Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty Announces BJC Fellows Class of 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons / [email protected]
WASHINGTON – BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is pleased to announce the 2022 class of BJC Fellows, our latest cohort of young professionals who are rising to new challenges and defending faith freedom for all in their communities. The BJC Fellows come from diverse theological, educational and geographic backgrounds, and they are united in their call to defend this foundational American ideal.
The BJC Fellows completed an intensive, five-day training seminar earlier this month in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, to equip them for advocacy to protect faith freedom for all. BJC staff and other legal and theological experts, plus Colonial Williamsburg’s own historic interpreters, provided them with a rapid education in the historical, legal and theological underpinnings of religious liberty.
“As the Supreme Court continues to erode the institutional separation of church and state, it’s a critical time to continue BJC’s educational efforts equipping leaders to be ready to stand for faith freedom for all in our communities,” said Charles Watson Jr., director of education at BJC. “We’re proud to work with an inspiring group of young professionals to create a firm foundation as we study and explore the foundations for faith freedom for all. These leaders are developing new tools for future advocacy to make a difference in their local communities and across the country.”
This is the seventh class of BJC Fellows since the program began in 2015 and the total number of faith freedom leaders named as BJC Fellows now stands at 68.
The BJC Fellows are available for interview requests. You can access individual and group photos of the 2022 class of BJC Fellows here. All photos can be credited as “Courtesy of BJC.”
Here are the members of the class of 2022 BJC Fellows:
Grace Agbadou (Newark, NJ)
Agbadou is currently a law student. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies from Montclair State University and a Master of Arts degree in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law and Graduate School.
The Rev. Caitlin Childers Brown (Norfolk, VA)
Brown is the Associate Pastor at Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia. She earned her Master of Divinity degree from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Mercer University.
Amy Hayes (Atlanta, GA)
Hayes is a graduate of Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in Christian Social Ethics. At McAfee, she was named a Glen Harold Stassen Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year, and she was a 2021 Clemons Fellow at Baptist News Global. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Georgia.
Summer Hyche (Birmingham, AL)
Hyche earned a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and she was named a 2019 Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholar by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Alabama at Birmingham focusing on the intersection of psychology and religion. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Cassandra Lawrence (Washington, DC)
Lawrence is the Communications and Community Engagement Manager at the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, a national multifaith coalition that addresses anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. Currently in the process of ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church, she earned her Master of Divinity degree with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary, where she also received the Excellence in Public Theology Award. She earned a Master of Arts degree in comparative ethnic conflict from Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of British Columbia.
The Rev. Dane Martin (Winston-Salem, NC)
Martin is the Minister with Students at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and a Bachelor of Arts from Seton Hall University with a major in Religious Studies and minors in Latin and Classics.
Dr. Isaac Barnes May (New Haven, CT)
Currently a student at Yale Law School, May previously worked as a professor at the University of Virginia, specializing in American religious history. While at the University of Virginia, he was named Research Fellow at UVA’s Project on Lived Theology. He earned a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Earlham College.
Kelvin Mbi (Laurel, MD)
Mbi is a graduate student at Howard University’s School of Divinity and the president of the School of Divinity’s Student Government Association. He is also enrolled in Howard’s Graduate Certificate program of International Studies. He’s a 2022 John Robert Lewis Fellow, and an intern with the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation. Originally from Cameroon, Mbi earned a Bachelor of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Buea.
The Rev. Kelsey Stillwell (Macon, GA)
Stillwell is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Missions at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. She earned a Master of Divinity degree at the McAfee School of Theology and spent a semester doing field work in Bali, Indonesia. She earned an undergraduate degree in interior design from Eastern Kentucky University.
The Rev. Chris West (Raleigh, NC)
West is an organizer with America’s Future and a student at Duke Divinity School, where he is pursuing a Certificate in Faith-based Organizing, Advocacy, and Social Transformation. He plans to serve as a congregational leader in a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church following graduation. Chris earned a Graduate Certificate in Faith-Based Nonprofit Leadership from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies from Campbell University.
BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is an 86-year-old religiously based organization working to defend faith freedom for all and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition.