We are working to develop leaders like:
Willie Dwayne Francois III
Willie Dwayne Francois III is Pastor of Congregational Care at First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York, where he is launching a reentry project for formerly incarcerated men.
About his project Willie says:
“I hope to lead people to discover their creative potential and encounter new neighbors through a faith community. After released, ex-offenders live in prisons of low access to employment, housing and education. My work gestures to build community, locate resources for returning citizens to sustain life, explore creativity and reduce recidivism in urban America.
“New York City is home to scores of returning citizens and adolescents in detention centers, which is familiar to urban America. The growing number of youth being pushed out of schools through “in-school’ arrests and returning citizens represent another opportunity for ministry engagement. Jesus practiced life with those "invisibles" by systems. Our church’s stated mission is to create disciples to transform the world. Unreservedly, we are already committed to the arts and their role in discipleship, communal revitalization and personal transformation. Mass incarceration is a transformative moment for my faith community—to engage human relationships and spread lateral love.”
“This project focuses on a demonized and politically sterile demographic in America—people disempowered by the State, labeled by people, ignored by the church and abandoned by family. I am proposing a humanizing project that takes seriously the social wounds of a people and believes in the capacity of a person to take the pen of her autobiography. The trauma associated with “doing time” or existential criminalization demands the resources of loving community and radical self-acceptance.”
Willie is a 2012 graduate of Harvard Divinity School and graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College in 2009.
Nancy Frausto is a priest and founder of “Scrappy Church Ministry”, a collaboration linking St. Mary’s and Trinity Episcopal Churches in Los Angeles
About her project, Nancy says:
“I am currently working in two different churches, both struggling in different ways. I consider my work with them “scrappy ministry” work. With both churches my mission is to develop lay leaders and ministries that focus on service and not just on Sunday worship. My dream is that I can strengthen people’s spirituality through ministries that focus on outreach to the community.
“My passion in ministry is working with people and churches that have enormous disadvantages and yet manage to overcome those obstacles and grow. My experience is that when you work in “scrappy” churches filled with “scrappy” people they bless you in unexpected ways. My passion in life is my commitment of finding God in all people and places whether it’s in the schizophrenic homeless women, the Bishops, the urine stained alleys or the Cathedrals.”
“This is not a project focused on getting people inside church to warm up the pews. This is a project to cultivate disciples so they can go out into the world, to be God’s light in the darkest edges of our society.
“’There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried’—this quote is attributed to Oscar Romero and is one of the quotes I have posted in both my offices and at my home. This quote means a lot to me because it is a constant reminder that many of the people that I serve suffer and see the world for the dark place it is but yet are also able to see the beauty and lovingness that is found within the darkness. Having been undocumented most of my life and homeless in my childhood and youth makes me a sister-in-suffering to my community and allows me be the voice for the voiceless and their companion in the fight for justice.”
Nancy is a DREAMER, and was recently approved for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She is a 2013 graduate of Claremont School of Theology and a 2009 graduate of California State University, Los Angeles.
Sean Lanigan is the founder and Community Convener of Holy Ground in Long Beach, California, and Campus Chaplain at Cal State Long Beach.
About Holy Ground, which is a joint Lutheran-Episcopalian ministry, Sean says:
“The dream we’re manifesting is a fresh expression of Christian community that calls young adults into passionate participation in God’s dream of shalom. We want to live with more wholehearted, self-giving, other-oriented love and with eyes wide open to God’s in-breaking grace.
“Like the Beatitudes Society, Holy Ground is committed to identifying and equipping young progressive Christians with the resources and support to live intentional, passionate, committed Christian lives. We have found that very few traditional congregations actively recruit and cultivate young adult leaders. We seek to help young adults actualize their spiritual potential and mobilize their compassion toward transformative justice and deep social change. We seek to be a visible and audible presence in our local community, proclaiming a Christianity that is good news for ALL.”
During the 2014-15 Beatitudes Fellowship year, Sean will be working to transition the initial core community into a more public, accessible, radically inclusive community that facilitates engagement at a range of intensities through multiple entry-points and opportunities for those interested in exploring spirituality and social justice.
Sean is a 2009 graduate of Yale Divinity School, where he was chosen as a Marquand Scholar in recognition of superior academic achievement. He was also selected as a Fund for Theological Education Ministry Fellow for exceptional promise in pastoral leadership. He received his Diploma of Anglican Studies from General Theological Seminary in New York in 2013, where he was also awarded the Seymour Prize for Extemporaneous Preaching. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 2005.
