Ministers Week 2015

Date(s) - 02/09/2015 - 02/12/2015
All Day

University Christian Church


Pre-registration is now closed but you can still register at University Christian Church starting Monday at 4:00 pm. Thank you for your interest in Ministers Week 2015.

Calling all faculty, emeritus faculty, trustees, honorary trustees and graduates!

In celebration of Brite’s history, you are invited to participate in a processional opening Monday evening’s worship service. To participate, please CLICK HERE to let us know you want to process and plan on bringing your robe and stole.

Travelers journeying through unfamiliar lands seek out waymarks or signs pointing the way forward. This year marks Brite Divinity School’s 100th anniversary and the insight expressed by Rev. Carey Morgan in his dedication address remains as true today as it did on February 9, 1915, “The preacher must know the age in which he [or she] lives, because while the gospel is always the same, the church is a part of the age and is profoundly influenced by it.” The age has certainly changed and, as is inherent in any new surroundings, both challenges and exciting opportunities exist for the 21st century church. No clear, certain map can guide us
to the future, only waymarks pointing to the near horizon. Join us as together we explore through preaching, lectures, and short talks by fellow clergy glimpses into the cultural landscape and how some faith communities are finding new ways to be Christ’s transforming presence in the world.

The order of events has been modified for this centennial year, so be sure and check out the schedule.
A reception and book-signing celebrating the scholarship of David Gouwens and Leo Perdue is
planned for Tuesday evening. In lieu of workshops there will be two special sessions, the first on doing
ministry in the midst of deep theological and ideological divisions and the second composed of six pastors speaking from the trenches on vital church ministry in different settings. Also, please note that the complimentary Texas Christian University Luncheon is on Wednesday.

As this event is a gift from Brite and Texas Christian University, there is no general registration fee; however, pre-registration is encouraged. We look forward to seeing you at Ministers Week 2015!



The Wells Sermons
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale

1. To Serve this Present Age (I Chronicles 11:1-3, 12:23-38)
2. The Madness of Ministry (II Corinthians 4:7-12)
3. Hand and Heart (Psalms 78:70-72)

Cynthia L. Hale is the founding and Senior Pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia. She holds a BA from Hollins College, a MDiv from Duke University and a DMin from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. She presently serves on the Board of Trustees at Hollins University, as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors at both Beulah Heights University and the City of Hope Ministries, Inc., and is the Assistant Secretary for the Hampton Ministers’ Conference.

Dr. Hale is a recipient of numerous honors including induction into the African American Biographies Hall of Fame and the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Dr. Hale was honored by the National Urban League and received the inaugural “Women of Power” award and by Ebony Magazine as a part of the Power 100. She has received the Preston Taylor Living Legacy Award by the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Award from The Balm In Gilead, Inc. at the African American Church Inaugural Ball to commemorate the Second Term and Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Dr. Hale is the author of I’m A Piece of Work: Sisters Shaped by God and a contributing writer for many books and publications including Power in the Pulpit II: How America’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons and the preaching resource series, Feasting on the Gospels.


The Scott Lectures
Rev. Dr. Phil Snider

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today? The Modern Domestication of Transcendence and the Postmodern Return of Religion

Phil Snider is an award-winning author, community organizer, pastor, and teacher. He is perhaps best known for his speech on equal rights for LGBTQ people, which has been viewed on YouTube over four million times. His religious commentary has been featured in various local and national media outlets, including NPR affiliates and nationally-syndicated radio programming. Phil’s books include Toward a Hopeful Future (winner of the 2011 Mayflower Award for best book in church and society), The Hyphenateds, and Preaching After God: Derrida, Caputo, and the Language of Postmodern Homiletics. Phil’s vocational heart is with the friends and participants of Brentwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Springfield, MO, where he has served as senior minister since 2003. He also teaches in the religious studies departments of Missouri State University and Drury University.


