Who We are

WHO WE ARE

BJC Board

Meet the BJC Board of Directors, composed of individuals from a variety of careers, Baptist denominations, and faith traditions. Scroll down to meet our board officers and board members, including which organization they represent.

Click here to read about our board leadership elections in 2023.

BJC Board Officers

Anyra Cano
BJC Board Chair

Representing the Religious Liberty Council

Rev. Anyra Cano serves as the Outreach and Programs Director at Fellowship Southwest. She recently transitioned from her position at Texas Baptist Women in Ministry as their coordinator and as academic coordinator for the Christian Latina Leadership Institute. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Anyra earned her undergraduate degree in biblical theological studies from Baptist University of the Américas and her master’s degree in global leadership from Dallas Baptist University. She has experience working with Baptists through positions with Buckner International, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in advocacy work, CBF of Texas and Baptist University of the Américas. Anyra also serves on the pastoral team at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, where her husband is the senior pastor. She is the proud mom of a precious 2-year-old daughter.

Sofi Hersher Andorsky
BJC Board Vice Chair

Representing the Religious Liberty Council

Sofi Hersher Andorsky is the Founder and Chief Strategist at Grand View Strategies, a consulting agency working at the intersection of religion, technology, and civic life, as well as the current Vice President of Communications and Education at A More Perfect Union: The Jewish Partnership for Democracy, where she is building a trans-partisan, community-wide coalition to strengthen democratic norms, institutions, and rights. Previously, Sofi served as managing director of ignite:action, a boutique brand and digital strategy agency in Washington, D.C., and assistant communications director at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where she oversaw advocacy communications, marketing, design, and major technology projects for the largest denomination of Judaism in North America. She holds a master’s degree in Religion in the Contemporary World from King’s College London and a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion from the University of Washington.

Christopher The
BJC Board Secretary

Representing the Religious Liberty Council

The Rev. Dr. Christopher M. The serves as the Director of Student Research and Initiative Management for The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). A former youth pastor serving immigrant congregations of Reformed, Pentecostal, and Baptist affiliation in Southern California, Chris was a member of the 2016 class of BJC Fellows and a selected participant in the 2014 Summit on Christian Leadership / Summit for Future Theological Educators of Color (Forum for Theological Exploration).

He has published refereed articles and contributed to book chapters on resourcing immigrant churches for civic engagement (2015), leveraging evaluative principles for character formation in theological education (2018), understanding the unique mentorship needs of doctoral students of color (2021), and surveying the placement of diasporic Indonesian communities among world Christianities (2021). His dissertation involved qualitative research on the congregational formation of Indonesian American emerging adults at two Los Angelesareachurches.

A coeditor and contributing author for the anthology KristianitasKristianitas diAsia Tenggara (Christianities in Southeast Asia) published in 2022, Chris also serves on the editorial board for the SINTAaccredited Indonesian Journal of Theologyand holds B.A. (Music) and M.A. (Religion) degrees from Azusa Pacific University and M. Div. and Ph.D. (Theology) degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary. 

Emily Hull McGee
BJC Board Treasurer

The Rev. Emily Hull McGee serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a delightful community of saints practicing bold love and boundless compassion in the heart of the city. Prior to her calling there in 2015, she previously served for six years as Minister to Young Adults at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

A graduate of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, she enjoys being close to her alma mater and giving leadership to the development of the Baptist Commons at Wake Divinity. Outside of church, you’re likely to find her with a cup of hot tea reading on her back porch, in the hot yoga studio at the local YMCA, traveling around to see friends and family, and running around after her three precious (and precocious) young kids. Emily is married to Josh, and their children are Liam (9), Annabelle (7), and Silas (5).

Meet the members of the BJC Board of Directors. Click on each name to read a short biography.

Alyssa Aldape / Religious Liberty Council

Rev. Alyssa Aldape is a field organizer with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice where she focuses on helping build Latine power in order to transform the systems that influence folks ability to have autonomy — a Baptist distinctive she holds dear.

Alyssa is also a pastor in northern Virginia at Commonwealth Baptist Church and has served as a pastor in churches in Georgia and Washington, D.C. Alyssa believes that as long as there is an empire, God will have something to teach us through the life of the prophets and Jesus. Alyssa is married to Nick and together they spoil their pup, Weller.

