Bishop Sharma Denise Lewis is the Episcopal Leader of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Prior to her election, she served as the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District in the North Georgia Conference. Bishop Lewis, a second-career pastor, has a distinguished record of service beginning in the North Georgia Conference with her first appointment in 1999 as the Associate (and subsequently Senior Associate) Pastor of the 8,000 member Ben Hill UMC in Atlanta.
In 2004, she was appointed as the first African-American and first female Senior Pastor of the Powers Ferry UMC, a cross-racial assignment in Marietta, GA. In 2007, Reverend Lewis became Senior Pastor of Wesley Chapel in McDonough, GA. During her threeyear tenure, over 600 new and restored members were added to Wesley Chapel, and worship attendance doubled. Her visibility as a strong spiritual and pastoral leader propelled her into numerous leadership roles in the local community, including Hands on Henry County and Many Hearts, Many Hands McDonough. Reverend Lewis’ remarkable pastoral leadership at Wesley Chapel enabled her to receive the Harry Denman Award for Evangelism in 2010, as well as the G. Ross Freeman Leadership Award. An Elder in Full Connection in the North Georgia Conference, Reverend Lewis has offered her gifts to The United Methodist Church in a variety of ways. Presently, she serves as a Board member of the Wesley Woods Foundation, United Methodist Children’s Home, Breakthru House, Branan Tower Advisory Board, Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Intentional Growth Center, Committee on Coordination and Accountability, SEJ Committee on the Episcopacy, North Georgia COE, and as the Cabinet Representative for United Methodist Women, the Executive Committee on Church Development and the Committee for Equitable Compensation. Reverend Lewis has served as a Chairperson of the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee, Chairperson of the District Superintendency Committee (Griffin District), Vice-Chairperson of the Wesley Woods Foundation Board, Vice-Chairperson of the North Georgia Church Development Committee, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, Bishop’s Task Force, Reserve Delegate to SEJ Jurisdictional Conference (2008), Delegate to the World Methodist Conference (2011), and member of Black Clergywomen of The United Methodist Church.
In June 2011, the North Georgia Conference honored Bishop Lewis by electing her as the first African-American female to lead the Delegation to the 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. In 2015 she was once again voted to lead the Delegation to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The members of the North Georgia Conference Delegation have unanimously endorsed her as their episcopal nominee. Reverend Lewis was born and raised in Statesboro, Georgia in a loving Methodist family where individuals have answered God’s call to serve the church and to minister to God’s people. A graduate of Mercer University (B.S., Biology, 1985), the University of West Georgia (M.S., Biology, 1988), and Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (M.Div., 1999), Reverend Lewis worked as a research biologist and chemist prior to surrendering to God’s call upon her life. Active in the community, she was a vital part of the Metro State Women’s Prison Women of Faith Bible Study and Worship Services, Peachtree Pine Homeless Shelter, and has led mission experiences to Jamaica, Kenya and the Philippines. Bishop Lewis is a member of the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She has received the Delta Sigma Theta Pinnacle Award and the Torch Award. She is the recipient of the 2014 Gammon Theological Seminary Distinguished Alumna Award.
Reverend Telley Lynnette Gadson, the President of the National Black Clergy Women of the United Methodist Church (BCWUMC), is the only daughter of the Honorable Herbert Gadson and “Missionary” Linda Dingle Gadson, and was born on February 28, 1974. A native of Hollywood, South Carolina, Reverend Gadson is a sister, an aunt, and a friend to many. A fall 1995 graduate of the University of South Carolina, she was named to the Dean’s List, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Religious Studies. In the spring of 1999, she graduated from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) with a Master of Divinity degree and Certification in Black Church Studies. On Sunday, November 29, 1992, Reverend Gadson answered God’s call on her life for ministry after preaching her first sermon entitled, “What’s Your Persuasion?” She is an ordained Elder, in full Connection, in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. From June 13, 1999 to June 16, 2004, Reverend Gadson served as the Pastor of two Churches: Mount Zion and Saint Mark United Methodist Churches (Sumter, South Carolina).
