Ministers Week 2017

Date(s) - 02/20/2017 - 02/23/2017
All Day


Ministers Week 2017 Pre-registration is now closed. Walk-up registration will be available beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, February 20th at University Christian Church. Questions regarding your registration/payment? Please call us at 817-257-7582 or email Eilene Theilig at

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Re-envisioning Spirituality, Community, and Faithful Living
February 20-23, 2017


brochure3On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of Brite Divinity School and Texas Christian University, we invite you to campus for four days of inspiring worship, thought-provoking lectures, enriching workshops and an uplifting organ recital and hymn sing. This year’s theme re-examines the doctrine of creation in response to a rapidly changing world. How do we as religious leaders address humanity’s connection with and impact on the earth in our teaching, preaching, practice, and pursuit of social justice? We will be graciously hosted by University Christian Church.

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 2017!

Newell Williams
President and Professor of Modern and American Church History
Brite Divinity School

Angela Kaufman
Minister to the University and Church Relations Officer
Texas Christian University



Rev. Dr. Amy Butler serves as the seventh Senior Minister of the historic Riverside Church in New York City. Prior to her work at The Riverside Church, Pastor Amy served for eleven years as Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington DC. Pastor Amy received her BA and MA in Church History from Baylor University in Waco, TX, her BTh from the International Baptist Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, and her DMin in Preaching from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Before her call to Calvary, Pastor Amy served as Associate Pastor at St. Charles Baptist Church in New Orleans and worked for eight years with homeless women in the city of New Orleans. Pastor Amy was raised in Hawaii and is a mother of three young adults. She writes a regular column for the Associated Baptist Press and blogs at You can connect with Pastor Amy on Twitter at @PastorAmyTRC and on Instagram at PastorAmyTRC.


“Do We Know Where We Are? A Spirituality for Creatures”
Dr. Norman Wirzba is Professor of Theology and Ecology at Duke Divinity School. In his teaching and writing Wirzba explores what it means to be responsible creatures in a world characterized as God’s creation. Issues of food production and consumption, the design of our built environments, and the spirituality of place are central concerns. Professor Wirzba has published The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age and Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight. His most recent books include Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, and (with Fred Bahnson) Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation.

“Loving Where We Live: Genesis, Job, and the Environment”
Rev. Dr. John C. Holbert was born in Indiana, raised in Arizona and educated in Iowa and Texas, receiving a PhD in Old Testament in 1975. He has been a local church pastor in Louisiana, professor of religion at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and is Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology, where he joined the faculty in 1979. John is married to Diana, who is a professional musician and liturgical dancer and an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. They have two children: a son, Darius, and a daughter, Sarah. Dr. Holbert has authored six books including Preaching Creation: The Environment and the Pulpit and numerous articles in scholarly and church journals. He was the editor of the Psalms and Canticles material of the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal. He served as Interim Senior Minister of First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth in the fall of 1994 and at First United Methodist Church in Dallas from March-May, 1997.


“Adam Wasn’t a Guy and Jesus Was a Mammal”
Dr. Larry Rasmussen is one of the world’s foremost Christian environmental ethicists. Before retiring, he was the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He is the recipient of the Joseph Sittler Award for Outstanding Leadership in Theological Education, the Burnice Fjellman Award for Distinguished Christian Ministries in Higher Education, and has been honored by the American Academy of Religion for leadership in theological education on ecological issues. He has published more than a dozen books including two awarding-winning volumes: Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (Nautilus Grand Prize, 2014) and Earth Community, Earth Ethics (Grawemeyer Prize, 1997).

“Ecowomanist Wisdom: Environmental and Social Justice for Such a Time as This”
Dr. Melanie L. Harris is Associate Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of Environmental Justice, Womanist Ethics, Religious Social Ethics, and African American Religious Thought. Dr. Harris is a Founding Director of African American and Africana Studies at TCU. She is the author of several books and numerous articles including Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics, Ecowomanism and is editor of Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths and co-editor of the volume Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation. Dr. Harris has served in academic leadership as a member of the Board of Directors of The American Academy of Religion, The Society of Christian Ethics, and the Society of the Study of Black Religion. She is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Professional Leadership program and has served as an AddRan College of Liberal Arts Administration Fellow. In addition to her community service on the board of KERA-TV/Radio in Dallas, TX, Dr. Harris works as consultant with the Forum for Theological Exploration, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and the Ford Foundation.


