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Dr. Carla Works (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary)

Dr. Carla Swafford Works (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is Professor of New Testament at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Her research interests encompass the Pauline epistles, the New Testament’s use of Israel’s scriptures, biblical ethics, and theological interpretation. (Her publications include The Least of These: Paul and the Marginalized (Eerdmans, 2020), The Church in the Wilderness: Paul's Use of Exodus Traditions in 1 Corinthians (Mohr Siebeck, 2014), and "Philippians" in The Women's Bible Commentary (Westminster John Knox, 2012). She is passionate about teaching and learning for the service of the church and enjoys leading student groups to the Holy Land, Greece, and Turkey to see the biblical texts come alive in their midst.

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Kory Knott

Kory is Sr. Minister at Custer Road UMC, Plano TX. He received degrees from Evangel Univ, Perkins School of Theology, and Portland Seminary, Kory has specialized in revitalizing local churches. He has been recognized for outstanding effectiveness in evangelism and church growth. He is also an author. Kory and his wife Jennifer have 3 children.

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Rev. Brian Tillman

Rev. Brian Tillman is Associate Pastor at Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA. Rev. Tillman is committed to the core values of grace & mercy AND justice & righteousness, all wrapped up in the love of Jesus Christ. His passion for racial justice and reconciliation began at Morehouse College and continued when he created the Candler Society for Multiracial Congregations at Candler School of Theology. As Chair of the Commission on Religion and Race for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, he works to bring the church to racial justice and reconciliation. 

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Bishop Sharma D. Lewis

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, resident bishop of the Richmond episcopal area, became the first African-American woman to be elected bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church in 2016. Prior to her episcopal assignment, she held a distinguished record of service in the North Georgia Conference. In 2007, Bishop Lewis’ remarkable pastoral leadership at Wesley Chapel, a three-year tenure, led to over 600 new and restored members and worship attendance doubled. While there, her visibility as a strong spiritual and pastoral leader propelled her into numerous leadership roles in the local community, including Hands on Henry County and Many Hearts, Many Hands McDonough. Bishop Lewis worked as a research biologist and chemist prior to surrendering to God’s call upon her life. She has led mission experiences to Jamaica, Kenya and the Philippines.

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Susan Robb

Susan Robb is the Senior Associate Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, and Pastor to its Cox Chapel community. She has been part of the church staff for 20 years. God’s call to ministry led her to pursue a Master of Divinity degree at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2006 with an award in Homiletics. Susan’s area of expertise lies in writing and teaching Bible studies, and exploring the idea of listening to and responding to God’s call. She is married to Ike, and they have two children, Caroline and James, and an adored St. Bernard named Maggie. Susan is the author of Called: Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice.

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Pastor Albert Tate

Albert is a gifted and dynamic communicator who is passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the local and global church. Albert presents the Gospel to people across the country in academic, retreat and conference settings combining humor and storytelling of God’s amazing grace and love. His unique and passionate style from the pulpit combines inspiration and challenge, laughter and tears as people are engaged at their core. His hope for Fellowship is to cultivate a community of disciples that is unleashed to live out the Gospel by Growing in a life of worship, Gathering in community and Giving their lives away on mission.

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Dr. Eric Mason

Dr. Eric Mason is the founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is the founder and president of  Thriving, an urban resource organization committed to developing leaders for ministry in the urban context, and is the author of four books: Manhood Restored, Beat God to the Punch, Unleashed, and Woke Church. Dr. Mason has been graced by God to preach and teach at churches and conferences in the United States and overseas. Dr. Mason serves through Epiphany Fellowship in helping coach and train families to plant churches in cities locally, nationally, and internationally.

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James Ridgway, Jr.

James Ridgway, President & CEO of Educational Opportunities Tours, has enjoyed a lifetime of international travel from which he has developed a great appreciation for art and kaiserschmarrn. James is a respected leader in the travel industry worldwide but his heart is focused on the ministry of the Church. He has assisted local pastors and congregations as well as national and international church leaders change lives through Christian travel.

