Poverty has been defined as a lack of options. Together, we will create fresh options for building Christ-centered disciples in the city. We'll work to address practical and spiritual needs with a diverse spectrum of resources that reflect the grace and justice of the gospel.
We're pleased to announce the current list of presenters joining us for Creating Options TogetherTM 2016; true leaders in their respective fields. These men and women are poised to bring fresh wisdom and insight.
Trillia Newbell is the author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity (2014). Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She is currently Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Along with writing, she is pursuing her M.A. in biblical counseling from Southern Theological Seminary. For fun, she enjoys group fitness (she used to be a fitness instructor!), cycling, and listening to a variety of music. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they reside with their two children near Nashville, TN. You can find her at trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter at @trillianewbell.
D.A. Horton currently serves as the National Coordinator for the Urban Initiative through the North American Mission Board. Prior to serving there, he was the Executive Director of ReachLife, which is the nonprofit side of Reach Records. D.A. has also held positions as an urban church planter, pastor and Lead Teaching Elder in Kansas City, MO, along with being an Adjunct Professor at Calvary Bible College, where he wrote seven urban-focused courses for their Urban Studies major. For over 16 years, D.A. also has used the medium of rap music as a tool to help educate the people of God on the precepts of Scripture and to present them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Along with music, he is pursuing a Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written two books: G.O.S.P.E.L. and DNA: Foundations of the Faith which are both available through Moody Publishers. D.A. is married to Elicia, his wife of twelve years, and they attend Blueprint Church along with their three children (Izabelle, Lola and D.A. Jr.). You can find him at dahorton.com and follow him on Twitter at @da_horton.
Kristie Anyabwile is a pastor's wife and the mother of Afiya, Eden and Titus. She joyfully supports her husband of 24 years, Thabiti, as he pastors Anacostia River Church in Southeast Washington, DC. Kristie enjoys spending time with family, cooking, and discipling women as well as speaking and writing about marriage, motherhood, and ministry. You can find her at www.iamconvinced.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter at @kanyabwile.
Thabiti Anyabwile is one of the pastors for Anacostia River Church. He has served as an elder and pastor in churches in North Carolina, DC, and the Cayman Islands. After a few years as a practicing Muslim, Thabiti was converted under the preaching of the gospel in the Washington, DC, area. He and his wife, Kristie, have three children. Thabiti is the author of several books, including The Life of God in the Soul of the Church, The Gospel for Muslims, What Is a Healthy Church Member?, The Decline of African-American Theology, and The Faithful Preacher. He also blogs regularly at The Front Porch and Pure Church. You can find him at www.anacostiariverchurch.org and follow him on Twitter at @ThabitiAnyabwil.
Mark Charles is a dynamic and thought-provoking public speaker, writer, and consultant. The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, Mark speaks with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. Mark is the founder and director of 5 Small Loaves, an organization that pursues racial reconciliation through honest education, intentional conversation, and meaningful action. In December of 2012, Mark organized and hosted a public reading of the US Apology to Native peoples. You can find him at wirelesshogan.com or 5smallloaves.org and follow him on Twitter at @wirelesshogan.
Dr. Eddie Koh is the planter and pastor of New City Church, an intentional multiethnic church plant in Seattle, Washington. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 2003, and served as the Associate Pastor of Hillcrest Presbyterian Church before planting New City Church in the fall of 2013.
Eddie received a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO). His doctorate work from Covenant Theological Seminary involved exploring how minority pastors overcome personal and systemic leadership challenges in majority culture congregations in a racialized American society. In partnership with the Cru® Team in Seattle, Dr. Koh regularly teaches locally and was a key speaker for the Church & Race Summit in 2015.
In 1969, Carl Ellis began his ministry as a Senior Campus Minister with the Tom Skinner Associates in New York. From 1979 to 1989, Carl served as the Assistant Pastor of Forest Park Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland, served on faculty at Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and as a seminar instructor for Prison Fellowship where he developed and taught "in-prison" and "in-community" seminars for inmates and community volunteers. Between 1986 and 2009, Carl served as an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Urban Theological Studies (C.U.T.S.), and as Dean of Intercultural Studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He continues to serve at C.U.T.S., and is also on the faculty at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Carl is currently the Associate Pastor for Cultural Apologetics at New City Fellowship.
Dr. Ellis studied under Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri in Huémoz sur Ollon, Switzerland, completed his Master of Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford Graduate School.
You can find Dr. Ellis on his website at ellisperspectives.com,or follow him on Twitter: @CarlEllisJr.
Karen Angela Ellis works alongside her husband, exploring the zones where identity, human rights and theology intersect. She has performed, spoken and lectured in Eastern Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Indonesia and in South America. In her twenty-year career, she has been seen in classrooms, conferences, on radio, television, film and onstage. Karen holds a Master of Arts in Religion (Theological) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama.
You can follow Karen on her website at ellisperspectives.com, or follow her on Twitter: @KarAngEllis.
Adam Edgerly is an interculturalist and the CEO of Culture Consultants LLC, helping senior executives achieve peak performance through executive coaching and leadership training. He has traveled to over 25 countries and led retreats and workshops on five continents for thousands of participants.
