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Speaker Biographies

Dr. James A. Forbes

Dr. James A. Forbes is the Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City, one of the largest multicultural and interdenominational congregations in the United States. He was the first African American minister to lead this multicultural congregation and served it for 18 years. Forbes addressed the 2004 Democratic National Convention then led an interfaith rally and demonstration as part of Riverside Church’s Mobilization 2004 campaign. In 2007, he formed the Healing of the Nations Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit, national ministry of healing and spiritual revitalization. In 1996, Newsweek recognized Forbes as one of the twelve “most effective preachers” in the English-speaking world.

Rev. Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes

Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a clinical psychologist, public theologian, and ecumenical minister whose work focuses upon healing the legacies of racial and gender oppression. A professor of practical theology at Mercer University, Dr. Chanequa is the author of I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation, Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength, as well as nearly two dozen journal articles and book chapters in theology and psychology.

Dr. Chanequa began her career as a clinical psychologist, earning degrees from Emory University (B.A., Psychology and African-American/African Studies) and the University of Miami (M.S. and Ph.D., Clinical Child/Family Psychology). She began her career as a research psychologist who focused on ethnic minority families, African American adolescent development, and health disparities.

Upon being called to ministry, she left her tenure-track faculty position to attend seminary, earning her M.Div. from Duke University, and broadening her focus to racial and gender justice issues. She blends her unique background in behavioral health, theology, and race/gender studies to advocate for the healing and justice in and beyond the Christian church.

Beyond the classroom, Dr. Chanequa spends most of her professional energy writing and ministering to clergy and faith-based activists, and generally caping for women of color engaged in Christian social justice activism. Her faith has been shaped by Methodist, Baptist, and evangelical social justice communities as well as by Buddhism and Islam. She was ordained by an independent fellowship that holds incarnational theology, community engagement, social justice, and prophetic witness as its core values.

Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a celebrated spiritual writer and sought-after speaker. A native of North Carolina, he is a graduate of Eastern University and Duke Divinity School.

In 2003, Jonathan and his wife Leah founded the Rutba House, a house of hospitality where the formerly homeless share community with the formerly housed. Jonathan directs the School for Conversion, a popular education center that works to make “surprising friendships possible.” He is also an Associate Minister at the historically black St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church.

Jonathan is a co-complier of the celebrated Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and the author of several books on Christian spirituality, including Reconstructing the GospelStrangers at My DoorThe Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, and The New Monasticism. He is also co-author, with Reverend Dr. William Barber II, of The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.

An evangelical Christian who connects with the broad spiritual tradition and its monastic witnesses, Jonathan is a leader in the Red Letter Christian movement and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. He speaks often about emerging Christianity and faith in public life to churches and conferences across the denominational spectrum and has given lectures at dozens of universities and seminaries, including Calvin College, MIT, Bethel, Duke, Yale, Princeton, Jewish Theological, Perkins, Wake Forrest, St. John’s, DePaul, and Baylor.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III

With civil rights advocacy in his DNA, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III built his ministry on community advancement and social justice activism. As Senior Pastor of Trinity
United Church of Christ in Chicago, Dr. Moss spent the last two decades practicing and preaching a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice and economic inequality.

Dr. Moss is part of a new generation of ministers committed to preaching a prophetic message of love and justice, which he believes are inseparable companions that form the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of his community engagement through Trinity United Church of Christ, Dr. Moss led the team that came up with the “My Life Matters” curriculum; which includes the viral video “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival,” created in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, MO police.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Moss is an honors graduate of Morehouse College who earned a Master of Divinity form Yale Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. He returned to Yale in 2014 to present the famed Lyman Beecher lectures. The three-day event included an in-depth discourse on the subject of The Blue Note Gospel: Preaching the Prophetic Blues in a Post Soul World. The lectures, which demonstrated a homiletic blueprint for prophetic preaching in the 21st century, were the foundation of his latest book, Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul
World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair
, published in 2015.

Dr. Moss is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ. He is on the boards of Auburn Seminary and Faith-In-Place/Action Fund , and chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Conference. Additionally, Dr. Moss is a Senior Fellow in the Auburn Seniors Fellow Program. He is married to his college sweetheart, the former Monica Brown of Orlando, Fla., a Spelman College and Columbia University graduate. They are the proud parents of two children, Elijah Wynton and Makayla Elon.

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq.

