The Many Faces of Urban Christian Ministries
Rev. Cleveland P. Howell
Chairman Board of Directors
Rev. Cleveland P. Howell began his time with Urban Christian Ministries in 1982 as a volunteer and has been a vital part ever since. He worked with and developed youth programs, creating the “Kids of Galilee” youth group as well as expanding and enhancing community outreach.
Rev. Howell continued serving UCM in several areas, including positions as Youth Director, Summer Camp Director and even as an emergency medical technician. He realized that God was calling him to full-time service, and in 1995, he became UCM’s Assistant Director, ultimately becoming Executive Director in 2005.
In his evolving role, after serving five years as the operational leader, he was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2010. Rev. Howell was named Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2017.
Rev. William Coplin
William Coplin came to Urban Christian Ministries (UCM) in 1981. His first assignment was to run UCM’s second hand store called the Budget Shop. After running the shop for a number of years, our building was sold, and the store closed. Shortly after the closing of the Budget Shop, William was appointed to run the teen ministry “Teenage Alternative” (T.A.). Through T.A. the teen ministry flourished greatly. God opened many doors and we were able to minister in both grade schools and high schools. Through workshops and assemblies, William taught self esteem, self worth, and provided them with the necessary tools to resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol, with the assistance of the “Nancy Regan Just Say No” drug awareness program. TA spent many years in the classrooms, establishing solid relationships with principals, teachers, and students. He also took young men on many weekend camping trips.
In 1987, William was ordained through the Church of God in Christ. In 1990, Urban Christian Ministries appointed William Coplin, Executive Director of the organization. In 1995, God opened the door for UCM to start two of our most powerful ministries: BLOCK CLUB BASKETBALL (youth violence prevention and empowering young people) and MISSION TRIPS TO JUAREZ MEXICO (preparing young people for missions work in other countries.) Rev. Will has served on many boards and has received many awards. One of Rev. Will’s favorite sayings is:
God doesn’t call us because of what we can do;
He calls us because of what
HE CAN DO!
Eddie Lewis Stephon Boston Aaron Robinson Michael Aina Ryan Dewey
BWAP Assistant Director
Ryan has been working in different ministries since he graduated from Geneva College in 2009. After serving as a Student Ministry Director with a couple Churches for about 10 years Ryan started to feel a call to get more involved in working in the city of Buffalo. Since that call he has been able to work at the Buffalo City Mission and at Buffalo State College with Cru. He has a heart to serve and a desire to see Jesus do great things in Buffalo. He first connected with Urban Christian Ministries when he had attended Knox Church as a high school student through their Basketball ministry. He loves sports, the local Buffalo teams, and good Buffalo food too!
He has been blessed by many different people in his walk with God and hopes to share their influence and the different ministry connections with Urban Christian Ministries and the Buffalo community. As the BWAP Coordinator he will be focusing on discipling and mentoring young adults for Jesus through Bible studies, small groups, retreats, and special events.
Acting Executive Director/Board Treasurer
It has been an honor to serve the LORD at Urban Christian Ministries for the majority of my adult life. I started as a volunteer in the afterschool tutoring program in the old Ellicott Mall housing project. While my children were young I volunteered my time with the ministry in a variety of areas helping with federal fund distributions (remember the blocks of cheddar cheese) and working in the Thrift Store at 1241 Main Street. In 1989, I was hired as the secretary.
When the ministry moved to our current location on Jefferson Avenue, I was promoted to the prestigious position of Office Manager and served in this capacity until 2012 when I “retired” from full time paid staff. At that point, I was elected to the board of directors where I now serve as the Acting Executive Director and treasurer of UCM.
Hello my name is Nikki. I am 33 years old and I am the Office Administrator at UCM. So many people think that office jobs are just handling mountains of paperwork and answering phones. While those are the essential job functions, it is deeper than that, especially in a non profit setting. UCM is here to assist, to love, and to be compassionate just as Jesus would. So many times I receive phone calls inquiring about food or clothing, and in the midst of answering questions, often times the individual will open up about their struggles. It is my favorite part of this job. While I enjoy data entry and spreadsheets because I’m a computer nerd, at my core, I appreciate that God has equipped me in different ways to make a difference whether it is being a listening ear, fulfilling the need ourselves, or providing a referral.