Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and watch the Bible come alive in the Holy Land
Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and watch the Bible come alive in the Holy Land
In 2020, witness the Oberammergau Passion Play that is only produced every 10 years.
Cruise Paul's Journeys, the Lands of the Bible and across the Mediterranean
Sail along the Rhine, Danube, Mostelle Rivers and more on a River Cruise.
Discover the roots of the early church on our heritage land tours
Learn about the journeys of Paul on our Italy, Greece and Turkey land tours
From Ireland and Scotland to Africa and India, EO can guide you around the world
Cruise to Alaska, the Baltic Sea, Canada, the Caribbean and more
Over 80,000 people have served in over 157 countries with the help of EO
Christian Music is the expression of our faith and a witness to the world
Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli is Senior Pastor of historic Foundry UMC in Washington, DC, the first woman to hold this leadership position. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she contributed to and served as a general editor for The CEB Women’s Bible and authored Sacred Resistance: A Practical Guide to Christian Witness and Dissent. Ginger is a sought-after preacher, teacher, and facilitator at local, regional, and international events.
The Reverend Sandy Webb has served as Rector of Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal) in Memphis, and as a trustee of St. Mary’s Episcopal School, since 2013. Sandy has also served as a fire department chaplain, on a medical research ethics panel, and for fifteen years as a worship planner and coordinator for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. An accomplished Christian educator, Sandy’s letters and essays have been accepted by a variety of publications.
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.
Susan Salley is an Associate Publisher at Abingdon Press, the publishing arm of The United Methodist Publishing House. Her team works on inspirational books and media-based Bible study. She received her MBA at The Owen Graduate School of Management. Her first career was in the tour industry creating a lifelong love of travel.
Michelle Funk serves as the Women’s Ministry Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. She provides direction and support for all discipleship opportunities specific to women, including a ministry for moms, bible study offerings, denominational ministry, women’s small groups and special events.
Jerrad Lopes is a Christian pastor and the founder of Dad Tired, a non-profit ministry focused on equipping men to lead their family well. He hosts the weekly Dad Tired Podcast, listened to by hundreds of thousands of men from around the world, and also authored Stop Behaving: A Gospel-Centered Devotional for Men.
He and his wife Leila live in Portland, Oregon with their two children.
Kevin is the director of Traditional/Blended Worship Arts at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS. He has developed a wide variety of worship and musical experiences for the church that have included music, dance, drama and multi-media resources. Under his direction, the Resurrection Choir and Orchestra have performed around the country and world. Kevin is also active in the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts as well as in musical theater in Kansas City. Kevin travels with EO regularly and has been the Musical Guest on past Celebration Cruises. Members of the Resurrection Choir will perform with him during the 2020 cruise.
Rich is Ministry Consultant and Ambassador for Health, Hope, and Aging! for Lutheran Church Charities. Based out of the Chicago area, he writes, speaks and consults with agencies and organizations throughout the world. He is author of 17 books, editor for Hope-Full Living: Daily Devotions for Christian Seniors and writer for www.richandcharlie.com. He has served in local churches, district and national denomination positions and on numerous boards and advisory groups. Rich continues to enjoy his family, grandparenting, jogging, St. Arbucks, writing, laughing and the Chicago Cubs.
Brent A. Strawn is William Ragsdale Cannon Distinguished Professor of Old Testament in the Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. He has twice won the On Eagle’s Wings Excellence in Teaching Award at Candler. Brent is an ordained elder in the North Georgia conference of The United Methodist Church. In addition to his many speaking engagements at churches, he is a frequent contributor to CNN. Brent’s most recent book is The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment.
Carol Newsom is the C. H. Candler Distinguished Professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion, where she has taught Hebrew Bible since 1980. The first woman on the international team that translated the Dead Sea Scrolls, Carol has also focused on the ways in which women are portrayed in the Bible, and she co-edited the Women’s Bible Commentary, which has sold over 100,000 copies. Carol was president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Rev. Brian Tillman is Associate Pastor at Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA. Rev. Tillman is committeda 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.
