In 2022, Ruth Horton was invited to serve as director of education of the Lake Union Conference. From the early age of 17 to today, Horton has nurtured a life-long career in education. Her drive for learning drew her away from the scenic island of Dominica, where she was born and grew up, to hone the skills and transformative practices she would need as a teacher and educational leader.
As an educator in both public and parochial schools, at the elementary through university levels, Horton has embraced the truth that “knowledge of God is the foundation of all right education” Counsels to Teachers, p. 422. As such, Horton has served in the East Caribbean Conference, beginning in 1977, and subsequently in the Michigan, Illinois, Lake Region conferences, then back to Illinois, as teacher and administrator. She has also served as a public school teacher and administrator both in Michigan and Illinois.
In 2007, Horton accepted the call to serve as Educational Superintendent of the Lake Region Conference, and in 2011, she returned to the Illinois Conference to serve as Educational Superintendent.
A speaker/presenter, Horton frequently speaks at churches and conducts workshops, including in education, personal ministries and women’s ministries. She also presents at conferences and conventions.
Horton holds a B.A. and M.A. from Andrews University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from National-Louis University. She is married to Michael Horton, ministerial director of the Lake Region Conference and pastor of the Emmanuel Church in Chicago Heights, Illinois. They have three sons: Michael, Elijah and Isaiah.
Horton enjoys her family, gardening, reading, learning and consulting. She relishes the work of education and desires to follow God’s leading in her work and for her life.
Carmelo Mercado was born and raised in the Catholic faith in New York City to parents who originally were from Puerto Rico. In 1965, his mother discovered and was baptized into the Adventist faith, and then led her family to begin to study the Bible as well. Three years later, Mercado made his decision to be baptized into the Adventist faith.
In 1971, he came to Andrews University to begin his pre-med studies. In 1974, he decided to take a year off from his studies and go to Bolivia as a student missionary to pastor a small church in the Beni province. There he felt the call of God to become a minister instead of a physician. He graduated from Andrews in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and that same fall enrolled in the Master of Divinity program, from which he graduated in 1979.
Mercado began pastoring in the Indiana Conference, in Hammond, Indiana. In 1980, he received from It Is Written a request for Bible information from a family who lived in East Chicago, Indiana. He gave the family Bible studies and baptized the mother, father and their daughter, Rosanne, in the Adventist faith. In 1986, he married Rosanne, who currently works as an occupational therapist at St. Joseph hospital in South Bend, Indiana.
Mercado had the opportunity to serve his entire pastoral ministry in Indiana, serving in cities like Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Richmond, Connersville, New Castle, Indianapolis, Brownsburg, Martinsville and Fort Wayne. He also served as Hispanic coordinator for the Indiana Conference for five years, and also served as NET '98 Hispanic coordinator in 1998.
Mercado has served in his current role as general vice president for 11 years. He is also Multicultural Ministries director for the Lake Union and secretary for the Adventist-laymen's Services & Industries (ASI) Lake Union chapter.
Since March 2021, Debbie Michel has served as the director of Communication. She joined the Lake Union in Jan. 2016 as associate director of Communication and managing editor of the Lake Union Herald.
She received her master of science degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, New York, New York, and her bachelor of science degree in TV & Radio; Journalism concentration from Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York.
Michel began her professional career in 1990, as a media buyer, then became an associate literary agent in 1992, and then in 1995, she became a news associate for Dateline NBC and Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, New York, New York. In 1996 she became the associate producer/producer for Dateline NBC, where she also produced news segments and documentaries for clients such as Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Good Housekeeping magazine; produced MSNBC Headliners and Legends documentaries, booked high-profile news makers for exclusive interviews, field produced breaking news stories and shot digital video.
In 2008, Michel joined the faculty of Andrews University as associate professor of Communication where she taught Journalism and Communication courses, assisted with the development of a new curriculum, served as advisor to journalism students and developed Envision, a student-created and produced magazine, of which Michel was the Editor-in-Chief.
She and her husband, Jean-Ires, have one daughter, Christiana.
