We are most grateful for the service of the following people…
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner Convener
From Columbus, Ohio, Darlene Garner is a lesbian Christian woman of African, Cherokee, and Irish descent with a National Baptist and Episcopal spiritual heritage. Joining MCC in 1976 and ordained in 1998, she has been pastor of churches in Baltimore, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia (USA) and in Cape Town, Western Cape (South Africa). On the MCC Board of Elders since 1993, she currently serves as the Director of the MCC Office of Emerging Ministries. Garner has been Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Sexual Minorities and a member of the Commission on Human Relations; co-founder of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays; chair of the first International Conference for Gay and Lesbian People of Color; and President of the Board of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry. She attended Ohio State University, Samaritan College, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Garner and her wife Rev. Candy Holmes live in Bowie, Maryland (USA) and St. Petersburg, Florida (USA).
Rev. Candy Holmes Planning Chair
Rev. Candy Holmes is the PAD Conference’s Planning Chair and Program Officer for MCC’s People of African American. She is also a spiritual activist and advocate, author, and life coach. Rev. Holmes lifts up a liberation theology that is enriched by her tapestry of faith traditions and spiritualities – Baptist, Pentecostal, Interfaith, and New Thought.
As a spiritual activist, Rev. Holmes’ understands that sharing our voices and stories of faith is essential to changing minds and transforming hearts. As such, she is a sought after thought leader, speaker and blogger; works with advocacy and civic groups, such as the HRC Religion Council, National Black Justice Coalition, GLAAD, Many Voices, LGBTQ Task Force Religious Leadership Roundtable, etc. In addition, she has participated in local and national marriage equality, diversity, LGBTQ justice initiatives. Candy is passionate advocate for equality in the work place. She was invited to the White House to stand with President Obama to witness the signing of the Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-gender partners of Federal employees and to testify before Congress on the merits for legislation extending full benefits to same-gender partners of Federal employees.
Rev. Holmes has been featured in news media and documentaries, such as Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Believe Out Loud. As author, she has an upcoming book, “I Made It Out.” I Made It Out reflects the spectacular ability within all of us to come out from the life-limiting effects of religiosity and spirit-destroying oppression into greater freedom and wholeness.
Rev. Holmes, after retiring from her Federal management career, is pursuing her passion for coaching and has launched a coaching practice — COMPASS – LCH Coaching and Consulting.
No matter where you find Candy, she is tearing down walls that divide, and building up bridges of hope and justice. Her mission is “Be the change you want to see.” Rev. Holmes is a graduate of the Episcopal School of Divinity, Cambridge, Massachusetts and The New Seminary, New York City, New York. She is living and loving life with her beloved, the Rev. Elder Darlene Garner.
Valarie C. Parson Worship
With over 25 years of Information Technology experience in the Healthcare, Nonprofit, and Hospitality arenas, Valarie has witnessed the varying degrees of organizational management, structure, and change. It is her desire to see businesses functioning in a manner that is rewarding to both the employees, stakeholders, and the company as a whole. She is excited about using her quiet wisdom, keen listening skills, and refreshing sense of humor to engage individuals and organizations who are ready for their next right step.
As a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a MBA in Healthcare Management, Valarie spent over ten years as a programmer, systems analyst, and software consultant in the Central Florida area. She has traveled the United States assisting organizations with best practices, software implementations, and workflow efficiency. As a Director of Human Resources and Payroll Manager, she has combined her love for IT with her value of human capital and financial stability in the business setting.
As a certified instructor in the Creating a Life That Matters curriculum, she has witnessed first-hand the power of understanding one’s purpose and following one’s passion. She has been both conference and workshop presenter, and she has designed curriculum tailored to the needs of her audience. After serving seven years as a faithful member of Christ Church Unity in Orlando, FL, Valarie in seeking ministerial ordination through the Unity Movement. Valarie is passionate, thought provoking, and her delivery will move you from the edge of your seat out to the world where possibilities are endless.
Rev. Doretha Williams-Flournoy Worship
Prior to ordination in 2006, Rev. Doretha Williams-Flournoy served as a worship leader and coordinator in a variety of settings, churches, concerts and conferences. She has participated in the planning and implementation of 3 PAD conferences. This year, she is excited to serve as the PAD Worship Team Leader, providing support to a team of very talented and dedicated people called to create a unique worship experience that ushers us all into deeper communion with each other and the creator.
In addition to her PAD service, Rev. Flournoy serves as the Senior Pastor of A Church For All, MCC in North Highlands (a suburb of Sacramento CA), which is celebrating 10 years of service. In 2015,ACFA launched The Ripple Effect, a mental health respite center, now funded by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services to provide support to individuals suffering from a mental health or emotional crisis. Rev. Flournoy also serves as the director of that program. In the secular arena, Rev. Flournoy is a consultant that provides interim executive management/ leadership to organizations in transition. She currently serves as Interim President and CEO of the California Black Health Network. Over her 30 year career, Rev. Flournoy has served in executive leadership roles for
organizations providing a variety of local and statewide services, HIV/AIDS, mental health, primary medical care, and policy advocacy. However, her most cherished accomplishment is that of being mother and now grandmother, providing a launch pad for another generation of incredible people.