Doug Avilesbernal / American Baptist Churches USA

Rev. Doug Avilesbernal has been the Executive Minister for the Evergreen Baptist Association of the American Baptist Churches since 2018. Avilesbernal has been involved with intercultural and diversity work for over 15 years, and he has been actively involved with American Baptist Churches USA’s work in this regard since 1999. Among other assignments, Avilesbernal has led annual conferences for Missionary Children for American Baptist International Ministries, where issues pertaining to life in diversity are lived out in many different contexts.

Previously, he served as lead pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Norristown, Penn. He is a frequent speaker and workshop leader for regions and national conferences such as the “Orientation to American Baptist Life,” and he is a published author in various media outlets. Rev. Avilesbernal holds a Bachelor’s of Music Performance degree from New Jersey City University, a Master’s in Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and ABC-recognized ordination.

Paul Baxley / Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Paul is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a graduate of Wake Forest University (B.A. in Religion), Duke Divinity School (Master of Theological Studies), and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (Ph.D. in Ministry). In the course of his ministry, Paul has served congregations in North Carolina and Georgia, as Campus Minister of Wingate University, and as Director of Congregational Relationships for Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Before being selected as the fourth Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, he served nine years as Pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia. He is married to Jennifer, a Physical Therapist, and they have four children: Livy, Maria, Matthew and Caroline.

R. Todd Blake / Baptist General Association of Virginia

Todd is a native of Troy, North Carolina. He graduated from Campbell University with a B.A. in Religion and from Campbell University Divinity School with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Todd was ordained to the Gospel Ministry in 2003 by the First Baptist Church of Troy, N.C. He served Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., as pastor from 2006 to 2010, and Madison Heights Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Va., as pastor from 2010 to 2021. In October of 2021, Todd began serving Park View Community Mission in Lynchburg, Virginia, as their Executive Director. Todd is married to Kim, also a graduate of Campbell University. They have two daughters, Hannah and Emma.

Timothy "Tee" Boddie / Religious Liberty Council

Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie currently serves as Project Executive with the Conference of National Black Churches, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He also serves as a bi-vocational pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Farnham, Virginia. Previously, Tee worked as an independent Consultant of Racial Justice Church Engagement at SOJOURNERS, and he is the immediate past General Secretary and Chief Administrative Officer of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Washington, D.C. Dr. Boddie is also a former Executive Director of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, the largest ecumenical gathering of African American pastors in the nation. Following his tenure at Hampton University, he became only the sixth senior pastor of the historic Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta, in its illustrious 150-year history.

Lynn Brinkley / Immediate Past Board Chair

Dr. C. Lynn Brinkley serves as the Associate Director of Baptist Women in Ministry. After growing up in Fayetteville, N.C., she earned her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a Master of Divinity degree from Campbell University Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from GordonConwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.

Dr. Brinkley recently released her new book “Manners and Money: A Manual on Preaching Etiquette,” which addresses proper pulpit decorum and hospitality towards guest ministers. The Rev. Dr. Brinkley is an ordained associate minister at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C. She also serves on the National Baptist Women in Ministry board and leads the Women in Ministry component of the General Baptist State Convention of NC.

Dr. Brinkley is regularly called upon to preach and teach in churches of diverse denominations across the United States. Her daughter, Taylor, is a freshman at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. In her free time, Dr. Brinkley enjoys exercising, going to the SPA for selfcare, and watching ACC and NBA basketball games.

Valoria Cheek / American Baptist Churches USA

Valoria L. Cheek, Esq., is excited about The American Baptist Extension Corporation’s (ABEC) mission to help churches through loans made possible by other American Baptists. In her role as president, Cheek is committed to supporting individuals, churches and related institutions through continued and expanded ABEC services.

“ABEC allows churches, church-related organizations and individuals to participate in the ongoing mission of American Baptist churches while earning an attractive rate of return on their investments,” Cheek says. ABEC loans provide funding for projects, such as acquisition of property, purchase or construction of new church buildings, additions to existing church buildings, and construction of daycare centers, senior centers and camps. Lower rate loans are available for making church buildings more energy efficient or accessible to those with disabilities. ABEC also offers facilities planning services to American Baptist churches and related organizations as they examine their needs and develop goals for building projects.

