We are working to develop leaders like:
Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove) Alston was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. Currently, she is the executive director at PICO-Faith in New York, where she leads a multiracial and multifaith faith-based organizing federation of 70 congregations who are working to Build the Beloved City where all of God’s children can live in dignity. Onleilove is also a workshop facilitator, speaker, and writer.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively.
She is a contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, The Black Commentator, Huff Post Religion and NPR’s Onbeing blog, as well as other print and online publications. Onleilove serves on the board of directors for Sojourners, Align and on the advisory board for the Micah Institute at NY Theological Seminary. She is a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Clergy Advisory Council. A womanist, Onleilove writes and lectures on the implicit bias of colorism and its impact on African-American women.
About her project, Onleilove says:
“The average Christian in the world today is a woman of African ancestry, yet many think that the church growth in Africa and the global south is a new phenomenon, but this growth is a return not a new beginning for Christianity in particular and the Abrahamic faiths in general. Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny’s purpose is to uncover the Black contribution to Christianity, Judaism and Islam through interactive workshops, small group curriculum and social media. Religious history like history in general has been whitewashed due to systematic racism. Through Prophetic Whirlwind I hope to uncover the fact that the Abrahamic faiths traveled from East to West and South to North. Understanding the Black spiritual heritage is essential to understanding Black history and the freedom movement for justice."
Through her project, Prophetic Whirlwind, Onleilove hopes to deepen and challenge our faith communities to answer the call to struggle for justice through honoring the sacredness of Black lives.
Onleilove currently lives in Harlem, and has five siblings and a large extended family in both New York and North Carolina.
Edwin Estevez hails from Plainfield, New Jersey, once the vacation oasis dubbed the “Queen City” on account of visiting presidents and the well-to-do. Now the Plainfield area joins a long list of struggling urban communities and inspired Edwin's involvement in ministry. His family was born and raised in Guatemala, and some, like his father, chose to leave Guatemala during the repressive Armed Conflict years of the late 1970s. He studied politics in undergraduate school, spending time both in Washington D.C. and the United Kingdom, and attended seminary for his Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religious Education. He spent nearly a year in Guatemala on a fellowship to learn K’iche’--a Mayan language and the second-most-spoken language in Guatemala--and to learn about Mayan anthropology and further his theological studies. He is planting a church in Wilmington, Delaware in partnership with Newcastle Presbytery to build and empower the community to address needs and pursue vocation.
About his project, Edwin says:
“Riverfront Church as a new church plant, is about bridge-building. I want to connect those living in a stable and affluent part of the neighborhood with those who are both actually and socially living at the margins of the Riverfront neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware. In particular, as someone who has lived within the context of immigration and related issues, I have lived in the cross-section of the English and Spanish-speaking world, the cultural differences of food, music, prevailing history, faith, worldviews, etc, etc. I want to be a bridge-builder within that context and encourage and walk with other bridge-builders; as part of my ministry I want to welcome people who are living within the context of immigration and people of faith who are all called to understand and welcome the “stranger” in our midst. I hope to deeply reflect on how this project can take form and be a part of communal transformation in Wilmington and in the broader area of Delaware.”
Edwin is a drummer for Milan and the Sour Goat; his other interests include backpacking, literature and creative writing, films, Latin jazz, traveling, and reflecting on community and meaning. Ask him about Guatemala, Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, The Godfather Trilogy, Ernest Hemingway, Dave Matthews, Jewel and Jesus.
Dirrectrick "Darnell" Fennel
Dirrectrick "Darnell" Fennell, is a native Texan who is committed to disrupting and disturbing the oppressive expressions of Christianity displayed often within the Bible Belt. In 2011, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Houston, and in 2014 he completed a Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion.
About his project, Darnell says:
“Just Love is a progressive faith community that sees itself as movement. A movement that seeks to live out our faith as the community engage the world around us, mobilizing for justice and bringing wholeness to our communities. Just Love is working to break cycles of division and marginalization. This project grows our faith community as it brings a different perspective to the table. We are in a context dominated by conservative/rigid understandings of God and Church. Just Love is disrupting those ideas by expanding views on what faith and Church looks like. We are committed to expanding space for those who have had few options of safe and inclusive spaces in Houston."
“The people of Just Love are concerned with those who are being marginalized within church and society and our faith leads us to be that light that shines on the hill, showing those around that we take inclusion, justice, and love seriously."
“I find myself trying to describe a church that beckons me from a future time, a better place. I recognize this vision is beyond my present comprehension, but that it is slowly unfolding. What I know today is that this community will be home to many persons that have been marginalized by the church and society. This transformed and transforming church will be home to many people who are yearning for justice, peace and positive change. Although the task will be challenging, I leave the seminary grounds to go forth into the world with a deep passion – and to disturb and disrupt the status quo. I carry with me the words of church reformer Martin Luther, who said, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.’ There will be a risk; there will be a cost. But it is my mission to boldly seek change in the world.”
