Creating Vital Congregations Webinars
Archived Webinars

Practical Help for Laity and Clergy

365 Days of Giving: Examining Generosity and Gratitude in Complex Times | Ms. Aimée A. Laramore

Join us for a robust conversation about what it means to Preach/Teach, Ask, Evaluate, and Celebrate in a continuous cycle of congregational life.  In this webinar, we will explore the interconnected nature of giving and gratitude, reflect on internal cultures and core values, and explore opportunities and approaches for a more intentional, thoughtful culture of giving.

Ms. Aimée A. Laramore serves as Philanthropic Strategist for the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary.  She is passionate about non-profit excellence and capacity building in faith communities and the world.


Ask a Rabbi | Rabbi Moshe Smolkin

The Torah emphasizes the importance of asking questions. It provides us with sample questions our children might ask and offers us possible responses depending on how the question is asked and on who is asking the question. Asking questions is essential in Judaism, and we encourage our children to ask questions from a young age. Questions allow us a chance to understand a subject in new ways and from multiple perspectives. This is imperative if we are to deepen our understanding of the Holy Blessed One, of Torah, and of each other. This webinar is a chance for you to ask your questions.

Rabbi Moshe Smolkin is in his 10th year as the rabbi of Ohavay Zion Synagogue in Lexington, Ky. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Brandeis University and a M.A.T. in Mathematics  Education from Tufts University. He taught high school math before attending the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, where he interned as an  interfaith chaplain at UCLA Hospital. He also spent a year learning in Jerusalem. During the last two years of rabbinical school, he interned at Mishkon Tephilo in Venice, California. He was  ordained in 2009 and moved to Lexington with his wife, Talia.


Beyond the Communion Table: Deacons for a New Day! | The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr

In many congregations, the work of deacons is limited to service at the communion table. While this role is quite important, have you ever wondered about other aspects of leadership that deacons might give? This webinar will cast light on the unique ministry of the deacon within the context of a church that wants to increase its impact and influence for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Participants will consider two models of deacon: 1. Agent of Sacred Hospitality and 2. Agent of Holy Boldness. Please bring your Bible, an open mind, and an open heart!

The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr., is Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a 131-year-old Open and Affirming congregation in Findlay, Ohio. Now in his sixth pastorate, Dr. Sullivan has given leadership as Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, as Regional Minister and President of the Northwest and Pennsylvania Regions, respectively, and as a Christian educator with the Division of Homeland Ministries (Now Disciples Home Missions).  A nationally known public preacher, social justice advocate and death penalty abolitionist, Dr. Sullivan has conducted numerous elders and deacons workshops throughout his career.  He holds a B.S. in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University; M.Div. from LTS; D.Min from United Theological Seminary (Dayton); and an honorary doctorate from Bethany College.


Bridging the Gap in the Intergenerational Church | Dr. Bill Tenny-Brittian

Leading a church would be so much easier if everyone liked and resonated with the same worship style and presentation of the Gospel. But each generation has its own tastes and preferred learning styles. It’s not just the music that’s changed over the years. Nothing has been left untouched. In this webinar, Dr. Tenny-Brittian will explore what it takes to effectively bridge the generations, particularly in worship.

Dr. Bill Tenny-Brittian served in professional ministry for twenty years as a church planter and turnaround specialist before being invited to become the managing partner for The Effective Church Group, a full service church consulting and leadership coaching firm. He teaches evangelism and pastoral leadership for the Mid-America Center for Ministry and is the author of eight books, including Hitchhikers’ Guide to Evangelism and Prayer for People Who Can’t Sit Still.


Can We Talk? What the Bible Can Teach Us about Dialogue in a Divisive Time | Rev. Dr. Leah Schade

Ministry in the red-blue divide is fraught with risks, but also offers opportunities for proclaiming the gospel and building community in profound and contextual ways.  Informed by insights from her longitudinal research of nearly 3000 clergy and 1000 laity from 2017-2021, the Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade will help clergy and laity focus on insights from Scripture that can offer us wisdom in the midst of our fractured society.  Based on her book Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), Dr. Schade will introduce a “dialogical lens” for reading the Bible. Participants will examine upcoming lectionary texts using this dialogical lens which will provide sermon ideas for preachers and study opportunities for laity.

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky.  An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for twenty years, Leah earned both her MDiv and PhD degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary).  She has pastored three Pennsylvania congregations in suburban, urban, and rural contexts. Her book, Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide(Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), explores how clergy and congregations can address controversial social issues using nonpartisan, biblically-centered approaches and deliberative dialogue. She is also the author of Creation-Crisis Preaching:  Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015), and co-editor with Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).   Dr. Schade received a $30,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to study deliberative dialogue in classrooms and congregations.  She received the Kentucky Council of Churches award in 2019 and is the EcoPreacher blogger for Patheos.