In addition to her work with ABEC, Cheek serves part time as general counsel for The American Baptist Home Mission Society.

Leslie Copeland / Religious Liberty Council

The Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland is a faith leader, public theologian, consultant, strategist, writer and justice advocate. She is the Chief Operating Officer for the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Ordained into the Gospel ministry more than 20 years ago, Dr. Copeland has worked for a number of faithbased organizations and has used her gifts to serve local congregations. Her passion and work for social justice and advocacy has been nationally recognized.

Dr. Copeland serves on the FaithBased Security Advisory Council for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is the author of 24/7 Embodying Christlike Leadership, published by Judson Press. In 2022, she was named as one of “22 Faith Leaders to Watch” by the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Copeland is the Chair of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and serves on the board of the One America Movement, an organization seeking to end the toxic polarization. She earned degrees from Syracuse University, the University of Maryland, Duke University, and New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She was bestowed an honorary doctorate by Ursinus College in 2023. Dr. Copeland attended the Theology Summer School at Oxford University in England in 2013 and 2023. She is blessed to have two wonderful, justiceminded, young adult children.

Kendrick Curry / Progressive National Baptist Convention

The Rev. Dr. Kendrick E. Curry advances the cause of Jesus Christ within the church and community. During his 19year tenure as the Senior Pastor of the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church (PABC), the congregation has developed a Kingdomfocused ministry that continues to thrive and be renewed. The church has intentional ministries and activities designed to meet the needs of seniors, women, men, young adults, and youth. The church also partners with civic, social, and professional groups including AARP and Ward 7 & 8 Prevention Center to help bring about communal transformation. Specifically, through partnering with a mentalhealth day treatment program for DC residents, producing cultural arts events, and convening familyoriented workshops, the church becomes aware of the relevant issues impacting the wider community. Since the COVID19 pandemic, Pastor Curry has championed a food distribution partnership that reached over 4000 persons monthly, and he helped to develop and held the first COVID19 vaccination clinic in a church in the District of Columbia. Also, under Pastor Curry’s leadership, PABC was the first church to become a regular COVID19 vaccination clinic in DC.

Dr. Curry has been academically prepared for life and ministry. He earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, TX; an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI; and a M.Div. from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA. He has also done advanced studies at Northern Seminary near Chicago.

Because of his passion for the work of the church and denominational life, Dr. Curry serves as the Interim General Secretary for the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Dr. Curry also serves as a board member for the District of Columbia Baptist Foundation. He is also the former President and Interim Executive Director of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (ABCUSA).

Dr. Curry is a prophetic voice in the public square who brings faithbased solutions to social injustices in the DC metropolitan region. He has partnered with the George Washington University to mitigate health inequities by developing community health webinars with the Rodham Institute and the Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Institute. Dr. Curry proudly serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Howard University College of Medicine, School of Psychiatry. He is the Vice Chair of the Leadership Council for Health Communities. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Black Coalition Against COVID19 and is one the former cohosts of the exciting and thoughtprovoking “Just A Cupof Coffee” podcast.

Dr. Curry advocates for Senior’s rights at the local and national levels via his former position on the Executive Committee for the DC State office of AARP and on formerly working with the board of the Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home. Having cared for both parents until their recent deaths, Dr. Curry is passionate about caregiving for the sick and elderly, and he also helps those 50 plus years of age to age in place well, obtain affordable prescriptions, and never live in isolation. Because of his passion for equity in education, Dr. Curry founded ElectED DC, a nonprofit 501c4 organization who seeks to build political power to empower Ward 7 & 8 communities East of the Anacostia River. He also serves on the Chair of the Board of Directors for Education Forward DCa philanthropic organization seeking to transform DC public schools. Dr. Curry has also served on the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia, and he also frequently consults in engineering and for academic institutions, and community organizing groups.

Dr. Curry is happily married to the Reverend Karen Whitney Curry and is the proud fatherof two wonderful young adults: Keyona and Kendrick, II.

