Doctor Kenneth Lee Samuel has been the recipient of many scholastic and civic honors, including ‘A Better Chance Scholarship’, which allowed him to attend high school at the prestigious Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey. He graduated in 1978 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History. He continued his academic pursuit by matriculating at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received the Benjamin E. Mays Theological Fellowship Award among others. In 1981, he received his Master of Divinity Degree. In 1996, he received the Doctor of Ministry Degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. His theological focus is in the field of homiletics and social ethics.
Doctor Samuel was licensed as a Minister of the Gospel on his 23rd birthday, August 5, 1979, at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, under the pastorate of the Reverend Doctor Joseph L. Roberts, Jr., and Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. He was ordained in 1982 also at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. In November 2002, Doctor Samuel was granted full ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ through the Georgia/South Carolina Association of the United Church of Christ.
In March of 1987, Doctor Samuel organized the Victory for the World Church which has dual standing as an Independent Baptist Church and an active congregation of the United Church of Christ. Situated in a growing eastern suburb of Atlanta called Stone Mountain, the Victory Church seeks to address the total needs of the total person through a broad array of ministries and services which promote the spiritual development, educational enhancement, physical fitness and social empowerment of every child of God – regardless of race, gender, culture, class or sexual Orientation.
Doctor Samuel has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Clark Atlanta University and as a Teaching Assistant in homiletics at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Doctor Samuel’s first book, entitled ‘Solomon’s Success: Four Essential Keys To Leadership’ recently appeared as the number one best seller under Pilgrim Press in The Christian Century.
Believing that our love for Jesus should never be separated from our passion for Justice, Doctor Samuel has engaged himself in the struggle for Human Rights through numerous agencies, which most recently include serving as Vice-Chair of the African American Leadership Council of People For the American Way (Washington, D.C.), Trustee Board Member of Lancaster Theological Seminary (Lancaster, PA), Advisory Board Member of the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA), Board Member of Leadership DeKalb (the premier Leadership Development program in DeKalb County, GA), Religious Advisory Board Member of the National Black Justice Coalition, (Washington, D.C.), Past President of the DeKalb Branch NAACP (Decatur GA) and a DeKalb County Jail Chaplain (DeKalb County, GA).
Doctor Samuel is the proud parent of one daughter, Kendalle Marye, and resides in Lithonia, Georgia.
Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas
Dr. Douglas is the Elizabeth Conolly Todd Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Goucher College and a leading voice and pioneering figure in the development of a womanist theology.
Essence magazine counts Douglas “among this country’s most distinguished religious thinkers, teachers, ministers, and counselors.” In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Douglas’ published books include Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection, Testifying to the Blues: Sexuality and the Black Church, and Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.
Rev. Dr. Ronald Hopson
Dr. Ronald E. Hopson is Associate Professor of Psychology and Divinity at Howard University. He holds a joint appointment in the department of Psychology, and in the School of Divinity where he currently serves as Interim Academic Dean. He teaches courses on Psychopathology, the Philosophy of Science, Psychotherapy, the Psychology of Religion, and Pastoral Care.
Dr. Hopson received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University. He attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University and was ordained to Christian ministry in 1988. Dr. Hopson has published in the areas of Psychotherapy, Substance Abuse/Drug Addiction, Christian Fundamentalism in the U.S., and Pastoral Care. His most current work is in the area of Sexuality and the Black Church. Dr. Hopson has presented his professional work and conducted workshops in the U.S. as well as in Europe and Africa.
Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson
As a prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson inspires and challenges diverse audiences around the world on a range of topics, from interpersonal and intercultural communications to power dynamics and social justice. She uses her unique insights as a scholar, pastor, counselor, and organizational consultant to help individuals, organizations and communities realize and achieve greater purpose by helping them identify and overcome self-imposed limitations and systemic barriers.
Dr. Cari has a deep passion and a grand vision to help people discover and live their deepest and most authentic selves. She strongly believes that “only as we live our lives authentically can we fully experience inner peace and be shapers of peace and justice in the world.” She addresses issues at micro interpersonal levels as well as macro political, social and economic levels with impact across racial groups, cultures, and nations. This unique approach enables her to discuss critical social issues, such as classism and poverty, racial discrimination and criminal profiling, and gender and marriage equality in fresh, transformative ways.