During Reverend Gadson’s tenure, Mount Zion experienced spiritual growth and purchased a 25-passenger shuttle bus. Simultaneously, Saint Mark experienced spiritual growth, more than tripled its membership, more than quadrupled its financial stewardship, made structural improvements to the Church, and purchased 20.6 acres of land. On June 16, 2004, major milestones were reached when Saint Mark became a “station church appointment,” and Reverend Gadson became the Church’s first full-time Pastor. After years of planning and sacrifice, Saint Mark UMC celebrated Ground-Breaking on the construction of a new edifice in September of 2009; and by God’s grace, on Sunday, April 11, 2010, Saint Mark UMC celebrated the Consecration of a new church building designed for worship, study, and fellowship. Reverend Gadson has been blessed by God with an anointing that has enabled her to share on local, state-wide, regional, and national platforms; from Hollywood, South Carolina (her hometown) to Tacoma, Washington. In February of 2007, Reverend Gadson lifted the Morning Meditation at the South Carolina Prayer Breakfast in honor of thenPresidential Candidate, Senator Barack Obama (now President Obama). In December of 2010 and in April of 2011, Reverend Gadson was a special guest at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama. In November 2011, she served as one of 3 worship preachers at the inaugural joint-conference of the NAACP and the National Baptist Convention (Saint Louis, Missouri).
Reverend Gadson is a member of the SC Delegation for the 2012 and 2016 General and SEJ Jurisdictional Conferences of the UMC, and served as a keynote presenter at the 2012 School of Congregational Development sponsored by the United Methodist Church (Saint Louis, Missouri). In 2014, she was appointed to the SC Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Most recently, she has become a published author as the 2016 writer of the African American History Month Daily Devotional for the United Methodist Church with a journal entitled, “Don’t Forget Who You Are!”
On June 26, 2013, after 14 years with Saint Mark UMC (Sumter, SC), Reverend Gadson began a new journey in ministry as the Senior Pastor of Saint Mark and Saint Matthew United Methodist Churches (Taylors/Greenville, SC). After only one year in this appointment, God blessed Reverend Gadson with the favor of effective ministry to lead both congregations into becoming “station church appointments!” This historic opportunity moved both churches, after sharing ministers for 148 years, to having their own respective pastors. By this same token, on June 25, 2014, Reverend Gadson became the first full time Senior Pastor in the history of Saint Mark United Methodist Church (Taylors, South Carolina), where she continues to serve God and God’s people with F.I.R.E. – Faith, Inspiration, Redemption, and Excellence! Affectionately known as “PASTOR T,” Reverend Gadson is a member of numerous church-related, community, academic, and national organizations; including the African American Clergywomen’s Caucus, the NAACP, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. With sensitivity and a warm smile as her hallmarks, Reverend Telley Lynnette Gadson is recognized as a ministry mentor, a church leadership coach, a national leader and some have even said “national evangelist” in the United Methodist Church. She models her life after the African-American spiritual: “If I can help somebody as I travel along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.
Dr. Joseph W. Daniels, Jr. is a husband, father, pastor, author, prophetic imaginer and leader of a Relevant, Enthusiastic, Authentic and Loving church movement. Pastor Daniels has dedicated his life to growing the kingdom of God. He is currently doing so in two roles: as the District Superintendent of the Greater Washington District of the Baltimore-Washington Conference (since July 2013) and as Lead Pastor at Emory United Methodist Church (since July 1992).
During his leadership at Emory, the congregation has grown from an average of 55 people in weekly worship attendance to over 400 every Sunday. Emory seeks to be a “Real Church for Real People” and has been acknowledged numerous times for its role in changing lives and changing communities. The church has been awarded the “Kim Jefferson Northeast Jurisdictional Award” for effective urban ministry representing the United Methodist Church and has been selected as one of the 25 Congregational Resource Centers in the “Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century” effort of the United Methodist Church.