Kirsi Stjerna & Brooks Schramm are married with four adult children and one granddaughter. Together they have taught, researched, and published on Luther-related topics, and led travel seminars. They both love the German history, culture and language, and have a passion for teaching Christianity from different angles and with new partners.
Kirsi Stjerna (PhD, Boston University), a native Finn, is a Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. She was ordained in the Lutheran Church in Finland and is rostered in the ELCA. Her publications include Women and the Reformation, The Annotated Luther, and Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People, with Brooks Schramm.
Brooks Schramm (PhD, University of Chicago), a native of Texas, is the Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Goleta, CA since 2019. Previously he taught the Bible and Hebrew language at the United Lutheran Seminary for two decades. His publications and research interests have focused on Luther’s biblical interpretation, particularly the Old Testament. He is actively involved in inter-faith work.
Rick Rusaw served as the Lead Pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado for over 25 years. He is the co-founder of Externally Focused network and the co-author of three books: Externally Focused Church, Externally Focused Life, and Externally Focused Quest.
Before LifeBridge Church, Rick served as Vice President of Cincinnati Christian University and was an associate minister at First Christian Church in Fort Meyers, Florida. He is a graduate of Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary. Rick and his wife, Diane, have three children.
I am so excited to be able once again to give you a personal invitation to join us on this spiritual journey of the 7 Churches of the Revelation & the Isle of Patmos. Part of the Cradle of Christianity was Asia Minor, where the life-changing message of Jesus spread in the first century. We will study together about some of the victories and struggles those early believers faced, and how we can apply them to our lives today. The geography of the book of the Revelation will jump off the pages of scripture into our minds and hearts. Just to be able to stand in the very same cave where the aged Apostle John received the Revelation of the Glorified Christ, is beyond words to describe. I pray you can join us and by the end of our journey we will all be able to say, “Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.”
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. is dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary and professor of theology and ethics. He is the author of numerous books in systematic theology, Christian ethics, religious diversity, and global Christianity. He is a popular speaker and priest associate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA. He has degrees from the King’s College London (UK), the University of Cambridge, and the University of Exeter. He is married to Lesley and has one son, Luke.
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.
Pastor Glick has been in parish ministry of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod for the past 48 years, during which time he served congregations in Ohio, Michigan and, for the past 31 years, in Florida. He has served on numerous boards and committees in the local, district and national levels of the LCMS, including 1 st vice-president of the Florida/Georgia District for 12 years. He also served as chairman of the Florida/Georgia District pastors conference.
While serving as the International Counselor for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Pastor Glick led retreats throughout the United States. He has led over 30 Bible study cruises throughout the United States, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. He has also led Bible study trips to Alaska, Hawaii and Israel.
Since his retirement from full time ministry in 2010, he continues to remain on staff at St. Paul Lutheran in Boca Raton in an Emeritus status where he continues to preach as needed, visits the shutins and does the Senior ministry as well as fill vacancies throughout Florida. In 2010, he and his wife entered a joint venture with their sons in opening the Glick Family Funeral Home in Boca Raton where he serves as chaplain and leads Grief Share sessions.
He and he wife, Sally, have been bless with two sons, Tim (Ashley) and Jeff (Jennifer) and seven grandchildren. He is honored and humbled to fill in for his friend, Rich Bimler, on this “Hope-full Living” cruise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mark conducted his first marriage seminar, he did so for one reason—because somebody had to do it, and no one else was reaching the couples in his area. The enthusiastic response he received from his first audience was just the tip of the iceberg. Today, he is one of the most sought-after international speakers on marriage and family. Each year thousands of couples attend his Laugh Your Way: A Couples’ Comedy Event. Mark's candid and comedic approach uses unforgettable illustrations and the power of laughter to teach proven principles that are guaranteed to strengthen any marriage.
"I love to inspire people's lives with truth and humor. There are a lot of performers that make people laugh, and there are a lot of speakers who give solid principles for living. I want to do both."