“My Big Fat Carbon Footprint: Practical Tips on Writing and Preaching about the Natural World and Climate Change”
Ms. Nora Gallagher was invited to enter seminary to become an Episcopal priest but finally decided to remain a layperson. She is preacher-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara and has preached in faith communities nationwide, including the National Cathedral and at the Festival of Homiletics. She has lectured on writing and taught writing workshops at Yale Divinity School, the National Cathedral, and the Festival of Homiletics as well as at other institutions with grants from the Louisville Institute. She was educated at St. John’s College, where she studied the Great Books of the Western World. She is the author of Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic; Practicing Resurrection; Things Seen and Unseen; Changing Light, and The Sacred Meal. A sermon is collected in Sermons that Work and a poem in the anthology, September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond. Among her honors are a Penny-Missouri journalism award and fellowships at both the MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center. Her interests include the quest for meaning in our lives, how vulnerability connects us, the rights of patients, and breaking out of one’s religious tradition while maintaining integrity. She sits on the dean’s advisory board of the Yale Divinity School. At Yale, she worked with graduate students in Paul Lussier’s class on humanistic communications on climate change. Humanistic communications aim to engage people in the environmental conversation based on their pre-existing values, effectively meeting them where they are.


Ms. Kyla K. Rosenberger is Director of Worship & Arts and Senior Organist at University Christian Church. She joined the staff of UCC in 1992 and has previously held positions of Assistant Organist and Director of Music. Prior to her career at UCC she also served as the organist at Ridglea Christian Church in Fort Worth for six years. Kyla’s goal is to uphold the worship and liturgical excellence set by her predecessors, including former Minister of Music and Organist, Betty Boles. Kyla received a BMus in Piano Performance from Kansas State University. She attended TCU, obtained a MMus in Piano Pedagogy, and taught privately for many years. Kyla started playing organ for First Christian Church in Bonner Springs, KS while in high school. She continued organ studies through the rest of college with Dr. Mary Ellen Sutton and Dr. Emmet Smith. In addition, she passed the American Guild of Organists professional exams to obtain the level Colleague. Kyla is very active in the Fort Worth chapter of the American Guild of Organists and has been Dean of the chapter twice. She was on the steering committee for two Southwest Regional conventions and presented a workshop on new vocal solos with organ accompaniment at the 2015 convention. Additionally, Kyla was honored to play services at both the 2007 and 2011 national conferences of the Association of Disciple Musicians.



T1. The Tornado Has Passed, The Flood Waters Have Receded…Now What? Natural Disaster Response
Natural disasters from extreme weather events impacting neighborhoods and regions require both immediate and long-term responses. Faith communities play a vital role in the aftermath of natural disasters in addressing the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those affected. How do you prepare for a sudden, devastating event such as a tornado or flood which affects your neighborhood, place of worship, and members? What resources are available? How do you balance caring for the community while “caring for your own?” What are the spiritual and emotional needs in the short and long term? This panel explores these questions from the perspectives of a parish pastor living through the experience, a faith-based disaster response coordinator, and the motivator behind disaster emotional and spiritual care ministries.
Mary Hughes Gaudreau is an ordained United Methodist deacon, licensed professional counselor, and disaster response specialist. As Director of Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, she leads a team of more than 150 credentialed disaster spiritual care responders representing more than 28 Christian and Interfaith partners. A native of Oklahoma, she first entered into disaster response work following the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing. Mary has been a key leader in the development of National VOAD disaster spiritual care ethical standards and operational guidelines. She served for ten years as a national disaster consultant with the United Methodist Committee on Relief where she provided direct training, response, and consultation in more than two dozen states. A frequent presenter at national conferences and webinars, she has authored and contributed to numerous disaster response curricula and resources.
Laraine Waughtal graduated from Brite in 1998 with an MDiv. She has served as an elder in the local church in the Central Texas Conference. Early in her ministry she felt a call to people working in missions and became trained in disaster response through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). From there she was asked to be a district coordinator and then chair of the Disaster Task Force for her conference. She also became a trainer for UMCOR training church members to help people with their initial recovery through Early Response Teams. She also has training in Emotional and Spiritual Care and Case Management work. Two years ago the Bishop appointed her to full time ministry as the Disaster Response Coordinator. Some of her experience in disaster work includes Hurricane Ike, the West Fertilizer Plant explosion, the Granbury F4 tornado and extensive experience with the flooding in 2015-16. Right now her teams oversee four disaster sites.
Ann Dotson serves as Senior Pastor at First Christian Church, Rowlett, Texas, a position she was called to after serving as Associate there for twelve years. Much of her time in the past year and a half has been involved in recovery efforts following the December 26 tornado which devastated the Rowlett area. She is married to Dana, an incredible musician, and together they have two daughters, Carrie, a CCU nurse in Plano and Jordan Berkstresser, a commercial property manager in Dallas. They also have a wonderful son-in-law, Brian Berkstresser and
two beautiful granddaughters, Kenzie and Riley. Ann has been a Commissioned Minister for the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, since 1992 and was ordained in the fall of 2013.