Sean Parker was born in upstate New York and raised in Vermont. He attended Adventist schools from third grade through college. Parker received a B.S. in Computer Science from Atlantic Union College in 1992. Recently, he completed an M.S. in Computer Science from Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.
Parker worked for 12 years for his alma mater, Atlantic Union College, and held various positions including programmer, network administrator and director of information technology. In Fall 2004, he joined the Lake Union Conference Information Systems (LUCIS) development team and was the associate director until named director on October 7, 2010.
Parker has been married to Eva (Bleuer) Parker for 18 years. They have one daughter and two sons.
Pastor Elden Ramirez, an ordained minister, currently holds the position of Executive Secretary at the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His responsibilities encompass diverse administrative domains, including interpreting and implementing North American Division (NAD) working policies, managing constitutional and bylaw matters, and providing guidance in risk management and human resources.
Simultaneously, he serves as the Ministerial Director, actively engaging in pastoral counseling, facilitating weeks of prayer, and delivering ministerial training during pastors' retreats. His multifaceted roles extend to offering counsel on church governance, conference administration, church planting, and urban evangelism, among other areas. In times of crisis, he is responsible for assisting the conferences within the Lake Union territory with the conflict resolution process.
Before his current role, Pastor Ramirez served as Undersecretary at the North American Division of the General Conference, where he played a pivotal role in developing, implementing, and interpreting NAD working policies and assisting North American conferences in matters related to church governance. Notably, this marked his second tenure at the NAD, having previously led the Office of Volunteer Ministries within the North American Division. In this capacity, he served the Adventist Church across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Guam-Micronesia Mission territory. His responsibilities included fostering collaboration among volunteer ministries in North America, uniting over 6,000 churches, 1,000 elementary and secondary schools, 13 colleges and universities, and numerous supportive organizations, all working towards common outreach goals. Under his leadership, thousands of short- term and long-term volunteer missionaries were deployed, leaving an indelibly positive impact on countless lives worldwide.
Pastor Ramirez's extensive ministerial journey spans over two decades and includes service in six different states across five different Union territories within the U.S. His diverse contributions encompass roles as Conference President, departmental director in areas such as family life, camp ministries, health and temperance, national servicemen organization, youth ministries, academy chaplain, youth pastor, senior pastor, and church planter.
Throughout his ministerial journey, Pastor Elden Ramirez has been guided by his deep faith and unwavering commitment to God's service. For nearly 30 years, he has enjoyed a happy marriage with his college sweetheart, Jenny, and together, they cherish their two daughters, Elennie and Jasmine, whom they consider their greatest joy.
Glynn C.W. Scott has served in the Lake Union Conference since 2000 as associate treasurer and then as treasurer from 2003 to the present time. Prior to serving in the Lake Union, Scott was secretary/treasurer for the Bermuda Conference from 1997 to 1998 and treasurer for 1999. Prior to the Bermuda Conference, Scott served as an auditor for Coopers & Lybrand, Price Waterhouse and financial analysis for Fidelity Investments (Boston).
Scott holds a B.S. in Accounting and Business Administration from Atlantic Union College. He is married to Donna-Mae (Young) Scott, and they have two boys, Glenn Jr. and Clifton.
Ron Whitehead has served in four North American Division (NAD) Union Headquarters as a local pastor, conference youth director and church ministries director. He also served the NAD as associate youth director and led five International Pathfinder Camporees. Whitehead currently serves Kingdom-building efforts in the following ways: Assistant to the President of Andrews University for Spiritual Life, Executive Director for the Center for Youth Evangelism, Assistant Professor for Youth Ministry, Lake Union Conference Youth Ministries Coordinator.
He is married to Betty Lou (Becker) and together they have three adult children: Stacy, Heidi and Ryan.
Whitehead's hobbies include, but are not limited to, antique and classic cars, tournament ski boats, Christian drama like Passion plays, large events and business/ministry "investments."
His favorite Bible text is John 14:1-3 because it reminds him not to "sweat the small stuff" because we are all just passing through, and that soon he will be together with those he loves.