Pastor Daniels holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary (2000) in Washington, D.C. He is also a 1991 graduate of Howard University School of Divinity, and has earned a Bachelor and Master degrees in the areas of Public Communication, Psychology, Journalism and Public Affairs from American University (1982, 1984) in Washington, D.C. He is very active in community affairs, serving as a co-chair of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) as well as on the Board of Directors of the STEP Foundation and Ephesians Life Ministries. He also teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary in both the Urban Ministry and Practice of Ministry and Mission programs. Pastor Daniels has been called upon for mission service to churches in Zimbabwe and South Africa, providing training for pastors and laity in the area of community development. Instructing groups on establishing neighborhood “Communities of Shalom,” Pastor Daniels’ commitment to a spirit of “peace on earth” is not confined to the Brightwood Community, the city of Washington D.C. or the United States of America. He fully believes that there can be healthy, wholesome, economically stable families and communities all over the world.
As a sought after speaker, preacher, mentor and author, Pastor Daniels is most happy when inspiring and equipping others to see the possibilities God has for them and their communities. To that end he has written two books: Begging for REAL Church in 2009, The Power of REAL in 2011 and Walking with Nehemiah in 2014 (click here to learn more).
He has been happily married to Madelyn since 1985 and are the blessed and proud parents of two young adults, Joia and Joey.
Rev. LeKisha Reed is an ordained elder and a member of the California-Nevada Conference. Rev. Reed currently serves as the Executive Secretary of Networks and Constituencies for the Mission and Evangelism Unit of the General Board of Global Ministries. Rev. Reed provides support for the following networks and constituents, International Rural & Urban Networks (iRUN), Community Developers Program (CDP), Women, Children, Family, Youth, and Young Adults. Rev. Reed’s role is to promote networking opportunities, to develop and support collaboration among networks, sharing resources, administer grants, develop and facilitate selected training events, and to work cooperatively between partner agencies, interfaith and secular coalitions. Prior to working with Global Ministries Rev. Reed served as pastor of Boynton United Methodist Church in Gretna, La., and as the transitional chaplain of the New Orleans Methodist Children’s Home. In 2007 Rev. Reed was appointed as the associate pastor of First Grace United Methodist Church in New Orleans, La. In 2009-2013 she served in extension ministry as the Associate Director of Mission and Advocacy for the Indiana Conference.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell is Senior Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church. Under the leadership of Caldwell since 1982, Windsor Village Church membership has increased from 25 members to more than 16,000, making it one of the largest Protestant Churches in the country. As a result of Caldwell’s effective social entrepreneurship, both Caldwell and the Windsor Village Church Family have been featured extensively in national and international print and broadcast media, including U.S. News & World Report, the British Broadcasting Corporation, The Wall Street Journal and the CBS Evening News. Caldwell was included in Newsweek’s “Century Club”, the publication’s list of 100 people to watch as America moved into the 21st century.
In partnership with the Windsor Village Church Family, Caldwell has spearheaded several independently operated nonprofits and community development projects that have impacted the social and economic landscape of central Southwest Houston, including The Power Center and Pointe 2.3.4. The Power Center is a 21st century service delivery model of private and public partnership that serves 11,000-plus families a month. Pointe 2.3.4. is a 234-acre, mini-master-planned community that encompasses a commercial park which includes a: CVS Pharmacy, Walgreen’s, Advance Auto Parts, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, ABC Dental and TSO; Corinthian Pointe, a residential subdivision consisting of 462 homes; a YMCA; an HISD elementary school; a senior high charter school; Texas Children’s Pediatrics Center; Corinthian Village independent living facility for seniors; and the 183,000-square-foot Kingdom Builders’ Community Center. Collectively, the nonprofit projects have produced 700 permanent jobs and make a $65.5 million cash flow impact on the community annually. Additionally, Caldwell is the founder of three schools that provide education to students from elementary to senior high school.
Caldwell currently serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards, including NRG Energy where he serves as Chair of the Governance Nominating Committee, Inc., Bridgeway Capital Management, The Greater Houston Partnership Executive Committee, Southern Methodist University and M.D. Anderson-The University Cancer Foundation. He is also a limited partner with the Houston Texans NFL Franchise.