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Dr. Heath Peloquin

Dr. Heath Peloquin joined the staff of Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana on November 18, 2018 after serving as the Director of Missions for the North Texas Baptist Association. He has over 23 years’ experience in ministry. He received his Doctor of Ministry in Evangelism and Missions from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also received a Bachelor of Music in Church Music from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Dr. Peloquin and his wife, Jennifer have four children, Emilee, Ethan, Anna and Logan.

God has gifted Heath with tremendous enthusiasm and passion for the lost. His faithfulness to the Word of God and his communication style make his sermons both powerful and engaging. He is uniquely gifted to clearly communicate the Gospel to all ages. He possesses the rare qualities of an evangelist heart, faithfulness to God’s word, and the ability to relate to all he meets.

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Don Wilson

As an engaging leader and speaker, Don has held several pastoral and leadership positions. In 1982, he and his wife Sue started Christ’s Church of the Valley in his living room, and it expanded to include eight campuses in the greater Phoenix area with attendance over 27,000 and a 300-person staff. In addition, Don has conducted leadership training for over 7,000 pastors and leaders internationally. He recently launched Accelerate Group with a primary purpose to address the challenges of pastors and wives across the US and beyond. Some statistics indicate an 80%+ dropout rate of pastors within the first five years of ministry due to the demands of the job. Accelerate Group also focuses on leadership selection and transition, governance and role definitions to enable organizations to function more effectively.

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Commissioner Bill and Marilyn Francis

Dr. William and Marilyn Francis are retired commissioners of the Salvation Army. Marilyn is an accomplished vocalist and pianist and has produced an audio recording of vocal and keyboard improvisations. Bill is the author of three books. His most recent publication is Building Blocks of Spiritual Leadership (2015). Together, they have led 20 tours to Israel, as well as multiple journeys to Jordan, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Ireland. 

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Dr. Tom Smith

Rev. Dr. Thomas Smith is “Tom” to his friends, “honey” to wife Cathy, “dad” to his sons, and “Grumps”
to his four grandchildren. His journey from working with the Kentucky State Police to supervising a
factory that made explosives uniquely qualified him for serving 37 years as a pastor in churches of all
shapes and sizes, rural, county seat, urban and suburban. Tom is captivated by the beauty of nature. The
diversity of geography and how it intertwines with and affects history fascinates him. His book, Twilight
Springs, captures his vision of “the created seeing the Creator in creation.” His goal as a pastor, friend
and sojourner has been to help people glimpse the “Holy.” A few years ago, he “bought the farm”
literally, as he purchased a small farm in anticipation of retiring and spending time there. However, he
jumped at the chance to join Educational Opportunities as Executive Director of Travel Ministry in 2019
because he believes that travel changes people. He is aware of how impactful his travels have been on
him and loves to share that with others. Each and every journey has given opportunity for “thin space”
encounters that have shaped and formed his life and ministry.

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Chaplain Col. David Lile

CH (COL) David Lile is currently Chaplain at the Inter-American Defense College at Fort McNair, NCR. David served in the Peace Corps before being ordained an Elder in The United Methodist Church. He served churches in Kentucky and then became a military chaplain. He holds advanced degrees from Duke Divinity School and numerous military institutions. He has served in a variety of roles and settings around the world as a chaplain. He has received many awards and decorations including the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. He and his wife Gladys, from Moquegua, Peru, have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

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Dr. Bill and Marilyn Francis

Dr. William and Commissioner Marilyn Francis are retired commissioners of the Salvation Army. Marilyn is an accomplished vocalist and pianist and has produced an audio recording of vocal and keyboard improvisations. Bill is the author of three books. His most recent publication is Building Blocks of Spiritual Leadership (2015). Together, they have led 20 tours to Israel, as well as multiple journeys to Jordan, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Ireland. 

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Dr. Bryan Loritts

Dr. Bryan Loritts is the Executive Pastor of Teaching and Development at The Summit Church in North Carolina.

He is an award-winning author of seven books including Saving the Saved (Winner of the Christianity Today Award of Merit), Insider Outsider, and his newest release The Dad Difference. Dr. Loritts co-founded Fellowship Memphis in 2003, was Senior Pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Silicon Valley, California for 16 years and founded The Kainos Movement--an organization committed to seeing the multiethnic church become the new normal in our world. In addition to his responsibilities as a pastor, Bryan travels extensively throughout the world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ at conferences and events.

