Changing Structures, Shifting Spheres of Influence – Setting a New Path for Christian Unity

Date(s) - 06/12/2021
10:00 am - 11:00 am

Categories No Categories

“Changing Structures, Shifting Spheres of Influence – Setting a New Path for Christian Unity”

The Sixteenth Joe A. and Nancy Vaughn Stalcup Lecture on Christian Unity

Saturday, June 12, 2021

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CDT

Keynote Speaker The Rev. Dr. Casely Baiden Essamuah

Keynote Speaker

The Rev. Dr. Casely B. Essamuah serves as Secretary to the Global Christian Forum which creates space for encounter between, among and beyond the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the Roman Catholic Church through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Previously, Dr. Essamuah served as Global Missions Pastor for Park Street Church in Boston, MA. and Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, MD. He facilitated those churches’ global engagements, that included million-dollar partnerships, and involving thousands of short term and vocational missionaries. The projects included church planting, leadership development, youth evangelism and discipleship, HIV/AIDS-prevention and medical ministries.

Originally from Ghana, West Africa, and an ordained minister of the Methodist Church Ghana, since 1990, Dr. Essamuah holds a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Boston University School of Theology. He also serves as Secretary to the World Relief board and was Synod Secretary to the North America Mission Diocese of the Methodist Church Ghana, which has 50 churches in Canada and the United States. A reflective practitioner of his faith, he is a bi-cultural bridge-builder, straddling the spheres of the global South and North, while working in missions, ecumenism, the church and the academy.

Panel Discussion

Moderator – Dr. Michael Miller, Executive Vice President and Dean and Associate Professor of Theology at Brite Divinity School
Before joining Brite in 2019 Dr. Miller served as Academic Dean of Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio, an historic educational institution of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He has also taught at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana and United Theological College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.
An Ordained Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. Miller is a graduate of the University of the West Indies (BA), Columbia Theological Seminary (ThM), and Claremont Graduate University (PhD). He is the author of Freedom in Resistance and Creative Transformation and Reshaping the Contextual Vision in Caribbean Theology.

Rev. Lori Bievenour, Senior Pastor at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Carmel and Vice President of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance, Indiana

The Reverend Lori Bievenour has served St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Carmel for 18 years. With a passion for justice and a heart for the natural world, Lori brings curiosity, a gentle presence, and a love of laughter to her ministry. A graduate of Butler University and Boston University, Lori still considers Wisconsin to be her home. She and her spouse are parents to an inquisitive five-year-old, and their family enjoys travel (in non-pandemic times), board games, woodworking, and quiet nights of story reading. Lori often finds herself in conversations about gender equity, the challenges and joys of congregational life, and the importance of the liberal arts in faith communities.

Lori serves as the president of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance and sees ecumenism and interfaith experiences as one of the few ways of grounding one’s faith (or doubt!) in practical matters. In a world where divisions seem so easy to identify and uphold, Lori relies on others from various traditions and perspectives to help her see what she does not see, to hear what she cannot hear, to do together what she cannot do alone.

Rev. Dr. Jooseop Keum, Distinguished Professor of World Christianity, Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS), Director of the Korea Institute for Future Ecumenism (KIFE), and General Secretary-Elect, Council for World Mission

In addition to his leadership at PUTS and KIFE, Rev. Dr. Jooseop Keum also teaches as guest professor at Yonsei University and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He served as director of Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of World Council of Churches based in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2007-2018. During the period, he also served as the editor of International Review of Mission (IRM), which is the oldest international missiological journal incepted by the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh 1910. He is the main editor of the new WCC mission statement, Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes and director of the World Mission Conference in 2018, Arusha Tanzania.