A native Houstonian, Caldwell was educated in the Houston public schools; received a B.A. Degree in Economics from Carleton College; an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Business; a Master’s Degree in Theology from Southern Methodist University-Perkins School of Theology; and two honorary Doctor of Law degrees, one from Huston-Tillotson College and another from Carleton College.
Caldwell is a husband, father and author of the best seller The Gospel of Good Success and co-author of Entrepreneurial Faith.
Emanuel is the oldest of four children born to Dianne and Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II. The accomplished graduate of Philander Smith College received his B.A. in political science; accepted his calling into the ministry in 1995; and is now an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. After completing the Master of Divinity degree at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in May of 1999, Cleaver served as pastor of: Longview, St. Andrew, both in Kansas City. In 2004 Dr. Cleaver became the proud pastor of Centennial United Methodist Church. During his tenure at this prestigious congregation, he received his doctorate of ministry from Saint Paul School of Theology. Under his leadership this great church, located in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District of Kansas City, Missouri, made renovations to its facility, and started a weekly Saturday evening hip hop worship celebration. On July 1, 2008 Dr. Cleaver joined his father as the co-pastor of the 2,600 member St. James UMC in Kansas City and now serves as the senior pastor.
The dynamic clergyman is involved in several organizations and has served on numerous boards including the Concerned Clergy Coalition and the Methodist Minister’s Fellowship where he currently serves as president. Furthermore, Dr. Cleaver serves on the board of trustees for Philander Smith College. Cleaver has taught at Saint Paul School of Theology and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
He is frequently invited for preaching, teaching, and lecture engagements. He has also had several works published in Unity and Circuit Rider magazines as well as The Wesley Study Bible.
Dr. Cleaver is married to Sharon and they are the proud parents of two boys and one girl, Emanuel IV, Isaac and Alayna. He is dedicated to spreading the “Good News” of love, hope, and justice found in the liberating power of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Candace M. Lewis currently serves as the District Superintendent of the Gulf Central District of the Florida Annual Conference. She previously served as the Executive Director of a Path1 New Church Starts at the Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, TN. Candace is an Ordained Elder in the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is founding Pastor of the New Life Community United Methodist Church, where she served from 1997 – 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida. As a new church Pastor, the church started in June 1997 with seven persons. In eleven years, the congregation grew to over 200 members. The ninth year, New Life moved from leasing shopping center space to purchasing and owning church property on six acres which includes a sanctuary, youth building, office space, classrooms, fellowship hall and additional room for growth and expansion. The Village Child Development Center and Christian Academy was established where over eighty children were cared for daily. The children’s age ranged from infants to five year olds. Over 15 full and part time jobs were created in our community. God has given New Life a vision, and mission, and ministries to help reach the next generation for Jesus Christ.
Dr. Lewis received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida majoring in Speech Communications in 1990. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Distinguished Outstanding Female Student Leader Award for excellent service in leadership while at the University of Florida.
The call to ministry came when she was twenty-two years old and she obediently followed God, accepted the call and enrolled in Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia to begin preparation. Four years later, she received the Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling. She traveled to South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1996 to participate in a Biblical Studies Tour. Reverend Lewis traveled to London, England in 1999 to participate in the John Wesley Study tour. She participated in the Harvard Divinity School’s Summer Leadership Institute on Faith Based Community Economic Development in June 2000. In May 2001, Reverend Candace preached in Nassau at the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church. Reverend Lewis traveled to Hong Kong, China in March 2002 as part of a Deliverance Ministry Team. She traveled to Accra, Ghana in West Africa in 2005 as part of a mission ministry team. In 2004 and 2008, she was elected by her peers to serve as a delegate to the General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Lewis has been in full time ministry for more than fifteen years and is an excellent teacher and preacher of God’s word. Currently, she earned the Doctorate in Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Candace enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, listening to music, travel and meeting new people. God has given her a powerful message to the body of Christ, which she delivers under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Vance P. Ross presently serves as Director of Annual Conference Relationships for Discipleship Ministries, formerly GBOD. He connects the agency with annual conference leaders for the purpose of building and strengthening the core process of disciple making in local church ministries.
