Holly Catterton Allen
Holly Catterton Allen leads InterGenerate, an international, cross-denominational gathering that focuses on intergenerational ministry. Her passion for bringing the generations together fueled her doctoral work (Talbot School of Theology, 2002) and led to her book, Intergenerational Christian Formation (IVP, 2012, with Christine Ross). Allen teaches family ministry and spiritual formation courses at Lipscomb University where she is professor of family studies and Christian ministries. She is married to Leonard Allen and they have three adult children and five grandchildren.
After an extensive career in broadcasting, Jennifer Allen (ACU graduate 1985) searched for answers when her oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficulty. Upon learning he had autism, she left her career to better understand the diagnosis and care for her child. The lack of information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide original, daily content for anyone seeking to live their best under the autism/Asperger’s diagnosis. Now a 501c3 non-profit, Aspergers101 has grown exponentially under the guidance of its CEO/Founder, with such programs as the televised documentary “Coping to Excelling”; securing Texas legislative laws that benefit those on the spectrum, such as the “Driving with Autism” initiative; leading numerous autism/Asperger conferences, state-wide training, and live-streaming workshops; and providing daily content on Aspergers101.org. Jennifer’s awards include the ACU Gutenberg Award, SABJ Small Nonprofit of the Year Award, United Way for Health and Wellness Volunteer of the Year Award and the ACU Distinguished Alumni Citation. Jennifer and Herb have been married 30 years and are so very proud of both their sons, Samuel and Charlie.
Leonard Allen serves as dean of the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He taught theology, ethics, and philosophy at the graduate and undergraduate level for over 20 years, serving as visiting professor at Biola University (La Mirada, California), adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and professor at Abilene Christian University. He has spoken widely on college campuses and in churches over the past 35 years on biblical, historical, and theological themes. He holds the Ph.D. in history of Christian thought from the School of Religion at the University of Iowa, he has authored numerous books, including The Cruciform Church: Becoming a Cross-Shaped Church in a Secular Age (anniversary edition), Distant Voices: Discovering a Forgotten Past for a Changing Church, and Things Unseen: Churches of Christ in (and after) the Modern Age. His most recent book is Poured Out: The Spirit of God Empowering the Mission of God (2018). His wife Holly is professor of family studies and ministry at Lipscomb. They are the parents of three grown children.
Cheryl Mann Bacon
Cheryl Mann Bacon served for 20 years as chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at ACU. Through this role and as a communications leader in churches where she has worshipped, she began a lifelong ministry of writing obituaries and assisting organizations in crisis. In retirement she is enjoying freelance writing and consulting, especially with churches.
Cliff Barbarick is an associate professor in the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. A realization that the biblical writings were composed to be heard (rather than read) has led him to alter the way he teaches these writings from the lectern or proclaims them from the pulpit. Students who take his classes can expect to internalize and tell large chunks of Scripture as a way to study closely God's word. In a recent class, for example, he and his students performed both the Gospel of Mark and 2 Corinthians from memory. His wife Tali works as a middle school counselor, and they are the proud parents of three children (14, 12, and 10 years old).
Taylor Belt is the worship arts and media minister at the Vancouver Church of Christ. Taylor has a music education degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, and before going into ministry he spent 10 years teaching band in Texas. He is a lifelong musician and loves to worship through creative media. He and his wife Kristi have two boys, Carter and Jackson.
Amy E. Black is professor of political science at Wheaton College in Illinois. She is a past president of Christians in Political Science and served as an APSA Congressional Fellow in the office of Representative Melissa A. Hart. She lives in Wheaton with her husband, theologian Dan Treier; daughter; and rescue dog.
Seth Bouchelle graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2013, where he completed degrees in mission studies and biblical text. He is now completing a graduate degree in Christian spirituality from Fordham University in NYC. Seth has been serving as a missionary catalyst with Global City Mission Initiative in NYC since 2014, focusing primarily on multiethnic, secular, and “post-Christian” communities in Manhattan and the Bronx. He serves as NYC team leader and is heavily involved in training churches, missionaries, and others in initiating spiritual conversations. Seth hosts the Global City Mission podcast and is the co-author of Mosaic: A Ministry Handbook for a Globalizing World.
John Boyles is an assistant professor in the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry and a member of the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. His current research focuses on the social history of the ancient Mediterranean as it can inform the study of the New Testament, especially the lived experience in groups and associations. He teaches courses in biblical interpretation and biblical languages. He and his wife Lauren came to Abilene in 2016.
A proud Dallasite, Jarie Bradley began fighting poverty with CitySquare in 2009. Jarie is an advocate for racial equity who believes that HR leaders play a critical role in the fight for social justice. Jarie was also recognized as a 2010 Exxon Mobil Community Champion for her service to the community and the non-profit sector. Jarie is an adjunct professor at El Centro College’s Conflict Management Center, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and an active mentor for young girls and women.