Rev. Aundreia Alexander leads the National Council of Churches in its initiative to reverse the rising trend of mass incarceration in the United States. Before her move to the NCC Rev. Alexander served as the National Coordinator for The Office of Immigration and Refugee Services with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies of American Baptist Churches, USA. She led the denominational efforts to advocate for comprehensive humane immigration reform and addressed human rights and religious liberty issues related to the diaspora of the ethnic peoples of Burma.

Rev. Alexander has a history of working with ecumenical, interfaith, government and grassroots entities such as the United Nations, World Council of Churches, Church World Service and others, on a variety of justice issues. She has preached, lectured and facilitated workshops throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, and South Korea.

Advocating for justice and systemic change has always been important to Rev. Alexander and she is serious about being where she feels God is calling her.  She believes that God has called her to serve as a prophetic voice that challenges structures and systems that diminishes and dehumanizes others.

Rev. Alexander is also a workshop facilitator and trainer in the areas of Conflict Transformation/Mediation skills and speaks at conferences and churches on spiritual nurturing for those living with cancer.  She serves as the minister for Social Justice at the St. Pauls’ Baptist Church in West Chester, PA and the chaplain for the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is from Missouri where she practiced law with the Missouri Attorney General’s office before moving to the east coast to attend seminary. She has a B.S. in Accountancy and a J.D. both from the University of Missouri in Columbia and a M. Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Bishop Minerva Garza Carcaño

Bishop Minerva Garza Carcaño is the Resident Bishop of the San Francisco Area, which includes the California-Nevada Conference in the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

Bishop Carcaño was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 by the Western Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church, the first Hispanic female ever elected bishop. She was assigned to the Phoenix Area on September 1, 2004. After 8 years, she was assigned to the Los Angeles Area in 2012. In 2016, she was assigned to the San Francisco Area.

After being ordained in 1976 she served congregations in Texas, New Mexico and California until she became the first Hispanic woman to be appointed a United Methodist district superintendent in the continental United States in 1986 serving in West Texas and New Mexico. She was then appointed the lead pastor of the South Albuquerque Cooperative Parish Ministry from 1992 to1996. From 1996 to 2001, she served as the Director of the Mexican American program at Perkins School of Theology. In 2001, she assumed the appointment of District Superintendent to the greater Portland, Oregon area in the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

On a national level, she has served on the former General Board of Education, the General Boards of Global Ministry and Church and Society, and the United Methodist Publishing House. She both served on and chaired the National Cooperative Parish Ministry Leadership Team of the UMC, and was the lead clergy delegate to both the 1996 and 2004 General Conferences. She has a long history of committed involvement in ministries with immigrants and refugees, the poor and US/Mexico border communities.

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), an interdenominational organization within the African American faith tradition focused on justice and equity issues. Former director of the Black Theology Project, Dr. Carruthers has a long history of teaching, engagement in community development initiatives and social justice ministry, fostering interdenominational and interfaith dialogue and leading study tours for the university and church throughout in the United States, Caribbean, South America and Africa.

Dr. Carruthers is Professor Emeritus and former Chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University. She is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission and is working on initiatives related to the U.N. Decade of People of African Descent. She is also founder of Lois House, an urban retreat center, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Carruthers is co-editor of Blow the Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision and Action for the 21st Century Black Church and has authored and edited a number of articles and publications, in the areas of sociology, technology and instructional technology. Her publication, The Church and Reparations, was distributed by her denomination, United Church of Christ, in several languages.

Dr. Carruthers is the mother of two sons.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune is Chief Operating Officer of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC). She is a tireless advocate for justice. Ordained into the Gospel ministry nearly 20 years ago, she has worked for a number of faith-based organizations. She has served as the director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice, a national conference that brings 1,000 faith advocates from across the country to the nation’s capital each year, and as Minister of Congregational Life for Clifton Park Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Md. She is also an associate minister of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va.

In the 2000s, she was the NCC’s Assistant Director for Justice and Advocacy. In that role, she staffed NCC’s Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.  She distinguished herself in 2018 serving as the Director of Mobilization for the NCC’s “A.C.T. Now to End Racism” events. In the fall of 2018, she was given the President’s Award for Excellence in Faithful Leadership at the NCC’s Christian Unity Gathering.