As an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Darnell has recently returned to his hometown to launch Just Love, where he serves as the pastor.
“In New York City it is easy to be overlooked and when you are one of the most vulnerable living on the street -- it is even easier to dismissed. I believe each person has a voice and it is in telling our stories that we remember our personal power and the unique gifts we bring. This is the work of hope!”
Jes Kast-Keat is the Associate Minister at West End Collegiate Church in New York City where she preaches, facilitates various education classes, and leads a weekly feeding program for some of the most vulnerable in the city. Jes also works with various LGBTQ religious organizations to advocate for and celebrate full inclusion in the church. Jes’ written work can be found in various online publications including Think Christian and The 12, a blog that explores life through a Reformed lens.
About her project, Jes says:
“I have a vision that the weekly feeding program that I lead becomes a place of much more than just food. In addition to serving 100-200 people a weekly meal, I am working to expand our program to be a place of art, writing, and prayer. I believe that this is holy boundary crossing."
“My project involves creating a writing circle, art program, amplifying the sacred stories, serving excellent food, and culminating in an annual art festival. Art and writing helps us tell our stories, imagine what justice looks like, and heal our souls and our world.”
Jes is a 2011 graduate of Western Theological Seminary where she was awarded The Faculty Award for Advocacy in Racial Ethnic Reconciliation and The Stanley A. Rock Pastoral Care and Counsel Award. In September 2015 Jes will be a featured speaker at The North America World Sexual Health Day at the United Nations and the Why Christian? Conference in Minneapolis. For more information visit JesKastKeat.com.
“Street chaplaincy seeks wholeness and healing in margins by meeting people where they are and making resources and pastoral care accessible to them. It faithfully and creatively embodies God’s love in the margins and concretely responds to oppression, loneliness, isolation, trauma, injustice, and suffering and works toward the resurrection of the living dead.”
Lindsey Krinks is the Director of Street Chaplaincy and Education at Open Table Nashville, an interfaith homeless outreach non-profit. Lindsey was raised in the foothills of South Carolina but has called Nashville home since 2003. She has worked in homeless outreach and organizing since 2007 and is dedicated to journeying with those who are marginalized, both on and off the streets. She graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in May 2013 with a Master of Theological Studies degree. While at Vanderbilt, she was a Cal Turner Fellow, a Brandon Scholar, and a Community Engagement Fellow. Her role as street chaplain combines the practical aspects of homeless outreach with the pastoral and prophetic aspects of chaplaincy.
About her project, Lindsey says:
“Street chaplaincy is an ecumenical ministry of presence and accompaniment with people on the streets and in faith communities. Its mission is to reduce poverty and homelessness by (1) engaging in practical and pastoral care with people on the streets, (2) prophetically engaging and transforming systems that perpetuate poverty, and (3) increasing the capacity of faith communities to work toward ending homelessness by providing education, training, support, and mentoring."
“In addition to journeying with the marginalized, street chaplaincy also involves journeying with members of local faith communities. This model of street chaplaincy not only offers educational opportunities and trainings to help fill these gaps but it also helps mentor people and groups who are being called to more closely engage those on the margins.”
In August of 2015, she will complete her yearlong Clinical Pastoral Education residency and will supervise and mentor future chaplains assigned to the streets.
Nokuphiwa "Phiwa" Langeni
Nokuphiwa "Phiwa" Langeni is the Pastor and Teacher at Zion United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. They are also the Director of Peace Tree Spirituality Center, which is also in Florissant.
About their project, Phiwa says:
“Peace Tree is a new interfaith retreat and spirituality center that resides in the parsonage at Zion UCC, which sits on 5-acres surrounded by greenery and with a beautiful paved outdoor labyrinth. I’ve convened leadership from Zion in partnership with Christ the King UCC (Florissant, MO) and members of the greater St. Louis community for this project.“
“This work is so important, not just so Peace Tree can become a thriving and self-sustaining ministry, but to do the work of shifting culture, a few relationships and encounters at a time. My deepest hope is for folk who experience Peace Tree to expand their ability to see and know differently even just enough so they can begin to do and be differently back in their regular lives. It is a grand vision that fuels my passion for this work and energizes me to push through when things inevitably get rough. Ultimately, it would be great to see Peace Tree engaging and including a diversity of people from a wide variety of (non-)beliefs and backgrounds gathering together, honoring the similarities and celebrating the differences.”