The Church and the Global Refugee Crisis | Rev. Vy Nguyen

The global refugee crisis continues to rise at a high rate. Now there are more displaced people around the world than ever in our history. The role of the church to respond to this global crisis remains vital as ever. In this webinar, we will discuss the history of the church and how the church has responded to refugees throughout the world from the 1940s to present as well as the impact this crisis has had on the church as a whole.

Rev. Vy Nguyen currently serves as the Executive Director of Week of Compassion, the relief, refugee and sustainable development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In his role at Week of Compassion, he works with churches and ecumenical partners to coordinate and respond to global humanitarian efforts.


Church Communication and Promotion in the Information Age | Ms. Beth Goins

Communication is at the core of what churches do, yet it can be overwhelming to construct a comprehensive communication strategy. How do we surmount obstacles such as limited resources of time, expertise and finances to express clearly and effectively who we are and why we’re here? How do we communicate with our congregations? How do we use church resources most efficiently for successful communication? In this webinar, we will discuss the essentials for effective church communication for congregations large and small. You will learn about tools you can use to keep up with the changing expectations of today’s information consumers and equip members to spread the church’s message to your communities.

Ms. Beth Goins has more than two decades of experience in communication, from print and broadcast journalism to public relations, marketing and consulting roles with a wide range of organizations and institutions, from large regional medical centers to small congregations. She is the owner and president of Blue Sky Communications, LLC, a marketing and public relations consulting firm in Kentucky, and is a longtime member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).


Confronting Christian Nationalism | Dan Miller and Beau Underwood

There’s a growing awareness about the dangers Christian Nationalism poses to both American democracy and the message of the Gospel. How did this ideology that conflates American identity with a narrow understanding of Christianity take hold? What can be done to address it? This webinar will explore Christian Nationalism’s ideas and goals, while offering some practical ways those concerned about its influence can offer a faithful counter witness to its fusion of church and state.

Dan Miller is Professor of Religion and Social Thought in the Department of Liberal Studies at Landmark College in Putney, VT. He is the author of two books,The Myth of Normative Secularism: Religion and Politics in the Democratic Homeworld (Duquesne University Press, 2016) andQueer Democracy: Desire, Dysphoria, and the Body Politic (Routledge, 2022), as well as other articles and book chapters. He is also the co-host of the popular podcast Straight White American Jesus, where he discusses issues related to Christian nationalism, Religion and American Politics, and the coded language and practices of popular American Christianity. He is also a Trauma Resolution Practitioner with the Center for Trauma Resolution and Recovery, in which capacity he serves as a coach helping individuals to process religious trauma.

Beau Underwood is the senior pastor at Allisonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indianapolis, IN, a contributing editor with Word&Way, and a doctoral candidate in public affairs at the University of Missouri. Prior to entering congregational ministry, he worked in progressive faith-based advocacy in Washington, D.C. He is the co-author (with Brian Kaylor) of the forthcoming book from Chalice Press: Baptizing America: How Mainline Protestants Helped Build Christian Nationalism.

Congregational and Pastoral Care by Laity | Dr. Jeney Park-Hearn


Laity are key care-givers in every congregation. Gain more pastoral care skills and assessment tools that you can call upon in those moments when someone needs care from you. In this webinar, Dr. Park-Hearn will introduce a range of situations for which congregational members might seek care, and identify the skills and tools that will help you respond. In addition, she will address theological commitments that ground pastoral care and the importance of self-care.

Dr. Jeney Park-Hearn, is adjunct professor of Pastoral Care at Lexington Seminary and Seattle University. As the Director of Clinical Services at the Clinebell Institute for Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy in Claremont, CA, she helped coordinate a homeless shelter and a transitional program for paroled women.  Her ministry also has included work as Pastor of Community Life at Holliston UMC and as President of  Transgeneration Ministry.


Congregational Conflict | Rev. Dr. Aimee Moiso

Conflict and division within a congregation can lead to anxious moments for preachers.  In this webinar, Dr. Moiso will ask the hard questions about how preachers should handle these moments, explore assumptions about conflict and envision opportunities that conflict presents for the preacher.

Rev. Dr. Aimée Moiso is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  She recently completed her PhD. In homiletics and liturgics at Vanderbilt University.  Her dissertation focused on the challenges and possibilities of preaching in times of polarization and division.


Creative Worship for Diverse Congregations | Dr. Jacqui Lewis


Worship is a joyous, artistic opportunity to celebrate the Reign of God in congregational life – making worship both a celebration and a call to change!  The development of multiracial, multicultural communities of faith is one of the strongest defenses against the racial/ethnical tensions in our nation. By using the many cultural languages of our people and a variety of art – music, dance, drama, puppetry, and visual arts – we can include and inspire everybody and punctuate the message! This webinar will suggest strategies for multivocal worship planning, as you celebrate the gifts of racial  and cultural diversity in your community.

Dr. Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church, a multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City – and she is the first African-American and woman to serve in that position among the Collegiate churches. Ordained as a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, she is a graduate of Drew University and Princeton Seminary; and she preaches and teaches nation-wide on the power of multicultural and multiracial congregations to address racism and discrimination. Dr. Lewis is the Co-Founder of The Middle Project, which is preparing to host its tenth annual  conference designed to train faith leaders for the building of multiracial congregations.


