Meet the Team

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Joel Pazmino

Lead Pastor

Joel is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador and moved to the United States in 2006. He has a heart for planting churches and has been involved with church plants in one way or another since he was 15 years old. After being an associate minister in Annapolis, MD, Joel and his wife Meghan felt the call to plant Encounter. Joel recently completed a church planting residency at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. Joel and Meghan currently live in Columbia Heights in Washington, DC.

Joel is an avid coffee drinker, a podcast junkie, and a passionate soccer fan, go Barça! Meghan is a teacher at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights. They spend their free time going on adventures together, exploring DC, and dreaming of what God will do in the city.

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Jackie bello

Connections Coordinator

Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Miami, FL; Jackie has called NOVA home since 2014. Since surviving a car accident that same year, she has focused on leading others to Christ. She began serving at Encounter when it first opened its doors and called it home in November 2018.

Jackie desires to share the profound satisfaction of knowing Christ in the face of our search for identity, purpose, and belonging. She has a heart for inviting others to experience healing, transformation, and fullness of life through the person of Jesus Christ.


sara berry

Children's Ministry Director

Sara was born and raised in Ohio. She moved to D.C. in 2018, after spending 3 years in Taiwan with her husband Colby and her son Uriel.

Sara has been active in children’s ministry through the years and has been able to learn and cultivate her teaching and planning skills while teaching young children in Taiwan.

The Berry family loves to travel the world and try new foods! Sara and Colby both work in international nonprofits, focusing on education and development. They are thankful and blessed to have found such a great church family in Encounter and can’t wait to share the love and their passion for Christ. 


Erica thomas

Volunteer Coordinator

Born in Memphis, TN; Erica has called NOVA home since 2005. She began serving at Encounter when it first opened its doors and called it home in July 2018.

Erica desires to be a resource in helping others unlock their personal identity in Jesus Christ and see they are chosen and loved.

A good book and dinner party with friends makes her heart sing. And a firm believer that everything good comes in blush pink.




Encounter is a non-denominational Christian church plant that is supported by a network of several area churches coordinated by Waypoint Church Partners. These churches come together to provide oversight in the form of a Management Team that acts as a board of directors during the planting stage of our church. Click on Waypoint's logo for more information on them.