Dr. Cari is the founding director of Center of Spiritual Light, a non-profit community services organization which integrates resources from diverse spiritual traditions to help individuals and organizations re-imagine, re-invent, and re-position themselves for excellence. She consults with a host of faith-based organizations, community service agencies, and academic institutions. Dr. Cari has had an extensive career in leadership coaching, staff development, management training, organizational development, and mediation for Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses and community organizations.
Ordained in the United Church of Christ (UCC), Dr. Cari works ecumenically across religious and spiritual traditions. She has served as pastor of congregations in three Christian denominations, UCC, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church-USA. She serves as adjunct faculty at Union Theological Seminary and One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, both in New York City.
Dr. Cari earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Social Ethics from Drew University, a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from Oberlin College. She is the author of four books: Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt (2013), For the Souls of Black Folks (2013), For the Least of These (2012), and The Gift to Listen, The Courage to Hear (2003).
Rev. MacArthur Flournoy
Rev. MacArthur H. Flournoy, theologian, author, and preacher is the Director for Faith Partnership and Mobilization for the Human Rights Campaign. MacArthur served as the Faith Director for Marylanders For Marriage Equality. Rev. Flournoy has more than thirty years of non-profit management experience, also serving local government, state and federal governments.
MacArthur has worked in Nigeria & Ghana, West Africa, Spain, Italy and Australia conducting workshops on human rights, access to health care and changing cultural norms on the role of women, people affected by numerous health disparities, such as HIV/AIDS, advocacy for racial/LGBT justice and equality specifically within a Faith-based context. MacArthur voluntarily serves as the National Minister of Public Policy for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an international coalition of open and affirming ministries, where the Presiding Bishop is Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder.
MacArthur holds a Master’s of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union. As the father of five amazing children, MacArthur is a new grandparent. Reading, writing, traveling, and collecting West African art are his favorite past times.
Rev. Tonyia Rawls
Bishop Rawls is the Founding Pastor of Charlotte, NC-based Sacred Souls Community Church, a diverse congregation of progressive Christians. Her ministry has been framed by her upbringing as a Baptist and the development she experienced while serving in the following offices: Evangelist Missionary in The Church of God in Christ and Associate Minister with the Progressive Freewill Baptist Church. Once joining the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, she served as Minister, Reverend, Elder, Vice Chair of the National Board, Founder of Laity Relations and the Office of Communications, Founding Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte, and then in 2008, became one of the denomination’s first women Bishops.
Once arriving in Charlotte, Bishop Rawls quickly became engaged in advocacy work for children and schools, fought for equality in healthcare (particularly around HIV/AIDS), and championed criminal and social justice causes.
Bishop Tonyia Rawls is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Freedom Center for Social Justice (FCSJ), which was founded in 2009. In 2013 the FCSJ launched the Southeastern region’s first LGBTQ Law Center and Transgender Employment Program. Since August 2013 these programs have touched hundreds within the Carolina’s and that support promises to continually grow as they successfully meet these critical needs. Nationally, the FCSJ Transgender Faith and Action Network (Trans*FAAN) expands the work of their successful TransFaith In Color Conferences which were hosted in Charlotte for Trans* people of color and allies. Their 2014 Trans*FAAN Conference will be held August 29th in Charlotte. This year’s conference will include partners like the North Carolina NAACP, the Conference for Southern Equality, Southerners on New Ground, The Human Rights Campaign and area colleges and universities. The Freedom Center for Social Justice was recognized by Equality North Carolina who named them their 2013 Organization of the Year Award.
In addition to her work as a spiritual leader and social justice activist, Bishop Rawls has been a leading national voice on issues of intersectionality and progressive organizing. She has been a reviewer for the Journal of African-American Studies and is published in Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies (Released 2010). Bishop Rawls is a graduate of Duke University and the recipient of several awards for her work on LGBTQ and progressive movement building. She sits on the Governing Board of the North Carolina Council of Churches, The Community Building Initiative, and other local and national advisory boards.