Creative Worship for Smaller Churches | Rev. David Ray

Worship in smaller churches is both a challenge and an opportunity. In a congregation where most of the members know everyone else worship can be crafted particularly for those people present. Worship tailored to the small congregation will call forth and use the gifts of the people present and speak compellingly to the needs and possibilities of their lives. In this webinar, Dr. Ray will help participants become more creative – in ways only they can – with the worship they design and facilitate.

Dr. David Ray is a United Church of Christ clergy person with over 40 years’ experience as a pastor of small churches from coast to coast. He has provided program leadership concerning small churches for people across the nation. Dr. Ray is the author of several widely used books on smaller churches, including Wonderful Worship in Smaller Churches, The Indispensible Guide for Smaller Churches, and Smaller Churches: Real Possibilities for Hard Times. He serves as visiting minister for an ex-patriate church in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


Cultivating Food Justice in Our Churches: Building Power and Sustaining Joy | Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson

Feeding the hungry is at the heart of the call for those who follow Jesus Christ. Virtually every church engages in some kind of feeding ministry. While many of these hunger programs were set up to help people in crisis, it does not take long to realize that hunger is not an exceptional space in our food systems. It is baked into our current structures. The approach of food justice seeks to understand issues related to food in systemic terms and to respond by cultivating collective power and nurturing alternatives.

In this webinar, we will explore the ways various ministries related to food can be transformed. We will begin by learning from the systemic approach of food justice, which helps us work for wider-scale change while finding ways to sustain our work and root it in joy. We will then explore how this approach parallels the practices of Christ that sought to feed people by organizing farmers and fishers and cultivating life-giving communities. Finally, we will explore three mapping exercises that look for connections between food ministries, examine power dynamics, and name the assets and gifts that are hiding in plain sight in our communities.

In our brief time together, we will seek to discern where the rich soil of community is in your context so you can start sowing seeds of justice that can be nurtured over the long term for larger change.

Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson is a theologian, Disciples pastor, and organizer whose work takes place at the intersection of environmental justice and discipleship. He is the Director of the Doctor of Ministry and Continuing Education programs at Lexington Theological Seminary and is also the director of the Green Good News. He is author of The Green Good News: Christ’s Path to Sustainable and Joyful Life (2019); Exercises in New Creation from Paul to Kierkegaard (2018); and Singing the Psalms with My Son: Praying and Parenting for a Healed Planet (coming in 2023). He is chair of the Christ Seminar, a project on Christologies of the People with the Westar Institute, and area editor for ecology and environment for The Bias Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophical theology from Syracuse University, an MDiv from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and a BA from Transylvania University.


Deacon’s Workshop | Rev. James Trader

What does it mean to be a Deacon?  How can an energized Diaconate promote congregational vitality?  Drawing upon the history of the Diaconate in the Christian Church (DOC) and the New Testament descriptions of the characteristics and duties of Deacons, we will seek to understand some of the historical AND present-day roles of this important lay ministry.

A veteran of church publishing, lay leadership training, and especially Deacon training, the Rev. James Trader has been an active leader in Disciples’ life for many years.  Having served as an LTS staff member for 16 years, he is now the Curator of The Cane Ridge Meeting House, near Paris, Kentucky.  His grasp of history and continuing interest in the emerging DOC landscape combine to make him a knowledgeable presenter for this workshop on the role of the Diaconate.


Dinner Church | Rev. Rachel Nance Woeler & Rev. Tim Kim

Have you wondered what the term “Dinner Church” means and if it could be a way your congregation could?  In this webinar, we will explore some ways dinner church is being practiced around the country.  We will learn how to start a dinner church, receive examples of worship liturgies, and hear about the impact worshiping in the context of a meal can have in shaping communities of faith.

Rev. Rachel Nance Woehler currently serves as the Transitional West Area Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky.  She is a co-convener of Potluck Church in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Rev. Tim Kim is the co-founder and lead pastor of Root and Branch Church in the Illinois/Wisconsin region.  Originally from Southern California, he has made Illinois his home for over a decade.


Empowering the Laity to Care for Pastors | Rev. Greg Alexander

Pastors and their families are human, too! They have the same realities to deal with in their lives as do the members of their congregation. This webinar will explore healthy and unique ways laity
can help meet the needs of their pastors

The Rev. Greg Alexander is the General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky. He has been working with congregations and pastors as a member of the CCK staff  for over 25 years and brings that experience to this webinar. In addition, he is an adjunct faculty member of Lexington Theological Seminary as an instructor in Congregational Systems.


Equity and Liberation: Dismantling racism 2.0 | Rev. Yvonne Gilmore

Dismantling racism calls for a commitment to equity and regenerative justice making practices. Anti-racism as a spiritual practice is not a zero-sum construct but a process of community transformation and liberative identity formation. This interactive webinar will explore practical applications of liberative theology and spiritual practices at work in congregations and community institutions to foster intersectional communication and relational unity, and to overcome implicit bias and microaggression.

