Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of The Next Evangelicalism; Many Colors; Prophetic Lament; co-author of Forgive Us; Return to Justice; and Unsettling Truths. Soong-Chan received his BA from Columbia University; his MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his ThM from Harvard University; his DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his ThD from Duke University. Rah is formerly the founding Senior Pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic church living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context. He has previously served on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners and the Christian Community Development Association.
I love cities and as such for over 30 years have designed and administered community and faith-based urban programs and have integrated those experiences into my training and facilitated learning contexts, particularly in the areas of community development, congregational redevelopment, intercultural programs, organizational and leadership development, ministry/nonprofit management and community youth development. I was the director of the Transformational Urban Leadership graduate program at Azusa Pacific Seminary and served as the Community Transformation Specialist with Compassion Creates Change, Inc.. I have also served with World Vision U.S. Programs and on the faculty at the Claremont School of Theology where I was the Director of the Urban Leadership Institute after serving fifteens years as part of the pastoral team at Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene (a multi-ethnic/multi-congregation church with a highly regarded community program and prominent youth program). I currently serve or have served on the boards and advisory councils of local and national community, ecumenical, nonprofit and academic organizations. I have earned degrees in biblical literature, religion and urban planning.
My wife, Tina, balances my admiration of the built environment by creating a sustainable environment where were live (a certified urban habitat)— growing much of the vegetables and fruit we eat and at one time cared for our chickens. Most recently she completed a 10 year stint as the president of a community land trust committed to sustainable living
Mayra grew up in East Los Angeles, and currently lives in Pasadena, CA. She serves on the pastoral staff of Lake Avenue Church, a large congregation that has been at the same location for over 120 years. She has spent the past 18 years leading in her local community and casting vision for Kingdom-neighbor-loving. Her love for the local and global church fuels her speaking and teaching focus on issues related to leadership, race/ethnicity, gender, faith, justice, and the Church. Mayra spends lots of time mentoring and learning from younger leaders in her church and community. She serves on various local and national boards and is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).
Rev. W. Tali Hairston, MAGL, is Director of Community Organizing, Advocacy, and Development at Seattle Presbytery. His work includes serving congregations and ministries in pursuit of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. He is father to four wonderful children, Isaiah, Kennadi, Lynia, and Jordan. He and his wife Crystal enjoy doing ministry together, going to plays and musicals, and being foodies. Along with an amazing community of friends, these are the true gifts of his life that encourage and strengthen him. For 17 years Tali served as the founding director of the John M. Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University. As a noted speaker, writer, consultant, researcher, and educator he is passionate about the work of organizational diversity and equity, public theology and policy studies, and social change. He has served on several boards and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Public Library.
“Rev. Dr. Cassie Trentaz is Associate Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Church History at Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon. She earned her PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary in Theology, Ethics, and the Human Sciences and has fifteen years of experience teaching in higher education in Chicago, Anderson, IN, and Portland, OR. Trentaz is the author of Theology in the Age of AIDS & HIV: Complicity and Possibility (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and the book and film project, Love in a Time of Fear: Hearing Our Neighbors Across Lines that Divide Us (Wipf & Stock, 2018, www.loveinatimeoffear.com). Invested in learning that is deeply contextual, Trentaz brings all of her identities as a parent, partner, neighbor, teacher, minister, community organizer, and low-key rascal into her work in each space, committed to inching, stumbling, and leaping toward glimpses of shalom in the world today following the lead of those often excluded.”
Andrea Smith is Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. She is also a faculty and board member of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies. She has an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, a PhD from UC Santa Cruz and a J.D. from UC Irvine. She is the author of Native Americans and the Christian Right, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, and Unreconciled: From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism (Duke). She is co-editor of several volumes including: Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness, Native Studies Keywords, and Theorizing Native Studies. She is also the author of 61 peer-reviewed articles.
A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Gabe Veas recently relocated to become the first Professor of Mentorship in the United States. With over a decade of experience as an academic, Veas is a prolific speaker and author, addressing the societal ills of the day through the mentoring lens. As a public theologian, Veas not only advocates for, but also models how to effectively implement intercultural mentoring as a means of community transformation. Veas has delved in deep on cutting edge areas such as protégé-initiated mentoring to inform how leaders can empower the next generation. As a passionate advocate for history-conscious mentoring, Veas has published on the topic of race and conciliation, regularly lecturing on how institutions can embody moral courage to marry the rhetoric of social justice with the practice of economic justice. He has also taught a graduate level course in Oxford, England as well as lectured at both Princeton University and Yale University
Leroy Barber has dedicated 30 years living and working towards what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”
Leroy starts projects that shape society. In 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife, Donna, founded Restoration Ministries to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997 he joined FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA working with the Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta, Community Life Church, South Atlanta Marketplace, and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta, as well as Green My Hood and The Voices Project. Leroy is an innovator, entrepreneur and lover of the arts.
Leroy is currently Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church serving the Greater NW area of the United Methodist Church. Leroy is the Co-Founder of the Voices Project and Adjunct professor at Kilns College and Multnomah University. Rev. Barber has served on the boards of The Simple Way, Missio Alliance, The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and the Former Board Chair of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).
Donna Barber, a native Philadelphian, has served as an educator, trainer and coach for urban youth and urban youth program leaders for more than 25 years. In Philadelphia and Atlanta, she worked to create and lead schools and youth programs that develop urban children to be spirit-led, socially aware, community-minded leaders. Donna has served with local churches, private and public schools and local non-profits. She holds degrees in Communications and Urban Teacher Leadership and has provided trainings and coaching for national organizations including Mission Year, CCDA, DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, Portland Leadership Foundation and several colleges and universities. Donna is the first African American to be elected to the David Douglas School Board, in Portland, Oregon, a member of the district and Regional School Board Equity Teams, and the recently published author of “Bread for the Resistance: A Devotional for Justice People,” released by IVP. She currently resides in Portland, OR with her husband, author, speaker, and Voices President, Leroy Barber and together they have six children.”
Jess Bielman has his Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC where his work focused on contextualizing theological education. He teaches classes specifically geared towards the formation of students. These classes range from preaching labs, community engagement labs, historic Christian spirituality, religion and culture, and others.
Jess has successfully become a pastoral presence for a generation of people who have said “no” to pastors in a traditional sense. He is a mentor to those who minister in the name of Jesus to a church that historically has not valued their perspectives. Jess prepares leaders to engage community in ways that honor the dignity of all people and cultures.
He has been mentored and engaged leaders in cultural work and developed initiatives that center the voices on the margins. He has worked with scholars and practitioners to co-constructed programs, curriculum, and content that analyzes theological and cultural issues impacting the thriving of church and community.