 

David Cooke / Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

David Cooke is a partner in the law firm of Gautreaux Law, LLC. A former prosecutor, David served as the elected District Attorney in the Macon (Georgia) Judicial Circuit for two terms, where he prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including the 2011 murder of Mercer University Law School graduate Lauren Giddings by her classmate and next-door neighbor, Stephen McDaniel. As a trial lawyer, David has taken over 150 jury trials to verdict, specializing in the prosecution of sex crimes and homicides. He previously served as the chief of the Special Victims Unit in Houston County and was a chief senior assistant district attorney in Atlanta, where he secured a conviction in the starvation and torture murder of 5-year-old Terrell Peterson.

While serving as an Assistant United States Attorney, David received an award from the U.S. Department of Justice stemming from his prosecution and the subsequent conviction of a corrupt police officer and his allies. David has litigated some of the largest civil racketeering cases in Georgia history, and he frequently represents local governments and individuals in holding criminal enterprises accountable. He has been featured multiple times as an expert commentator for MSNBC, HLN, NPR, Dateline NBC, and other national media outlets. David and his wife, Rebecca Rowell Cooke, are members of the First Baptist Church of Christ of Macon, Georgia, where they both serve as deacons. The Cookes have three children and reside in Macon.

Jaimie Crumley / Religious Liberty Council

Rev. Dr. Jaimie Crumley is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. During the 2022-2023 academic year, she is the Research Fellow at the Old North Church and Historic Site in Boston, Massachusetts. Jaimie is an ordained minister whose ordination is recognized by the American Baptist Churches USA. Jaimie is a member of the 2016 class of BJC Fellows.

Wayne Faison / Baptist General Association of Virginia

God called Wayne from banking to vocational ministry. He moved to Virginia to begin his career with the BGAV in 2001. After serving in several positions most recently as Growth Venture Staff Coordinator he was elected as BGAV Executive Director in November 2022, during the 199th BGAV annual meeting in Hampton, Virginia.

In addition to his role with BGAV, Wayne also serves as pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia. He holds a Doctor of Ministry in Black Church Leadership, as well as a Masters of Divinity in Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth, from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The father of two daughters, he lives and serves with his wife Carmen in Chesapeake, Virginia.

George Gilbert / Progressive National Baptist Convention

Rev. George C. Gilbert, Jr., was born in Landover, Maryland. The son of two God-fearing parents, Pastor George C. Gilbert, Sr. and Raba A. Gilbert, Rev. Gilbert was trained to reverence God.  He was saved at an early age and has been blessed with many gifts and talents.  He is the proud parent of two boys and one girl – Xavier Domonique, DeMarco Trevon, and Kennedie Raba.

Rev. Gilbert is presently serving as the Assistant to the Pastor at Holy Trinity United Baptist Church; Executive Director of The Center For Racial Equity And Justice; Professor of Urban Ministry, and Hermeneutics at the Washington Baptist Seminary; Chairman of the Civic and Social Actions Committee of the Missionary Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Washington, D.C., and Vicinity; Chairman of the Social Justice Commission of the Baptist Convention of D.C. and Vicinity; and member of the Social Justice Commission of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC).  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as the Christian Services Chaplain for the Washington, D.C. Youth Prison, New Beginnings (where he resurrected Christian Services and Sunday Worship Services from eight years of dysfunction).

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Rev. Gilbert received his high school diploma from Eastern Senior High.  He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from the University of the District of Columbia and a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity. In 2019, Rev. Gilbert was accepted at one of the prestigious Universities to pursue his doctorate degree, however, the dean of the University told Rev. Gilbert he needed to choose academics over social justice; Rev. Gilbert never showed up for orientation. Currently, Rev. Gilbert believes that a prophetic voice must be sounded off.  In this vein, he has served as the Special Assistant for Constituent Services and Religious Affairs for former two D.C. Councilmembers.