Rev. Yvonne T. Gilmore began serving as Interim Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation, and Associate General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada on December 1, 2020. From 2013-2020, she served as Associate Dean of Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago (DDH), and as a co-teacher in the MDiv Arts of Ministry sequence at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Ever committed to the cultivation of thought leadership and community formation, she co-directs “Living Justice: An Anti-Racist Practicum,” a justice learning and innovation lab that seeks to test out new approaches for connecting transformative leaders and ideas at DDH UChicago, and is also a core trainer with Reconciliation Ministries. She is a gifted spoken word artist and solo poet, and a member of the band, the Cornel West theory. Rev. Gilmore is also a former member of the Board of Directors of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM), and the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a former new church pastor, and chaplain. She holds a BA in International Relations from The American University, and an MDiv from the University of Chicago Divinity School.


Financially Resourcing Your Ministry and Mission | Dr. Bruce Barkhauer

Take the pain and discomfort out of your stewardship efforts by gaining an understanding of what stewardship is really all about.  Participants will come away with a biblical and theological understanding of stewardship as well as planning and programming ideas that are proven to work in congregations just like yours.  This is for both small and large congregations who want to be able to do what they believe God is calling them to accomplish.

Dr. Bruce A. Barkhauer was called as the first Minister for Faith and Giving for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 2010, after 25 years of parish ministry. Since that time he has  engaged the whole church in conversations about generosity and offered transformative ways for congregations to think about stewardship.  He is the author of numerous articles, and most  recently a book of devotions, Community of Prayer (Chalice Press, 2016). He is a graduate of Ohio University (Athens) and Christian Theological Seminary.  


How to Have a Life-Giving Pastoral Sabbatical | Dr. Daniel Richter

This webinar will provide a rationale for the pastoral sabbatical by rooting this “season of renewal” in the broader faith practice of Sabbath-keeping. We will examine practical tips for planning sabbatical leaves so that they benefit parishes as well pastors.  Participants will explore two sabbatical grant opportunities designed especially for pastors and funded by the Religion Division of  Lilly Endowment: Clergy Renewal Grants (renewal through rest, refreshment, and relationship-tending) and Pastoral Study Project Grants (renewal through study, contemplation, and  wisdomseeking).

Dr. Don C. Richter graduated from Davidson College (A.B.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.). He served as Associate Minister of Education at Second Presbyterian Church  in Louisville and taught at Bethany Theological Seminary and Candler School of Theology. As Associate Director of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People of Faith,  Richter wrote Mission Trips That Matter (Upper Room Books, 2008), and with Dorothy C. Bass, co-edited Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens (Upper Room Books, 2002). He resides in  Louisville, where he sings in the Highland Presbyterian Church chancel choir.


How to Survive and Thrive as an Elder | Rev. Bill McDonald

A refresher course for old hands and a how-to class for fresh recruits to the Eldership, this practical workshop will give helpful ideas on fulfilling one’s role as an Elder. From preparation to prayer, from the Lord’s Table to the hospital room, from shepherding to servanthood, from the how to the why, through stories and scripture this webinar will offer a broad scope and detailed information for elders in churches large or small.

Rev. Bill McDonald, a retired pastor with fifty years’ experience with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has served churches in Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana, retiring from Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington, KY. He is a Disciples of Christ representative on the national Stone-Campbell Dialogue. Rev. McDonald also helped found Habitat For Humanity affiliates in Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana.


Human Trafficking: Framing Pastoral Responses to Forced and Exploited Labor | Dr. Yvonne Zimmerman

Human trafficking is often depicted as if it is primarily and most urgently a problem of sold sex and as if trafficking mainly affects women and girls. Thus depicted, when Christians respond to human trafficking, they frequently recruit sexual values that, steeped in Christian purity culture, problematically conflate sexual purity and virtue. Starting with an exploration of this popular understanding of trafficking and its impact on both public policy and vulnerable populations, this webinar will help ministers and lay leaders think theologically about human trafficking outside of a sexual purity framework and will discuss ways the church can respond both practically and pastorally to the needs that underlying situations of human trafficking.

Dr. Yvonne Zimmerman (she/her) is Associate Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio near Columbus, Ohio (USA). Her primary area of research is the movement to end human trafficking, and she has published extensively on this topic, including Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking (Oxford University Press, 2012). Zimmerman holds a BA from Goshen College; a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver.


Hybrid Church: More than Streaming | Rev. Vilson Hurtado

Learn how to bring your online community closer to you as you get closer to them.   

This webinar offers insights into the Hybrid Church, delving into its concepts, benefits, and challenges. It encourages churches that provide video conferencing/streaming services to offer support and ministry opportunities to their

virtual communities. Furthermore, it ignites enthusiasm for the seamless integration of technological tools into pastoral care, worship, and evangelization. Rev. Hurtado shares his testimony, inspiring attendees to unlock the growth potential that technology offers. 

