|Rev. Dámaris Enid Ortega,|
Rev. Dámaris E. Ortega was born on November 25, 1963 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Modern Languages and a minor in Music and Education. After teaching English and Music in elementary school for five years, she enrolled in the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico, earning her Masters of Divinity (Cum Laude) in 1995. She was ordained by the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico in February18, 1996.
In Puerto Rico she was the Pastor of Segunda Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulo de Cristo) in Caguas (1993-1994), Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Guaynabo [Youth Pastor] (1994-1995), and Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Sabana, Bayamón (1996-2000).
In 2000 Dámaris moved to Arizona to do a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix. She also worked as a chaplain for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, serving a total of 12 years and resigning her commission while holding the rank of Captain in 2007.
In 2004 Dámaris received standing as a UCC ordained minister in the Metro New York and Suffolk Association, New York Conference of the United Church of Christ and served as Associate Pastor at Iglesia San Romero de Las Américas UCC in Washington Heights, NY. In 2006, after moving to New Jersey, she became a member of UCC Congregational in Plainfield, where she served as Pastoral Associate and member of the Diaconate.
Dámaris has passionately worked for the inclusive movement to allow, celebrate and welcome the full participation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people into the life of the Church. She has worked in organizing clergy to advocate for LGBT rights and has contributed in the editing of the translation of “And God Loves Each One” to Spanish “Dios nos ama por igual” in the creation of a Bible study called “Bible and Sexuality,” published by the United Church of Christ. She has worked since the initial stages of the project “A La Familia,” which is sponsored by The Human Right Campaign, The Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Unid@s. Rev. Ortega is also a regular writing contributor to Spanish language worship resources, published on the UCC website.
Dámaris has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS as a trainer and directed a program called Mujeres en Fe (Women in Faith), an HIV prevention program for women in faith communities in New York City. She also worked as a crisis counselor for victims of 911 at the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx. Her most recent employment was as Coordinator of the Domestic Violence Hotline for Union County at the YWCA, which included providing crisis counseling and training and overseeing hotline operators/counselors.
With her installation as the 12th pastor of the United Church of Christ Congregational, she is making history, becoming the first woman pastor, the first Latina pastor, and the first openly gay pastor of this church.