Dr. Copeland-Tune has held numerous other positions of importance in the ecumenical movement including that of director for the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, an anti-poverty ministry which adds a prophetic voice and collective action to the fight to end poverty. She has also been a consultant for the Conference of National Black Churches and Faith in Public Life, a DC-based advocacy group.  She is also actively involved with Grace and Race Ministries and the One America Movement, organizations that are working toward racial understanding and ending toxic polarization.

Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung

Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung is the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches. Previously he was the Executive Director of the historic racial justice organization Community Renewal Society in Chicago and the inaugural Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University in St. Paul. He has served local congregations in New York City, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis as an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, IN).

DeYoung earned degrees from the University of St. Thomas and Howard University School of Divinity. He has extensive relationships among activists and peacemakers in South Africa and the Holy Land.

He is an author and editor of twelve books on reconciliation, social justice activism, racism, and cultural diversity including co-author with South African anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak of Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism (Orbis). He was on the editorial team for The Peoples’ Bible (Fortress). His most recent book is the co-authored Becoming Like Creoles: Living and Leading at the Intersections of Injustice, Culture, and Religion (Fortress, 2019).

Rev. Dr John C. Dorhauer

Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, author and theologian, currently serves as ninth General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ and the Chair of the National Council of Churches Governing Board.

Rev. Dr. Dorhauer began his ministry serving First Congregational United Church of Christ and Zion United Church of Christ in rural Missouri. He then served as Associate Conference Minister in the Missouri Mid-South Conference, and then Conference Minister of the Southwest Conference of the UCC prior to his election as General Minister and President.

Rev. Dr. Dorhauer received a B.A. in Philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College (1983), and has a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (1988), the same year he was ordained in the United Church of Christ. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary (2004); his area of focus — white privilege and its effects on the church.

In his first term as General Minister and President, recognizing increasing sensitivities in this country around race, Rev. Dr. Dorhauer initiated the collaborative creation of a curriculum, “White Privilege: Let’s Talk – A Resource for Transformational Dialogue”. Designed to invite UCC members and others to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race, the curriculum and accompanying facilitator’s guide have been used by both UCC and non-UCC audiences. In addition, his book Beyond Resistance: the Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World is a call to the body of Christ to accept what the Spirit of the Risen Christ is doing to birth something new, vital, and relevant – all towards nurturing Beloved Community.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell is the Founder and President of Grace and Race Ministries, Inc – a ministry dedicated to working for racial understanding, healing and reconciliation. Rev. Girton-Mitchell is an ordained Baptist minister and is actively involved in ecumenical and community organizations. She currently serves as Minister for Stewardship and Missions at Metropolitan Baptist Church, in Largo, MD where Rev. Dr. Maurice Watson is now the Senior Servant.

Rev. Girton-Mitchell served the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA as Associate General Secretary for Justice and Advocacy from 2000-2007. She gave leadership to the NCC Washington Office and was responsible for coordinating the social justice and advocacy initiatives on Capitol Hill.

In addition to her service with NCC, Rev. Girton-Mitchell worked as an elementary school teacher and served as the President of the Indianapolis Education Association; legislative assistant in the United States Senate, legislative counsel for Sears, assistant executive director for Dr. Dorothy Height at the National Council of Negro Women, and director of diversity for Mitsubishi Motors of America. She also was appointed by President Barack Obama as the Director of the Center for
Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education. She was honored to serve there from December 2010 – January 2017.

Rev. Girton-Mitchell received a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Ball State University and a Master of Science degree from Indiana/Purdue University in Indianapolis. She graduated with honors from Chicago Kent College of Law. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

Rev. Girton-Mitchell and her husband, James Mitchell are partners in Girton-Mitchell Associates, LLC, a consulting company assisting churches and nonprofit organizations in the areas of advocacy, leadership development, and conflict resolution.

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton is Presiding Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and Vice-Chair, National Council of Churches USA.She previously served as Presiding Bishop of the Eleventh Episcopal District, which included ten counties in Central and Eastern Africa. She was the Executive Director of the national Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE) for almost twelve years prior to her election as Bishop. She is the former Executive Director of the Emory Center for Pastoral Services in Atlanta, Georgia and former Director of Pastoral Services at Crawford Long Hospital. She has been adjunct instructor in Pastoral Care at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. 

She is a fourth generation, life-long CME. Her great-grandfather, father and uncle were all CME pastors and her grandmother was an active missionary. Her two sisters are also CME ministers. As an ordained minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, she was a former pastor in Kentucky. 