Dr. Elizabeth Drescher
Ministering Beyond the Numbers: Engaging America’s Nones

Elizabeth Drescher is an educator, scholar, writer and public speaker on spirituality in everyday life today and in the past. Dr. Drescher teaches in the undergraduate program in religious studies and the graduate program in pastoral ministry at Santa Clara University. Dr. Drescher has contributed to The Washington Post, The San Jose Mercury News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, and Religion Dispatches, where her commentary on religion, culture, and social media is enjoyed by readers across the globe. Her writing has been highlighted by the Atlantic Wire, the Utne Reader, The Daily Beast, NPR, Radio Australia, and the BBC. She has published essays and poetry in popular magazines and academic journals. Dr. Drescher is the author of two books, Tweet If You ♥ Jesus (2011) and Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford, forthcoming). She is the co-author, with Keith Anderson, of Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (2012).


The Davis Workshop in Ministry
Rev. Dr. Craig Van Gelder

THE GREAT UNRAVELING: What’s Happening to Denominations and Their Congregations in the U.S.?

Craig Van Gelder is Emeritus Professor of Congregational Mission, Luther Seminary and a Consultant with The Missional Network. He holds a Ph.D. in Missiology (1982) and a Ph.D. in Administration in Urban Affairs (1985) and served as Professor of Congregational Mission at Luther Seminary from 1998-2014, preceded by 10 years as Professor of Domestic Missiology at Calvin Seminary. This discipline utilizes biblical and theological frameworks in developing a missional approach for helping congregations in the U.S. engage changing contexts while pursuing adaptive change and transformation. He is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church.

Now retired from full-time teaching, Van Gelder continues to consult with churches in helping them participate more fully in God’s mission in the world. His most recent book was co-authored with Dwight Zscheile, The Missional Church in Perspective (2011), and is the author of The Essence of the Church (2000) and The Ministry of the Missional Church (2007), as well as serving as editor of numerous other volumes.


The McFadin Lectures
Bishop John Shelby Spong

1. Isolating John from the Rest of the New Testament: Did Jesus say or do the Things John attributes to him?
2. Focusing on the Characters in the Fourth Gospel: Are they literary Creations or literal People?

John Shelby Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim him as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary layperson — he’s considered the champion of an inclusive faith by many.
A visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches worldwide, Bishop Spong delivers more than 200 public lectures each year to standing-room-only crowds. His bestselling books include Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, A New Christianity for a New World, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and Here I Stand. His most recent book is The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.
Bishop Spong’s extensive media appearances include a profile segment on 60 Minutes as well as appearances on Good Morning America, Fox News Live, Politically Incorrect, Larry King Live, The O’Reilly Factor, William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, and Extra. Bishop Spong and his wife, Christine Mary Spong, have five children and six grandchildren. They live in New Jersey.


Organ Recital and Hymn Sing
Mr. Thomas Helms 

Thomas Helms is an organist, composer, entertainer, churchman, and organ builder. A student of Dr. Emmet G. Smith at TCU, Mr. Helms conducted his own research into music for silent films and has become well known for accompanying them on organs throughout the United States. After studying abroad, he has enjoyed an active touring schedule as a concert artist all across the United States and Canada. He has been a featured orchestral soloist performing the symphonic works of Mozart, Jongen, Saint Saens as well as numerous commissioned works.  As a composer and arranger, Mr. Helms has written fourteen movie scores. In addition to this theater music he has been commissioned to compose the orchestral music for four ballets for ballet companies in Alabama. Helms is a first class church musician and has served congregations in his native Florida and in Texas, and has also served as Director of Music for the Catholic Diocese of Pensacola.

Because of Mr. Helms’s talents as an organ designer, builder, and voicer with his own organ company, he has served many pipe organ companies on special projects. He was tonal finisher and voicer for four of the largest pipe organs built in the United States in recent years.

This program is made possible by the Emmet G. Smith Endowment Fund of Texas Christian University.


Special Sessions

Deep Divides: Bridging the Left-Right Chasm – Tuesday afternoon

Deep divisions segregating our churches and Christian witness along political and ideological grounds have their roots in Western Christianity’s biblical and theological traditions.  To begin this session, David Brockman explores those roots and the growing division by examining the two poles of libertarianism and reform liberalism, finding commonalities, defining differences, and valuing the roles of each.  Real differences do not have to make the way forward impassable as discovered by the Richland County Ministerial Association in Wisconsin.  Join in conversation with members of the RCMA who have been instrumental in bridging the left-right divide in order to do constructive and cooperative ministry to address community problems.  Along the way friendships have been built, core beliefs have been stretched, and stereotypes set aside while still maintaining differences.  The RCMA now has 22 members, holds five ecumenical worship events a year, and forms a creative source of cooperative church ministries.  They will share their experiences in how to build ministerial bridges across the chasm.

