Columbia Heights Staff

Meet Our Team

Here at Columbia Heights we are blessed to have a wonderful team of dedicated and talented staff on our hands. Below are our members of the staff that we have and who dedicate their time and hearts towards the various Ministry areas that make this church a great place for you and your family. We love and appreciate all their hard work and we hope you do too!! Take your time and get to know them.

  • Senior Pastor - Ruben Cabanillas

    Ruben's Preaching Philosophy: "I believe in the Bible as the Holy Word of God and strive to deliver conservative Bible based sermons." Both Ruben and Joni wish to serve the Lord and be in the center of God's will.

        Ruben was born in the Amazon jungle in 1960, where his parents served as Peruvian national missionaries.  He is a third generation pastor.  Ruben's brother and brother-in-law are currently pastoring churches in Lima and directing child sponsorship programs, following in the footsteps of his parents.  Ruben spent much of his childhood in the capital city of Lima, where he attended Catholic school, because it offered a much better education than the poorly funded public schools. Upon graduation from high school, he felt called to go into ministry.  

        In early 1980 Ruben received a full scholarship to attend Warner Southern College in Lake Wales, Florida. He put his full trust in the Lord and moved to central Florida where he played four years on the college soccer team.  In 1985, graduated with a B.S. degree in Youth Ministry.

        Ruben met his wife, Joni, a few weeks after graduation from college at a Christian camp in Warsaw, Ohio.  Joni’s family lives on a farm in southeastern Ohio, near Belpre.  Ruben and Joni moved to Anderson, Indiana where he attended seminary at Anderson School of Theology.   Ruben graduated from Anderson School of Theology with a Master of Divinity degree in 1989.    

        In 1990, the Lord brought Ruben to Alexandria United Methodist Church where he became an Elder and a United States citizen.  Alexandria, is about 40 minutes east of Columbus.  He also has two children Isaac and Gabriel.      

        Ruben served El Redentor United Methodist in Toledo, a bi-lingual congregation.  Then he was appointed to West Elkton United Methodist just north of Middletown.  While there, he attended United Theological Seminary in Dayton and received a Doctor of Ministry degree.  His doctoral thesis focused on cultivating spiritual growth in the local congregation by “Walking to the mountain top with Jesus.”    He served in West Elkton for 7 years.

        Ruben's next appointment was back to central Ohio at Pataskala United Methodist.  His kids graduated from high school in Pataskala and he served there for 10 years.  While serving at Pataskala UMC, he was able to purchase a 5-acre mini-farm 20 minutes north of Polaris. 

        The last 9 years Ruben and his wife lived in Cincinnati where he was Senior Pastor at Oak Hills UMC. Being appointed to Columbia Heights is a major prayer answered and they are very happy and excited to be near their children, grandchildren, and his brother Benjamin who live in Columbus.

  • Associate Pastor - Phil Miller

    • Ohio native born in Columbus, 23 years in law enforcement serving Perry Twp., City of Worthington, City of Columbus, and City of Hilliard Police Departments.
    • Ohio Dept. of Education – Certified D.A.R.E. Instructor – Hilliard City Schools
    • Ohio Police Officers Training Academy - Certified Instructor
    • Certified Special Operations – SWAT, Marine Park, and Airport Sections – C.P.D.
    • Married to Bernadette in 1995 and raised two step children (Jen & Chris)
    • Blessed with 4 grandchildren (one grandson + three granddaughters)


    • Grove City H.S., The Ohio State University B.A., Columbus State Community College A.S., Indiana Wesleyan University – Ordained Minister, and Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, Masters in Theology.
    • Executive Director of Inner City Ministries – Columbus Hilltop
    • Certified Ordained Minister – Greater Ohio District of the Wesleyan Church – West Logan, Pine Ridge, Oakland Park, and Waterford.
    • Served Columbia Heights UMC since 2013 – Counseling & Compassionate Care
    • Adjunct Faculty – Ohio Christian University – Circleville & Columbus State University
    • Board Certified Faith-Based Christian Counselor.
    • Pulpit Supply Pastor– Capital South District – UMC – West Ohio Conference

    Service areas at Columbia Heights UMC: Counseling, Compassionate Care, Visitations,

    Divorce Care, Singles Ministry, Healing & Wholeness, Discipleship Academy, Serve Spiritual Retreat, Men’s Champion’s Initiative Recovery, Premarital & Marriage enrichment, community inner city outreach events, Pastor’s Life Group and pulpit supply during lead pastor’s absence.

    Hobbies: studying Scripture, reading motivational books, gardening, oil painting on canvass, writing prose poetry, touring the Ohio Amish Country in Ohio, and visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Greatest joy is playing with our grandchildren.

  • Youth Directors - james & Jonna Harris

        Hello, my name is James Harris; I am the new Youth Leader for Columbia Heights UMC. My wife, Johnna and I are blessed to have been given the opportunity to take on the youth leadership for the middle and high school students.

        Johnna and I will teach Bible Zone and youth group 6th-12th grade. We hope to make this a learning and fun experience about the "LORD".

    A little about me, I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I graduated from Columbus Alternative High School where I was involved in theatre and choir. After graduating from high school I served seven years in the Ohio Army National Guard. I was raised Roman Catholic but converted to the Methodist Community when I was in High School and participated in the youth group and choir.

        Most of my career has been driving, but on particular job I was transporting special needs youth to their schools around central Ohio, which I got to learn and talk to them, which I think that God truly blessed me with this experience. This is why my calling is to work with the youth within our church family.

        Johnna and I have been happily married for 18 years and I have two wonderful stepchildren. Christopher is and artist, and Sarah is lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. Keian is an artist that has been in my life since he was a year old. We have a beautiful granddaughter Cadence who attended vacation bible school here last year.

    My hobbies include gaming (Xbox and PC), building Legos, building models, singing and outside yard projects

  • Office Administrator & Financial Secretary - Kara Pratt

        I am born and raised here in Columbus Ohio. I graduated from Central Crossing High School in 2011, and then went on to Columbus State Community College to pursue my Business degree. I changed majors a few times but ended up graduating from Columbus State Community College with my Associates Degree in Business Office Applications and a Certificate in Baking in 2015. Through my studies I also become certified in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Shortly after graduating I applied and was hired on here at Columbia Heights UMC as their Office Admin. Besides doing my job I also help out with Vacation Bible School as Snack Leader, and  I always try to volunteer for various events here at church. Some of my hobbies include: baking (I especially love to make cakes!), drawing, cross stitching, Zumba fitness, photography, and playing video games with my nephews. Some of my favorite TV shows to watch are: Once Upon A Time, Chopped, Pioneer Woman, The Big Bang Theory, The 100, and Dancing with The Stars. I love my job here at Columbia Heights, I have grown as a person and as a Christian working here in such a loving and caring environment, centered around Jesus and community fellowship.