She serves on the Pan-Methodist Council, the governing board of the National Council of Churches, President of Churches Uniting in Christ and as Chair of the Family Life Committee of the World Methodist Council.

Rev. Fr. Simon (Shiryl) Mathai

Rev. Fr. Simon (Shiryl) Mathai serves as a priest in Malankara Archdiocese of Syriac Orthodox Church in North America. He currently serves as the assistant vicar of two parishes dedicated to St. Mary’s in West Nyack, NY and Glen Oaks, NY.  Fr. Simon received a Master of Divinity from Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, in Crestwood, NY.  At the diocesan level, Fr. Simon has served as the chair for the Racial & Social Justice task force to examine the diocesan guidance to the latest events impacting our beloved country. Fr. Simon currently resides in Bensalem, PA and is happily married to his wife, Asha, who is also pursuing her theological education at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.  They are also blessed with two wonderful boys, Aphrem and Stephan

Pastor Michael McBride

Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. Pastor McBride’s commitment to holistic ministry can be seen through his leadership roles in both the church and community organizations. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor McBride founded The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Lead Pastor.

 In March 2012, he became the Director for the LIVE FREE Campaign with Faith in Action, a campaign led by hundreds of faith congregations throughout the United States committed to addressing gun violence and mass incarceration of young people of color. He is one of the national leaders in the movement to implement public health and community centered gun violence prevention programs, which have contributed in 50% reductions of gun related homicides in Oakland and many other cities across the country. He is a co-founder of Black Church PAC and the National Black Brown Gun Violence Prevention Consortium which work to center black and brown gun violence prevention practitioners and scale up life-saving interventions related to urban and communal violence.

Regarded as a national faith leader, active in the Ferguson uprisings and many subsequent uprisings, he helps bridge, train and support millennials and religious institutions working on racial justice and black liberation. Pastor McBride has served on a number of local and national task forces with the White House and Department of Justice regarding gun violence prevention, boys and men of color and police-community relationships. In 2016 he was appointed as an Advisor on President Obama’s Faith Based Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, the Huffington Post and many other media outlets providing commentary on issues related to faith and racial justice.

He is married to Cherise McBride and they have two beautiful daughters, Sarai and Nylah.

Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller

Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller was elected president of the Provincial Elders’ Conference (PEC) of the Moravian Church Northern Province at the Province’s 2010 Synod. Rev. Miller was the first woman to be elected to this position in the history of the Northern Province.

Prior to her most recent role as director of Congregational Leadership and Resources for the Western District of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, Rev. Miller served as co-pastor (1985-95) and pastor (1995-2005) of Lake Mills Moravian Church. She also served a chair of the Church’s Task Force for Healthy Congregations Initiative; secretary of the Wisconsin Council of Churches; and chair of Fort HealthCare, an independent community hospital in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Rev. Miller was ordained in 1985.  During the past five years, she earned a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Congregational Mission and Leadership.

Rev. Kerri Parker

Rev. Kerri Parker is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. Rev. Parker brings a strong faith commitment to the ecumenical ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches and has demonstrated leadership in leading complex coalitions toward a common goal. Prior to coming to the Council, she served as pastor of McFarland UCC in McFarland, WI and as executive director of YWCA Rock County in Janesville, Wisconsin, a strong organization with roots in the social gospel, with programs dedicated to peace, racial justice and women’s empowerment. Rev. Parker has served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ and United Church Camps Inc., and is published in the anthology, There’s A Woman in the Pulpit (Skylight Paths, 2015). She is a graduate of Smith College and the Chicago Theological Seminary.  Rev. Parker is a member of Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison Wisconsin and lives in McFarland with her family.

Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Peters

Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Peters served as President of the Interdenominational Theological Center from 2011-2013. Prior to this service, Rev. Dr. Peters was the Henry L. Hillman Professor of Urban Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Director of the Metro-Urban Institute.  Dr. Peters is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.  He holds a BA from Southern University, a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Education from the University of Massachusetts.  He was the founding pastor of Martin Luther King Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Mass. and has more than 18 years of pastoral experience in the urban context.