Dr. Loritts is the privileged husband of Korie and the graced father of three sons--Quentin, Myles and Jaden.

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Paul Saik

Paul is an accomplished vocalist and pianist. He has performed on some of the biggest stages in the world in opera, Broadway and Christian music. His passion is leading people in worship. He has served in churches since the age of 13 and is currently Director of Music Ministries at Centenary United Methodist Church in New Bern, NC. He also leads worship for special events and performs concerts around the country.

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Bishop Mike Watson

Bishop Watson is the Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Previously, he served as Bishop in Georgia for 16 years. Mike has served on the boards of many United Methodist and World Methodist boards, agencies, and organizations, as well as colleges, universities, and seminaries. He has visited 70 countries, speaking in over 35 of them. He and his wife Margaret have 2 children and are proud grandparents of 6 grandchildren. 

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Rev. Dr. Gary Mason

Rev. Dr. Gary Mason is a Methodist minister and directs a conflict organisation based in Belfast called "Rethinking Conflict." Prior to this, he spent 27 years as a Methodist clergy person in parish ministry in Belfast and has played an integral role in the Northern Irish peace process. He had a key role in establishing the Skainos project which is a world class urban centre developed in a post conflict society as a model of co-existence and shared space. It is acknowledged as the largest faith-based redevelopment project in Western Europe. Mason is a close advisor to Protestant ex-combatants on the civilianisation efforts of paramilitaries. He was instrumental in facilitating negotiations with paramilitaries and government officials in Northern Ireland, and in 2007 his contribution was formally recognised by the Queen. 

In 2009, Mason’s church was the stage from which Loyalist paramilitaries announced their weapons decommissioning. Mason has lectured in political and academic forums throughout Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and the U.S.A. on lessons from the Irish peace process. He has been interviewed on CNN, BBC, ITV and various radio programs. He holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Ulster, completed his theological studies at Queens University and has a Bachelor’s in Business Studies from the University of Ulster. Gary is a Senior Research Fellow at the Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention at Maynooth University in Ireland. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, lecturing on reconciliation, peace building and the history of the Northern Ireland conflict, racism, sectarianism and conflict transformation. Gary is a faculty advisor and partner to the Negotiation Strategies Institute a Harvard University programme on negotiation.

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Ben Witherington III

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is a prominent evangelical scholar and Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, The Gospel Code, A Week in the Life of Corinth, and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet.

Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University, and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament, and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges, and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline, and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness.

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Dr. Peter Walker

Dr. Peter Walker first visited the Holy Land in 1981 and has been leading tours on a regular basis since 1984—tours for clergy, students and lay people, tours for people from every continent (but especially UK, North America and East Africa). He has a particular interest in helping those in ordained ministry to gain insights from their visit to the Holy Land which will inform their life-long teaching ministry.

His own doctoral research work investigated how the first Christians understood the significance of Jerusalem—from the time of the apostles through to the Byzantine era in the fourth century.  Peter has written numerous books including popular-level books In the Steps of Jesus, The Story of the Holy Land and In the Steps of Saint Paul.

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Dr. Jim Harnish

Jim Harnish retired in 2014 after 43 years of pastoral ministry in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church including 22 years at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.  Known across the church as a leader and preacher, he is a facilitator for the Institute of Preaching at Duke Divinity School.  He is the author of more than 15 books and bible studies for Abingdon Press including A Disciple’s Path and Strength for the Broken Places. He was a Consulting Editor for “The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible” and a contributor to The Wesley Study Bible. He shares his “FaithMatters: Reflection on Life and Faith” at www.jimharnish.org.

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Bishop John Hopkins

Bishop Hopkins is the interim bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church. He served the East Ohio and Minnesota Conferences from 1996-2016. He graduated from Indiana University, Yale University and completed a residency in hospital, campus, and parish ministry at The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College. He has a passion for mission and was instrumental in the launch of Operation Classroom in Liberia and Sierra Leone. He was the first Chair of The Connectional Table which coordinates the worldwide mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Hopkins has traveled extensively and been a speaker on numerous EO tours.

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