Rev. Vilson Hurtado holds a Bachelor’s degree in System Engineering and a Master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Since 2003, he has served as the senior pastor at Iglesia Cristiana Discipulos de Cristo de Miami. Additionally, he is the speaker of an online daily devotional across various social networks and serves as a Chaplain at VITAS Healthcare. He excels as a bridge builder, resource integrator, and is deeply passionate about both mission work and technology. 


Imagining a New World | Rev. Teresa Hord Owens

In these unprecedented times, more than ever, we must have the courage to imagine a new church for a new world.  We must give ourselves permission to change and live in freedom from fear.

Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens is the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  She has served as a former Dean of students at the University of Chicago and has more than 20 years of experience leading diverse teams in corporate America.


Intergenerational Ministry | Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove

Ministries Across Generations is a counter-culture movement to engage in faith daily with a more holistic reality of being faithful for life.  This webinar will help us understand and learn the importance of including all ages in various faith encounters, how to engage intentionally in intergenerational worship, learning and mission.

Rev. Dr. Olivia Updegrove, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has worked with children, youth, and young adults at various stages of her ministry and has a deep passion for biblical education for all ages as a foundation for deeper spiritual growth.


Intimate Partner Violence and the Church: A Faithful and Faith-filled Response | Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis

Victims and Survivors of domestic violence may not call the police. They may not seek out shelter. And they may not even tell a family member or friend about their abuse. Yet, the one place they may go to seek assistance is the Church. Is the church ready to respond? Is the church prepared to provide effective pastoral care for victims of abuse and accountability to perpetrators? Is the church aware of the devastating impact of violence on the family, community, and the church? And, Finally, has the church even considered their vital role in a collaborative partnership with other service providers. In addition to explaining the dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence, this presentation will seek to establish an ethical, theological, and moral imperative toward a faithful and faith-filled response to domestic violence. 

Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis is a United Church of Christ ordained pastor with deep roots in the Pentecostal Church, (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, PAW). She brings over 30 years of pastoral care experience in the church as well as in the academy in the fields of ministry, pastoral care, theology, and ethics. Sharon earned her Master of Divinity Degree (Ministry) from Chicago Theological Seminary; her Doctor of Ministry degree (Pastoral Care) from McCormick Theological Seminary; and her PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary (Theology, Ethics, and the Human Science – Sociology). Dr. Ellis Davis is the author of Battered African American Women: A Study in Gender Entrapment (2014) and, in publication for 2022, Navigating My Way Through: Sexual and Domestic Violence. She is also a contributing author of two books. Dr. Ellis Davis is a retired certified chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains and a member of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Ellis Davis teaches classes such as Sexual and Domestic Violence; Pastoral Care in Times of Crisis; Christian Ethics, and Peace building in the Beloved Community. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis is a Trainer for FaithTrust Institute, Seattle, WA, for Healthy Clergy Boundaries and Healthy and Safe Families. She is married to Rev. Dr. Edward Smith Davis, Conference Minister for the Southern Conference, United Church of Christ. Together they share 6 Children (one deceased), 15 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. Her favorite scripture passage is Isaiah 40:31, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount with wings as Eagles. They shall run and not be weary. And they shall walk and not faint, (KJV).  


Islam 101 | Dr. Ihsan Bagby

The first half of this webinar will cover the basic beliefs and practices of Islam, highlighting the similarities and differences with Christianity and Judaism. The second half will explore present day issues such as terrorism, Shari’ah, Islamophobia and the typical stereotypes of Islam and Muslims.

Dr. Ihsan Bagby is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on the Muslim community in America, the American mosque and the African American Muslim community. He has conducted two comprehensive studies of mosques in America in 2000 and 2010, resulting in multiple publications on the state of Islam in America. Presently he is working on two articles on giving in mosques and on mosque governance; he is also working on a book-length congregational study of a mosque. He is active in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (an interfaith association of religious researchers). He is a research fellow in the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding. He is a board member of Islamic Seminary Foundation and the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA).


Leadership in a Multicultural World | Rev. Lori Tapia

As we live and serve in an increasingly globalized world, the need for leadership that can inspire and unite across diverse cultural, linguistic, and contextual differences becomes more critical.  This webinar will offer practical tools for expanding leadership in multicultural settings, as well as developing cultural intelligence vs. cultural competence.

Rev. Lori Tapia is the National Pastor for Hispanic Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  She is a church planter, author, and speaker with more than 25 years of bi-national experience in the administration and development of community, family, and social service programs.


Leading a Missional Church | Dr. Pablo Jimenez

Building on the “missional church” concept, this webinar will explore ways to develop a clear vision for “doing church” – which could be the basis for a fresh mission and ministry strategy for your church. Our overall aim is to help church leaders learn to motivate their congregations toward engaging the culture in relevant ways with the message of the Gospel.