Gerald Britt joined CitySquare in September 2004 to further his lifelong work of serving those around him. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Metro Dallas Housing Alliance, Strong Schools Strong Dallas Co-Chair, Anti-Poverty Coalition Steering Committee, Texas Fair Lending Alliance, and Texas Healthy Initiative Public Policy Committee. He has been on the forefront of many social issues, including advocating for Parkland Hospital patients to receive better care to increasing voter turnout in South Dallas.
LJ Brodie is a junior musical theatre and dance major from Mesquite, Texas. He has been in productions in Abilene such as West Side Story, short films like The Brotherhood, and dance shows such as Struggle to Strength with Sanctify Hip Hop Co. When he’s not on stage, he is either listening to music, planning trips, or enjoying the beauty of nature.
Nicole Brown wanted to be a veterinarian in middle school, but now she finds herself serving as the director of middle school ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Midland, Texas. Two years ago, Nicole and her husband Larry moved to Midland from Edmond, Oklahoma, to fulfill her ministry call. Nicole attended the University of Central Oklahoma and began her ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City. When she is not busy walking her two dogs or hanging out with middle school students, you can find her at a local coffee shop reading or writing.
Laura Burnett is the worship minister at Montgomery Church of Christ in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Laura and her husband Jason have four girls, ranging from 2-18 years old. During the gender reveal of their last pregnancy, they learned their baby was missing a leg and potentially had many other issues. Through this dark season in their lives, Laura and Jason fought through the struggle of being present and transparent with their congregation, all while struggling to define their “new normal” and pressing in to the Lord.
Jason Byassee is the inaugural holder of the Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at Vancouver School of Theology, where he teaches preaching, Bible, leadership, church history, and writing. He studied at Davidson College and Duke University, where he earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology. He is a contributing editor to Christian Century magazine and was previously an executive director of leadership education at Duke Divinity School. He has served as a research fellow in the New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, Theology Today, Books & Culture, Sojourners, United Methodist Reporter, and First Things. He has served on boards for the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning, the School for Conversion, and The Other Journal. Jason writes on such diverse topics as theology, church history, politics, liturgy, popular culture, and spiritual practices. His primary vocation is to reinvigorate today’s church with the best of ancient and contemporary wisdom for creatively faithful living. He is the author or co-editor of 12 books, including Mentoring for Ministry: The Grace of Growing Pastors (Cascade, 2017) and Trinity: The God We Don't Know (Abingdon, 2015). He is married to Jaylynn Warren Byassee, who serves on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, and together they have three boys, ages 14, 13, and 10.
Terry Cagle is the executive director of Connecting Caring Communities, a local nonprofit that works in the under-resourced neighborhoods in Abilene.
When he was a young man with the “American Dream” in mind, Kilnam Cha immigrated to the United States in 1982. Two years later he accepted the Lord and started a long biblical training, receiving a M.Div. from ACU and a Ph.D. from Baylor. He is now living that American Dream as he teaches the Old Testament at ACU. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, but his true citizenship belongs to neither Korea nor the USA, but to the kingdom of God.
Sara Chaney is an ACU senior social work major from Fort Worth, Texas. She plans to pursue a career that aims to eliminate barriers to education for children, such as food insecurity or experiencing homelessness.
Patrick Chappell is the college and young adult minister at Otter Creek Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Patrick was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has an undergraduate degree in public relations and oral communication from Lipscomb University. He has completed some master's work in conflict management. Patrick has recently started a podcast called Patrick and is often asked to host or speak at gatherings all over the country. He is also a wedding DJ on the side and enjoys traveling, drinking good coffee, music, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Mike Cope is the director of ministry outreach for Pepperdine University, currently leading the school’s Thriving in Ministry project, funded by the Lilly Endowment. A minister for 34 years, he is the author of five books including Megan’s Secrets (2011), and has also served as the editor of Wineskins magazine. Mike preached at Abilene’s Highland Church of Christ for 18 years and taught as an adjunct professor at ACU for 15 of those. Mike and his wife, Diane, reside in Abilene and recently celebrated their 41st anniversary.
Darrin Cox graduated with a B.S.W. in 1989 from Abilene Christian University. In 1988 he began his career as a Juvenile probation officer at the Juvenile Probation Department of Taylor County, Texas. In 1993 he became a truant officer for Abilene Independent School District. In 2016 he became the homeless liaison and began a one-stop shop to help remove educational barriers to help homeless students maintain good attendance and achieve their goals of getting and education.
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford is the Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an active participant in the book of Psalms Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and is the Old Testament editor for the Word Biblical Commentary series. She is married to Steve, and they have two grown sons, a 10-year-old grandson, and two spoiled dogs.
David Dillman has taught in the ACU Department of Political Science for 35 years, teaching public administration, American politics, and public policy. Prior to coming to ACU he taught at New England College in New Hampshire. Dillman is currently director of the Jack Pope Fellows Program and Public Service academic minor.