COO of Laugh Your Way America and an associate pastor at Celebration Church in Green Bay, WI. He has been married to Kristy for 19 years and has a passion to help couples thrive in their relationships. He teaches proven principals in fun and refreshing ways that appeal to couples, but are especially received by men.
Dear Church Family and Friends,
In years past we have offered “church cruises” out of the Port of Tampa for our UMCSCC church family and friends. It was always a great time of fellowship, with worship and devotional times on sea days and the opportunity to meet and make new friends. It also provided a time that Marcia and I, the other pastors, and some staff members could spend quality time with you away from the church campus. However, it seemed we all grew tired of the exact same itinerary to Cozumel and Grand Cayman on these 5 day cruises.
I was made aware of this 11 Day Panama Canal Cruise on Celebrity that is out of Tampa. Many of us have not had the opportunity to see the Panama Canal and many of the ports on this itinerary. It is offered at an incredible price and Celebrity is a First Class Cruise Line. Please prayerfully consider joining us, along with several of our other pastors and staff members on this cruise and invite your friends and family.
- Pastor Charlie
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.
Jacob Armstrong is the founding pastor of Providence Church, a ten yearold multi-site United Methodist church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, reaching over 2,000 people each week. Providence’s vision is to see those who feel disconnected from God and the church find hope, healing, and wholeness in Jesus Christ. Jacob is the author of ten books including, The New Adapters, Renovate, and God’s Messy Family. He is a frequent speaker at church leadership conferences and retreats around the country. He is married to Rachel and they have three daughters.
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.
Rev. Dr. James W. Voelz is the Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology and graduate professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Among his foci are the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of Mark. He has also taught the Pauline epistles and Acts of the Apostles. He is a member of SBL and SNTS and regularly present papers for both organizations. Jim has also served in churches as Bible teacher and assistant pastor.
Bishop Guy Erwin serves the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Previously, he has served as professor at California Lutheran University and Yale Divinity School as well as part-time interim pastor for 3 ELCA congregations. During the Reformation anniversary in 2017, Bishop Erwin gave 30 lectures related to Luther and the Reformation in the US and Germany.
Dr. deSilva is the Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary. He has published over twenty-five books, including "Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity: Unlocking the New Testament," "Unholy Allegiances: Heeding Revelation's Warning," and "Transformation: The Heart of Paul's Gospel." He has also contributed articles to numerous journals, reference works, and study Bibles. As a popular speaker on several EO cruises, he has taken on the complex subject of the book of Revelation and received high praise.
The Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress‐Williams is Professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and Senior Assistant to the Pastor and Christian Education Director at Alfred Street Baptist Church. Previously she was a member of the faculty at Hartford Seminary. Dr. Fentress‐Williams has published numerous essays and books in addition to being the Old Testament editor and contributor for the CEB Women’s Bible.
Monte Luker is the Academic Dean of the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. He has lived, studied, and taught in the Holy Land for the past 30 years. In addition to the Land, his primary interests are in the literary and theological analysis of Scripture, and he has contributed numerous articles to Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, Anchor Bible Dictionary, New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, as well as scholarly and church-related journals.
Dr. Luker’s books include Doom and Hope in Micah; Passion, Vitality, and Foment: The Dynamics of Second Temple Judaism; and An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Land For Tour Groups, Students, and Pilgrims (Abing- don, fall 2013 see www.AbingdonAcademic.com/HolyLand). Dr. Luker has been Adjunct Professor of Bible at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies since 1997. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Biblical Archaeology Society, and the National Association of Professors of Hebrew.
David Faust is currently Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church and focuses on biblical teaching, leadership development and pastoral care. He was senior minister at E91 from 1999 - 2002 and then president of Cincinnati Christian University for 12 years. He has planted churches, written 15 books and writes a weekly column for THE LOOKOUT magazine.
Dr. Craig C. Hill is Dean and Professor of New Testament at Perkins School of Theology. Previously he was on the faculty at Duke Divinity School and Wesley Theological Seminary. Dean Hill served as Chaplain at Christ Church College, University of Oxford and has been on staff at three United Methodist Churches. Dean Hill is also the author of numerous scholarly articles and books.