Rev. Gilbert is always advocating and advising behind the scenes fighting for Christ and His causes.  He is one of the lead organizers and voices in the District of Columbia for justice, Black Power and mobility.  The Howard University Alumni honored Rev. Gilbert with the Community Activist Award in 2012.  Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo, New York, proclaimed December 30, 2013, as Reverend George C. Gilbert, Jr. Day.  In August 2013, Reverend Gilbert was a convention speaker for the Progressive National Baptist Convention.  In 2020, Rev. Gilbert, was covered in worldwide news responding to President Donald Trump in front of the church where President Trump tear gassed peaceful protestors and held up a Bible for a photo opportunity. There you heard Rev. Gilbert’s famous statement, “You may have the Bible in your hand, but you don’t have it in your heart.” Rev. Gilbert was listed by Black Justice Fellows as one of the top 30 Justice Leaders in Washington, D.C. At the I Have A Dream Anniversary March On Washington in 2021, Rev. Gilbert was one of the speakers of the day. He serves on the Religious Advisory Board for Door Dash and many advisory boards and committees locally. Although Rev. Gilbert heard the call of God at an early age, he finally accepted the call and preached his initial sermon in May 1999.  Rev. Gilbert believes that we are saved to serve and that a minister must follow Jesus’ mandates.  He further understands that only what he does for Christ will last.

Jeffrey Haggray / American Baptist Churches USA

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray serves as Executive Director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) and Chief Executive Officer of Judson Press, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Haggray also serves on several nonprofit Boards, including Andover Newton Seminary at Yale. He is actively engaged with Faith Leaders representing mainstream denominations and faith-based organizations in the USA.

Having served as a Regional Executive Minister in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Region for many years, he also served as Senior Pastor of The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C., in addition to other congregations in D.C., New Jersey and Georgia. Haggray is noted for prophetic preaching that addresses issues of Biblical justice, equality, and the church’s mission in the world. He is passionate about cultivating leaders who are committed to following the Voice to impact the world. An ordained American Baptist minister, Haggray earned academic degrees from the University of Virginia (B.A.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), and Wesley Theological Seminary (D. Min.). He resides in the Philadelphia area.

Jenny Hodge / Baptist General Association of Virginia

Raised in Springfield, Virginia, Jenny Hodge graduated with a bachelor’s of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. After earning a dual master’s degree in Social Work and Divinity from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Jenny has held several roles for non-profits in three states, including the Virginia Baptist Mission Board, Waco Regional Baptist Association, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Louisiana. In addition, she has served in multiple leadership roles for local, state, and national boards, including the former Tidewater Representative for the CBF Virginia Coordinating Council and a member of CBF’s Task Force on Clergy Sexual Misconduct/Abuse.

A 2016 BJC Fellow,  Jenny is an avid essay reader for the BJC Essay Scholarship Contest. Currently, she is the Interim Executive Director of the Tidewater Youth Services Commission, which works to give the gift of second chances to at-risk and court-involved youth. In between volunteering and work obligations, Jenny can be found reading fiction, watching PBS shows, and walking foster dogs.

Perry Hopper / American Baptist Churches USA

Perry J. Hopper serves as the associate executive director and director of denominational relations of MMBB Financial Services. He joined MMBB’s staff in 1987 and is responsible for coordinating special programs that support MMBB’s mission.

Perry works in various capacities to best serve existing members, to reach prospective members, and to maintain solid relationships between MMBB and its affiliates. Perry also serves as an associate national secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA and serves as a member of the Committee on Church and Synagogue Relations with the Church Benefits Association. His pastoral experience includes serving churches in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. In 2002, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Perry’s education includes a B.A. in political science (with a minor in business administration) from the University of Washington and an MBA from Penn State University. He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard University Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry degree as a Samuel DeWitt Proctor Fellow at the United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio. Prior volunteer experiences include service as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Interchurch Center and as a board member of American Baptist Transitional Ministries and the ABC Ministerial Leadership Commission.

Kenton Keller / Religious Liberty Council

Kenton Keller is President of Accelerence Executive Coaching, LLP. As a Professional Certified Coach, he facilitates leadership development and succession planning for top executives and star performers. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University.

From 2008 through 2011, Kenton served as the Chief Performance Officer for Buckner Children and Family Services. Before joining Buckner, Kenton’s career spanned 29 years with Accenture, a global management consulting company that collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.  

Kenton received his Ph.D. in Leadership from Dallas Baptist University and holds an MBA and B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Mary, reside in Dallas, Texas, where they are active members of Wilshire Baptist Church. They are the parents of three daughters and have six grandchildren, all who live in Dallas.

Elizabeth Mangham Lott / Religious Liberty Council

The Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott is a Gulf Coast native from Mobile, Alabama. She served as senior pastorof New Orleans’ St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church from 20132023 and as a local church minister for nearly 25 years.