Emmanuel Dominguez surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as a 13-year-old in Manhattan. He has been involved in ministry and youth leadership since he was 14. As a freshman in high school, he started a youth group that would gather every Wednesday night in his mother’s living room, which eventually grew to 50+ people on a consistent basis. Emmanuel is the co-founder of a dance company in New York City called Brave Movement. This company exists to create a quality dance experience that promotes authentic community, self-expression, and intentional living. Emmanuel currently serves as a youth minister with The Hills Church in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
Brad East is assistant professor of theology in the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University. He is the author of a number of essays and articles in both scholarly and popular venues, focusing especially on the doctrine of Scripture, theological interpretation of the Old Testament, ecclesiology, and the relationship between the church and the Jewish people. Brad and his wife, Katelin—who both hail from Austin, Texas—have four children: Sam, Rowan, Paige, and Liv.
Mitchell East is the preaching minister at University Avenue Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. He graduated from Abilene Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical text and a Master of Divinity.
Storyteller Pam Faro lives in Broomfield, Colorado, and has performed and taught since 1988, across the U.S. and overseas. Her diverse repertoire includes original retellings of multicultural folktales, bilingual cuentos, biblical storytelling, interfaith storytelling, and personal/historical narratives including the true story of her great-uncle who survived the sinking of the Titanic. A life-long Lutheran, Pam also served churches as music/choir director for 30 years. She received her B.A. in music with teacher certification from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology in Denver. An active member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers International (NBS), she has been editor of the Journal of Biblical Storytelling, teaches in the Academy for Biblical Storytelling, writes for The Biblical Storyteller magazine, and is a member of the NBS Seminar, a group composed of academics and performers developing a new paradigm for biblical scholarship called Performance Criticism. She guest-edited the “Interfaith Storytelling” issue of Storytelling Magazine in 2016. As a consultant and workshop leader, Pam uses storytelling in ministry settings and secular contexts alike.
Randy Fenter has been in Christian ministry for over 40 years, serving as the lead minister in Raton, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; Midland, Texas; and Cedar Park, Texas. While serving with the Golf Course Road Church in Midland, Randy’s first wife Gail died of a brain tumor. A couple years later he met Karen, who had served in Brazil for 15 years with her late husband Eugene Goudeau. Randy and Karen met, married, moved, and started a new ministry, all in the same month. They often say, “We’re not too bright!” Now 20 years later, their five children and 13 grandchildren live within minutes of them. Randy is the co-founder of Christian Leader Coaching and of Christian Leader Renewals.
Douglas A. Foster
Douglas A. Foster is scholar in residence at Abilene Christian University, where he taught church history and directed the Center for Restoration Studies from 1991-2017. His work has centered on the history and theology of Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, Christian unity, the ideology of white supremacy in Christianity, and efforts to effect racial unity. Eerdmans will publish his biography of Alexander Campbell in early 2020. Doug and his wife Linda have two children, Mary Elizabeth Riedel and Mark, and two grandchildren.
George Gallindo is a recent ACU graduate and current youth minister at New Beginnings Church in Houston, Texas. He loves working with teenagers and loves beating them in competitions even more. His favorite part of youth ministry is seeing God work through his teens. He resides in Houston with his beautiful wife Stephanie and his two crazy dogs.
Eric Gentry, his wife Lindsey, and their two boys, have been at Highland Church of Christ in Memphis since 2012, where he serves as associate preaching minister. Eric has a B.A. in biblical text and a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. He writes regularly for the Mosaic blog on topics ranging from preaching and ministry to social justice. Eric is also a board member for HopeWorks, an organization that provides hope and job training to the chronically unemployed and formerly incarcerated in Memphis.
Randy Gill is an associate professor of worship ministry and the assistant dean of the College of Entertainment and the Arts at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Before coming to Lipscomb in December 2018, Randy served as the worship minister at the Otter Creek Church in Brentwood, Tennessee; Campus Church in Atlanta, Georgia; and Woodmont Hills Church in Nashville. Prior to that Randy worked for 13 years at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he served as an associate professor of music and associate director of church relations. He has also served on the faculties of Rochester University and Oklahoma Christian University. Randy is a successful songwriter and arranger whose work is used by churches across the United States. In addition to his activities as a worship leader, teacher, and musician, Randy is a popular speaker at churches, conferences and retreats. He was a founding member of the ZOE Group and remains active in their annual conferences, recordings, and publishing projects. Randy has degrees from Rochester University, Harding University, University of Michigan, and the University of Southern California. He has been married to LaJuana Case Gill since 1976 and they have an adult son named Christopher.
James L. Gorman
James L. Gorman is associate professor of history at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he resides with his wife and two daughters. He earned his M.Div. from ACU and his Ph.D. from Baylor University. His research interests include history of Christianity, Stone-Campbell Movement history, and race relations. James authored Among the Early Evangelicals (ACU Press, 2017) and co-edited Slavery’s Long Shadow: Race and Reconciliation in American Christianity (Eerdmans, 2019). He also serves as assistant editor of Stone-Campbell Journal.
Stanley E. Granberg
Stanley E. Granberg is executive director of Kairos: Church Planting, helping new churches begin across the country. Stan founded the Kairos ministry in 2005 as a resource to help reach God’s lost people with the good news of Jesus through new churches. Dr. Granberg is also a founding board member of the Heritage 21 Foundation. He has taught on the faculties of Harding School of Theology, Cascade College, and Lubbock Christian University. Stan planted churches in Meru, Kenya (1983-1993). Stan is a graduate of Harding University, Harding Graduate School of Religion, Fuller Theological Seminary and he received his Ph.D. from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, Oxford, England.
