- Plenary Speakers
- Workshop Leaders
- Preacher, Music Director, Bible Study Leader, and Worship Director
Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father who came out of the Watts uprisings, the Black Student Movement, and working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers has 40 years of experience organizing amongst the poor including with the National Union of the Homeless, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the National Welfare Rights Union, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and many other networks. Willie serves as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence and is the Coordinator of the Poverty Scholars Program.
Poverty Initiative Publications can be found at: http://povertyinitiative.org/publications (some of these can be ordered directly from the distributor, others must be supplied by the Poverty Initiative).
Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock
Rita Nakashima Brock, PhD, is a Commissioned Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Research Professor in Theology and Culture and the founding Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School in Ft Worth, TX. The former Director of the Fellowship Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Dr. Brock is an award-winning author. Her book with Rebecca Parker, Saving Paradise, was selected by Publishers’ Weekly as one of the best books of 2008 and was released in the summer of 2012 in a UK new edition by Canterbury Press. Her recent book with Gabriella Lettini, Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, will be released in November.
Dr. Gaston Espinosa
Gaston Espinosa is the Arthur V. Stoughton Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He is past President of La Comunidad of Hispanic Scholars of Religion at the AAR/SBL and is currently Co-Editor of the Columbia University Press Series in Religion and Politics. He is the author or editor of a number of books including: (1) Latino Religions and Civic Activism in the United States (Oxford, 2005), (2) Rethinking Latino/a Religion and Identity (Pilgrim 2006), (4) Mexican American Religions: Spirituality, Activism, and Culture (Duke, 2008), (4) Religion and the American Presidency (Columbia, 2009), (5) Religion, Race, and the American Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), (6) Religion, Race, and Barack Obama’s New Democratic Pluralism (Routledge August 2012), and he is currently working on Latino Religions and Politics in American Public Life (Oxford, 2013).
Dr. Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre
Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre is Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Drew Theological School. She teaches courses at Drew on the Pauline Letters, feminist, liberationist, and intercultural approaches to interpreting scripture, and the history and archaeology of the world of Judaism and early Christianity. Her scholarship focuses on the beginnings and growth of the Jesus movement and the Christ communities of the Roman Empire, as well as on the ethics and politics of how we describe and interpret those beginnings. She is the author of Jesus Among Her Children: Q, Eschatology, and the Construction of Christian Origins (2005) and Mary Magdalene Understood with Jane Schaberg (2006). Presently, she is completing a book entitled, I’ll Fly Away: Making Space in the Letters of Paul. Dr. Johnson-DeBaufre has her master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Divinity School and is ordained in the American Baptist Churches, USA, Her teaching often extends beyond the classroom into churches and community groups. She frequently leads cross-cultural trips and archaeological seminars to Turkey and has taught several of her courses in Drew’s PREP program at New Jersey state correctional facilities.
Rev. Dr. Traci West
Rev. Dr. Traci C. West is Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew Theological School. She is the author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter (2006) and Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (1999), editor of Our Family Values: Religion and Same-sex Marriage (2006). She is an ordained United Methodist clergy member and a scholar/activist whose work focuses on anti-racist, gender and sexual justice in church and society.
Cynthia Bailey Manns
Cynthia Bailey Manns is a Certified Spiritual Director and currently serves as Coordinator of the Spiritual Formation Certification Program at Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ where she also teaches courses in Spiritual Direction/Companionship. Cynthia’sbackground in social work, human development, spirituality and spiritual direction her ministry as a retreat and workshop leader, spiritual director, supervisor of spiritual directors in training and presenter for the Quellen Spiritual Direction Formation Program.
Rev. Michael Ellick
Rev. Michael Ellick is the Minister of Judson Memorial Church, and one of the founders of Occupy Faith in New York City. In his ministry, he has worked as an organizer and a social justice advocate for Immigrant Rights, Marriage Equality, Single Payer Health Care, Economic & Environmental Justice, and Racial Profiling. Rev. Ellick is particularly interested in understanding the Christian Passion Story in an America threatened by falling Empire and failing Plutocracy.
