Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL
Dr. Moss is part of a new generation of ministers committed to preaching a prophetic message of love and justice, which he believes are inseparable companions that form the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Moss is an honors graduate of Morehouse College who earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. He returned to Yale in 2014 to present the famed Lyman Beecher lectures.
His sermons, articles, and poetry have appeared in publications such as Sojourners Magazine and The African American Pulpit Journal. His work has also been featured on HuffingtonPost, Urban Cusp, and The Root. Dr. Moss is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ. He is on the board of The Christian Century Magazine, and chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Conference.
He is married to his college sweetheart, the former Monica Brown of Orlando, Fla., a Spelman College and Columbia University graduate. They are the proud parents of two creative and humorous children, Elijah Wynton and Makayla Elon.
Rev. Rudy Rasmus
St. John's Church, Houston, TX
Rudy Rasmus is a pastor, author, and humanitarian with a passion for outreach to the world’s most challenged communities. From his previous life of owning and operating a “borderline bordello,” today Pastor Rudy co-pastors the St. John’s Church in Downtown and Northwest Houston with his wife Juanita. A church that began with 9 existing members in 1992, St. John’s has grown to thousands where every week people of every social and economic background share the same pew. He attributes the success of the church to a compassionate group of people who have embraced the vision of tearing down the walls of classism, sexism, and racism and building bridges of unconditional love, universal recovery, and unprecedented hope.
Thanks to generous support from a collaboration of government agencies and a significant donation from Tina, Beyoncé, and Solange Knowles the St. John’s Downtown campus includes the Knowles-Temenos Apartments, a 43-unit Single Room Occupancy development designed to provide permanent living accommodations for formerly homeless women and men. Temenos CDC portfolio also includes an 80-unit apartment community to meet the growing need for permanent supportive housing for the previously homeless in Houston, Texas and a 15-unit apartment project for chronic inebriates and the most vulnerable homeless individuals in the Houston community.
Pastors Rudy and Juanita founded the Bread of Life, Inc. (a not for profit corporation) with Juanita in December of 1992 and began serving 500 meals per day to the homeless in the sanctuary at St. John’s. Years later the Bread of Life has changed the landscape of Downtown Houston providing an array of services to homeless men and women. The project also distributes over 18 tons of fresh produce weekly to hungry families. St. John’s is one of few faith communities in the U.S. providing HIV/AIDS testing to churchgoers on Sundays through the innovative “Get Tested Project.” For many years Pastor Rudy has coordinated domestic and global anti-hunger initiatives in conjunction with Beyoncé’s concert tours and travels extensively developing and supporting programs around the world for people experiencing poverty. Today, with a focus on social impact investing, the Bread of Life owns and operates Eco Life Employment LLC, a digital employment and staffing agency for men and women with troubled past lives and the Amazing KMAZ 102.5fm radio station.
Rudy and Juanita have been married for 31 years and are the proud parents of two phenomenal daughters, Morgan and Ryan, and a phenomenal son-in-law, Hamilton.
Rev. Emily McGinley
Urban Village Church, Chicago, IL
Emily serves as a church planting pastor at Urban Village Church (Hyde Park | Woodlawn), a diverse new faith community on the south side of Chicago that seeks to bold, inclusive, and relevant. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) with roots in the non-denominational, Evangelical, tradition Emily hails from Seattle where she grew up among mountains, pine trees, and was trained as a graphic designer. Besides Jesus, Emily loves to tell bad jokes, eat good food with friends, and spend time with her family. In all that she does, Emily brings a commitment to racial reconciliation, radical hospitality, and creative authenticity.
Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Rutba House & St John's Missionary Baptist Church, Durham, NC
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a celebrated spiritual writer and sought-after speaker. A native of North Carolina, he is a graduate of Eastern University and Duke Divinity School.
In 2003, Jonathan and his wife Leah founded the Rutba House, a house of hospitality where the formerly homeless are welcomed into a community that eats, prays, and shares life together. Jonathan directs the School for Conversion, a nonprofit that has grown out of the life of Rutba House to pursue beloved community with kids in their neighborhood, through classes in North Carolina prisons, and in community-based education around the country. Jonathan is also an Associate Minister at the historically black St John's Missionary Baptist Church.
Jonathan is a co-complier of the celebrated Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and is the author of several books on Christian spirituality, including Strangers at My Door, The Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, and The New Monasticism. Most recently, he is the co-author, with Reverend Dr. William Barber II, of The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.
Rev. Brandon Wrencher
Blackburn's Chapel United Methodist Church & Blackburn Community Outreach, Todd, NC
Rev. Brandon Wrencher is from a small town in the Sandhills area of North Carolina. Since 2013 he has been serving in Western North Carolina in a cross-racial appointment as pastor of Blackburn's Chapel United Methodist Church, a once-dying rural church that in a few years has doubled its congregation and has a significant missional impact in the wider community. The growing vitality of the church is owed in large part to its partner community development ministry, Blackburn Community Outreach, Inc. (BCO) which leads programs in tutoring and mentoring youth, community gardening, hunger relief, Christian intentional community, and grassroots organizing. Wrencher serves as executive director of BCO.