Darren Hagood recently completed his Master of Divinity degree with ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, and he is the lead pastor for Long Beach Church of Christ in Long Beach, California. Darren is also a rap artist and uses his academic work as fodder for his musical content. Darren is married to Gloria Hagood, who is also a recent graduate.
Gloria Hagood is a Master of Divinity graduate at Abilene Christian University and a member of Long Beach Church of Christ. Much of her graduate work was spent exploring how Deutero-Isaiah’s view of Yahweh’s universal dominion in justice and righteousness speaks to the contemporary theological challenges arising from mass incarceration. She enjoys learning about how Christianity and the African American culture intersect. She spent past summers working with low-income youth through the Summer Blaze Wellness Camp with the hopes of allowing her academic work to be realized practically. She is married to Darren Hagood.
Mel Hailey completed his undergraduate studies at Abilene Christian University and received a Master of Arts and Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. He has taught at Abilene Christian University for 45 years in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. Dr. Hailey is the university’s pre-law advisor, and he is active in regional and national pre-law organizations, including past service as president of the Southwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors and chairperson of the Pre-Law Advisors National Council. He was the founding director of the Jack Pope Fellows Program for students pursuing a career in public service, and he currently is a scholar consultant for the Law-Related Education Program of the State Bar of Texas.
Mark Hamilton teaches courses in biblical Hebrew and Old Testament at ACU. After ministering several years in congregations in Connecticut and Massachusetts and serving as a teaching assistant at Harvard and adjunct professor at Stonehill College, Mark moved to ACU in 2000. His articles and reviews have appeared in many major journals. He is a board member of Review of Biblical Literature, Restoration Quarterly, and Kairos (Croatia).
Stephanie Hamm is an associate professor of social work, and has been at ACU for 11 years. Prior to teaching, Stephanie practiced in clinical social work, mostly with women and children. As a teacher, Stephanie continues to collaborate with the surrounding community and many entities across campus to enhance equitable teaching and learning.
Randy Harris is spiritual director for the College of Biblical Studies and Siburt Institute for Church Ministry, where he leads the Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative. As a professor in the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry at ACU, he has earned numerous faculty awards. He previously taught at Lipscomb University, and he holds degrees from Harding University, Harding Graduate School of Theology, and Syracuse University. His areas of expertise are modern theology and ethics. He was the preaching minister for 10 years at the Donelson Church of Christ in Nashville, and for two years at South 11th and Willis Church of Christ in Abilene. Randy has authored three books, God Work, Soul Work, and Living Jesus. He is a spiritual director trained and certified by the Shalem Institute.
Courtney Hernandez is a doctoral student in ACU’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program and a member of the Center for Vocational Development Fellows program. She has nearly a decade’s worth experience in educational advising, working with students of all ages in a variety of public, private, and parochial schools. Courtney current resides in Dallas, where she enjoys trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep her house plants alive, watching baseball with her husband Ben, and singing “Baby Shark” with her daughter Isla.
Allen D. Hertzke is the David Ross Boyd Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma. Between 2008 and 2010 he served as lead consultant for the John Templeton Foundation to develop strategic recommendations for advancing religious freedom around the globe. An internationally recognized expert on religion and politics, he served as Associate Scholar of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project.
Mark Hewitt is the co-founder and executive director of Love & Care Ministries in Abilene. Over the past 25 years, he has been reaching the homeless and poor in his community. He is also the founder of the homeless church The Mission. He travels around Texas preaching and teaching evangelism and outreach to churches. He has been married for 38 years to his wife Kerri and has two children and two grandchildren.
Mo Isom is the New York Times best-selling author of Wreck My Life: Journeying from Broken to Bold and Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot. She is a nationally sought-after speaker, a popular faith-based blogger, a former All-American soccer goalkeeper and the first female to have trained with and tried out for an SEC men’s football team. She is widely recognized as a powerful female voice for her generation and her unique personal story and athletic endeavors provide her with a platform to challenge, encourage, and equip others to live boldly, despite their circumstances.
From August 1994 until the present, Larry James has provided executive leadership for CitySquare, most recently as CEO. James has been involved in developing and implementing holistic, justice-focused approaches to congregational and community service and outreach throughout his career. James, a Texas native, is married to the former Brenda Erwin, and they have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.
Kent Jobe is originally from Early, Texas, and is a 1996 graduate of Harding University. He received his master’s degree in ministry from Southern Christian (now Amridge) University in Montgomery, Alabama, and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree through the Harding School of Theology in Memphis. Since June 2001, Kent has served the College Avenue church of Christ in El Dorado, Arkansas—first as the youth and family minister, then as the discipleship minister, and now as the senior/preaching minister. Kent and his wife Cara have three children: Derek, Austin, and Brylee.
Shawn D. Johnson
Shawn D. Johnson is the minister at the Cisco Church of Christ and the campground director at Lake Cisco Christian Camp. In his library there is a copy of the 1922-1923 Abilene Christian College Lectureship Book that was passed down to him from his grandfather. He is the voice of the Cisco Loboes football games. He and his wife Robyn have three children: Alyssa, Zack (married to Kali), and Heather.