Rev. Carolyn Mobley
Rev. Carolyn J. Mobley, ordained in 1995 with the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC). Rev. Carolyn served fifteen years at Resurrection MCC (Associate Pastor), Houston, Texas; Interim Pastor for MCC United, Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has also served as UFMCC staff supporting the Clergy Connection program. Rev. Carolyn returned to the Atlanta area to join her partner of 17 years, Rev. Adrain Bowie. While in Atlanta, Rev. Mobley served as Evangelist at First MCC of Atlanta and the Minister of Music at Circle of Grace Community Church. She presently serves as the Interim Pastor of MCC of Richmond, VA. Spirit has affirmed Rev. Mobley as a minister who speaks through her music. She is a gifted singer and pastoral leader. Rev. Mobley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene Texas; and Master’s degree in Religious Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Carolyn has been an activist and a community leader since 1976.
Rev. Mykal Slack
The Rev. Mykal O’Neal Slack is the founder and lead organizer of 4LYFE, an ecumenical, consultative ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches that provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in faith communities across a broad spectrum, inviting everyone to Live Your Faith Everyday. He also serves First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist as a Worship Leader and Community Life Coordinator, supporting their efforts to become a multiracial, multi-faith, justice-making community. As part of his ministry, Mykal is the Director of Spiritual Outreach for the Trans People of Color Coalition, the only national organization that seeks to promote the social and economic equality of all black and brown transgender and gender non-conforming people. Before ministry called him, Pastor Mykal spent several years in public service, clerking for the Honorable Marilyn D. Go at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and serving as an attorney for the ACLU LGBT & HIV/AIDS Rights Projects. He currently blogs on mendingdrybones.com and is a recently featured blogger on Believe Out Loud, an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.
Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy L. Wilson
Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
Rev. Wilson was elected to the position of Moderator of MCC in 2005, following the retirement of the Founder of MCC, Rev. Elder Troy Perry and in July 2010, she was re-elected for a term of six years. Her office is in Sarasota, Florida.
Rev. Wilson obtained her B.A. from Allegheny College, her M.Div. from St. Cyril and Methodius Seminary and is a D.Min. from Episcopal Divinity School.
She served as pastor of Church of the Trinity MCC in Sarasota, Florida, from 2001 to 2005 and was previously pastor of MCC Los Angeles—now Founders MCC—from 1986 until 2001, the church founded by Troy Perry in 1968. Rev. Wilson joined MCC as Associate Pastor of MCC Boston in 1972 at 22 years of age. She served as Pastor of MCC Detroit from 1975 to 1979. She was elected Elder of MCC in 1976 and served as the denomination’s Vice-Moderator from 1993 to 2001.
Rev. Wilson served as Clerk of the Board of Elders for ten years; and became MCC’s first Chief Ecumenical Officer, a post she held for 23 years. She has been the official delegate of MCC to the World Council of Churches General Assemblies in Canberra, Australia (1991); Harare, Zimbabwe (1998) and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).
Rev. Wilson is also an Associate Minister with The Fellowship in which Dr. Yvette Flunder serves as the Presiding Bishop.
In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Rev. Wilson to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Following President Obama’s re-election in 2013, Rev. Wilson gave a Scripture reading at the Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and was the first openly gay clergy member to participate.
Her published works include: Outing the Bible: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Christian Scriptures (LifeJourney Press); Outing the Church: 40 Years in the Queer Christian Movement (LifeJourney Press); Nossa Tribo: Gays, Deus, Jesus e a Bíblia (Metanoia); Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus and the Bible (Alamo Press); with Fr. Malcolm Boyd, Amazing Grace. Rev. Wilson’s prayers and poems are included in Race and Prayer, edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton (Morehouse Press).
Rev. Wilson is a popular preacher and speaker. She has been honored with the first “Lazarus Award” from the Presbyterian Church and was invited to preach at the Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion in 2002.