He completed coursework from Garrett and Asbury seminaries while pursuing his Master of Divinity degree at North Park Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Th.M. degree at Duke Divinity School, researching and writing on the theology and politics of race and identity within the Moral Monday Movement. Wrencher writes for several Christian blogs and magazines, including Sojourners, and speaks and preaches regularly on the subjects of race, identity, missions, and community development.
Brandon has served in a host of parachurch and church settings, as a campus minister at UNC Chapel Hill and with InterVarsity at the University of Chicago, and in discipleship and missional ministry roles with the AME Zion Church and other churches in the Raleigh-Durham area. Brandon is married to Erica and they have two sons, Phillip and Morris.
Rev. Kaji Douša
The Park Avenue Christian Church, New York City, NY
The Rev. Kaji Spellman Douša is Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan “The Park”. In the congregation’s 206 years, she is the first woman called to this role. She is one of very few young woman senior leaders of important historic pulpits in the country. The Park is known as a congregation of fearless activism in New York City.
About her public witness, Kaji says: “I’m realizing that it’s time for the church to repent. We’ve let the name of Jesus get away from us, get misused, twisted and turned into something unrecognizable by the Religious Right. In the meantime, how many generations of people are being harmed by oppressive teachings from church? All because those of us who knew better have been too afraid to stand up, or we’ve been ineffective in spreading a message of liberation. That day is over. There are lives at stake, for God’s sake.”
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of Yale University, Pastor Kaji is a prolific writer and a celebrated and awarded public speaker. She preaches nearly every Sunday at The Park and is invited as a keynote speaker across the country. Her often fiery media appearances reflect her deep thinking, faithful perspective and quick wit. She is on the editorial board for the United Church of Christ’s Stillspeaking Writer’s Group and the Alumni Board of Yale Divinity School.
Before entering the ministry, Kaji developed new products for a large financial services company on Wall Street. She also has a political background, having managed and staffed several successful campaigns.
Rev. Wil Cantrell
Concord United Methodist Church, Knoxville, TN
Wil Cantrell serves as the Associate Pastor of Concord United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Wil is an elder in The UMC and a Duke Divinity School graduate. Wil’s driving passion is to help people live an authentic life while experiencing a real growing faith in Jesus Christ. Prior to serving at Concord, Wil was the pastor of Lebanon Memorial United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Virginia where he helped start the Recovery at Lebanon ministry, which grew into one of the largest church-based recovery ministries in the state.
In addition, Wil has served on the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council from 2001 -2006 and on the General Conference delegation from the Holston Conference in 2012 and 2016. Wil also serves as a mentor of young clergy within the Holston Conference.
Wil is married to Rebecca King Cantrell. They have three wonderful children and cherish time with their family.
Wil is an avid runner and a sub-3 hour marathoner.
Rev. Amanda Garber
RISE United Methodist Church, Harrisonburg, VA
The Reverend Amanda Miller Garber hails from the beautiful Roanoke Valley of Virginia. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds graduate degrees from James Madison University and Duke Divinity School. Amanda has been married to Jack, an all-around-great guy, for 20 years. She frequently serves as an Uber driver for their two children, Abigail (11) and Robert (8). Their dog Stewie is an interesting mixture of an Ewok and a sheep. Six years ago, Amanda and a group of idealistic and ambitious young adults planted a church in Harrisonburg, Virginia called RISE. Planting RISE has been one of the most life-giving, humbling and transformative experiences of her life. When she's not coloring outside the lines and serving as RISE's Chief Instigator, Amanda enjoys running long distances, playing in the dirt and attempting to grow things, and catching up on Daily Show episodes.
Rev. Scott Chrostek
United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown, Kansas City, KA
Rev. Scott M. Chrostek is the Lead Pastor at Resurrection Downtown, a campus of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (Leawood, KS) located in the heart of downtown KCMO. RezDowntown launched in 2009 and has grown from 9 to 1000 adults in weekly worship attendance in its first seven years. The congregation is crazy eclectic and diverse in any way you can imagine. The church is 66% single and over two-thirds are non-religious or nominally religious. Before life in church, Scott spent five years working in the field of Finance and Investments. Scott is active as a coach and mentor to Church Planters across the country and spends time speaking with young adults/millennials about finding life at work. Scott is married to Wendy Lyons Chrostek and they are the proud parents of Freddy Lyons!
Sus Long and Mike Conner present “Sing a New Song”
Sus Long and Mike Conner are local Durham musicians and pastors. After volunteering at the women’s prison in Raleigh and participating in Project TURN classes at the women’s prison and on death row, Long and Conner started writing songs for the incarcerated congregations they loved. Too often, it seemed, the language in Christian hymns and popular worship music did not consider the experience of those who are imprisoned. Nor was the abundant faith of incarcerated Christians being carried out into unincarcerated congregations.
Last summer, in conjunction with Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women and School for Conversion, Long and Conner received a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship to teach a songwriting class at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. Eight women wrote two dozen songs of praise, lament, power, and joy which are now being used in corporate worship in both incarcerated and unincarcerated congregations around the Triangle. “Sing a New Song” is a concert series that showcases those songs and shares the powerful testimony of the songwriters in hopes that this music can breech our impenetrable prison walls. The “Sing a New Song” band will be sharing a selection of that music as part of the festival.
Long and Conner also collaborate as part of the local rock band, Hardworker, whose full-length album is due in June.