John Knox has been the preaching minister for the Granbury Church of Christ since 2004. He completed his B.A. at Lubbock Christian University and his D.Min. at ACU. In 2017, he completed an M.S. in clinical mental health counseling at LCU. John and his wife Jan have been married for 35 years and have three adult sons. John has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is currently serving the Granbury Police Department and volunteers for the Texas Department of Public Safety as well.
Alan J. Lipps has been on faculty at ACU since 2007, working primarily with the M.S.S.W. program in the School of Social Work. His teaching has been in the areas of research, thesis, practice, psychopathology, spirituality, and globalization. He frequently serves as a thesis chair and, to date, has chaired approximately 50 theses. He also contributes technical expertise with computer equipment and software, mentors student research, and provides clinical knowledge and knowledge of research methods to this effort.
Jennifer Long has been the executive director of Casa Marianella for 21 years. She has a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in social philosophy from a Christian perspective and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in ESL. For the past 34 years Jennifer has been working with people seeking asylum in Austin. At Casa Marianella, she leads a team of young volunteers who provide shelter, ESL classes, legal services, and case management to people from 36 different countries who have come to the U.S. border seeking safety. Jennifer is currently working to find more hosting groups around the country who can help provide support and hospitality.
Jared Looney grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. He attended Abilene Christian University from 1991 to 1996, completing an undergraduate degree in missions. While serving in a multiethnic community with Impact Houston Church of Christ, Jared completed a graduate degree in theological studies with Houston Graduate School of Theology. He later completed a Doctor of Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2010. He served as an urban missionary in The Bronx (New York City) for 15 years and is the founding director of Global City Mission Initiative. He is the author of Crossroads of the Nations: Diaspora, Globalization, & Evangelism, named a top 15 mission studies text of 2015, and co-author of Mosaic: A Ministry Handbook for a Globalizing World. Jared also teaches as an adjunct professor and is often called upon to address global trends facing the church and missions issues. He currently lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife and daughter.
Susanna Lubanga was raised in Heidelberg, Germany, and moved to Abilene to attend ACU, where she graduated with a degree in political science. As a third culture child, she quickly found her passion for serving vulnerable refugees through her work at the International Rescue Committee, where she is the director of the Abilene office. Susanna is married to Kenyan native Joell, and they have two children. Susanna is a graduate of Leadership Abilene, and she is actively involved in the children's ministry at Highland Church of Christ, coaches youth soccer, and serves on the political science department’s visiting committee and the local Women’s Health advisory board. Her life’s motto is Prov. 31:8: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute.”
Suzie Macaluso did her undergraduate degree in sociology, psychology, and Bible at Cascade College and her Master of Science, graduate certificate in survey research, and Ph.D. in sociology at Purdue University. She came to ACU in 2011 and is currently an associate professor of sociology and the director of the Pruett Gerontology Center at ACU. Suzie is an active member at Minter Lane Church of Christ, where she regularly teaches children and adult Bible classes. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cheering on ACU sports, and traveling.
Jonathan Malesic is a writer, teacher, and public intellectual who focuses on the intersections of work, religion, and education. His writing on work has appeared in The New Republic, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hedgehog Review, America, Commonweal, and elsewhere. Jonathan teaches first-year writing at Southern Methodist University, and he is currently writing a book on burnout. He and his wife live in Dallas.
Stephen Maxwell serves at the North Atlanta Church of Christ as a worship and communications minister. He is passionate about worship and sharing the good news of Christ through singing, speaking, and teaching. Stephen has served in local congregations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, and Tennessee, and holds a Master of Arts in Christian ministry from Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tennessee. Stephen has worked with the internationally-known Christian music group Acappella for the past 19 years, touring Europe, Africa, South America, and the continental United States. Stephen and his family share a passion for worship and ministry with young adults and college students. They have worked closely with universities in Arlington, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Florence, Alabama; and Memphis, Tennessee. Stephen is married to Alasha, his wife of 19 years, and they have three boys: Jonah, Judah, and Josiah. Stephen loves to sing and spend time with his family.
Wilson McCoy has served as the associate minister at the College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon, Tennessee, for the past eight years working with young professionals, preaching and teaching, and small groups. Before arriving there he served churches in Nashville, Tennessee; Ballinger, Texas; and Brisbane, Australia. In May 2016 Wilson completed his Doctor of Ministry with Lipscomb University with his work focusing on intergenerational spiritual formation. He is married to his best friend Jessica and they enjoy traveling and taking walks in their local park.
Vic McCracken is associate professor of ethics and theology at Abilene Christian University, where has served on faculty since 2008. When Vic is not teaching ACU undergraduates how to think about ethics he is probably working with local students in the afterschool scholastic chess program he has run for 10 years. He and his wife Tara have three children, Theo (age 20), Naomi (age 17), and Gabriel (age 15).