She is entering a freelance season of professional life podcasting, writing, and consulting. A graduate of Samford University (Birmingham, Ala.), Elizabeth earned a Master of Divinity from the former Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. In their decade in Virginia, Nathan and Elizabeth welcomed two children, now teenagers. The Lott family will relocate to Macon, Ga., in June 2024.

Keisha E. McKenzie / Religious Liberty Council

Keisha E. McKenzie, PhD, is a strategist who interprets communication, religion, spirituality, and politics as social change technologies. Most recently Senior Vice President of Programs at Auburn Theological Seminary, she has worked with congregations, faithbased, nonprofit, and educational organizations in communication and development strategy, faith organizing, research, facilitation, and management since 2004.

Keisha cohosts “Moral Repair: A Black Exploration of Tech,” a podcast supported by PRX’s Big Questions Project and the John Templeton Foundation. She publishes the newsletter On Tomorrow’s Edge, and is an inaugural Rooted in Resilience Fellow at Faith Matters Network.

A member of BJC’s Religious Liberty Council, Keisha is also part of the Aspen Institute Religion and Society Program’s Powering Pluralism Network and the International Religious Liberty Association’s Meeting of Experts. She advises Renewed Heart Ministries and Spectrum Magazine/Adventist Forums, and values healthy religions and spiritualities as stewards of collective intelligence.

Educated in the UK, Jamaica, and West Texas, Keisha has trained in English, law, political science, technical communication and rhetoric, and systems thinking. Her graduate research considered how accessible reports on weapons of mass destruction primed the public for the 20032011 Iraq war and ways multidisciplinary groups can work through difference to solve complex problems.

Keisha believes that all people have inherent worth and dignity; we need and deserve a world of connection and flourishing for everyone; and people of faith have a duty to help make that world real.

Katie Moore / Religious Liberty Council

Katie Moore lives in Los Angeles and works as a Marketing Project Manager for an HR & Payroll firm based in San Antonio, Texas. Previously, she spent four years in talent representation, primarily representing social media influencers and content creators. She is a trustee of the San Antonio-based Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation founded by her great-grandparents. The Baugh Foundation has partnered with more than 100 nonprofit organizations since it was established in 1994. Katie received her B.A. in Journalism, Public Relations & New Media from Baylor University.

Kristen Muse / CBF of North Carolina

Although originally from Ohio, Kristen Muse has lived in North Carolina since she was five and considers this her home. She’s lived throughout the state; Fayetteville, Asheville, Greensboro, and now Raleigh, creating lasting friendships in each of these places.

After graduating from UNCGreensboro with a degree in Elementary Education and teaching 5th grade for a year, Kristen followed God’s call to Campbell University. In 2003, shereceived her Master of Divinity and was called by Hayes Barton Baptist Church as their Minister with Children. It is hard to believe that she has now been at Hayes Barton for 20 years, serving in a variety of ministerial roles and currently serves as the Senior Associate Pastor. Kristen attributes this long tenure to the welcoming and loving congregation whose willingness to show grace and take risks has allowed God’s call to develop in ways that would have seemed out of reach as she was growing up. Kristen’s favorite thing is walking beside members of all ages as they discover ways to grow in their love of God, find ways to connect with others, and use their gifts and talents.

In 2020, Kristen graduated from Villanova University with a Master of Science in Church Management. Kristen married her high school sweetheart, Rankin, in 1998 and they have two children: Bradley and Blue. When Kristen isn’t at church, you will often find her on a tennis court, cheering on her son in a football game, watching her daughter act or sing, or enjoying good conversation with a friend.

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas / American Baptist Churches USA

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is editor of “The Christian Citizen,” an award-winning digital-first publication of American Baptist Home Mission Societies and editor of “#InThisTogether: Ministries in Times of Crisis,” published by Judson Press. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Religion News Service, Sojourners, Baptist News Global, and Good Faith Media. He served as director of interfaith engagement at the American Association of People with Disabilities and is currently a member of AAPD’s Disability Advisory Roundtable. He is on the board of directors of Pathways to Promise and the Religious Liberty and Human Rights commissions of the Baptist World Alliance. He is a member of the National Press Club, the Religion Communicators Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy program.