Phiwa will be starting their PhD in Theology, Ethics, and the Human Sciences at Chicago Theological Seminary in the Fall of 2015. They hold a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Chicago Theological Seminary (2015), a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (2011), a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University (2008), a Bachelor of Science from Alma College (2004), and an Associate in Business degree from Lansing Community College (2000).
Colin Mathewson is Priest Associate for Mission at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego, where he serves a growing Latino congregation. Colin is a 2013 graduate of the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee; where = both he and his wife Laurel completed their Master of Divinity degrees, were ordained, and now serve alongside each other at St. Paul's. He is also a 2002 honors graduate of Stanford University.
About his project, Colin says:
"Our dream is to invite and support Episcopalians of our diocese from every socioeconomic, racial, and cultural background to step outside their comfort zone in the name of Christ and in service of the co-creation of the Reign of God in this time and place. Our hope is that each one of us will reach across the great dividers of race and class to truly befriend someone who is not like us, and yet is a fellow member of the Body of Christ. Our goal is to transform these relationships into a powerful faith-based movement to make real, lasting structural policy changes so that one day all people may thrive. We trust that a partnership with the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP), a local nonprofit with decades of on-the-ground faith-based community organizing experience, can help us transform these relationships into power for God’s greater glory."
"Participation in these organizing campaigns will change the community for the better by amplifying the electoral voice of the marginalized and making the most of public funding to invest in the wellbeing of youth and families, regardless of their race or immigration status."
Colin listens to NPR and reads the Los Angeles Times and local nonprofit news daily. He pays attention to the work of Walter Brueggemann, Wendell Berry, Barbara Brown Taylor, Heidi Neumark, Justo Gonzalez, and Brian McLaren.
“Creating spaces that are transformational for the individual and the community and experiencing the connectedness of the web of relationships that support these spaces feeds my passion. I love the work I do, because I am able to help create opportunities and make connections that welcome others into the fullness of who they are and their work of justice in the world. ”
Sarah Nolan is the co-founder and lay chaplain for The Abundant Table, an Episcopal/Lutheran ministry in Ventura County, CA focused on creating sustainable relationships to land and community that are rooted in personal and communal faith traditions.
About her project, Sarah says:
“I am part of a community that is filled with strong, powerful, thoughtful, articulate and hard-working women from very diverse experiences. Together we operate a five-acre organic farm, offer on-the-farm immersion experiences, house a campus ministry and Episcopal Service Corps program, and host weekly worshipping communities. Through this work we engage issues of justice for farm-workers, deep care of the environment, and hospitality for our neighbors. Creating spaces that are transformational for the individual and the community and experiencing the connectedness of the web of relationships that support these spaces feeds my passion."
“Growing out of this desire for individual and communal transformation, The Abundant Table launched "Farm Church" in 2014. Farm Church is a network of worshipping communities, not contained within walls, but gathered around the land and home tables across the community. Each worshipping community gathers on their own weekly, and then once a season all the communities join together for a shared bilingual liturgy and potluck."
During the 2015-16 Beatitudes Fellowship year, Sarah will support emerging leaders in The Abundant Table community to develop and expand their family-focused and Spanish speaking worshipping communities that share a commitment to issues of justice, ecological stewardship and hospitality.
In addition to her work with The Abundant Table, Sarah helps to steward the emerging Faith, Food & Farm Network for the Episcopal Church and is a worker/owner of the South Central Farmers’ Cooperative, which provides locally grown organic vegetables to families throughout Los Angeles County. Sarah holds a double Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University (2005) and an Master of Arts for Ministry, Leadership and Service at Claremont School of Theology (2015).
Brady Radford is a counselor, community leader, and Associate Pastor at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA. As lead organizer for Create Community 4 Decatur: #BlackLivesMatter, Brady’s work involves helping clergy and lay leaders dismantle the walls of institutional supremacy and structural privilege in the City of Decatur and throughout Atlanta.
About his project, Brady says:
“Through training and direct action, clergy and lay leaders are learning how to use their whole self to make a difference in their community. In 2015, this means holding our community and its leaders accountable for shaping practices and policies that provide justice and compassion for all. This ethic is at the core of Jesus’ work. Jesus was a North-African community organizer who transformed the circumstances of his community by challenging the structures of supremacy and by building authentic community relationships; he empowered others to do the same."
“We are mobilizing a small community of ‘change-agents’ from all walks of life. Some have Ph.D.’s and others do not, yet each person is valued and affirmed for the life and energy they bring to our work; challenging structural supremacy, building authentic community and transforming institutional injustices."
“Our work is about moving people into faithful action. With a deep commitment to trust God, we continue to organize and demonstrate for a better City of Decatur where equity in the justice system, neighborhood practices, housing and education is possible for all residents.”