Kristofer Lindh-Payne is the Co-rector of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Timonium, Maryland and Director for Neighbor-to-Neighbor.
About his project, Congregations Organizing for Growth and Social justice (COGS), Kristofer says:
“I dream that we would engage the leaders of our congregation, community, county, and diocese in ways that will change us, as individuals and as institutions, through intentional use of community organizing practices. Through this project, we will fully engage the Industrial Areas Foundation’s systemic approach to disorganizing the non-functional bureaucratic layers and reorganizing these structures into more relational networks.
“Through this Congregations Organizing for Growth and Social justice (COGS) effort, we will identify and equip leaders to bring about transformative ministry in the following areas: 1) deepen our leadership development with our vestry as we re-organize our ministry teams, train and support the dozen Episcopal churches with whom we have begun this congregational organizing/development work, and continue to expand the Industrial Areas Foundation network and community organizing efforts in Baltimore County and across Maryland; 2) develop a transition plan for the Neighbor-to-Neighbor homeless prevention, family stability, and rapid re-housing programs that focuses our efforts, increases capacity, and creates more fluid administrative process; 3) work with key vestry, staff and other lay leaders to create a monthly interactive and intergenerational worship experience called the Welcome Table; 4) develop Youth Ministry at Epiphany (YME) through our Youth Cultivating Community immersion experience, our monthly non-traditional Evensong (Soundtracks of the Spirit) and our Making Peacemakers program (in partnership with Dulaney High School, the Cockeysville Community Center (PAL), and Goucher College); 5) pursue next steps in our anti-racism/anti-oppression work with community trainings through “Seeing the Face of God in One Another” (including a possible pilgrimage down York Road to the Baltimore City neighborhood where Epiphany was located until the early 1960s when it moved to the suburbs); 6) expand and develop Epiphany’s Community Garden effort to the wider community, including more Creation Care offerings for all ages; 7) do all this through shared leadership and genuine partnership in ministry, while not losing self and sacrificing family.”
Kristofer is a 2009 graduate of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, and holds a Masters of Arts degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from Loyola College in Maryland (2003) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development from St. Mary's College of Maryland (1999).
Emily McGinley is Pastor of Urban Village Church in Hyde Park | Woodlawn, Chicago.
About Urban Village, Emily says:
“Just over a year ago, I planted and launched a new, LGBTQ affirming, multi-racial faith community on the south side of Chicago. As we move into our second year and begin to create concrete structures, it would be easy to settle into ourselves and stop trying so hard. However, the work of building an intentionally diverse faith community means that continuous “trying” must be embedded into the culture – trying to understand one another’s lenses, languages, norms, and realities – as well as trying to be intentionally outward-focused, with concerns for justice, outreach, and having the capacity to thoughtfully articulate one's faith convictions.
“As part of my work pastoring a multi-racial, multi-denominational, and socio-economically diverse faith community, I seek to engage the issues that really matter to my people and to equip them with courage, conviction, and theological wisdom for thinking and speaking as people of faith to those issues that are most pressing in their communities. Through this ministry, I hope to invite others not only into the unique complexities, but also the distinct gifts that make up planting a multi-racial, theologically progressive, faith community that is committed to justice, compassion, inclusion, and peace.”
“As a predominantly young (20s and 30s), theologically progressive and diverse congregation, Urban Village Church is exactly the kind of faith community that will help to challenge and propel the tradition of social justice and faith in the church into the next generation.
“As American society grows increasingly diverse, faith communities will necessarily need individuals who are conversant and comfortable building relationships, growing in faith, and seeking justice alongside those who are different from themselves. Learning how to listen and speak with authenticity; how to constructively and compassionately hold the tensions that are inherent in difference; these are, and will increasingly be, requirements for pursuing justice and the common good.”
Emily is a 2009 graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where she served as Executive Director of the Common Ground Project, a ministry program that supported persons of color in church leadership. She is a 2002 graduate of the University of Washington.
Kerlin Richter is the founding priest of Bushwick Abbey in Brooklyn, New York.
About Bushwick Abbey, Kerlin says:
“I am in the first year of a new Episcopal church plant: Bushwick Abbey.
“We are committed to learning, sharing and celebrating the stories of Bushwick, as we work with those creating new stories. We are partnering with artists, performers, eco-justice advocates, writers, community organizers, readers, lawyers, poets, and musicians. We are learning each other’s languages and dreaming together.