Stephen Reeves / Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Stephen Reeves serves as the executive director of Fellowship Southwest and director of advocacy for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Established in 2017, Fellowship Southwest is a regional ecumenical network of churches and Christians working for compassion and justice in the southwest United States. Fellowship Southwest’s work includes the creation and support of a network of ministries serving the needs of migrants on both sides of the southern border. CBF is a national network of individuals, churches and partner organization seeking to be the presence of Christ. Reeves provides strategic guidance and direction for CBF’s public advocacy efforts and works to educate, equip, and encourage advocates within the Fellowship.

He is a national leader in the effort to reform predatory lending practices, including payday and auto title lending, and has led CBF to be more active in advocacy for immigrants and refugees. He is the co-author of “The Mission of Advocacy: A toolkit for congregations” published by Nurturing Faith in August 2020. He currently serves as co-chair of the Center for Responsible Lending’s Faith & Credit Roundtable and as a member of the CBF/Baptist Women in Ministry Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force. He previously served as Director of Public Policy and Legislative Counsel for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission (CLC), where he directed the work of the Citizenship and Public Policy office in Austin and was a registered lobbyist. He is a native of Austin, Texas, a member of the State Bar of Texas, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Texas Tech University School of Law. Before joining the CLC, he served as Staff Attorney for BJC in Washington, D.C.

Lauren Reliford / Religious Liberty Council

As Political Director at Sojourners, Lauren W. Reliford, MSW, is responsible for developing and implementing Sojourners’ policy strategy, positioning, framing, messaging, and advocacy for outreach and impact on Capitol Hill and the presidential administration. She is a passionate and mission-oriented public and population health professional focused on bridging the gap between social theory, spirituality, research, and practice and bringing that to the forefront of our major policy decisions. Lauren joins Sojourners with over 10 years of experience in research, policy, advocacy, and government relations. 

A native of the Washington, D.C., metro area, Lauren earned her B.A. in political science from Boston College and her MSW in social policy-clinical social work at the National Catholic School of Social Services at the Catholic University of America. Lauren is an avid reader, loves her Washington Commanders, and spends time outdoors with her dachshund, Riley, when she needs a break.
Jesse Rincones / Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas)

Jesse Rincones is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. He is married to Brenda, and they share four great kids. Rincones graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Mathematics. He earned a Juris Doctor degree (cum laude) from Texas Tech School of Law. He practiced law with the firm of Sprouse, Smith and Rowley, and he is currently licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Texas.

Rincones previously served for almost 13 years as Lead Pastor of Alliance Church in Lubbock, Texas, a multi-ethnic congregation with Spanish and English services. In 2021, he returned to Alliance as a bivocational pastor. He has served as a Pastor’s Coach for Texas Baptist Coaching, and he has written for BaptistWay Press (now known as GC2 Press), Focus on the Family, Buckner, Texas Baptists, EthicsDaily.com and LifeWay Español. Rincones’ community involvement includes serving on the boards of Baptist University of the Americas and BJC. Previous board service includes the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Hereford Regional Medical Center, Pray Lubbock, and Mission Lubbock. He also served as pastor in Anton and Hereford, Texas. When not working, Jesse enjoys fishing, technology issues, and a great game of Fortnite – you can find him @RaiderRojo.

Meredith Stone / Fellowship Southwest

Rev. Dr. Meredith Stone serves as Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry and lives in Waco, Texas. Previously, she served as Associate Dean for Academics and Assistant Professor of Scripture & Ministry at Logsdon Seminary of Hardin-Simmons University, in congregational ministry, and in other Baptist organizations. Meredith is an ordained minister and is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University (B.A. in Biblical Studies, M.A. in Religion) and Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University (Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation).

 

Meredith regularly speaks and preaches at churches, conferences, and retreats, and writes for Baptist publications. Her academic publications include Empire and Gender in LXX Esther (SBL Press, 2018). Meredith also currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Fellowship Southwest. Meredith is married to James, and they have two teenage children.

