Who is Solar Oven Partners?

Practical, prayerful, passionate Dakotans first created and now sustain Solar Oven Partners.

Grounded in flexibility for changing needs and times, we work for the economic, physical, spiritual and environmental well-being with the people in places we serve.

Initiated by lay persons and built on trust over a 20-plus-year history, today Solar Oven Partners are:

  • Donors whose contributions fund materials and support training
  • Hands-on volunteers at fabrication workshops in the Dakotas or through projects in their churches
  • Volunteers-in-Mission team members who travel to serve
  • In-country partners on mission sites who provide cultural and administrative connections; and
  • Advisory Board, Staff, and Communication Team members who ensure accountability and transparency.

Solar Oven Partners is both a mission of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, supported by contributions to Dakotas UMC Advance #637 and an accredited Advance Special #418812 of UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief).

In-country administration and outreach partners include:

  • Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana (Evangelican Church of the Dominican Church), Dominican Republic
  • United Methodist Church, Sierra Leone, West Africa; and
  • Navajo Nation, FaithWorks. Should be Four Corners Native American Ministry based in New Mexico.

Advisory Board Members

Rev. Phil Lint, Board President, Montrose, SD

Christopher Sylvah, Director

Ariana Armapatzis, Mitchell, SD

Gene Bethke, Raymond, SD

Gloria Borgman, Spearfish, SD

Adam Burnison, Rapid City, SD

Jay Niedert, Madison, SD

Dave Silbernagel, Zeeland, ND

Emily Warns, Madison, SD

Karen Workman, Bismarck, ND

Our Staff

Christopher Sylvah


Christopher Sylvah retired from many years at Wells Fargo Bank and became the new Solar Oven Director on January 1, 2023. He was an active community volunteer during his employment at Wells Fargo in Minnesota (MN) and in his free time. He is also a lifelong member of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in Saint Paul MN. During this time, he served as a Lay Leader and Lay Representative to MN UMC Annual Conference. Christopher and his wife, Winifred immigrated from Sierra Leone, West Africa and has been living in MN for the past 30 plus years.  They have two adult children Irwin and Idella.

Al Roll

Missional Impact Development Coach
Dakotas United Methodist Church

Communications Team

Christopher Sylva


Donna Fischer

Stillwater, MN

Connie Smith

Montrose, SD

Karen Workman

Bismarck ND

Workshop Managers

Central Workshop, Raymond, SD

Pack oven components for shipping; manufacture bread pans

Gene Bethke

Insulation Workshop, Montrose, SD

Cut insulation; wrap oven components

Rev. Phil Lint

Workshop: 605-363-3407

Reflector Workshop, Rapid City, SD

Cut metal reflector components

Doug Diehl

Workshop: 605-343-1813

Mission Partners

Dominican Republic

Erasme Figaro

SOP Director and Pastor at Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana (Evangelical Church of the Dominican Republic)

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Navajo Nations

Debra Yazzie

Executive Director for the Four Corners Native American Ministry

Shiprock, New Mexico

Sierra Leone, West Africa

Joe Edward Pormai

SOP Coordinator in Sierra Leone

United Methodist Church

Sierra Leone, West Africa