Thabiti Anyabwile is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands. He holds BA and MS degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University. He and his wife, Kristie, have two daughters.
As the pastor of Berean Christian Center in Brooklyn, NY from 1999 to 2003, Bro. Berean taught the word of God along with running one of the largest food outreach that fed thousands of people throughout Brooklyn.
Bro. Berean received his formal education from the College of New Rochelle, majoring in Black History and minoring in Sociology, he went on to study Biblical History at New Greater Bethel Ministries Bible College. Bro Berean lives by his favorite scripture is study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; 2 Timothy 2:15.
Bro. Berean was led to air Berean T.V. on YouTube where over 300,000 viewers have watched 1 or all 110 videos. His 3,000 faithful subscribers enjoy watching his unadulterated teachings each week.
Bro. Berean has started a series of teachings entitled “Sunday Seminary”
Which is directed towards brothers and sisters who have walked away from the traditional church. His teachings also reach into the conscious community where he rightly divides the truth from the misconception.
Ikeya Sade’s greatest desire is to bring glory to God, by living a life that exemplifies her allegiance to Jesus Christ. She is the host of BRAVE TV, where she seeks to encourage viewers to joyfully live BRAVE, through a Gospel saturated worldview. Ikeya Sade has a heart to see this generation equipped with the Word, full of the Spirit, and radically on fire for Christ. Her passion is to use art and creativity as tools to advance the Kingdom of God.
Pastor Jerome Gay Jr., was raised in Southeast Washington, DC and moved to the Raleigh, NC in 1997 to attend St. Augustine’s College for his undergraduate studies, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. While there he founded a campus ministry that emphasized the gospel and biblical orthodoxy in the urban context. The ministry grew campus wide with many trusting Christ as Savior, upon graduating he served as an elder for several years and after fervent prayer was led to plant Vision Church in October of 2010. Vision Church has grown by God’s grace and is impacting the inner city of Raleigh by missionally engaging the city with the gospel of Jesus Christ through discipleship, leadership development, service, and social empowerment.
Pastor Jerome serves as the Pastor of Teaching and Vision at Vision Church. Jerome has a vision to see gospel centered churches and leaders raised up within the urban context and sent out to plant other gospel-centered churches. Jerome is married to Crystal Gay and the father of a lovely little girl Jamari Gay and son Jerome Jordan Gay III. Jerome has his Master’s Degree in Christian Studies and Ethics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pastor Larry Smith is the Community Life Pastor at Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He has been working in urban multi-ethnic ministry for over 30 years. Pastor Larry has a passion to see people grow in a deep relationship of abiding in Christ and ministering to one another with the love of Christ. He has just released his first book, JesusLife, which gives both theological reflection and practical instruction on how to live a life that is closely tethered to Jesus. Pastor Larry is also the US coordinator for the Pastoral Training Institute of Malawi which trains church planters in Africa. He has been blessed to be married to Harriette for 30 years and has three grown children and two grandchildren. Pastor Larry has an M.Div from Westminster Theological Seminary and loves to study Greek and Hebrew.
K.A. Ellis explores the zones where identity, human rights and theology intersect. She has performed, spoken and lectured in Eastern Europe, Canada, Switzerland, the Caribbean, Indonesia and in South America.
In her twenty year career, Mrs. Ellis has been seen in classrooms, conferences, on television, on film and onstage, headlining at the Kennedy Center and the Fabulous Fox theatre in St Louis. For eight years, she hosted a morning radio program in the Pacific Northwest, PRAISE 1065FM.
Currently she writes and lectures on Theology, Human Rights, and Global Religious Freedom. She is president and co-founder of Makazi Institute, training and equipping the next generation of cultural analysts.
Since 2006, she has collaborated with the Swiss based charity, International Christian Response, and travels internationally advocating for global religious freedom. In January of 2016, she launched the #WePersevere Campaign.
Mrs. Ellis serves as adjunct faculty with Erskine Seminary and as full time faculty with the Chattanooga Fellows Program.
She holds a Master of Art in Religion (MAR Theological) from Westminster Theological Seminary, a Master of Fine Art (MFA) from the Yale School of Drama, and is a PhD candidate at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies in England.
Chris is the founder of Portico Church. He and his wife, Jennifer, moved back to their native Charlottesville to plant Portico in the fall of 2004. By God’s grace, the Portico family of churches has grown to plant in Arlington, VA; Bloomington, IN; and Frederick, MD. Chris is the former Network Director for the Acts 29 Mid-Atlantic region, and currently serves on the regional board. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Moody Graduate School. He and Jennifer have three beautiful daughters. Chris’ passion is a gospel-centered racial reconciliation through the primary vehicle of church-to-church partnerships. Facebook: chrisatwell, Twitter: @thecatwell, Instagram: thecatwell
Colin Adams is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Augustine’s University. He is a native of Toledo, OH and has been married to his wife Shaunte’ for eleven years. They are the proud parents of three-year old twins, Connor and Kennedy. Over the years, Colin developed a passion for serving at-risk populations, and for nine years, he worked in professional outlets that include secondary education, case management, family counseling, juvenile justice, and gang prevention/intervention.
