Ministers Week

Imagining the Future Church
Ministers Week 2023
February 6-8, 2023

The Wells Sermons
“The Ways of Life: Inventory”
“The Ways of Life: Metamorphoses”
“The Ways of Life: Emergencies”
Rev. Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes
Originally from Brazil, Cláudio Carvalhaes is an eco-theologian, performance artist, activist, and liturgist. Cláudio has pastored two churches for 10 years in Brazil and the USA and taught at Louisville Seminary, Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia and McCormick Seminary. He is now the Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Married to Katie, they have 3 kids and one dog.  He is the author of “Liturgies from Below: Praying with People at the End of the World” and “Praying with Every Heart: Orienting Our Lives to the Wholeness of the World.”

The Scott Lecture
“A Church that Gets in the Way: Reading Acts of the Apostles for Our Times”
Rev. Dr. Jeremy Williams
Rev. Jeremy L. Williams, Ph.D. is a native of Huntsville, AL, Dr. Williams is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School. His Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard University engaged racialization and criminalization in Acts of the Apostles. He graduated with highest honors both in Religious Studies and Economics from Vanderbilt and his MDiv from Yale Divinity School. He has a number of publications including his most recent essay entitled “I am a Human: Racializing Assemblages and Criminalized Egyptianness in Acts 21:31-39” in Bitter the Chastening Rod. Rev. Williams is ordained as an Elder in Full Connection in the C.M.E. Church. He has been in ministry for almost 20 years and as lead pastor of two congregations.

The Gilbert & Hilda Davis Workshop in Ministry
“When Worship Breathes: Reimagining Liturgical Practice for Fresh Encounter”
Rev. Dr. Khalia Williams
A native of Los Angeles, Rev. Dr. Khalia J. Williams is the Associate Dean of Worship and Spiritual Formation, Associate Professor in the Practice of Worship, and co-director of the Baptist Studies Program at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Dr. Williams earned her MA in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and her PhD in Liturgical Studies with a focus on theology and worship from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. K. Williams has lectured widely and serves as board member for L’Arche Atlanta and the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In addition to her faculty position, she currently serves as an associate minister at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. Dr. K. Williams most recently co-edited with Mark A. Lamport, Theological Foundations of Worship: Biblical, Systematic, and Practical Perspectives and co-authored with Gerald C. Liu, A Worship Workbook A Practical Guide for Extraordinary Liturgy, Abingdon Press, 2021. She is married to Rev. Dr. Damon P. Williams, and they are the proud parents of two boys – Thomas and Ethan.

The McFadin Lecture
“Anxiety, the Cosmos, Jesus and did I mention . . . Anxiety?”
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber
New York Times bestselling author Nadia Bolz-Weber founded a community of faith in Denver, Colorado—House for All Sinners and Saints—as a thriving haven for a diverse community seeking affirmation and acceptance. Krista Tippett, who interviewed Bolz-Weber for her public radio show On Being, described House for All Sinners and Saints this way: “These days, convicted felons and elected officials join teenagers with pink hair at this church and others like it—redefining what church is—and with a deep reverence for tradition.” Bolz-Weber’s books include Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, Shameless: A Case for Not Feeling Bad About Feeling Good (About Sex), and a video series Have a Little Faith with titles like “Separating Self from Selfie,” and “Welcome to the Apocalypse.” Bolz-Weber has been featured in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, NPR’s Morning Edition, Fresh Air, and on CNN and the BBC World Service. In 2017, she won the coveted Audience Award at the Nantucket Project.

Retired Ministers Dinner Speaker
Rev. Thomas McCracken
A native of Midland, Texas, Rev. Thomas McCracken was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 2000, following graduation from Brite Divinity School. He serves the church at the intersection of ministry and finance, currently as Area Director of Pension Fund of the Christian Church. He enjoys working with ministers, lay staff, and employers—in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma—to prepare for retirement. Thomas’ connection with the church was solidified in the summers of his youth while attending Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat and youth assemblies at TCU. He is married to Rev. Lea McCracken, Associate Chaplain and Church Relations Officer at TCU, and together they are raising three teenagers.

Organ Recital
Bradley Hunter Welch
A native of Knoxville, TN, Bradley Hunter Welch holds the Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Musical Arts, Master of Music degrees, and the Artist Diploma from Yale University. He also holds the Bachelor of Music degree magna cum laude from Baylor University. Dr. Welch is in charge of the Lay Family Organ in Dallas’s Meyerson Concert Hall and is Artist in Residence at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas.

Danny Couch
Workshop Leader
“Instilling New Confidence in Your Ministry and Congregation”
Danny Couch serves as Transitional Minister at Central Christian Church and Open Door Christian Church in Houston, Texas. Danny works to help churches transition from a business model to a team lead discipleship model as he strives to help churches reach a world craving to hear God’s word. Danny is a graduate of Texas Christian University (1985) and Brite Divinity School (1989) at TCU. He celebrated 26 years of ministry at CCC in the spring of 2020. Danny has three daughters, a son and son-in-law. The special light in his life is his two-year-old grandson, Carson.

Rev. Darnell Fennell
Workshop Leader
“Restoring Imagination”
Rev. Darnell Fennell serves as the Director of Social Entrepreneurship for NBA. He has extensive nonprofit management experience and a track record of planning and leading initiatives that have consistently flourished. He is the founding and lead Pastor Just Love a virtual community, a new Disciples church where members are advancing intersectional justice in Houston, Texas. While pastoring, he served as a faith community organizer for Faith in Texas (a PICO affiliate) and the Texas Freedom Network. As an organizer regional director, Fennell built relationships with clergy and congregations across many faiths, provided training, managed teams, and led congregations to action around racial, LGBTQ+, economic, and immigrant justice. He received his Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston.

Courtney Richards
Workshop Leader
“Week of Compassion – Imagining the Future Response”
Courtney Richards is the Communications and Development Manager for Week of Compassion, the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Angelo State University (BA ‘92) and Brite Divinity School (MDiv ‘96), Courtney spent 25 years serving two large Disciples churches and now brings her congregational leadership and pastoral experience to her role with Week of Compassion, where she has the privilege to tell the church its own story – reflecting the many ways holy work is done in partnership, to alleviate suffering and transform it into hope. Courtney is married to Brad Lyons, president and publisher at Chalice Press/Christian Board of Publication.

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