Heather Melchor is the McKinney-Vento Social Worker for Abilene ISD. She provides case management for the unaccompanied and homeless students in the district. She received her bachelor’s from HSU and her master’s from ACU, both in social work. She and her husband Lee have four children (Zach, Diandra, Sam, and Chloe) and one granddaughter (Mylo).
Dr. Steven T. Moore received his bachelor’s in English from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. are from the University of Nebraska. He has received several teaching and scholarly awards, including three Teacher of the Year awards, the Students’ Association Outstanding Faculty Member, and two Mentor of the Year awards. He is an English professor who teaches undergraduate, graduate, and honors courses at Abilene Christian University. He is the author of The Cry of Black Rage in African American Literature: From Frederick Douglass to Richard Wright as well as a best-selling children’s book entitled Theodore Thumbs and its sequel, Theodore Thumbs and the Yellow Balloon.
Tquan Moore currently lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and is a student worship minister at the Hills Church in North Richland Hills, Texas. Tquan has been involved in ministry for approximately 25 years. He is ever so thankful to God for his family, which consists of his wife Leahanna and his children Cady, Cianna, and Corban. Transformed lives are at the center of Tquan’s hope for the world. So whether he leading as a student minister, worship minister, family man or neighbor, his hope is that through the Spirit’s work the world will become more and more of what God has in mind.
Jake Mulder is the director of strategic initiatives at the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he oversees business administration, coordinates new research, develops resources, and helps the team think strategically. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity) and Western Michigan University (Bachelor of Business Administration in finance) and is pursuing a Ph.D. at Fuller. Passionate about helping individuals and organizations achieve their full potential, he is the co-author of Growing Young (2016). Jake has worked in a variety of ministry and professional roles, including as a financial analyst, youth pastor in the Reformed Church of America, ministry director with Youth for Christ, and missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Europe and Asia.
April B. Napier
April B. Napier serves as director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Abilene Christian University. She holds a master’s in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and is currently pursuing a doctorate in social work from University of Southern California. Coming from a diverse background, she seeks to create models combining empirical research and experiential testimonies to provide intervention strategies, empowerment, education, awareness, and restoration through societal challenges in a therapeutic and empathetic manner. April has conducted work in juvenile justice and adult male incarceration reform, diversity and inclusion initiatives, cultural awareness and trainings, and community efficacy and reform. She also was an assistant professor in social work at Lincoln University, serving to enhance the educational experience and create an inclusive learning environment for students and teachers. April has created a platform for artistic expression and collective healing. She uses her artistic nature to share her testimony and empower others to collectively share, express, and heal. Joining the movement of “artivism,” she uses artistic expression to address social justice concerns within society, as well as shining light on bridging the gap in identity disparities.
Jim Nichols retired last May from a 47-year career as a biology professor, the last 37 years at Abilene Christian. His scientific academic interests are in physiology and cell biology. He also serves as a chaplain with Hendrick Medical Center and Kindred Hospice. For many years he was involved in developing and instructing the ACU course in Biomedical Ethics; he has also written and published in that area. His wife Jeanenne is a certified spiritual director. They have three children (Amy, Joel, and Elizabeth) and seven grandchildren. He serves an elder for the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene.
Cooper Osburn is a junior at ACU, pursuing a degree in biblical text. He is a member and a past intern at South Side Baptist Church in Abilene. His eventual hope is to pursue his passion for the preaching of the word of God through either pastoral ministry or missions. He loves reading, whether that is the Bible, fiction or theology. He is a member of Sub T-16 and is the youngest of three brothers. During his Biblical Interpretation class with Cliff Barbarick, he learned to love the word of God in a deeper way through the oral performance of the word. Cooper's passion is to continue to grow more deeply in his communion with the Lord, his knowledge of God’s word, and his service to the church.
J. Omar Palafox
J. Omar Palafox is a Mexican missionary from Guadalajara. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a master’s in ministry from Lubbock Christian University, and a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. Today he is a Ph.D. candidate in intercultural studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. In his experience, he has been a mentor, teacher, coach, and disciple maker in Latin America and the United States. His ministry is the expansion of ASHREI, a resource network for spiritual formation, while he teaches in Lubbock high school as a world languages professor ministering at the Colgate Bilingual Church of Christ. He has been married to his wife Tana for over 20 years, and together they have two children, Emma and Maicah. He is a Hulk and soccer fan.
Glenn Pemberton is a minister turned professor turned writer. He taught at Oklahoma Christian University before coming to Abilene Christian University, where health led him to retire as professor emeritus in 2017. Glenn now spends his time writing for the church. Glenn and his wife Dana live in Abilene, Texas.
Lynette Sharp Penya
Lynette Sharp Penya is the chair of the Department of Communication and Sociology and professor of communication at Abilene Christian University. Her teaching and research interests include crisis communication, persuasion and social influence, and gender and religion. She earned degrees in communication from the University of Kansas (Ph.D.), the University of Illinois (M.A.), and Abilene Christian University (B.A.).
Gema Pérez will receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in graphic design, in May 2020. Gema is a Xicana (Mexican American who embraces her ‘mexicanidad’), and a first-generation college student who is determined to promote her passion for her culture, diversity, all things empowerment, and unity through the power of art and design.