From 2011 to 2015 Ross served as Senior Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church, an urban church of 1100 members. The congregation’s worship attendance increased from 200 to 340 in less than four years. Over 100 persons joined the congregation with more than 50 adult baptisms. Nashville’s first local church housed Freedom School, as well as the Brother’s Keeper Men’s Ministry each began under his leadership. Gordon was also cited by Discipleship Ministry’s Romans 12 project for its “Big Events” evangelistic outreach to the community. Ross served on the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) Leadership Team from 2004-2011 as its first ever Deputy General Secretary after serving as Associate General Secretary for the Discipleship Ministries Unit from 2004-2008.
From 1998-2004 Pastor Ross served the First United Methodist Church, Hyattsville, MD. He led this 1,300 member multicultural church: 6 consecutive years of attendance from 337 to 484average attendance; from 1 to over 15 weekly bible studies; multicultural staff growth; a second campus; English as a second language classes; Spanish language worship celebration.
A native of Bluefield, WV, Ross has the B. A. degree, Government/Youth Services from West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is an honor graduate of Gammon Seminary (ITC) with the M.Div. degree. In 2015, he graduated from the United Theological Seminary with the Doctor of Ministry degree.
Ross has received numerous honors and awards. He received the Copher/Branch Old Testament Award and twice won the Isaac R. Clark Preaching Award at the ITC. He twice received Vision Awards from the Convocation of Black Churches (United Methodist). Ross received Man of the Year Award at Simpson Church, a servant leader award at Clark Memorial Church, Nashville and a Citizen’s Award from Hyattsville, MD’s city council.
He is married to the Rev. Bridgette D. Young Ross, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He has three adult children: Kristina, Alyssa and Bryant. He has two grandchildren, Christopher and Jaylie.
Rev. Dr. Kevass J. Harding was born in Wichita, Kansas. He was educated in the Public School System of Wichita. He is a graduate of Wichita Southeast High School. He received his Associate of Art Degree from Hutchinson Community College. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his Master of Divinity Degree (cum laude) from Phillips Theological Seminary. He received his Doctor of Ministry Degree, specializing in Church Administration and Congregational Growth and Revitalization from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Harding is married to the former Teketa Berry and they have two children: Carnez and Makayla. In 1998, Dr. Harding was ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. In 2002, Dr. Harding was ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He served Saint Mark United Methodist Church, in Wichita, Kansas, for three years as an Associate Pastor in the Kansas West Conference.
In July of 1998 Dr. Harding was appointed by the Kansas West Annual Conference to Dellrose United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he currently serves as Senior Pastor. Since coming to Dellrose, by reaching out to the surrounding community, Dellrose has grown from 25 to 890 members. Growth and renewal can be seen throughout the congregation. Not only is the church growing numerically, but it is also growing spiritually and financially. Dr. Harding attributes the growth of the church to dynamic teaching, fellowship, praise and worship, and to the fact that Dellrose is a place where everyone will feel the love of God, find the joy of Christ, and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Kansas West Conference Work: Chairperson: Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee. Member: Commission on Global Ministries. Member: Kansas West Conference Congregational Development Committee. Member: Committee on Investigation.
Community Involvement Work: Former Board Member: Wichita USD 259 Public Schools. Former Board Member: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sedgwick County. Former Board Member: W.G. Williams Community Foundation. Member : Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Motivational Speaker. Youth Entrepreneurs – Koch and a Board Member of Greater Wichita Ministerial League.
Dr. B. Kevin Smalls is a native of Washington, DC. He is the only child of Emma Francine and the youngest child of Benjamin F. Smalls. Many know that Rev. Smalls is the great nephew of one of our former Pastors, the Rev. Alfonso J. Harrod.
Even as a youngster, Rev. Smalls always wanted to be a minister. He preached a five minute sermon in lay speaker school and that launched him as a young teenage preacher in various pulpits in the DC/Maryland area. At the age of 17, at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Washington, DC, he preached his first Sunday morning sermon in February of 1987. His great uncle who was the pastor of Ebenezer began teaching Rev. Smalls the ways of the ministry, church and worship leading.