He received a BA and MDiv at PUTS, and a MTh and PhD from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. The title of his thesis is Remnants and renewal: A History of Protestant Christianity in North Korea, with Special Reference to Issues of Church and State, 1945-1994. Dr Keum was awarded Honorary Doctor of Reformed Theology at the Reformed University of Debrecen in Hungary and Honorary Doctor of Orthodox Theology at the University of Sibiu in Romania. Before WCC, Dr Keum served Council for World Mission (former London Missionary Society) as the executive secretary of Mission Programme from 2003-2007. Dr Keum’s main focus of research is ecumenical understanding and practice of mission in the context of world Christianity.

He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Korea. He has recently appointed as general secretary of the Council for World Mission, former London Missionary Society.

Rev. Virzola Jo-Nan Law, Senior Minister, Northway Christian Church, and Member of Faith Forward Dallas, Dallas, TX and Board of Trustees Member, Brite Divinity School

Rev. Virzola Jo-Nan Law is the proud mother Jasmin Williams who has given her the most precious gift of a granddaughter, Ava Jo-Nan Law Williams and grandson, Aiden Thomas Williams (now three months old – yes, he was born in the pandemic). And many God-Children, spiritual children/grandchildren. She loves the role she plays in many of her niece’s and nephew’s life. Rev. Law is a fourth-generation member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where she was baptized in her home church, University Christian Church in Houston, TX. Her parents, Elder Thomas and Virginia Law, have been her biggest supporters and cheerleaders since she accepted her call to ministry at the age of 15.

Rev. Law currently serves as the newly called and elected Senior Pastor of Northway Christian Church. Northway serves as an historic bridge builder in ecumenical, interfaith, and Missions in Dallas in its 114th year of celebrating what it means to be church. Prior to Northway, she was called and elected as Senior Pastor of the historic Lindenwood Christian Church, which was 171 years old at the time she was called. She is the first elected female and African American to serve in this capacity at both congregations. Prior to being called to Lindenwood, Rev. Law served in various pastoral assignments at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in a span of twelve years. She joined the staff in 2003 as the pastor to Youth, Young Adults, and Singles. In 2007 she was promoted to serve as Pastor of Spiritual Life where her areas encompassed Pastoral Care, Prayer Ministry, Evangelism, Outreach, Discipleship and Women. As the church evolved she worked on the leadership team to launch a new campus. The goal of the campus was to decrease absenteeism as the city was growing eastward and increase discipleship so members would have a campus closer to where they were living. During her tenure the church exceeded their goal as God added yearly to the church while she served East Campus as Small Group Pastor for two years and then Campus Pastor for another two years.

Before moving to Memphis she was Senior Pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Houston, Texas. Prior to full time ministry she received a MDiv from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a BS in Mathematics from Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas. She also worked on her Master’s degree while attending Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. During her seminary years, Rev. Law served as Associate Pastor at First Christian Church in Carrollton, Texas.
She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She enjoys a good book, traveling, lakes, oceans, and spending time with her friends and families. Rev. Law is passionate about building bridges in divided communities (doing the root work of developing anti-racist churches), radical hospitality around food and fun, and preaching the love of God made known in Jesus Christ that transforms the world.

Rev. Nikotemo Sopepa, Pacific Regional Secretary, Christian World Mission

Rev. Nikotemo Sopepa is an ordained minister of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu). He currently serves with Council for World Mission as Mission Secretary for the Pacific Region. Before joining CWM, Rev. Sopepa served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Fiji under a 6-year contract. Prior to that he served with Global Ministries of the UCC/DOC as a Long-Term Volunteer in the Micronesian Islands in the Northern Pacific. Rev. Sopepa is a man on a mission. He wants to see churches break free of conservative Christianity and get more involved in the lives of its members. His dream is “to see the churches rise from a stereotypical conservative Pacific Christianity that has been brought in by the missionaries but to be more involved in issues that affect the community, whether its political or any issues that undermine Pacific life.” He now lives in Suva, Fiji and is married to Elmihner John with two children. Apart from mission work and engaging in theology, Rev. Sopepa, a keen scuba diver and fisherman, loves the ocean.



Register at