Dr. Jimenez has served as the National Pastor for Hispanic Ministries of the Christian Church (DOC) in the United States and Canada. He has taught throughout the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean at Lexington Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, Princeton  Theological Seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Universidad Teologica del Caribe, and the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. He currently serves as Pastor of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Espinosa, Dorado, Puerto Rico.


The Local Church and Social Justice: Bringing Church to the Streets | Rev. Megan Huston and Rev. Dr. Donald K. Gillett, II

When ministers are at their best, they are preachers, organizers and chaplains, but balancing these roles can be challenging, especially in the midst of our current political divide. Rev. Dr. Don Gillett and Rev. Megan Huston spent two years working together as clergy leaders for Kentucky’s Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. They will share stories and best practices about navigating the diffi cult path of balancing the pastoral and the prophetic. During this webinar, participants will be invited to ask questions and explore what it means to be called as a pastor or lay leader to live into the ministry of loving God and neighbor.

Rev. Megan Huston is in her 11th year of congregational ministry and is currently serving in her sixth year as Senior Minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Bowling Green, Ky. She also serves as a Tri-Chair for the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign.

Rev. Dr. Donald K. Gillett II is the Senior Pastor at East Second Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington, Ky., where he has served since July 1999. He is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches. He also serves as a Tri-Chair of the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign.


Practical Strategies for Church-Based Community Transformation | Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra

We know that Jesus’ mission goes beyond eternal life to include abundant life not only for his individual followers but, through them, the communities where they dwell. However, most churches have a very limited relationship with their communities. This webinar will focus on how to deepen that relationship for greater impact. It will include both internal mechanisms and structures (how to better organize the church) and external strategies (faith-rooted approaches that allow the church to contribute its unique gifts to broader collaborative partnerships).

Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra is the co-author of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. She has 30 years of ordained ministry experience in the ELCA. She has over 40 years experience in church-based community development, community organizing and advocacy. She is the co-founder of the New Sanctuary Movement, the Evangelical Immigration Table, the Guardian Angels Unaccompanied Migrant Minors Project and Matthew 25/Mateo 25, a bipartisan Christian network of immigrant and non-immigrant churches.


Preaching Controversial Issues | Rev. Dr. Leah Schade

The challenge of addressing issues of public concern from the pulpit is fraught with risks, but also offers opportunities for proclaiming the gospel and building community in profound and contextual ways.  Informed by insights from her survey of over 1200 clergy entitled “Preaching about Controversial Justice Issues,” Dr. Schade will provide both scriptural and theological rationale that authorizes preachers to address “hot button” topics.  With the lectionary texts for Advent in view, participants will learn a variety of models to proclaim the gospel in the midst of a contentious political climate – without being divisive or partisan.  Preachers will envision new ways to engage the public sphere with both prudence and imagination.

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky.  An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) for 16 years, Leah has served congregations in rural, urban, and suburban settings.  She earned both her MDiv and PhD degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and completed her dissertation focusing on homiletics (preaching) and ecological theology (caring for God’s creation).  Her book Creation-Crisis Preaching:  Ecological Theology and Homiletics (Chalice Press, 2015) is available at  Her “EcoPreacher” blog on Patheos can be found at:  Leah’s latest research is focusing on ministry in “the purple zone,” helping clergy find ways to preach about controversial justice issues in a time of contentious politics.  Visit her website for articles and results from her research:


Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: Breaking the Silence and Creating a Safe Space in Our Churches | Rev. Amy Gopp

We can no longer allow the sin of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) to occur—at any time, in any place, to anyone.  We want our congregations to be safe spaces for all. Moreover, faith leaders are often the first persons a victim of SGBV will confide in. This first contact can have a huge impact on victims. It is critical that faith leaders and communities are prepared ahead of time. This webinar focuses on understanding your role in immediate response, educating your faith community, utilizing prevention tools, and breaking the silence around SGBV.

The Rev. Amy Gopp, VP of External Relations for IMA World Health, is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with two decades of experience in faith-based relief and development. She is a passionate global activist for gender justice and a key founding leader of the interfaith We Will Speak Out U.S. coalition and campaign to end sexual and gender-based violence.


Stewardship, Generosity, and Boundaries in Ministry | Dr. Yvonne Martinez Thorne

This webinar will focus on the importance of boundaries in the call to be effective and generous pastoral leaders in the Body of Christ. Participants will explore their overall assumptions about generous giving and living as pastoral stewards in congregations that are experiencing a myriad of challenges that impact effective giving and participation in ministry. Participants will also  identify and affirm the realities in pastoral ministry that can create personal and financial crises for clergy. The goal of this webinar will be to further equip clergy for effective pastoral leadership  s they seek to maintain healthy boundaries in their response to God’s generosity and abundance.