Dr. Bryan Loritts serves the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California, as the Lead Pastor. He is an award winning author of seven books and his latest book is Insider Outsider. Dr. Loritts co-founded Fellowship Memphis, and The Kainos Movement- an organization committed to seeing the multiethnic church become the new normal in our world. In addition, he preaches at conferences and events, and serves on the board of trustees for Biola University and Pine Cove Christian Camps. His messages can be heard daily on the Salem Radio Network’s KFAX station
Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster serves as resident bishop for the Western North Carolina Conference (Charlotte, NC) of The United Methodist Church. He has taught in a variety of settings and published in various denominational publications. His book, "There's Power in the Connection," was published in 2008 by Abingdon Press. From 2010 through 2012, Goodpaster served as president of The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops. Goodpaster earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps College, Jackson, MS and both Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, Ga. He has also received honorary degrees (Doctor of Divinity) from Birmingham-Southern College (Birmingham, AL), Huntingdon College (Montgomery, AL), and Millsaps College (Jackson, MS).
Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer is Pastor Emeritus of The Moody Church where he served as the Senior Pastor of 36 years. A clear expositor of the Bible, he is the featured speaker on 3 radio programs that are heard on more than 1,000 outlets around the world. Dr. Lutzer is also an award-winning author and speaks at Bible conferences and seminars domestically and internationally. He has traveled extensively with groups to Europe and his insights will enhance your understanding of the church and your faith.
Dr. LeRoy Lawson is International Consultant for CMF International. He recently retired from Distinguished Professor of Christian Ministries at Milligan/Emmanuel Christian Seminary. His 50 years of ministry has included youth, pastoral and teaching ministries.
Mark is recently retired. He served more than 40 years as an editor and publisher at Standard Publishing, most recently with Christian Standard Magazine.
Jaime is Professor of New Testament and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She speaks and writes widely for academic and popular audiences, including contributions to Feasting on the Word, Disciple Bible Study, and Covenant Bible Study. She served as an author and the New Testament Editor for the CEB Women’s Bible. Her most recent book is Reading for Dear Life: A Spiritual Walk with the Fourth Gospel. Jaime is an ordained American Baptist minister and has served parish and hospice settings. She serves as the Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Perkins.
The Rev. Dr. Luis León, since 1994, has been the Rector of St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C. – “The Church of the Presidents”.
A native of Cuba, he chairs the Episcopal Church General Convention’s Task Force on the Church of Cuba.
After being baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo, Cuba, Luis came to the United States in 1961 at the age of 11 as part of the “Peter Pan” flights out of Cuba and was supported by the Episcopal Church of Miami.
He has earned degrees from the University of the South: Sewanee and Virginia Theological Seminary. Luis received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of the South.
He has served parishes in NC, NJ, DE, and DC. Luis is a founding member of the Washington Interfaith Network and Wilmington, DE Interfaith Network. His specialty is building inner city parishes through spiritual leadership, preaching, excellence in worship and liturgical music, stewardship and outreach that involves parish members in the community. Luis is a frequent teacher and speaker for schools and events. In 2005 and 2013 he offered the invocation at the inauguration of the President of the United States.
Lu Stanton León, Luis’s wife, has worked more than 30 years as an editor, writer and media relations consultant for a variety of publications and businesses. She is currently with Canticle Communication. In addition, Lu has been involved in strategic planning and communications for outreach initiatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and social service agencies in the Washington metropolitan area.
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.
Deb is a sought-after international speaker for women’s conferences and retreats. With infectious warmth and wit, she shares Christ's love and engages women in God's Word. Deb's many books including the bestseller, Living a Chocolate Life, and her newest release, JOY: A Study of Philippians. Deb is a follower of Jesus, a wife to her beloved, Cory and mom to three amazing young adults. Check out her website, Extravagant Grace, at debburma.com.
Connie is a family life educator and Co-Founder of Visual Faith Ministry. Her blog is Vintage Grace. She seeks to live life as prayer and loves beauty in the sacred space of home. She is encourager to John – a church executive, 3 daughters & spouses and Gigi to 7 grandsons and one granddaughter.