Colin is a graduate of Hampton University, where he received a BA in Sociology. He completed MA’s in School Psychology and Criminal Justice at The University of Toledo, and an MA in Theological Studies through Liberty University. Colin is currently working on his EdD in Community Care and Counseling (Pastoral Care track) also through Liberty University.
Colin and his family reside in Raleigh, NC. They are members of Christ Our King Community Church, where Colin serves as an elder and his wife serves in the women’s ministry. Colin loves good food, beach vacations, sports, reading, and action movies.
Nadia A. Bennett is a woman driven by her passion to see children and communities – often scarred by the effects of poverty and oppression- not just surviving, but thriving. She earned her undergraduate degree at Dillard University, and later received her Master’s in Education Administration and Policy from Howard University. Nadia has served in education for over10 years, and today is the Principal of, one of the few successful high school turnarounds in the country - Simon Gratz Mastery Charter.
Born to descendants of the Bay Island of Roatan, Honduras and a native of New Orleans herself, Nadia developed a deep love of culture and a resilient spirit. As a young child, she watched her mother, a single parent of three, work two or more jobs to support her family. It was there, in her mother’s sacrifice and her very own community, where she saw the impact of racism, poverty, and a lack of education in America. Nadia began learning the history and literary works of black authors and heroes at the age of eight when she joined her youth group at church. She also learned the harsh realities of systemic racism seen far too often in communities of color; long prison sentences, murders of young people, police brutality, and a lack of adequate opportunities all became the fuel burning her lifelong passion.
Whether it is through her role as a principal, adjunct professor, or speaker - Nadia is committed to changing the narrative for people of color in America. Daily she works to educate not only the youth, but aspiring teachers and leaders about the impact of race on the American education system and how together we can close the Opportunity Gap.
Sherrell L. Dandy is an Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia, where she prosecutes a wide variety of federal crimes. Sherrell is a graduate of Ursinus College and the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University. She previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for four years where she was assigned to the Southwest Division and prosecuted various felony crimes. Sherrell also worked as an associate attorney at a Philadelphia law firm for two years.
Dr. Tiffany Gill
Dr. Tiffany M. Gill is an Associate Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware. A published author and award-winning scholar, Dr. Gill earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Georgetown University and a Ph.D in History from Rutgers University. Since dedicating her life to Christ in 1996, she has served as the Project Director of a Christian counseling center, the Director of an English as a Second Language Program, and part of a church-planting team. Dr. Gill has also served as a leader on missions and service projects designed to combat the impact of homelessness, drug addiction, and the HIV/AIDS crisis on youth in Colombia, Cuba, and Zambia. A Brooklyn girl, tea-snob, and amateur makeup artist, Tiffany now lives in Philadelphia and tweets @SableVictorian.
Lisa Fields is an apologist, entrepreneur, and speaker. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Religious Studies and Liberty University with a Master of Divinity with a focus in Theology. She is also the founder and President of the Jude 3 Project.
Dr. Lyons, affectionately called “Dr. Sarita,” is a wife, mother, speaker, women’s bible teacher, radio host, professor, and psychotherapist. She is currently in private practice in Philadelphia providing counseling for individuals, families, couples and groups for a variety of psychological needs. Some of her treatment specialties are recovery from trauma, depression, anxiety and marital/family discord. Dr. Lyons also provides care to church leadership and their families for personal and ministry related struggles. Dr. Lyons works with individuals, through a variety of ventures, to move beyond the limitations of their traumatic past, negative thinking, fear, powerless living and unhealthy relationships in order to heal their emotional and spiritual wounds and to experience true freedom and fulfillment in Christ.
In obedience to Christ’s call upon her life, Dr. Lyons has focused her preaching and Bible teaching ministry for the specific purpose of serving and edifying women. Dr. Lyons is also called by God to be a conduit of change and healing for men and women in the church and in the world. She serves this more inclusive spectrum of individuals via counseling, teaching and seminar trainings for church leaders, corporations, educational institutions and people of all ages and walks of life.
A native of Philadelphia and a product of the Philadelphia Public Schools (Central H.S.), Dr. Lyons graduated from Florida A&M University, with a Bachelors of Science in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Psychology. In graduate school, Dr. Lyons simultaneously studied law and psychology at one of only four joint JD/PhD programs in the country. She graduated from Villanova University School of Law, and earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Drexel University where she taught as an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s College of Medicine. Dr. Lyons has been a co-host on a radio show called “Psych Talk,” (WNJC, 1360AM,) and she was the first African American woman to be a board member for the Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center where she served as Vice President. She has worked as a substance abuse therapist, forensic evaluator for the courts, a therapist at the Youth Study Center in Philadelphia, a therapist for mothers with depression in a research study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she completed her doctoral Psychology Internship at Friends Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia.