After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School, Rev. Smalls matriculated at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History. Upon graduation from Claflin, he enrolled at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta George where he earned the Master of Divinity Degree with a concentration in preaching and New Testament Studies. While in seminary, Rev. Smalls was a student lead pastor of Burns and St. Mary United Methodist Churches. He is recent graduate of United Theological Seminary where he received a Doctorate in Ministry focusing on Post Modern Preaching to Contemporary Audiences.
In 1997, Rev. Smalls was appointed to Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, in Rockville, MD. During that appointment, he was ordained an elder in the United Methodist church by Bishop Felton Edwin May in 2000. In 2001, he was appointed to Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, DC; and in 2005, Associate Council Director for the Baltimore-Washington Conference. In 2007, Rev. Smalls was appointed to Queen’s Chapel United Methodist Church where church attendance has increased by 200 people and a 12,000 square foot edifice was completed in 2011. With the appointment season of 2014, Rev. Smalls was appointed to return to his home church of Ebenezer as its pastor while continuing to serve Queen’s Chapel United Methodist Church. This multi-site partnership began July 1, 2014. On June 1, 2016, Rev. Dr. Smalls became the Senior Pastor of Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, Michigan.
He has written published articles in periodicals and a book entitled “Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness: Contemporary Theologies of Preaching,” edited by Dr. Greg Howard; was honorably mentioned in a book entitled “Together for Good: Lessons from Fifty Five Years of Marriage” by Drs. Henry and Ella Mitchell and the second and third volume of “The Africana Worship Book”.
Also, Rev. Smalls has served the general church as a Lina McCord Black College Fund ambassador for the eleven historically black institutions of higher education. He is currently a selected candidate to begin executive coach training with the General Board of Global Ministries and has completed his first tract. Additionally, he is a participant in the Northeastern Jurisdictional conversation with the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race exploring ways to reach more people, specifically young people, and more diverse people in our local congregations Rev. Smalls is married to Lisa Karen Smalls and they both share the joys of a blended family of six children and a dog named Rocket.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia A Wilson, assistant vice president of student life and dean of students at Garrett-Evangelical, serves as director of the Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience. Wilson, ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, holds a doctor of philosophy in liturgical studies from Garrett-Evangelical, as well as a bachelor of arts in music education from Dillard University and a master of sacred music degree from Perkins School of Theology.
This extraordinary “enlivener of song” performs everything from Handel to Mahalia, and from Bach to Boogie. Wilson has toured Europe, including several festivals of music and recording concerts in Argentina, Brazil, Copenhagen, Denmark, a Spirit-filled concert for the World Council of Churches in Brighton, England, and a memorable fund raising tour in Seoul, Korea sponsored by Africa University (Zimbabwe). Notably, she has also shared the stage with dynamic leaders and artists such as Richard Smallwood, Edwin Hawkins (“Oh Happy Day”), Senator Hillary Clinton, Nancy Wilson, Patti LaBelle, Shirley Caesar, Donald Lawrence, Cissy Houston, the legendary Lionel Hampton, and the late Rev. James Cleveland. While serving on the faculty at Fort Worth Conservatory of Performing Arts, she taught and mentored the dynamic Mr. Kirk Franklin in 1987, and in Detroit, Michigan mentored the award winning contemporary gospel artist, Minister Byron Cage.
Two particular events stand as special highlights in her ministry journey: a benefit concert for Africa University at Carnegie Hall in New York City sponsored by the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and hosted by the late Ossie Davis; guest soloist for the World Methodist Council at Washington Cathedral.
Wilson’s extensive discography includes ministry with Donald Vails and the Choraleers (Detroit, Michigan). As one of the lead soloist, her profound solo interpretation of “With A Made Up Mind”, which she co-wrote, helped win the world famous gospel choir a Grammy nomination. Her most recent collaborative project is a documentary Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music, produced by the United Methodist Church. The project received an Emmy Award on January 31, 2015.
Dr. Booker-Jones has served congregations in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. She served as Chair of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Board of Ordained Ministry; instructor for the Conference Course of Study; Chair of Programming for SBC21 (Strengthening the Black Church); Coordinator of SBC21 Collaborative Coaching Network. Elected Jurisdictional Delegate, 2008 and 2012. Served as Adjunct Professor at Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln, IL and Illinois Community College, Peoria, IL. She is featured in “Black United Methodists Preach!” edited by Dr. Gennifer Benjamin Brooks.