Visit Visualfaithmin.org to learn more about Connie's ministry.
Wendysue is a full time traveling musician. She has been singing professionally for 20 years, leading worship for churches, retreats, and conferences, and singing the national anthem for public events like Milwaukee Brewers baseball. She is bold about sharing her faith anywhere with anyone, and enjoys ministering to women. Wendysue loves Jesus, Bible study, coffee, and exercise; is the happy wife of 20+ years to Craig, and a chaotically blessed mom of 2 young adults. Check out her website at wendysue.com.
Pat enjoys writing, drawing, and “imagining” to inspire others in their walk with Jesus. She currently plans and presents at retreats and women’s events plus teaches about Visual Faith in the Great Lakes area. Some of Pat’s art will be included in the upcoming The Enduring Word Bible from CPH. She and her husband David – a church executive have 4 children, 2 sons-in-love and 2 grandchildren.
Phillip Gungor is an international marriage speaker as well as the Chief Operating Officer of Laugh Your Way America. Over the past 13 years Phil has worked with his father, Mark Gungor, to inspire and strengthen thousands of marriages and families all around the world.
Phil is on a mission to help married couples learn how to succeed. He believes the key to finding that success is by learning how to do the “right” things in your marriage. With truth and humor approach Phil uses comedy as well as unforgettable illustrations to teach proven principles that are guaranteed to strengthen any marriage.
In addition to working for Laugh Your Way America Phil is an associate pastor and board member of Celebration Church located in Wisconsin. Phil has been married to his wife Kirsty for 16 years, and they have four children ranging from three years old to eleven.
Benjamin Michael Watson has been the resident bishop of The United Methodist Church’s North Georgia Episcopal Area since 2008. The North Georgia Conference has over 362,000 members, 950 congregations, and 1,400 clergy. In 1949, he was born into an active Methodist family in Dothan, Alabama. After graduating from Dothan High School, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and real estate from The University of Alabama, a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Vanderbilt University. In 1972 he was ordained deacon by Bishop W. Kenneth Goodson, and in 1976 he was ordained elder by Bishop Carl J. Sanders. Bishop Watson was elected to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2000 and was assigned to the South Georgia Area where he served until 2008. Bishop Watson is currently the president of World Methodist Evangelism, chair of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, and on the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council. He is the secretary of the Council of Bishops Leadership Team on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Emory University, Gammon Theological Seminary, the Moscow Theological Seminary, Clark Atlanta University, LaGrange College, Paine College, Reinhardt University, Wesleyan College, Young Harris College, UM Children’s Home, Georgia UM Foundation, Camp Glisson, Simpsonwood Conference & Retreat Center, the Methodist Foundation for Retired Ministers, and the William I. H. and Lula E. Pitts Foundation. Bishop Watson is a past president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops. He is the immediate past chairperson of the Board of Directors of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (the largest denominational pension fund in the world, with over $18 billion in assets and 74,000 participants), and he served as vice-chairperson of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. As a member of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, Mike Watson received the Denman Evangelism Award in 1990. He served from 1975-1977 as pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Molino, Florida, and from 1977-1979 as pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Milton, Florida. He was appointed to start a new congregation in his hometown, where he served as founding pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church from 1979-1990. From 1990 until his election to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2000, he served as the pastor of Dauphin Way United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama. Bishop Watson also served as president of the Mobile County School Board, which is the largest school system in the state of Alabama with more than 66,000 students, nearly 8,000 employees, 100 schools and a $450,000,000 annual budget. He served as chairperson of his conference Board of Ordained Ministry, chairperson of the conference Three-year Covenant Community for Spiritual Formation, chairperson of the steering committee of the Southeastern Jurisdiction's larger church consultation, a member of the Emmaus Community, a trustee of several colleges, a member of Emory University's Clergy Advisory Council, president of the Mobile Rotary Club, president of The University of Alabama alumni chapter, president of the ministerial union, board member of the United Way, Boys Club, Girl Scouts, Red Cross, and Inner City Mission. He had also served as the president of the Dothan Kiwanis Club. Bishop Watson has written for the Adult Bible Series, The Living Pulpit and The Upper Room. He has traveled and spoken extensively in over sixty countries around the world. He was a delegate to World Methodist Conferences in Singapore (1991), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1996), Bristol, England (2001), Seoul, Korea (2006), and Durban, South Africa (2011), and has been a part of every General Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1996 in Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Fort Worth, and Tampa. Bishop Watson is married to the former Margaret Lee and has two children, Ben Watson and Elizabeth Watson Riddle. He is also the proud grandfather of Alex and Andrew Watson, and Camilla, Watson and Emmaline Riddle.