Megan Thomas / Baptist General Association of Virginia

Meg grew up just outside of Austin, Texas. She graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, focusing her senior capstone on how evolutionary ethics inform Christian stewardship. Meg has been a part of many Christian denominations along her journey, gaining a respect for multiple traditions and viewpoints. Because of her ecumenical background, she strives to welcome people from diverse perspectives and histories into the life of the church. It was the “four fragile freedoms” of Baptist tradition — soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom – that inspired her to become a Baptist, and she strives to uphold those freedoms in her ministry. She is passionate about empowering people to wrestle with their faith in community and make it their own.

Before seminary, Meg served as co-pastor of Gateway Community Church in Bali, Indonesia, where she explored the intersection of faith and art in an interdenominational context. She was ordained to the work of the Gospel Ministry on November 2, 2014, at the First Baptist Church of Austin. In 2015, she graduated from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest with a Master of Arts in Religion writing her thesis, “Priestly Becomings: Reimagining the Priesthood of all Believers through a Process Creation Account.” Meg joined the staff of McLean Baptist Church in November 2015, and her ministry focuses on youth and young adults; inviting younger people into relevant conversations that have roots in the broad Christian tradition through formational activities throughout the year. Meg finds creative energy in cooking, music, writing, and sunshine. She was recently published in the European Journal of Science and Theology, February 2018, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1-13, “Evolutionary Ethics and Christian Stewardship.”

Philip Thompson / North American Baptists, Inc.

Philip Thompson is Professor of Systematic Theology and Church History at Kairos University/Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he helps the seminary reclaim the legacy of its most famous graduate, Walter Rauschenbusch. The son of a Baptist pastor, he holds a B.A. from Mars Hill University, an M. Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary, and a Ph.D. in theological studies from Emory University. His research and writing focus on the formation of memory and identity in Baptist life and thought, and the recovery and development of Baptist sacramental theology. Philip has published in a number of academic journals and has contributed to and edited several books of essays in the US and Great Britain. He was on the editorial team of The Collected Works of Walter Rauschenbusch published by Mercer University Press.

He is married to Marcia Taylor Thompson, an educator and author. They have three adult sons, Nathanael, Andrew and Matthew.

Samuel Tolbert / National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.

Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. is president of the National Baptist Convention of America. He is a graduate of the Historically Black Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy with a minor in Speech Education. He earned the Master of Divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio, and was awarded honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry degree candidate at the Stephen Olford Center at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee.

Rev. Tolbert is a recognized civic leader, having served as a commissioner for the Lake Charles Housing Authority, a representative of District “A” on Lake Charles City Council, and as a member of the board of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation. Currently, Rev. Tolbert serves on the board of supervisors for the Southern University System and on the Boards of Trustees for Florida Memorial University and Morehouse College School of Religion. He formerly pastored the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Cameron, Louisiana, and has served as Pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for more than 32 years.

Rev. Tolbert has held a number of positions in the faith community, including serving as a member of the Board of Trustees at Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana; Former President of the Louisiana Inter-Church Conference; First Vice President of the Southwest Missionary Baptist Association; President of the Louisiana Home & Foreign Missions Baptist State Convention; as the Coordinator of North American Disaster Relief for Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention; and First Vice President and General Secretary of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. He currently serves as Vice-President, North American Baptist Fellowship Region of the World Baptist Alliance; President of Greater St. Mary Community Development Foundation; President & CEO, Strategic Faith Leadership Ministries.

Rev. Tolbert was elected the 15th President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc in June 2014. With more than 3.5 million members worldwide, the National Baptist Convention of America seeks to “positively impact and influence the spiritual, educational, social, and economic conditions of humankind.

Rev. Tolbert is married to Matilda E. Tolbert and they are the proud parents of two daughters, Candace Latrice and Kayla Monique.

 

Keisha Patrick Wilson / Religious Liberty Council

Rev. Keisha Patrick Wilson, Esq., serves as Youth and Young Adult Pastor at Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. In this role, she secured a grant for her church to conduct research on the religious involvement of young adults. She also serves on the Executive Committee to the Ministries Council of Church of God Ministries (Anderson, Indiana). Keisha is an alumnus of the African Americans and Religious Freedom Course at the Religious Freedom Center and of Howard University School of Divinity. She co-authored an essay in the book “African Americans and Religious Freedom: New Perspectives for Congregations and Communities,” which the Freedom Forum published in 2021. Additionally, Keisha practices law as a public servant in the financial services industry.