Jasmine Rose Smothers currently serves as the Associate Director for Congregational Vitality through the Office of Connectional Ministries in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. In this role, Rev. Jasmine partners with congregational leaders to equip them for maximum effective ministry in church and community. Rev. Jasmine is the primary staff resource for several ministry initiatives including working to increase the vitality of congregations; racial-ethnic ministries; and the development of young clergy leaders.
She has served the United Methodist Church as a member of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race; the Ministry Study Commission; and several task forces on Ministry with Young People. Rev. Jasmine is currenly a Lewis Center for Church Leadership Community Fellow. Rev. Jasmine has also contributed to several publications and is the co-author (with Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr.) of the bestselling book, Not Safe For Church: The Ten Commandments for Reaching New Generations.
Rev. Jasmine is a native of Atlanta, GA. She is an amatuer shutterbug; loves music; spending time with her family and friends; and traveling the globe. She is a graduate of Spelman College (B.A., Political Science) and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (M.Div.).
Above all, Jasmine loves God, loves the Church, and is committed to “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” so that the world may know and be transformed through Christ!
Pastor Byron E. Thomas is a native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy from Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia and a Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Pastor Thomas has served as the Senior Pastor of Ben Hill United Methodist Church since June 2013. He holds a Certificate in Executive Leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois where he is currently enrolled in the A.C.T.S. Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program.
He currently serves as the Senior Pastor at Ben Hill United Methodist Church (BHUMC) where his focus is on strengthening the link between spiritual formation and missions. Placing a premium on discipleship as opposed to membership, Pastor Thomas has emphasized the importance of spiritual formation as foundational for faithfully executing the ministry God has entrusted to the Church. He also strongly believes that United Methodist churches operate best when the mission of the church is being carried out by laity who are Christ-centered and demonstrate a love for God, for themselves, and for the people of God.
Pastor Thomas teaches the Six Marks of Discipleship as foundational principles and practices that support the vision and mission of the church. He encourages believers to participate in worship weekly; engage in daily Bible Study and daily prayer; serve others; give, and develop spiritual friendships.
Pastor Thomas has served as the pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta; Associate Director in the Office of Connectional Ministries for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church where his primary area of concentration was Advocacy; and as pastor at the Fort Street United Methodist Church in Atlanta. He also served in various capacities within the North Georgia Conference and the Southeastern Jurisdiction including: Chairperson of the Committee on Related Agencies, Chairperson of the Committee on Ethnic Local Church Concerns, Chairperson of the Advocacy Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, North Carolina. He has served the Atlanta-College Park District as a member of the District Board of Ordained Ministry and as the Chair of the District Committee on Superintendency. He has twice-served as Chaplain and Educational Liaison at the United Methodist Children’s Home, and has chaired the Board of the Interfaith Children’s Movement (ICM). He was recently elected as the President of the North Georgia Black Methodist for Church Renewal (NGBMCR).
At the 2015 North Georgia Annual Conference in Athens, Georgia, Pastor Thomas was elected as a Clergy Delegate to the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon.
He is married to DuWanna and they are the proud parents of two wonderful sons, Ntchwaidumela and Mustafa.
Rev. Junius Boyd Dotson, a well-known preacher, speaker, trainer, consultant and coach promoting vital ministries, is Discipleship Ministries’ new General Secretary.
Dotson, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, is senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church, a 3,500-member, multi-campus church in Wichita. His election came at the board’s meeting last week in Overland Park, Kansas.
“Junius Dotson knows how to lead people inside the church to introduce people outside the church to Jesus and invite them into Christian discipleship,” said Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky of the Mountain Sky episcopal area, who is president of the Discipleship Ministries board of directors. “Working with board and staff, we believe Rev. Dotson can focus the church on three missional fronts: strengthening partnerships in our increasingly global church, improving the effective on-going ministries in our churches, engaging the growing number of ‘spiritual but not religious’ people in the United States.”