Dr. Lyons is a covenant member of Epiphany Fellowship (Dr. Eric Mason, Lead Pastor) where she serves as the leader of the women’s ministry, serves with her husband as a mentor for the “Two Become One” pre-engagement couples’ ministry, and she serves on the DOXA praise and worship team. Dr. Lyons is married to Mark Lyons, a commercial airline pilot for Jet Blue Airways and a retired Lt. Colonel from the United States Air Force. They are the parents of Malachi, Sophia, Olivia, and Gabriella.
Dr. Lyons is the President and owner of Uplifting People Services, Inc. whose mission is to equip, empower, and encourage people through Christ-centered counseling and biblical teaching to “grow and go higher.” (To schedule an appointment for counseling or to request Dr. Lyons for a speaking engagement: 302-377-5004, www.drsaritalyons.com).
Vocab Malone was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a Master's from Phoenix Seminary and is a doctoral student at Talbot School of Theology. Vocab's ministry focus is urban apologetics and cultural worldview analysis. Vocab has done a number of debates and dialogues with Muslims, atheists, and "Hebrew Israelites." Vocab is an adoptive father who enjoys coffee, ComiCon life, and Old School nostalgia. He is a member of First Arabic Baptist Arizona and the author of Barack Obama vs. the Black Hebrew Israelites.
Dr. Carl Ellis
In 1969, Carl Ellis began his ministry as a Senior Campus Minister with the Tom Skinner Associates in New York. From 1979 to 1989, Carl served as the Assistant Pastor of Forest Park Community Church in Baltimore, MD, served on faculty at Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as a seminar instructor for Prison Fellowship where he developed and taught “in-prison” and “in-community” seminars for inmates and community volunteers. Between 1986 and 2009, Carl served as an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Urban Theological Studies (C.U.T.S.), and as Dean of Intercultural Studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA where he continues to serve at C.U.T.S. Carl is currently the Associate Pastor for Cultural Apologetics at New City Fellowship. Dr. Ellis studied under Francis Schaeffer at LÁbri in Hermoz sur Olon’, Switzerland, completed his Masters in Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and holds a D.Phil. from Oxford Graduate School.
Mary Beth Swetnam-Mathews
Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews, Associate Professor of Religion, earned a Ph.D. (2002) and an M.A. (2000) in European and American religious history from the University of Virginia, after receiving an A.B. (1986) in government and religion from the College of William and Mary. Her published work includes Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism Between the Wars (University of Alabama Press 2017) and Rethinking Zion: How the Print Media Placed Fundamentalism in the South (University of Tennessee Press 2006). Her work experience includes employment with a U.S. Senator and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2011, at age 30, Rev. Charlie Edward Dates became the youngest Senior Pastor in Progressive’s rich 95-year history.
Rev. Charlie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Divinity Degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
In 2002, Rev. Charlie served as an apprentice to Pastor K. Edward Copeland and started his formal, practical training at the New Zion Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois. In 2006, he began serving as the primary preaching assistant to the Rev. James Meeks, Director of Church Operations and as Pastor of Adult Ministries at the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago.
He currently is a candidate for the PhD in Historical Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His original research focuses on the health of proclamation in late 20th Century Black Church Chicago.
For reasons that please Him, God has blessed the Progressive Church to grow deep and wide.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Pastor Charlie has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Moody Bible Institute and currently serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Chicago Fire Department. He is a contributor to the 2014 book Letters To A Birmingham Jail.
Pastor Charlie is married to Kirstie Dates and is the proud father of their children Charlie Edward Dates II and Claire Elisabeth Dates.
Dr. Vince L. Bantu is the Director of the City Ministry Initiative and Visiting Professor of Missiology at Covenant Theological Seminary. He holds an MA and PhD in Semitic and Egyptian languages from the Catholic University of America and serves on the board of the Jude 3 Project. Dr. Bantu is an MDiv graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Boston. He has served as a pastoral intern in Cambridge, MA under Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and as associate pastor of Greater Life Christian Fellowship in Newark, NJ. He also served as a program coordinator for the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston and a youth pastor for World Impact in Newark.