Dr. Yvonne Martinez Thorne is founder and CEO of Cultivating Wholeness Counseling Associates where “caring for the whole person matters.” This faith-based practice includes specialized services for ordained clergy and lay leaders, and provides secular and faith-based counseling and psychotherapy to adolescents, adults, couples and families of different faiths, races, and  cultures.  She served as consultant for Area Ministry and Communications for the Philadelphia Baptist Association, where she provided executive and pastoral leadership to pastors and  congregations. Dr. Martinez Thorne holds a Master of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Education degree from Columbia University.


Storytelling as Preaching | Rev. Cynthia Maybeck

Preaching is central to the work of the pastor, but how do we make the biblical story come to life? Participants in this webinar will hear biblical and personal stories and learn how to collect stories  to use in the pulpit. When we connect our personal faith story with the biblical story, our preaching improves in its authenticity and integrity.

Rev. Cindy Maybeck, founder of Spirit Story Ministry, has over three decades of experience in the pulpit. She served as pastor of multi-denominational congregations related to the American Baptist Churches, USA; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and United Church of Christ. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School and master  certification from the Academy for Biblical Storytelling. She is an accomplished teacher and engaging preacher. More at


Taking the Mystery Out of Estate Planning | Dr. Gary Kidwell

Estate planning is typically shrouded in complex and onerous concepts. Through this webinar, you will learn, in easy to understand terms, how to build a plan that can protect and care for your  family and witness to your faith and values.

Dr. Gary Kidwell has served as president of the Christian Church Foundation since 2003. Prior to joining the Foundation staff in 1998, he was a consultant with Church Extension and a new church pastor/developer. He is a graduate of Campbellsville College, Campbellsville, Kentucky, has a Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary, and completed post-graduate studies at Harvard Business School. Dr. Kidwell is a Chartered Financial Consultant and Certified Fundraising Executive.



Tending Hope: The Church’s Mission with Our Aging Population | Rev. Joby Brown & Rev. Joan Schlesing

What is the churches’ response to the growing number of older adults who are seeking wholeness and purpose in their lives? This webinar will discuss  theological and practical issues for this significant population, and it will offer some ideas about engaging older adults in the mission of the Church.  Based on their experience and research, our Chaplains will help us explore some of the vast, rich opportunities available to individuals and congregations.

Dr. Joby Brown and Dr. Joan Schlesing are Board Certified Chaplains with the Association of Professional Chaplains. After varied careers multiple  faith-based ministries, both are now Staff Chaplains with Christian Care Communities of Kentucky. Brown specializes in work with older adults in  independent living and is a frequent presenter in the areas of spirituality, healthcare, and the congregational care of older adults. Schlesing’s expertise extends to seniors living independently and in skilled nursing care, with significant work focused on seniors who have dementia-related illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease.


Touch the Wound: Drug User Harm Reduction and the Church | Hilary Brown

Since 2010, heroin overdose death rates have quadrupled in the United States. Opioid and methamphetamine use continue to rise while evidence-based treatment options remain underfunded and inaccessible to many. This webinar will address the role the church can play and what Christians can do to reduce the harms experienced by people who use drugs and their families. Examples of congregations that are showing up to support harm reduction in Appalachia, one of the regions hardest hit by the current overdose crisis, will be explored.

Hillary Brown is the executive director of Steady Collective (, a harm reduction program based in Asheville, N.C. Hillary worked in Catholic Worker houses on both coasts before arriving in Appalachia where she pursued congregational ordination before jumping into harm reduction full time.


Transforming Conflict: Dealing with Difficult People in Your Congregation | Dr. Mark Sundby

Every congregation has them – individuals who challenge your personal and professional skills to the fullest. This webinar will help clergy and laity to identify, analyze, and manage difficult personalities and behaviors. Participants will learn how some of their own coping skills may affect the  dynamics and outcomes of conflict situations.

Dr. Mark Sundby is a licensed psychologist and ordained pastor in the Wisconsin Conference of the  United Methodist Church. His psychology degree is from the University of Minnesota and his divinity degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School.  He has served local congregations, has worked in university counseling centers, and has taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Currently, he is Director of the North Central Ministry Development Center in New Brighton, Minnesota, and leads ministry workshops across America.


Using Congregational Assets to Strengthen Communities | Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser

Does your congregation have a building that sits empty most of the year? Do you have a large plot of land around the church? Are there local leaders, key influencers and great storytellers in your congregation? Do you have cooks, seamstresses, contractors and grandmothers? This webinar intends to help pastors and lay leaders explore the ways the various assets of their congregations could be put to more intentional missional use. We will consider charity and volunteer work and also think of systemic changes congregations can support through grassroots coalition building, policy and structural change and racial reconciliation.

Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser is the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning and Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at High Point University. He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He joined the HPU faculty in 2011 after teaching at the University of Chicago and DePaul University. He primarily teaches Business Ethics, Educational Ethics, Christian Theology and Civic Responsibility and Social Innovation.