Dotson’s gift for growing vital congregations also includes Genesis UMC, a new and innovative church in California’s Silicon Valley. He planted Genesis in 1996, four years after his ordination, and saw it grow to nearly 500 members.
“I feel blessed to be chosen to lead Discipleship Ministries. I am passionate about making disciples and welcome the opportunity to be relentlessly focused on providing the resources our leaders need to plant new churches and grow vital congregations,” said Dotson.
Dotson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a concentration in economics, from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.
Born in Columbia, SC, Dr. Ashford is a second generation Methodist minister. He is a graduate of South Carolina State University with a BS degree in Marketing. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Ashford’s specific duties at the Journey are Pastor, Shepherd, Nurturer, and Vision Caster. His beautiful family includes his wife, Olisa, and two sons, George Adrian, and Geordan Alexander. His spiritual wisdom is grounded in Galatians 6:9, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest if we do not give up.”
Dr. Michael Bowie, Jr. is the newly appointed visionary leader of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church located in East Dallas, TX. As Senior Pastor, Dr. Bowie brings with him a prophetic anointing to see and cast the vision, the creativity to dream and believe God for the possibilities of the idea, and the boldness and courage to implement the vision.
Dr. Bowie has previously served as Senior Pastor of Love United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, where he was responsible for rebuilding and revitalizing a church in a declining community. Under his six-year leadership, Dr. Bowie empowered Love UMC’s membership to grow from 100 to 800 through a culmination of providing pastoral care, prophetic teaching, counseling, and creating and implementing new programs. As a result, both the church and surrounding communities experienced life transformation and healing.
Dr. Bowie returns to his home state of Texas after serving in ministry in Ohio for ten years. While in Ohio, Dr. Bowie served as Teaching Pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, in Tipp City from November 2004 to June 2008; he was responsible for sharing preaching responsibilities with the Lead Pastor to a congregation of over 5,000 members. Additionally, he gave strategic leadership and oversight to the men’s ministry, and to a Bible study that served over 250 participants weekly. Dr. Bowie was instrumental in founding, and leading, the “Loving Dayton Initiative,” an urban outreach ministry in Dayton, OH that ignited a community and revitalized a dying, inner-city church. Through his visionary leadership, this initiative built a partnership and alliance between the local schools, the community, the families, and the local church, resulting in an increase in attendance from 40 to more than 400 at a local church.
Most recently, Dr. Bowie was the first African American to serve as Lead Pastor of Stonybrook United Methodist Church, in Gahanna, OH, where the mission is to Love God, Love others and Serve the world. On July 1, 2014, Dr. Bowie was appointed to St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church.
Dr. Mike Bowie and his wife Jeannette have married over 18 years; together they have two children, Lauren and Trey. He holds a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary specializing in church administration and congregational development, a Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology, graduating Cum Laude and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Southern University.
Ron serves as the one of the founders and lead pastor of the Arise Church. Ron’s passion is helping people uncover their destiny and find/renew their relationship with Jesus Christ. Ron is married to Dr. Eboni M. Bell and the couple have two amazing sons, Ronald Bell, III and David Gabriel Bell. Pastor Ron is committed to three things: empowering and loving everyone he comes into contact with practical teaching of the Word of God, and helping others discover their purpose and destiny in life. Ron is a creative soul, a musician, and a nationally recognized new church start consultant and a coach. Pastor Ron has served as Director of Congregational Development and SBC21 for the Peninsula Delaware United Methodist Conference. In addition to full time preaching, writing and coaching, Pastor Ron also serves currently as a national associate for Path 1. Ron is passionate about seeing people grow in Christ, and fighting for social justice issues. Ron has also authored several articles and ministry resources.
Ron is currently completing his Doctorate in Theology (D. Min) from Lancaster Theological Seminary; he has a Masters in Theology (MA) from Regent University and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy (BA) from Morgan State University. Ron serves on several boards and agencies, and is both certified and licensed to pastor by the United Methodist Church. Ron is passionate about seeing people grow in Christ, and fighting for social justice issues. He has also authored several articles and ministry resources.