“The spiritual heart of Bushwick Abbey is worship. We come together to question, to practice and to explore incarnation all inclusive love. We bring our whole creative selves to ancient Christian practices and discover them again for the first time.
“We believe that the truth of the universe is Love incarnate.
“Our response to that Love is to live lives of holy curiosity, generosity and creativity with grace in gratitude.
“We are boldly proclaiming God's love for all people regardless of sexual orientation, economic status, or religious background. We are also partnering with a number of other community organizations: Churches United for Fair Housing, Arts in Bushwick, the Bushwick Eco-Action Network, and the Community Board.
“We are an open and deeply accessible church. One of our goals is to lower a lot of the thresholds that keep people from coming to church. We are focused on reaching out to people who didn't know there was a church that was all about welcoming everyone and being about justice and peace, while being deeply biblical. One of the ways we do this is by meeting in a bar, and having dogs welcome at our services. I think a lot of people worry about "getting it right" in a worship setting and having a dog bark during the sermon eases up the expectations for everyone.”
For five years Kerlin was the editor of Hip Mama magazine, a counter-cultural feminist parenting zine. Kerlin spent the summer of 2012 serving St. Matthew's, an Urban Lakota congregation in Rapid City South Dakota. Kerlin is a 2013 graduate of General Theological Seminary in New York. She graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee State University in 2001.
Rozella White is Program Director for Young Adult Ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and founding partner of Generational Care Consulting Group.
About her project she says:
“My dream is called Generational Care Consulting Group, a collective of young adult faith leaders who seek to partner with faith communities and organizations of color to provide compassionate care, leadership development and capacity building that promotes healing, growth, and transformation. Our vision is to create a network of compassionate caregivers who understand that healing and wholeness begin with care for the mind, body, heart and soul. We aim to build communities who have the skills and resources to care for themselves and the ability to empower others to do the same.
“This work grows the capacity of faith leaders, within and outside of the ELCA, to engage in healthy leadership and supports members of congregations who may not have access to holistic care and support.
“This dream is steeped in a passion for helping individuals, families and communities of faith understand their stories - past, present and future - in order to experience abundant life. I define abundant living as a state of knowing and being, which seeks holistic health and wholeness that benefits individuals, families and communities. My philosophy is in keeping with the West African proverb known as Sankofa, which teaches that in order to know where you are going, you must know where you have been. The goal of Generational Care is to facilitate this knowledge and affect change in generations to come. I envision this work primarily within communities of color that have long faced interlocking systems of oppression that can be combated within the context of the faith community. I believe that many faith communities have lost their prophetic voice, one that integrates a person's lived experience with a theological and spiritual practice, which uplifts, empowers and supports. Generational Care seeks to provide an integrative reality.”
Rozella is a 2010 Honors graduate of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and a 2007 cum laude graduate of Texas Southern University.
Gerald “Jay” Williams
Gerald “Jay” Williams is Lead Pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Boston, and founder of the Christian Community Center (CCC) at Union.
About the Christian Community Center at Union, Jay says:
“Imagine a church not just part of the community, but central to the community’s life. Imagine Union as a Christian Community Center (CCC), a state-of-the-art venue for service, empowerment, and advocacy—complete with a commercial-grade community kitchen, market-style food pantry, music/arts studio, and educational/training space.
“The CCC is the “hub” of Union’s congregational life and service: It is the place where members live out their Christian call and urban responsibility to confront poverty, violence, and injustice. It is the intersection of Union’s faith community and our neighborhood. It is the space where our community partners gather to serve their constituents.
“The CCC is established to seek justice and for the common good. Union has been a Christian witness of social justice since our humble beginnings in 1796. Over the centuries, we have been abolitionists, desegregationists, women’s rights advocates, civil rights activists, anti-apartheid protestors, and economic justice seekers. Today, we hear God calling us to the contemporary work of progressive social change and LGBTQ equality. As Boston’s only queer-affirming black church, Union extends Christ’s radical welcome and hospitality to all people. We host in our church Boston University’s Queer Theology course (fall 2013) and the offices of the Hispanic-Black Gay Coalition, which provides coming-out peer support, youth leadership development, and HIV testing and health navigation.
“As we bring the CCC vision into reality, this historic congregation is renewing its call to love and serve.”
Jay is a 2009 graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York, and will complete his PhD in theology at Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2016. He is a 2003 graduate magna cum laude from Harvard College.