Rev. Flournoy believes that while we seek solutions for building and healing ourselves and communities, we cannot forget the essential door which leads to resilience, restoration and recovery. With the essential door of hope and faith, we can maintain the stamina needed to persevere against what appears to be overwhelming.
Orgena Rose Music
Orgena Rose is founder of the Divine Spirit Network, a television network that broadcasts inspirational programs that shares the light and unconditional love of God though music and message. Orgena has combined her over 25 years in the arts and her spiritual journey which both began at the age of 7 to create a transformational experience that reaches people around the world 24-7. Highlights include performing on Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Disney, Universal, international tours, as well as appearing on OPRAH, Today, Rosie O’Donnell Show, Conan and PBS. She has also appeared in numerous TV commercials and movies, has sung with artists such as Patti Labelle, Lea Michele and Audra McDonald, and shared the stage the same stages as Wayne Dyer, Stedman Graham, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith and other great luminaries. She has shared her original music and message at churches, spiritual centers, MCC conferences, charities and in concert since 1999 and has been recorded in numerous CDs including Broadway shows, Ella Fitzgerald tribute, Balm Ministries.
She created her own record label, Sacred Rose Music, and then expanded it to Sacred Rose Productions to also include music video and TV production. Orgena’s own education includes the University of the Arts, Westminster Choir College, Calvary Chapel Bible College and numerous other music and interfaith spiritual studies. To give back she founded the Global Artists Academy, which provides courses, programs and workshops to those less fortunate, and WILU, a scholarship fund which helps girls, teens and young women who have been abused, neglected or homeless.
Jane Syftestad Music
Jane Syftestad received her formal musical training from UCLA and the Manhattan School of Music. She has traveled around the world with two gospel groups, “David and Jane” (1990-1998) and “2gether Blessed” (2010- present). Jane has been a middle school teacher for 24 years and Director of Music for Founder’s MCC Los Angeles (California, USA) for 11 years. She has served as singer, pianist, arranger, conductor, and songwriter at many General Conferences. When conservative Christian protesters picketed a “David and Jane” concert in upstate New York in the early 1990’s, she and singing partner David Heid snuck outside, grabbed signs, and marched with them until the protesters found out.
Rev. Alycia Erickson Programming
Rev. Alycia Erickson serves at Pikes Peak MCC in Colorado since March 2015. Before her call with Pikes Peak MCC she most recently served as the Pastor of Faith Formation at MCC Austin in Texas, a position she held for six years. She was ordained in MCC in 2010 and has experience with MCC at a national level, including the Board of Pensions, Judiciary Team, and Clergy Well-Being Team. Her passion is helping people connect with God. She is also a passionate advocate for social justice. She is an avid reader, a self-described nerd and loves to explore new technology. She and her wife Judy have three sons, three dogs and a cat. They love to camp and explore their new home state of Colorado.
Rev. Ellen “Denise” Junious Programming
Rev. Ellen “Denise” Junious is an ordained minister in the Metropolitan Community Churches, and long-standing member of Resurrection MCC. She is also a business professor, spiritual director, and author of Unleash the Power of Personal Advantage. She enjoys sharing useful tools for overcoming obstacles that limit personal growth and helping individuals reclaim the joys of life. Her career spans more than twenty years in industries such as healthcare, education, and financial services. She served on the board of directors for Equality Texas, and Cornerstone Association. Junious is featured in Black Enterprise, Who’s Who in Black Houston, and other news articles. She is a graduate of Leadership Houston (Class XXVI), achieved a Master of Science in Management, Master of Divinity, and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She resides in Sugar Land, Texas.
Rev. Dr. Elijah C. Nealy Programming
Rev. Dr. Elijah C. Nealy, PhD, M.Div., LCSW is an out transgender man and social work professor at the University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, CT, with clinical, programmatic, and advocacy experience in work with LGBTQ people, and particularly trans and gender diverse children, adolescents, and adults. Previously, he served as both a local church pastor and District Coordinator for the former South Central District. He is available for preaching, workshops, and trainings and authored the forthcoming, Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition [Norton, 5/2017]. He and his spouse are the proud parents of three amazing young people.
“As a person of European descent, my calling to this work is rooted in these words: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). As a trans man, I have experience many moments of marginalization. But as a white trans man I have, and continue to benefit from, white male privilege, allowing me access to opportunities and safety my siblings of color do not often share. In all the places where we hold power, I believe God calls us to exercise that power to implement justice and correct everything that stands against love.”
Marsha Warren and Michelle Burnett Hospitality and Entertainment
Marsha Warren and Michelle Burnett are members of MCC San Antonio. They have been members of MCCSA for 18 years, together for 19 years, and have both worked in various positions at the church. Marsha is currently enrolled at Chicago Theological Seminary and serves as the current Vice-Moderator on the MCCSA Board of Servants while Michelle is currently serving as the Director of Worship Arts. They have one son, Marcanthony, who grew up in the fellowship.
