fluent in English and Spanish. He says his greatest joy is that he has been married to his wife, Noemi, for 12 years. They have been blessed with three sons, Adrian, Benjamin, and Caleb.