David Alexander has served as a Pastor in the Mansfield community since 2005. After serving in various leadership roles, he was appointed as the Senior Pastor of First Methodist Mansfield in January of 2015. David has described his passion and understanding of his pastoral ministry in this way. "I believe that following Jesus is the best way to live. My life and my work is about helping people follow Jesus.” David is also the author of the book The Deep End, which focuses on the deep questions of the Christian faith; a book he describes as being for anyone who has ever felt like "the process of finding faith sometimes feels like you are losing faith.” If you would like to read more of David’s writings, you can find those at www.pastordavidalexander.com.
Joan, a member of the Benedictine Sisters, Erie, PA, and executive director of Benetvision, has been a passionate advocate for peace, human rights, women’s issues and church renewal for over 40 years. She is a best-selling and award-winning author and a noted international lecturer. She writes for the National Catholic Reporter and Huffington Post and has been a guest on radio and TV programs including Meet the Press, 60 Minutes, Now with Bill Moyers and many others.
Jan Deardorff thrives on dreaming big and enriching women’s lives by helping them become all that God wants them to be. Jan started her Mary Kay Business in 1991 and has driven free over the last 27 years earning the use of 15 free cars, 5 being Pink Cadillacs. Jan has built her unit to produce upwards of $500k in retail sales annually. She believes, while it is not always easy, you can enjoy life to the fullest, it is a matter of want to!
Deb Lewis & Doug Adams went on a fifty-state - 18k mile bicycling tour to raise awareness of veteran and military issues. Their passion is to help others build stronger relationships, love their lives and fulfill their dreams. Deb is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, pioneer, retired Colonel, Combat Veteran, Harvard MBA, Author, Speaker, Leader, Adventure Guide and much more... Doug is a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, retired Lieutenant Colonel, Cyclist, Lawyer, Author, Speaker, Non-profit Leader, Adventure Guide.
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.
Matt Miofsky is the Lead Pastor of The Gathering in St. Louis, Missouri. Since he started the church ten years ago, it has grown into a multi‐site ministry with four sites spread out across the city and over 1500 in weekly attendance. Matt is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Emory University in Atlanta. Matt is passionate about church planting, especially in the context of multi‐site ministry. He is the author of Happy? What It Is and How to Find It and Fail: What to Do When Things Go Wrong.
Born in Illinois, my father was an Episcopal priest; my mother, a registered nurse. After a brief move to Connecticut in the mid 60’s, our family relocated to Jackson, MS. Growing up I was very active in the Church and at Gray Center, the Mississippi diocesan camp and conference center. I graduated with a BA from Millsaps College in Jackson in 1981 and left that summer for my priestly and academic formation at Virginia Theological Seminary.
In June 1984, I was ordained to the diaconate and sent to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi where I would serve first as curate and then as interim rector. In 1988, Dixon Myers and I married and I returned with him to Jackson and worked for both the Chapel of the Cross in Madison, MS and as chaplain at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Day School.
In 1989, we moved to Sewanee and the University of the South where I had accepted their call to serve as associate University Chaplain, a role I held for nearly a quarter of a century before moving ‘across the street’ to the School of Theology to become their first associate dean for recruiting and admissions.