At Judson, Rev. Ellick has embraced Judson’s legacy as a Research & Development Laboratory for American Christianity. Committed to establishing a new Christian vocabulary for a post-Christian world, Rev. Ellick’s exploration of new theological forms has grown out of his commitment to the social gospel in action, and the practice of God’s presence in silent prayer, reflection, and meditation. He currently lives in Greenwich Village.
Rev. John Merz
John Merz is Episcopal Priest of Ascension Church in Brooklyn. In his ministry he has established a respite program for individuals with AIDS, developed a job training program for people coming out of the NYC shelter system, served as Episcopal Chaplain to NYU, which became one of the largest Episcopal campus ministries nationally. Currently John is supporting public schools against the encroachment of charter schools and fighting for local communities threatened by hyper-development in Brooklyn. He is establishing a shelter for homeless men at Ascension. John has been involved with Occupy Faith since it began.
John is interested in how racism, class and gender work to render the suffering of certain persons in our society invisible. He believes that each social action–each stand for fairness in time–is a staccato chord of justice that echoes out of God’s kairos. John lives in Brooklyn with his wife Tara Anderson, a psychotherapist in private practice.
Dr. Kesha Moore
Kesha Moore, Associate Professor of Sociology, received her P.h.D and M.A. degrees in Sociology with a Certificate in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a M.S.W. in Community Organizing from the University of Michigan, and her B.A. degree in Cross-cultural Psychology from Franklin and Marshall College. Her areas of interest include race and class stratification, urban neighborhoods, and the symbolic construction of identity. She has conducted research on community development in urban neighborhoods, inter-class relations within the Black community, the role of churches in community development, and the impact of welfare reform. Currently, she is working on an analysis of African American women and the hair care industry. Partnering with Citizen Schools in Newark, NJ to engage middle school students in a youth participatory action research project called “Discovering Newark”. She is Associate Director of the College Bound Consortium, which provides college degrees for incarcerated people at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto
Dr. Karen Oliveto is the senior pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco and a leader in the marriage equality movement in California. In 2004, Oliveto faced a formal complaint against her ministry for performing marriages for same-gender couples within her congregation during San Francisco’s “Winter of Love.” A graduate of Drew University (BA, MPhil, PhD), Oliveto is the co-author of “Talking about Homosexuality: A Congregational Resource” (co-written with Drew professor Dr. Traci West). She is an adjunct professor in Drew’s DMin program, teaching “Prophetic Leadership in Congregation and Community.”
Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson
Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson, described by Cornel West as ”an organic intellectual,” has spent the past twenty years serving as Senior Pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, New York, a progressive intergenerational, urban congregation of 3000 that has pioneered in the areas of congregation-based elementary education and social services to both youth and the aged. Dr. Simpson brings that experience into the classroom at Drew as Associate Professor of Homiletics. As both scholar and Master Practitioner, his scholarly interests include Pastoral formation and Identity; preaching through biography, preaching and leadership; and the nature and history of Black Churches and Preaching. Dr. Simpson was Visiting Adjunct Professor at Yale Divinity School in the Spring of 2011.
Jim Winkler serves as general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, the public policy and social justice advocacy agency of the third-largest religious denomination in the United States. Jim leads a staff of 22 who attempt to mobilize the membership of the church to join justice and mercy together and to seek the implementation of the Social Principles of the denomination.
Jim has a master’s degree in history from George Mason University. He is the son, nephew, and brother of United Methodist preachers and has served as a short-term missionary. He has been an outspoken advocate for peace and justice concerns. He writes a weekly column, “Word From Winkler,” in the board’s online newsletter, Faith in Action, www.umc-gbcs.org.