Welcoming the Stranger: Building Capacity for Racial Justice Conversations in Primarily White Local Church Contexts | Rev. Dr. A. J. Bush

Addressing racism and white supremacy is important work for the Christian church. However, research has shown that many pastors and church leaders in primarily white, homogeneous, and/or rural congregations hesitate to address issues of race and difference due to backlash from their congregations and other obstacles. How can local church leaders begin to engage in conversations around race and difference in these contexts? What tools, resources, and spiritual practices are effective? This webinar will explore the unique work of addressing race and difference in primarily white, homogenous and/or rural congregations. We will also review practical tools and exercises from a four-week small group curriculum that can be used to begin conversations around race and difference in this unique context.

Rev. Dr. A.J. Bush is a United Methodist pastor and recent graduate of the Doctor of Ministry program at Lexington Theological Seminary. After receiving her Master of Divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology, A.J. served as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Gillette, Wyo. Her experience pastoring in rural Wyoming led to her passion and research around conversations on race and difference in white, homogeneous, and rural contexts. A.J. has also served churches in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is currently the Pastor of Congregation and Community Engagement at Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver, Colo. A.J. loves serving the local church and has a heart for equipping local church leaders for transformative ministry.


Why Care About Mass Incarceration? Rev. Dean Bucalos

There are more people in prison in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Moreover, a disproportionate number of people of color are held in our prisons, jails and detention centers. How did this happen? Can our broken criminal justice system be repaired? How can faith communities become part of the solution? This webinar will explore this pressing problem that affects all our communities and places of worship.

Rev. Dean W. Bucalos is the executive director of Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, an ecumenical re-entry program that trains small faith-based groups to work with returning citizens upon their release from prison. He also serves part time as the mission specialist for prison and jail ministries for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Ordained in the Disciples of Christ, Rev. Bucalos has served congregations in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.


Work Together, People! How to Put Your Church Space to Work Monday through Friday | Daryn DeZengotita & Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford

Many congregations see their facilities as liabilities rather than gifts from God bestowed by previous generations. This webinar will encourage hope for transforming that understanding and inspire, empower, and equip participants to steward their facilities as assets for community engagement, innovation and impact. Participants will be shown how to connect with neighbors, facilitate ministry and generate revenue through approaches such as coworking. You will discuss how to harness energy from these discussions to create fi nancially sustainable work spaces that accelerate serendipity and dismantle loneliness in your own neighborhoods. You will discover you already have everything you need.

Daryn DeZengotita is a coworking evangelist and hospitality is her superpower. At Table Coworking, she consults with churches to transform underutilized space into vibrant community centers. As part of Harvard Divinity School’s Innovative Community Leaders, she is exploring new forms of joyful belonging and gathering.

Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford serves as the Lead Pastor of Central Christian Church in Dallas, Texas, and is the Executive Director of the Central Westside Campus. Ken’s doctoral thesis, “Transforming Vocations,” is an exploration of how individuals (and now institutions) grapple with the shifts thrust upon them regarding how they live out their calling to follow Christ and be instruments of blessing in the world.


“You Cannot Serve God and Money”: Today’s Global Debt System as a Moral and Pastoral Emergency | Rev. Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn

In this webinar, we will explore together how, in an era of “finance capitalism,” money is a social relationship of credit and debt that emerges from and reproduces social and material inequality and how the Church and its leaders might respond.

Rev. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn is an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, teacher, and co-founder of The Pastoral Center for Healing.  He serves as Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling.  Rev. Rogers-Vaughn is the author of “Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age.”


Your Money or Your Life: Stories of Stewardship | Rev. Cindy Maybeck

Do you dread the liturgical season of stewardship in your church? What if our approach to money was as fun, humorous and loving as the telling of a favorite Bible story? As we share biblical and personal stories about money, we move from dread to joy, from fear to trust, from a view of scarcity to one of abundance. Learn how to bring this spirit of creativity and joy into your church, creating community on the way.

Rev. Cindy Maybeck, founder of Spirit Story Ministry (, has over three decades of experience in the pulpit. She served as pastor of multi-denominational congregations related to the American Baptist Churches USA, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ. An accomplished teacher and engaging preacher, she
tells biblical stories by heart and leaves people transfixed and inspired by her personal stories.


Youth Ministry in Small Churches | Rev. Bill Spangler-Dunning

Explore the how, the why, and the mission-focused purpose of starting and developing a youth ministry in a smaller church.  This webinar will focus on healthy ways to start a new youth ministry program, as well as some common pot holes that can derail startups in small churches. You will also learn about structures and schedules that work better in small churches with fewer volunteers. Rev. Spangler-Dunning will share his first-hand knowledge of what it takes to develop, structure, and lead a youth ministry program and make it last.

Rev. Bill Spangler-Dunning presently serves as the Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Upper Midwest. He also has served as youth minister in several congregations, as the West Area Youth Coordinator in Kentucky, and as Associate Regional Minister in the Upper Midwest. He is a founding member of the Disciples Youth Ministry Network (DYMN), and has authored the youth ministry resource curriculum titled “Revolutions: Finding New Ways to Talk to Youth About Issues Revolving Around the World.”