Amy Peterson serves as the director of Scripture from the Heart, a ministry of Highpoint Fellowship in Cedar Park, Texas. Scripture from the Heart is a unique weekly presentation of Scripture from a varying cast of church members of all ages, each one having memorized and studied large portions. Ten years ago, Amy began the work of memorizing bulk chapters of Scripture and presenting it dramatically as a tool to teach Bible class. Since then, Amy has memorized more than 30 chapters, including three full books. Amy is married to Eric Peterson and they have two teenagers.
Dr. James Petrovich is associate professor and chair of the Department of Social Work at Texas Christian University. He completed a bachelor’s in social work at Mississippi College in 2000, a master’s in social work at New York University in 2003, and the social work doctoral program at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2009. As a practicing social worker, Dr. Petrovich has worked in substance abuse, mental health, and homeless assistance setting. His research focuses on homelessness, specifically the use of health services by people experiencing homelessness.
Amanda Pittman is an assistant professor of Bible and ministry at Abilene Christian University. Her overlapping research interests—the formation of scriptural imagination, Luke-Acts, and Christian formation in congregational contexts—all coalesce around one central question: how are communities formed as disciples in the encounter between bodies and Bibles? With a Th.D. in Christian education and New Testament from Duke, she teaches both general education and upper-level courses in those areas. She lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and young son, where she worships and serves with the Minter Lane Church of Christ.
Holly Racca is the middle school student minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. She attended Abilene Christian University, graduating in 2013 with a degree in children and family ministry. Since graduating she has been at Southern Hills spending her days working with and for teenagers and their families. She is passionate about helping students experience grace and find a place to belong in a faith community. Holly is married to Wes and they have one son, Henry.
Carson E. Reed
Dr. Carson E. Reed is vice president for church relations at Abilene Christian University and executive director of the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. He also serves as the Director for the Doctor of Ministry program and holds the Frazer Endowed Chair for Church Enrichment as an associate professor of practical theology in the Graduate School of Theology. Through the Siburt Institute, Carson does consulting work on governance, transitions, and new ecclesial forms with congregations and church leaders. His teaching and research focus on practical theology with a particular emphasis on leadership, preaching, and issues surrounding faith and culture. Carson and his wife Vickie have been married over 35 years and have four adult children.
Ben Ries is the associate dean for vocational formation and director of the Center for Vocational Formation at Abilene Christian University’s Dallas campus. With over 18 years of ministry experience in the Pacific Northwest, Ben’s work focuses on helping working professionals experience their work as meaningful and connected to the life and mission of God. He and his wife Jen live in Dallas with their three children, Emma, Aiden and Izzy.
Beverly Ross, M.A., LPC-S, is the founder and executive director of Wise County Christian Counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor. She is a sought-after speaker and an international advocate for women’s ministries. She frequently conducts workshops about finding and experiencing God’s light when the way gets dark and about learning to walk in God’s freedom. After losing her daughter due to sudden illness in 2010, Beverly founded a grief center named Jenny’s Hope to help others work through sorrow.
Matthew Ruffner became senior pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in April of 2015. Matthew currently serves on the Austin Seminary Board and was the recipient of the Zick Preaching Award, which recognizes outstanding young preachers in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016. He also serves on the Day 1 Advisory Board and recently served on the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Board of Trustees.
Matthew San Miguel
Matthew San Miguel is a youth and family ministry major at ACU. He is a senior and chaplain for the Men of Trojans social club on campus. He is active in the youth ministry at Southern Hills Church of Christ. Matthew currently plans to pursue a graduate degree in theology, and he is applying to multiple schools in and out of state for this period of his life. He cares deeply about knowledge and learning as well as the importance of youth in the church body.
Emily Sanchez is a senior at ACU, where she is majoring in Christian ministry. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in worship ministry. Emily has grown up using the arts such as singing, dancing, and theater to bring glory to God’s name, and she first learned about biblical storytelling in the Biblical Interpretation class that she took her junior year. Emily is excited about storytelling as it incorporates her faith and her love of theater. She has now had the opportunity to explore the Psalms in terms of biblical storytelling with the help of Cliff Barbarick and her fellow students.
Chelsie Sargent is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor specializing in the Enneagram, a personality profile that helps individuals have a greater understanding of themselves and how to relate best to the people around them. In addition to one-on-one Enneagram conversations in the counseling setting, Chelsie works regularly with business executives, professionals, and church leaders, teaching them mindfulness of how their Enneagram type affects their workplace. In her counseling she sees a wide range of people, specifically working with young professionals as they learn to navigate mindful, healthy living as they transition into adulthood. She holds a B.A. in History from Abilene Christian University, an M.Ed. in counseling and human development from Hardin Simmons University, and is certified in the Enneagram Spectrum Training with Dr. Jerry Wagner. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Professional Counseling.
Malcolm E. Scott is M.S.S.W. program director and assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Abilene Christian University. Malcolm’s research interests focus on youth and community development, urban education and community-engaged scholarship, issues facing vulnerable populations, and higher education access and opportunity for students of color. He has worked collaboratively to address disproportional school discipline practices and is a supporter of alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
David Sessions is a Seattle native who currently works in student ministry at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He is a graduate of ACU and Lipscomb University. He is married to Kristin and they have two children, Cale and Clara Mae.
