Pastor Luis & Debbie Rivera
Pastor Luis Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City with his family at the tender age of one and grew up in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. Luis knew what it was to fear God, but didn't have a strong relationship with Christ as a boy and teenager. After completing high school, he joined the US Air Force where he really got away from the things of God. Upon his return from the Air Force he reconnected with some childhood friends who had found Christ. Eager to share their faith, they reached out to Luis and on one New Year's Eve, Jesus, by way of a friend, made Himself real in Luis's life once again. Luis gave his heart to the Lord, fully surrendering this time. He met his wife Deborah and married in 1976. He graduated college and went on to become a New York City school teacher. He also taught at Spofford Juvenile Center in the Bronx where he began to feel God’s calling on his life.
Deborah grew up between the South Bronx and Spring Valley, NY. She was the oldest child of an evangelist and first female NY Prison Chaplain, Rev. Aimee Garcia Cortese. She grew up in a musical family. Both of Debbie's parents lives were immersed in spreading the Gospel. As a family, they sang and preached throughout the United States and several Latin American countries.
In 1983, Luis and Debbie along with her mother, Pastor Aimee Cortese Garcia and father Joseph Cortese, helped pioneer Crossroads Tabernacle. They served there for 5 years. In 1989, Luis and Deborah were asked by their overseer, Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle to take over a small, struggling church, on the upper west side of Manhattan and God began something wonderful. Now 26 years later, the Lord still is using this couple to lead Manhattan Grace Tabernacle. No strangers to almost every area in Manhattan, they've been planting seeds in the Spanish Harlem area since 2007 and are looking forward to what God has in store, and it is their desire to help folks reach their full potential in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Luis and his wife Deborah, are the proud parents of 3 children: Nina, Luis, and Alexis, and have 6 grandchildren: Audrey, Thomas, Jayden, Sofía, Emma and Mateo.
Associate Pastor Ralph & Denise Rodriguez
Rev. Ralph Rodriguez is one of eight children born and raised in the South Bronx. He and his wife, Denise, were married on November 14, 1981, and have four children: Elizabeth, Bethany, Ralph, Jr., and Daniel, and have two grandchildren: Steven and Samuel.
Pastor Rodriguez worked for 31 years at Verizon Communications before his retirement in June 2010 and has an Associates Degree in Applied Science from Westchester Community College. Pastor Rodriguez has also graduated from the New York School of the Bible in 2016.
Pastor Rodriguez has been serving the Lord since November of 1988 and has been a member of Manhattan Grace Tabernacle (“MGT”) since its inception in September of 1989. Before becoming Associate Pastor of MGT, Pastor Rodriguez served as a Deacon and Head Usher. As Associate Pastor he gives oversight to the Ushers’ Ministry; he facilitates Christian Foundation classes; and he helps direct the Men’s Ministry. For many years Pastor Rodriguez has served as Pastor Rivera’s loyal and much trusted right-hand person.
Pastor Rodriguez became an ordained minister in 2007, and became the Associate Pastor of Manhattan Grace Tabernacle in October of 2007.
Rod and Dámaris Carbaugh
Married in 1980, Rod and Dámaris Carbaugh are elders at Manhattan Grace Tabernacle. They serve together overseeing the couples' ministry and doing some counseling.
Rod graduated from a Christian university in the southwest in 1977 with degrees in television and business. As Treasurer, he oversees all of the financial matters of the church. Rod also oversees the technical areas of the church, including sound, lighting and computers. He travels extensively with Dámaris in her itinerant ministry of singing and speaking internationally.
Dámaris Carbaugh is a well known Christian recording artist and conference speaker. She is also the author of a newly published book in Spanish, "Adios a mi." Dámaris and her husband regularly travel in the US and abroad as she receives invitations to sing for concerts and speak at conferences both in English and Spanish. More information about her can be found at damariscarbaugh.com.
She teaches our Christian Foundation classes weekly, and is available for counseling. She is involved in our Christmas drama presentation of "A Christmas Carol, Revisited." Infrequently, she also speaks at our services.