Dr. Bantu also holds a ThM in church history from Princeton Seminary and a BA in theology from Wheaton College. His primary interests include theological contextualization, racial reconciliation, early Christianity in Africa and Asia, and theological education in under-resourced communities. He is currently developing a book project with InterVarsity Press exploring the multiethnic nature of the early church. Dr. Bantu is happy to be back in his native St Louis, where he serves as Pastor of Education at Outpour Evangelical Covenant Church. He currently directs local networks such as the Inter-Minority Dialogue, Minority Scholars of Religion and Theology and the African-American Interfaith Dialogue of St. Louis. Dr. Bantu, his wife, Diana, and their two daughters enjoy traveling, parks, games, and are huge movie fans.
Dr. Soong-Chan Rah enjoys helping students find answers to difficult questions. “Working in ministry, you start to ask good questions that you don’t have easy answers to. The questions you’re asking are deep, important questions. At North Park, you’ll examine real-life scenarios that people encounter, allowing for theological engagement of practical ministry,” says Dr. Rah.
For Dr. Rah, engaging in urban ministry is a passion. “The urban environment is complex, constantly changing, and always challenging.” His classes enable students to identify the skills necessary for practicing sociology-cultural analysis, expanding their understanding of the relationship between the church and the urban setting. “Anytime we can deepen the theology, it’s a good thing. Also important are spiritual formation and discipleship. All of these serve to strengthen our work,” says Dr. Rah.
Dr. Rah sees North Park’s location as an important piece of what the Seminary provides. “Chicago is part of the classroom we’re offering. Being based in Chicago is a tremendous advantage. It is a center for community development, community organizing, and ethnic diversity, with multicultural neighborhoods,” remarks Dr. Rah.
As an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Dr. Rah has seen firsthand the denomination’s significant growth in urban areas, and an increasing need for intercultural ministry. He was founding senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, Cambridge, Mass., a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context.
Jay Cameron is a speaker, teacher and philanthropist. He is a pastor, financial literacy advocate, CommonCent$ creator, playwright, consultant and author.
Raised in Washington, DC, Jay Cameron has developed a unique blend of life experiences that have influenced his philosophy. Growing up in the multicultural southwest section of the city proved to be beneficial for him, as he gained a deep appreciation for people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
In February of 2004, Jay Cameron founded The Life Center Church. The goal of The Life Center is to lead people to Christ and to develop mature disciples of Christ. As a Pastor, Jay’s focus is the people that God has entrusted him to serve. His passion is to see them grow in their relationship with Jesus. Jay understands that many people have been wounded in “the church,” in families and in society. His desire is that The Life Center can be a place of sound biblical teaching, truth, grace, healing, and restoration.
Jay also founded Urban Change which is a community outreach organization. Urban Change consists of individuals from all walks of life, each with a desire to aid urban and suburban communities. Urban Change’s mission is to break the chains of bondage that many urban communities face. Since 2003, Urban Change has reached more than 200,000 people worldwide with empowering and inspirational resources.
Jay Cameron is married to his wife and ministry partner, Latricia Cameron and together they are the proud parents of four children.
Officer Nakia Jones
Nakia Jones was born in Cleveland Ohio and is the Oldest of her siblings. In 1990 she graduated from Shaw High School and went on to attend Wilberforce University where she chose Criminal Justice as her major, aspiring to be a prosecuting attorney. However, in 1996 she chose a different career and in September of 1996 she was sworn in as a Police Officer for the City of East Cleveland. Ironically this is the same city she lived in and graduated high school from. She always wanted to be a productive member in her neighborhood.
In 1999 Nakia then went on to Highland Hills Police Department and then in 2002 she was sworn in to the City of Warrensville Heights as the first African American female officer. She is presently still holding that position and is also the Senior response officer. Nakia not only works for the City of Warrensville Heights, but she also lives in the city. She volunteers for career day at all the schools in Warrensville Heights. Nakia has on many occasions set with Juveniles and their families off duty to help resolve situations.
If you asked Officer Jones about a quote that describes her she would say “I am my sister ad my brother’s keeper”. She believes that with a little compassion and unselfishness we all can make a difference and can change the world.
Pastor Bryan Loritts is the privileged husband of Korie, and the graced father of three sons- Quentin, Myles and Jaden. He serves the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California, as the Lead Pastor. An award winning author of five books (God on Paper; A Cross Shaped Gospel; Letters to a Birmingham Jail; Right Color/Wrong Culture and Saving the Saved: How Jesus Saves us from Try-harder Christianity into Performance-Free Love- which was given the Christianity Today Award of Merit), Pastor Bryan Loritts co-founded Fellowship Memphis in 2003, and later founded The Kainos Movement- an organization committed to seeing the multiethnic church become the new normal in our world. In addition to his responsibilities as a pastor, Bryan travels extensively throughout the world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ at conferences and events, as well as serving on the board of trustees for Biola University and PineCove Christian Camps. His messages can be heard daily on the Salem Radio Network’s KFAX station. You can follow Pastor Bryan on Twitter @bcloritts