David R. Brockman is a scholar in religious studies and a Christian theologian.  He currently serves as Adjunct Instructor at both Southern Methodist University and at Brite Divinity School, teaching courses in Christian theology, world religions, and interreligious dialogue.  David is the author of two books, both from Palgrave Macmillan: No Longer the Same: Religious Others and the Liberation of Christian Theology (2011); and Dialectical Democracy through Christian Thought: Individualism, Relationalism, and American Politics (2013).

Larry Engel is Pastor, Five Points Lutheran Church, Wisconsin, a former missionary, farm labor organizer, and current president of the Richland County Ministerial Association. He is a bi-vocational pastor and continues to teach in the Religious Studies Department at Edgewood College in Madison where he served as professor for 12 years prior to coming to Five Points. He and his wife Mary have five sons.



Navigating the church through today’s landscape is a bit like standing at a signpost pointing multiple directions and wondering which way forward best suits a particular context or destination.  The choices are numerous from maintaining vital ministries, growing in place, revitalizing, restarting, or creating new communities in non-traditional spaces.  Join six pastors from six different types of transforming faith communities as they speak from experience, sharing their insights, challenges, lessons learned, and practical wisdom around building and growing community.


Part 1 – Wednesday morning

Rev. Don Morrow is the Senior Minister of First Christian Church & Waterway, one church family, worshipping in two locations, offering four distinct services of worship from traditional to coffee-house in Bentonville, Arkansas.  In the past 17 years, church attendance has more than tripled and ministries to the community have greatly expanded.  Don graduated from the University of Texas and from Brite Divinity School. He and his wife, Laurie, are the proud parents of Rachel and Jacob.

Rev. Danielle Shroyer is the author of The Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise and speaks often on issues of theology, church leadership and emerging communities of faith.  She is part of Journey Church in Dallas, an independent emerging community, where she served as Pastor for 8 years.  She is a graduate of Baylor and Princeton Theological Seminary.  Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas.

Rev. Phil Heinze is the pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Richland Hills and co-founder of a pub church, Kyrie (For the Wicked and the Thirsty).  Kyrie was founded as a partnership between Calvary Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran Churches as a Christian music and fellowship night with a message in downtown Fort Worth.  He remains active in Kyrie’s leadership while serving a traditional church with four worship opportunities on Sunday morning as well as a Taize service Sunday evening.  Phil is a graduate of Concordia University, Illinois, and Trinity Theological Seminary, Ohio.  He and his wife Lisa have two children, Joshua and Mary Ruth.


Part 2, Wednesday afternoon


Rev. Molly Baskette is Lead Pastor of First Church Somerville, Massachusetts, United Church of Christ, and author of Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back From the Dead and Yours Can, Too (2014).  Molly is a recent cancer survivor, and blogs about ministry, motherhood, cancer and whatever else can’t fit into her Sunday sermons at Her new blog,, spells out just how her church pulled out of the financial and numerical nosedive that has sent many other mainline Christian churches into a death spiral. And, when time permits, she has fun making sense of the big theological questions little kids ask at She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and from Yale Divinity School.

Rev. Jo Hudson is a spiritual leader, pastor, mentor, and community builder who serves as the Gathering Pastor of Extravagance United Church of Christ (UCC), a newly forming, geographically dispersed, high-faith, high-touch, virtual faith community. In addition, she is an adjunct professor teaching Introduction to Preaching at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Jo began her ministry with Extravagance UCC after a tenure of nearly nine years as Senior Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope (UCC) in Dallas. She is sought after locally, regionally and nationally as an inspirational preacher, speaker, teacher and workshop leader and preached the closing worship service of the 2013 United Church of Christ General Synod.

Rev. Mike Spitters, as the pastor of Expedition Church in Frisco, is starting a church essentially from the ground up. Formerly from San Diego, he left a large established church to work with Central Christian Church, a community committed to “restarting” itself.  Expedition Church is currently meeting in a café while the facilities are being remodeled.