Brady is a graduate of Tennessee State University, Johnson C. Smith Seminary at The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) and Georgia State University. In addition to pastoring, Brady also serves as an adjunct instructor at ITC and a marriage/premarital counselor in Atlanta.
Sara Shisler Goff
Sara Shisler Goff serves as Assisting Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson, Maryland and is co-founder of the Slate Project, an ecumenical Christian community that gathers both online and face-to-face in Baltimore, Maryland.
"My passion in both ministry and life is connecting people to each other and helping to awaken and deepen their connection to God. I believe that we are biologically and spiritually wired for connection. We become the people we are called to be in healthy and deep relationships with ourselves, each other and God. I see the heart of my ministry as being present with people, inviting them to share their stories, helping them to discover their own ministries, and connecting people (and groups) to each other through partnerships where the work of transforming lives and communities happens."
About her project, Sara says:
“The Slate Project is a new kind of Christian community, committed to following the way of Jesus together, into our local and digital neighborhoods, and discerning in community how to be the church in the 21st century. At the Slate Project, we want to claim the good in our Christian traditions and re-imagine how to live out our Christian faith in the present day. We also want to name where Christianity has fallen short and repent of the evil that still enslaves us. This is what we mean when we say we are searching for 'Christianity without the crap.' We believe it is important to name the ‘crap’ and practice the ancient Christian principles of confession and repentance; to turn back towards God and recommit to following Jesus along the way. This ‘way’ of Jesus can only be discerned together. We can only practice walking the way if we do it together. Our project includes naming what in Christianity (real or perceived) needs to be ‘wiped off the slate’ and left behind because it is destructive or no longer useful, and what needs to be reclaimed as good and foundational to who we truly are called to be as followers of Christ. Like the Beatitudes Society, we are committed to justice, compassion, inclusion and peace."
Sara graduated from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Divinity in 2008 and a Master of Sacred Theology in 2009. She is currently working on her Doctor of Ministry at Episcopal Divinity School.
Mykal O'Neal Slack
Mykal O'Neal Slack is the founder and lead organizer of 4LYFE, an ecumenical, consultative ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches that develops anti-racist and anti-oppressive frameworks for church life and provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in faith communities of all kinds, inviting everyone to Live Your Faith Everyday. He also recently joined the staff of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh as their first Director of Congregational Life, where he will focus on newcomer welcome, membership and communications. For his commitment to multicultural culture-building in communities of faith, Mykal has been selected to serve as a Movement Fellow for the Southeast House of Soulforce for 2015-2016.
Mykal is a member of the Advisory Group for the Center for African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice, the Trans*/GNC Advisory Council of Metropolitan Community Churches, and the steering team of 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.
About his project, Mykal says:
“Every person, no matter their race, age, ability, sexual or affectional orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status or income, should have a spiritual place to call home, if they want it. But many people do not have a spiritual home, even though they are hungry for community that helps them be and become their best selves. It has long been my dream to nurture spaces where folks can 1) connect in ways that heal, not harm, 2) talk about and re-imagine church life that truly honors our differences and 3) make sustainable changes that are an outgrowth of spiritual practice, deep listening and active engagement in community. 4LYFE is a response to that need and a tangible reality of that dream.”
Before ministry, 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 featured blogger on Believe Out Loud, an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. A native of Georgia, Mykal is thrilled to be moving back down south with his honey, LeLaina, so he can be closer to family, get reacquainted with the local music scene and enjoy his front porch.
Anna Woofenden is the founding pastor of The Garden Church in San Pedro, California. She received her Master of Divinity from Earlham School of Religion, a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies, and is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. She has sixteen years of ministry experience both on a denominational and local level prior to following her call to ordained ministry.
About her project, Anna says:
“The Garden Church is committed to re-imagining church in a way that takes faith forward from a place where being “Christian” is associated with judgment, moral purity, and exclusivity, to speaking and engaging followers of Jesus by following his radical and difficult way of inclusivity, justice, feeding, healing, transformation and change. At the Garden Church, we are rooted in the Christian tradition and Swedenborgian theology, we have a wide-open table where people from all backgrounds, faiths, and ideologies can gather and be church together. Our motto is, “Feed and be fed.” This embodies the call to feed people in body, mind, and spirit, but more than that it points to the core principle that all humans are of value and have something to offer, as well as receive.”
Anna has a passion for spirituality, justice, beauty, compassion, and community, and is driven by a calling to re-imagine church. Anna grew up in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, has lived around the country and traveled throughout the world, and is always glad to come back to the Pacific Ocean. She enjoys nature, gardening, art, children, writing, community, singing, laughter, and a good cup of Chai.