Michelle and Marsha have been to many PAD conferences and they love the rejuvenation received from attending. They both believe in the spirit of PAD and have volunteered in various positions at previous conferences.
Michelle and Marsha are both active in their local community. Michelle has been part of numerous theater productions and Marsha has served on a variety of non-profit boards. They can’t wait to see how the spirit moves this year!
Rev. Elder Lillie Brock Host Team
Rev. Elder Lillie Brock is the Pastor of Congregational Life at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis (MCCGSL). She began serving in this capacity in December of 2013.
Rev. Lillie was ordained in 2000 and served on the staff at the Cathedral of Hope MCC for three years and in 2003, was elected an Elder, a role she served in for a decade. Before going in to the ministry as a second career, Rev. Lillie had a successful career as a business owner which afforded her the privilege of traveling all over the world to work with organizations in transition. Rev. Lillie is the co-author of three books and is currently working on a fourth.
Rev. Lillie is passionate about facilitating ways for people to engage more fully in their spiritual lives. She is known for her humor and down to earth teaching style and her warm and welcoming personality. During her time at MCCGSL, she has found a “place to call home” and enjoys using her gifts to serve this amazing congregation.
Rev. Lillie lives in St. Louis, MO, USA with her beloved dog, Bella.
Robert Ferguson Logistics
Robert Ferguson is a local leader and activist both in the community and within Life Journey Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Currently Robert serves as a deacon, volunteer minister and bible study leader for the church while pursuing a Bachelors degree in Religious Studies at Martin University. This is Roberts third turn as logistics coordinator for the PAD conference and he considers it an honor and a privilege to serve and support this vitally important movement within the MCC denomination.
Dr. David Williams Health and Wellness
Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., was born in Kingston, Jamaica where he completed his primary and secondary school education. Upon immigrating to the United States he completed his undergraduate studies in biology/biochemical engineering. Since graduating from medical school he has worked as an emergency/trauma medicine physician and surgeon in the US and several overseas locales as well as a project/program director in employee health and safety for a number of major telecom equipment manufacturers and providers. Dr. Williams has more than 25 years of medical and engineering experience. He currently serves on the boards of the MCC Christ the Liberator and the New Jersey AIDS Partnership. For the past three years Dr. Williams has served as a member of MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council and currently serves as its Program Officer, as well as coordinator for MCC’s Health & Wellness Working group. In January 2017 he was appointed as the Interim Pastor of MCC Christ the Liberator.
Rev. Brendan Y. Boone Security and Safety
The Rev. Brendan Y. Boone, a native of Southeast Virginia, was raised as a Baptist in the African-American tradition and was nurtured in a church that valued and emphasized the importance of living in community with all people, from all walks of life. Having that principle instilled in his being from childhood has fueled his passion for tearing down the walls of the institutional church and building up communities of faith that embody the message and ministry of The Christ. A graduate of Hampton Institute and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., Boone has been involved in Metropolitan Community Churches for over twenty-five years, serving in several leadership capacities on the local, regional and denominational levels. He currently serves as the Senior Pastor of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, a community of faith committed to ministering to and being in ministry with persons from all walks of like, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, physical ability, spirituality or religious tradition, as well as the Network Team Leader for MCC’s in North and South Carolina. Rev. Boone and his wife, Sandra, currently reside in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Rev. Wanda Floyd Volunteer Coordinator
Rev. Wanda Floyd is an ordained clergy person with Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). Rev. Floyd began her journey with MCC at St. John’s MCC in Raleigh, NC in 1987 and served as a member, lay representative and clergy representative. In 1997, after spending ten years at St. John’s MCC in Raleigh, NC, she founded Imani MCC in Durham, NC. Currently she is serving as transitional pastor for MCC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC after serving as transitional pastor for MCC Las Vegas, NV.
She was awarded the first “Mutuality in Ministry” within MCC – an award for a clergy person who works alongside and believes in the work of the laity. Rev. Floyd has also been instrumental in the People of African Descent Gathering and served as the volunteer coordinator for the conference in several of the early years. At the 2007 PAD Conference, she was honored with the first Trail Blazer award. Since 1987, when she became a part of MCC, she has served on many committees furthering the mission and vision of MCC.
Outside of church, she is a gay activist in her community. Having served as co-chair for the NC Coalition for Marriage Equality, a board member of PFLG and other LGBTQA organizations. Rev. Floyd has also represented the LGBT community in newspapers and on television. She has been able to share her story in several books and newspapers helping educate others on LGBTQA issues and spirituality.
She received her M.Div. from Shaw University Divinity School in 2011 and a certificate of religious studies from MCC Samaritan Institute for Religious Studies in 1999. Currently, she lives with her wife, Collis, in Charlotte, NC. Their family includes Collis’ daughter, Anna Ruth Nelson, a granddaughter, Adeline Jean Thomas and a four-legged child, Odie.