T2. Dreaming a New World with Our Youth: Finding Right Relationship with Neighbor and Planet
Climate change, racism, income inequality, hunger, violence have deep connections to how we treat our planet and one another. The youth we work with have never lived a year that was globally cooler than the previous year, many of them know the challenges we face and sense the future with dread or ill ease. Let’s come together to share stories of hope, dream a better tomorrow and talk about strategies and solutions to transforming our communities into hubs of hope and conduits of compassion.
Scott Hardin-Nieri is partner, dad, spiritual director, pastor, and sojourner. He is the Director of the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina and Associate Minister of Green Chalice and is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prior to living in North Carolina, Scott and his family served with Global Ministries of the Christian Church (DOC) in the vulnerable cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica. There he learned how to climb Fig Strangler trees, spot Two-toed Sloths, call like a Mot Mot, and listen to people, nature, and God in a new way.

T3. Community Gardens & Urban Farming as Ministry (includes tour)
Three years ago Ridglea Christian Church began a partnership with the Tarrant Area Food Bank to create the TAFB Learning Garden in our church’s backyard. We could never have imagined what God could have grown in and through it. Today we produce over 2,500 pounds of food a year for our local food pantry. More than that, a sacred space has been created in the neighborhood where people from all incomes, ethnicities, and backgrounds gather together as neighbors to learn, eat, and care for each other and the earth. Come learn more about how community gardens can make a difference in your ministry. We will share what we have learned, both from a ministry perspective and a practical perspective on how to start or grow your community garden! We will meet first at UCC and carpool from there.
Representatives from Ridglea Christian Church and Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) will talk about their partnership. TAFB is the primary source of donated food for hunger-relief charities and feeding programs in 13 North Texas counties with a network of 270 Partner Agencies serving children, the elderly, people experiencing homelessness, and other Texans in need.


W1. Challenges and Benefits of Going Green
What difference can it make to a faith community to incorporate earth-friendly practices into how they live out their ministry? Is it worth the effort to tackle such a polarizing issue and to find the resources to implement changes? What has worked or not worked in other congregations? Pastors from churches which have been green certified by their denominations will share their experiences of the process, the challenges they encountered, and the benefits reaped by the congregation and neighborhood. If you are curious about what a green church “looks” like, have questions about how to get started or are looking for suggestions on how to overcome roadblocks, come join the conversation.
Patrick E. McCoy has been senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, McKinney, since 1993. He grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, attended Oklahoma State University and has a BS in wildlife ecology research. Upon graduation from seminary, he worked as a reporter and photographer for the Stillwater News-Press. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and has been serving Presbyterian Churches in North Texas since his ordination to ministry of word and sacrament in 1982. He was awarded a DD from Austin College in 2015. Patrick currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Plano Hospital and the Grace Presbytery Council.
Arthur Stewart was called as Senior Minister at Midway Hills Christian Church in the fall of 2012. He is a graduate of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Webster University in his hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri. Before hearing, avoiding and then finally accepting God’s call to ministry, Arthur worked as a performer of short-form improvisation. His experience in improvisation has strongly influenced his theology and ministry. Arthur serves on the Board of Directors for Texas Impact, a statewide religious grassroots network advancing state public policies that are consistent with universally held social principles of the Abrahamic traditions.

W2. Effective Advocacy
Texas Impact, a statewide religious advocacy organization, accomplishes its mission by developing grassroots networks in local communities and mobilizing them to advocate with their legislators on specific issues. Developing these networks includes a process of broad policy and advocacy education in congregations and denominational bodies; teambuilding in local faith communities; leadership development with key individuals and groups; and coordination with lawmakers, media, and other public interest groups. Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the research and education partner of Texas Impact, aims to fill an important niche in the public policy landscape by offering an “Other Way.” Faith communities are ideally and uniquely positioned to provide this counter-narrative, which synthesizes conflicting secular policy analyses and at the same time rejects all secular policy paradigms as insufficient.

W3. Learn and Tell A Biblical Story: A Resource for Worship and Christian Education
During this workshop participants will explore the process for learning and telling a biblical story as practiced by the members of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, International. This process will incorporate a variety of learning styles and end with a dialogue on using biblical storytelling in worship and educational settings.
Barbara Tucker is a retired teacher and librarian with over 40 years experience teaching people of all ages in church and public school settings. A graduate of Texas Wesleyan University with a B. S. in Elementary Education, Ms. Tucker continued her education at UNT, earning a master’s degree in 1981. Called to a ministry of Christian education, she went on to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and serve the First Baptist Church of Greenwood, South Carolina as Minister of Education from 1990-1995. Currently Ms. Tucker is an active member of University Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas and a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers. She is currently working toward her basic level certification as a biblical storyteller in the Academy of Biblical Storytelling sponsored by NBS.


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New location for Blue Mesa
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