Senior Pastor

Rev. Dr. Ruben Cabanillas


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. 

            

Joni has worked teaching elementary school and preschool in both public schools and Christian schools.  She has founded and directed puppet ministries in all the churches where Ruben has been appointed.  Both of their children are grown and currently live in central Ohio.  Isaac, and his wife Kelly live in Grove City.  They have a 9-year-old son named Joey and a two-year-old son named Luke.  Their younger son, Gabriel and his wife, Summer, live on their mini-farm in Marengo, Ohio.


The last 9 years Ruben and his wife lived in Cincinnati where he was Senior Pastor at Oak Hills United Methodist Church.

  

Being appointed to Columbia Heights is a major prayer answered and they are very happy and excited to  be able to live near their children and grandchildren.  Ruben also has a brother, Benjamin, who lives in Columbus with his family. 

           

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.  We ask that you pray for our transition as we say good-bye to our congregation in Cincinnati and begin a new chapter here at Columbia Heights UMC!