Dixon and I have two grown children who both currently live in California. My vocational passions are liturgy, Christian Education, and pastoral care. Along side all of this, I am keenly fond of dabbling in the arts: in particular calligraphy, fiber art, watercolor, and sewing.
Dr. Wayne Pernell brings more than thirty-five years of experience as an advisor to leaders. Dr P. has appeared in Forbes, and featured on Fox and NBC, and is an internationally acclaimed and best-selling Author, Speaker, and Certified High Performance Coach. Dr. Pernell leverages clarity and focus as foundational elements in building relationships and developing leadership skills, the basis for his DynamicLeader programs.
Phil is a scholar, storyteller, speaker, and Associate Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI. He taught at Texas Lutheran University for eighteen years as a professor of theology, winning awards for excellence in teaching. His primary research interest revolves around performing large sections of Scriptures by heart. He has performed the Gospel of Mark in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. He is the author of The Word of the Cross in a World of Glory and coeditor of a volume entitled, The Bible in Ancient and Modern Media.
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the Executive Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty in Washington, DC. Previously, he was the Speaker of The Lutheran Hour radio program with over 1 million listeners across North America. He has also served at Concordia University Irvine, Life's Journey Ministries and in congregations in New York city, Dallas and Tampa.
~~Shane Stanford is the Senior Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, a 6,000-member congregation in Memphis, TN. Stanford is the author of numerous books including The Seven Next Words of Christ, Mosaic, You Can’t Do Everything… So Do Something, The CURE for the Chronic Life, Making Life Matter, The Five Stones, and What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God —all published by Abingdon Press. He also wrote A Positive Life (Zondervan 2010) and When God Disappears (Regal 2008), both detailing his journey as an HIV-positive and HepC-positive (both contracted through blood transfusions used to treat his hemophilia) minister, father and husband.
Stanford travels extensively sharing a story of hope and courage grounded in his faith in Jesus Christ. He has spoken at several national venues including the 2006 Saddleback Global AIDS Summit where he shared the agenda with such notables as, then-Senator Barack Obama, Franklin Graham, and John Ortberg. He has appeared on various media outlets including ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, Canada’s Harvest TV, Fox & Friends, and Life Today.
Stanford is also the co-host (with Dr. Maxie Dunnam) of We Believe in Memphis and the teacher/host of You Matter, two television programs airing in the Memphis metro area. For four years, Stanford hosted The United Methodist Hour, a radio and television ministry which aired in more than 30 million homes. Stanford is currently the co-host of a nationally distributed DVD/media Bible study series entitled Covenant, published by the United Methodist Publishing House.
Stanford is a graduate of the Honors College of the University of Southern Mississippi (B.A), Duke University (M.Div.) and was awarded a honorary doctorate (D.D.) from Asbury Theological Seminary. He also has extended training in Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling.
Stanford is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Dr. Pokey Stanford, and they are the parents of three daughters, Sarai Grace (20), Juli Anna (17), and Emma Leigh (13).
Laura Steward is a sought after business strategist, speaker, radio host and author. After building and selling her highly successful multi-state technology services company she started Wisdom Learned, LLC, a company dedicated to educating leaders based on experience and wisdom learned in the trenches. She is the author of the Nautilus award-winning, International bestselling book “What Would a Wise Woman Do? Questions to Ask Along the Way”. Through her weekly broadcast Radio Show, It’s All About the Questions, keynote speeches, books, seminars, training and one-one sessions, Laura’s mission is clear – help people get off autopilot and create amazing, successful lives.
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.
Peter was Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry (near Pittsburgh). He is ordained in the Church of England and served a parish in England before teaching for many years at Wycliffe Hall in the University of Oxford. Peter is author of In the Steps of Saint Paul and many other books. He has led many study tours of Biblical sites in the Holy Land and around the Mediterranean.
Bishop Willimon is the most read author among United Methodist pastors. He is a Professor at Duke Divinity School and former Dean at Duke Chapel. His works include books on the Methodist Reformation, Revitalization of the Local Church, Evangelism of young adults and missions.
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.
Bishop Hopkins served the East Ohio and Minnesota Conferences of The United Methodist Church 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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