Eddie Sharp recently retired as the preaching minister for the University Avenue Church of Christ in Austin, Texas, where he had served since 2008. They trained under Ruth Haley Barton in her Transforming Center retreats and are part of a team leading spiritual formation retreats in Austin now. Eddie and Annette have been involved in counseling ministers and their families through the years, working as a part of the first generation of the Ministers’ Support Network.
R. Mark Shipp
R. Mark Shipp is the Pat E. Harrell Professor of Old Testament at Austin Graduate School of Theology, Austin, Texas. Since 2003 he has been involved in the archaeological excavation at Tel Tamar/En Hazeva, Israel. He is the editor of Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today (vols. 1 and 2) from ACU Press. He is married to Sheree Shipp and has two daughters, Sarah and Rachel.
John Siburt serves as the president and chief operating officer and oversees ACU@CitySquare, a partnership between CitySquare and Abilene Christian University. He joined CitySquare in August 2012 as the assistant vice president of programs. He has served on the board of Christian Works for Children, the advisory board for New Friends/New Life, and on the leadership team of the Dallas Justice Revival.
B. Chris Simpson
B. Chris Simpson is passionate about multicultural ministry and helping to heal race relations in our society. He ministers at the Holmes Road Church of Christ, a multiracial congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. He has a passion to care for the local congregation, the community, and the “emerging generation.” B. Chris has worked in children’s, youth, campus, young adult and preaching ministries in Dallas, St. Louis, and Memphis. He has served on the board of different community organizations that emphasize education and urban renewal. He currently serves on the board of Hope Works Inc., a non-profit organization that offers education and skills to the under-resourced and previously incarcerated in Shelby County, Tennessee. He is privileged to have traveled throughout the country for 13 years speaking to churches and organizations on a number of topics. He and his wife Halley have two children, Elle and Grey.
Sam Souder serves as the worship minister at the Monterey Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, where he and his wife Tara have lived for the last several years. He graduated from ACU with a degree in worship ministry in 2010 and is currently working on his master’s in worship studies from Dallas Baptist University. An avid musician, Sam has arranged songs that are sung in churches of Christ all over the country. He is passionate about worship and the church and how our corporate worship services can have lasting impact during the week.
Bradley Steele has a B.A. in history and a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. Since 2016, he and his wife Rebecca have been members of University Church of Christ in Abilene, where he serves as a minister.
Takuma Tsuneki is a junior studying English with a Bible minor. He has served as the chaplain for ACU’s International Student Association (ISA) and enjoys worshipping with people from a variety of backgrounds. Though he was born in Japan, Takuma lived in the U.S. for several years as a child, and he hopes to use this experience and the variety of other experiences he has had of various international cultures to serve God and the church.
Lauren Smelser White
Lauren Smelser White is assistant professor of theology at Lipscomb University. She holds a Ph.D. in theological studies from Vanderbilt University, as well as degrees in English from Abilene Christian University (M.A., 2006) and Harding University (B.A., 2004). Lauren’s research focuses on the theological intersections of hermeneutics and material culture, and she teaches courses in Lipscomb’s College of Bible and Ministry and its Hazelip School of Theology. She and her husband Jason have two children.
Jackson Womack is a junior fine arts major and a graphic design minor, with a concentration in painting. Jackson has been heavily involved in the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ events and was the president of Voice during the 2018-2019 school year. His mission here at ACU is to help support, educate, and inspire through kindness, clarity, and respect. Born in La Gomera, Guatemala, Jackson was adopted and raised in the States but always remembers his roots and does what he can to support and reach out to other minority students on campus, treating them with the love God calls us all to show each other.
Dr. Shane J. Wood is a professor of New Testament studies and the associate academic dean at Ozark Christian College. He was named one of Christian Standard’s “40 Leaders Under 40” (July 2013) and also recognized by Theology Degrees Online as one of the “100 Remarkable Professors & Scholars Theology Students Should Know About.” His book, Between Two Trees, challenges us to embrace hope, love, and the beauty of reconciliation at the true tree of life: the cross of Calvary. Shane completed his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and lives with his family in Joplin, Missouri.
Austin Wright is the pulpit minister at the Nocona Church of Christ in Nocona, Texas. Austin earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Christian ministry at Abilene Christian University. Currently, Austin is pursuing his D.Min. at Fuller University. Austin’s leadership focuses on re-imagining how the church can partner with God reconciling the world by rooting itself in its local geography and context.
Danny Yencich is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. His dissertation applies a performance approach to the emergence of the written Gospel tradition in the first century. As an adjunct instructor at Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan, and in ministry among area Stone-Campbell churches, Danny enjoys leading engaged learners in bridging the horizons of the biblical text and the pressing concerns of the contemporary church and world. He and his wife Naomi have one lovely toddler Zoey Grace.
Copyright 2019 by Siburt Institute for Church Ministry and Abilene Christian University. All rights reserved.