Dr. Peters is an advisor on social witness policy and urban theological education for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Peters has conducted urban ministry workshops and preached in Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia and has observed urban theological education programs in Switzerland, Singapore, Thailand, and the Republic of China. Among many publications, he has written Urban Ministry: An Introduction (Abingdon, 2007); co-edited Africentric Approaches to Christian Ministry: Strengthening Urban Congregations in African American Communities (University Press of America, 2006); and “Is This New Wine? Resistance Among Black Presbyterians” in Ronald H. Stone and Robert L. Stivers’ (eds) Resistance and Theological Ethics (Roman and Littlefield, 2004).

Rev. Dr. Peters currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of the Schenley Heights Community Development Program.

The Right Rev. Eugene Sutton

The Right Rev. Eugene Sutton is the Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland, The Episcopal Church. He was elected bishop of the Diocese of Maryland in 2008 and is nationally known for his commitment to non-violence, reconciliation, the environment, and the practice of Centering Prayer. Formerly the Canon Pastor of Washington National Cathedral and Director of the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage, Bishop Sutton has also served as a college chaplain, parish priest and professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. The author of several articles about spiritual practices and preaching, he’s a sought-after guest preacher and a contributor to the book, The Diversity of Centering Prayer.

Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson

Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson is the Associate General Minister Wider Church Ministries & Operations and Co-Executive for Global Ministries with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She provides strategic visioning and leadership for the programmatic ministries of Global Ministries, Humanitarian Aid and Development, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Events and Scholarships Management and Archives.

Former roles in the National setting include two years as Minister for Racial Justice and eight years as Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. She has effectively facilitated Sacred Conversations on Race workshops with congregations and Conferences. Her passion for racial justice moved her work into a global context to participate in efforts to reduce the marginalization experienced by African descendant communities.

As the Ecumenical Officer for the UCC she nurtured relationship with critical partners like the World Council of Churches and coordinated theological dialogues and ecumenical initiatives. She is a strong proponent of human rights and was instrumental in guiding the six-year process for the United Church of Christ/United Church of Canada full communion relationship. She is currently a member of the National Council of Churches Committee that planned and implemented A.C.T. Now to End Racism initiative and continues to lead the on-going efforts to dismantle racism.

Rev. Dr. Thompson provides leadership for the joint United Church of Canada and United Church of Christ committee working on the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) and was invited to address the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent about the challenges of racial injustice in North America.

Her ecumenical expertise is evident in her leadership roles within the World Council of Churches (WCC) on the Central Committee, the Joint Working Group with the Roman Catholic Church (JWG), and the Commission for Education and Ecumenical Formation as the Rapporteur for the work of the commission. 

Other ecumenical elected leadership positions include: Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Secretary/Treasurer for the Caribbean and North American Area Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and Treasurer for Churches Uniting in Christ.

Jim Winkler

Jim Winkler is the President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches since his election in 2013. He is the public voice of the NCC and represents the Council as it addresses its major priorities: mass incarceration and interreligious relationships with a focus on peace. In 2019 the Council officially added the priority of ending racism. Before this, he served for nearly 30 years at the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. At the Board of Church and Society, he held the position of seminar designer, director of annual conference relations, and assistant general secretary of resourcing congregational life before his election as general secretary in 2000. He studied African history at the University of Illinois, received a master’s degree in American history at George Mason University, and was granted an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology.

Rev. LaKesha Womack

Rev. LaKesha Womack is the Founder of #RethinkingChurch Strategies. She travels across the country helping churches to rethink church by working with pastors, ministers, church leaders, and church members in conversations about the culture of their church and how to engage with their members and their community.

As the Owner and Lead Consultant with Womack Consulting Group, she provides Brand Management, Leadership Training, Strategic Planning, and Political Consulting to clients across the globe through seminars and one on one consultations with professionals, not for profit organizations, churches, colleges/universities, and businesses. She has served as an Executive Coach for the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit and Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.

She is an ordained Deacon from the Alabama Florida Episcopal District in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Ecumenically, she has served Churches Uniting in Christ as a member of the Young Adult Task Force (2016-2019) to address racial reconciliation among member denominations and as the Racial and Social Justice Task Force Chair (2019-2021) to develop strategies to combat societal injustices. Additionally, she has hosted a series of Community Engagement webinars with the National Council of Churches to mobilize faith-based voters. She has also presented for the Council of World Missions (The Economic Impact of Modern-Day Slavery), the World Methodist Council (Using Social Media for Global Outreach and Evangelism), and the International Council of Community Churches (Using Social Media for Global Outreach and Evangelism).