He serves on the boards of Claremont School of Theology and Bread for the World and chairs Faith United Against Tobacco and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
Preacher, Music Director, Bible Study Leader & Worship Director
Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes
Claudio Carvalhaes, a theologian, liturgist and artist, was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was ordained by the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, served two congregations in Sao Paulo and one in Fall River, MA. Dr. Carvalhaes received his Ph.D. at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He preaches at Festival of Homiletics and was part of Preaching for the 21 Century Conference at Candlor School of Theology. He was on the coordinating worship team of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Maputo, Mozambique, in December, 2008 and at the 2010 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. He has published articles, in both English and Portuguese, on the relation between globalization, immigration, and postcolonial theologies/liturgies/preaching in the US and Brazil. He leads an annual summer conference on Worship and the Arts. After having taught at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for 5 years, now he teaches at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
Bishop C. Joseph Sprague
Elected to the episcopacy in 1996, C. Joseph Sprague was assigned as Bishop of the Chicago Episcopal Area and the Northern Illinois Conference September 1, 1996, and completed his term of service there on retirement, September 1, 2004. Sprague served in the episcopacy after 27 years as a pastor and 7 years as an ecumenical/interfaith officer. Sprague is a consistent voice for informed biblical scholarship, progressive theology, and inclusive church, racial justice, peace, gender equality, the poor, incarcerated, and interfaith respect and cooperation.
Prior to his election to the episcopacy, he was a delegate to 4 General Conferences and 5 Jurisdictional Conferences. His motion established Communities of Shalom at the 1992 General Conference. Sprague served county-seat, inner-city, and university congregations. Additionally, he was Executive Director of both the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, Ohio and the Massachusetts Council of Churches in Boston. Recently, he was the Organizer of the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone, an innovative network of congregation, public and private organizations. Presently, he is President of the interfaith Horizon Prison Ministry and its work in 3 Ohio prisons.
Sprague is a graduate of Ashland College (B.A. 1961), the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, (M.Div. 1965), and is the recipient of several honorary doctoral degrees, including from Ohio Wesleyan University and t he Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the recipient of the American Friends Service Committee’s “Courage of Conviction Award”, the Rainbow Push “Civil Rights/Peace Award”, and was the initial recipient of the “William Sloan Coffin Award for Justice and Peace.” He is co-author of a chapter in the seminary textbook, Pastor as Educator, and is the author of the 2002 book, Affirmations of a Dissenter.
Bible Study Leader
Dr. Stephen Moore
Dr. Stephen D. Moore is professor of New Testament at Drew Theological School. A native of Ireland, Dr. Moore received a PhD in New Testament from the University of Dublin (Trinity College) in 1986. He subsequently taught at Trinity, and also at Yale Divinity School, Wichita State University, and the University of Sheffield before coming to Drew in 1999. His research centers on the interface of biblical studies and other contiguous fields, especially literary studies, cultural studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and ecological studies.
Mark Andrew Miller
Mark Miller believes passionately that music can change the world. He also believes in Cornell West’s quote that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” His dream is that the music he composes, performs, teaches, and leads will inspire and empower people to create the beloved community.
Mark serves is Assistant Professor of Church Music at Drew Theological School and is a Lecturer in the Practice of Sacred Music at Yale University. He also is the Minister of Music of Christ Church in Summit, New Jersey. Since 1999 Mark has led music for United Methodists around the country, including directing music for the 2008 General Conference. His choral anthems are best sellers for Abingdon Press and his hymns are published in “Worship & Song”, “Sing! Prayer and Praise”, “Zion Still Sings”, “Amazing Abundance”, “The Faith We Sing”, and others.
Mark received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Yale University and his Master of Music in Organ Performance from Juilliard.
Rev. Tanya Linn Bennett, PhD.
An ordained elder in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Linn Bennett serves as the University Chaplain/Director of the Chapel and Religious Life at Drew University. Tanya is a Lecturer in the areas of emerging worship, educational ministries, and church and society, and has particular interest in the areas of worship, youth and urban ministries. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion; her work focused on the Millennium Generation in Christian church. Tanya served on the worship team for the United Methodist General Conference 2008 and is a delegate for the GNJAC in 2012. She leads worship for various national and global United Methodist events, and also facilitates workshops, retreats and seminars.