Adam also serves as Lead Pastor of NewSong Los Angeles Covenant Church, a multicultural community committed to reconciliation in Christ. Prior to his ministry at NewSong LA, Adam served the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination as Associate Director of Evangelism and Regional Director of Church Planting and Community Transformation.
He earned his MA in Inter-Cultural Studies from Biola University and his MBA from Emory University. You can follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamEdgerly.
Milton has been HIS follower for 35 years. All of that walk and service has been in Chicago among the Urban Core and alongside of the "Heroes of the Faith" serving the inner-city poor. He has been married for 30 years to a godly woman (Cynthia). They have been co-laborers in God's work in the city since 1986. They have two adult children: Zach (24); Sarah (21).
Milton's passions are the study of God's Word and the integrity and preservation of HIS WORD in its historical and orthodox interpretation; teaching and preaching ALL of GOD's WORD in its entirety; discipling and developing MEN to multiplying leaders in the city; communicating according to the following approach: grace/truth/love.
You can follow him on Twitter: @southsidesushi.
Cynthia and her husband Milton have been on staff with Cru since 1986. They have served at Cru's Agape Community Center on the south side of Chicago all of those years. Cynthia has worked in ministry to children, teens, and women. She also serves as the Development Coordinator for the Chicago team. Cynthia is passionate about people in the city coming to know Christ and growing in their faith. As she drives the streets of the city, her heart cries out for godly men to disciple the boys and young men who are being raised in homes without a dad. Cynthia & Milton have two young adult children: Zachary and Sarah.
You can follow Cynthia on Twitter: @Cynthia_Massie.
Originally from Chicago and now residing in Atlanta, Jimmy McGee is President and CEO of The Impact Movement. Additionally, he is a thought leader, facilitator, and consultant. He is unapologetically Black, unashamedly Christian, and relentlessly engaged. He has authored several articles and is working on his first book.
You can follow Jimmy on Facebook and Twitter: @Bitumen3.
Edrin C. Williams has served as the Pastor of Equipping & Formation at The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN since November of 2013. For two years, Edrin lead MOSAIC, a community of youth & college students from all over the Twin Cities metro. Before joining The Sanctuary, he led a vibrant youth ministry at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN for six years.
Edrin has been married to the woman of his dreams, Shanequa, for eight years, and they are parents to a beautiful, 5 year-old daughter, Taylor Elise. Edrin is a South Carolinian who loves Minneapolis, music, history, travel, and people!
Edrin is a graduate of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. He holds a Masters of Divinity degree in Preaching & Communication from Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Edrin is an advocate of the local church, and he's very passionate about equipping leaders of all ages who will impact society with the Gospel of Jesus.
Edrin is passionate writer. In 2014, he was a contributor to Father Factor: American Christian Men on Fatherhood and Faith from White Cloud Press.
Edrin regularly blogs about faith & family at www.edrinwilliams.com and you can follow him on Twitter: @EdrinWilliams.
Judy is a freelance writer and a singer/songwriter/musician who is passionate about motivating God’s people to engage in the work of racial reconciliation, justice, and advocacy for marginalized and oppressed people groups. She is a second-generation Taiwanese-American and a native of Houston, Texas. Having grown up in a traditional Taiwanese home while being educated and socialized in majority-white American institutions, she considers herself a third culture kid (TCK). This third-culture orientation has created in her a particular interest in applying missiological principles, particularly cultural contextualization, to the effort of helping estranged groups move toward mutual understanding and mutually transformative reconciliation. Her interest in this work as a life mission was solidified when she and her husband served as lay leaders between 2012-2014 at a multiethnic and economically diverse church in Atlanta, where they encountered racial, class, and gender tensions within the congregation.
Judy completed a B.A. in History at Rice University in 1994, an M.S. in Epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health in 1997, and an M.S. in Physician Assistant studies at Baylor College of Medicine in 1999. She worked as a physician assistant at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston from 2000-2007, and then worked independently in the field of alternative medicine until she officially retired from the medical field in 2014. In 2012, she created a training presentation entitled Identifying and Helping Victims of Human Trafficking for the organization Out of Darkness, to raise human trafficking awareness among first-responders and health care workers. This presentation has now been used to train hundreds of first-responders and people working in health care settings, including nursing students, paramedics, fire fighters, pregnancy center staff, emergency department personnel, nurses, midlevel providers, and physicians.
Judy currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, daughter, mother-in-law, dog, and multiple musical instruments.
You can follow Judy on her blog at lifereconsidered.com, or on Twitter: @JudyDominick.
Terry and his wife Janice have been on the staff of Cru since 1979. They have lived and served in the inner city of Detroit for the past thirty years. Presently, Terry serves as the City Director for the inner-city ministry of Cru and the National Director for ethnic partnership in Cru Inner City.
Terry holds a graduate certificate in Biblical Studies from the International School of Theology and a Master's of Divinity degree from Moody Theological Seminary - Michigan. He also serves on the advisory board of for Moody Theological Seminary - Michigan.
His wife Janice is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in pharmacy. She and Terry are the proud parents of three children: James (26), Jason (23) and Jessica (20) and two grandchildren (Chris & Caleb).
Elicia Horton earned her B.S. in Bible & Theology and Organizational Leadership from Calvary Bible College. There, she played two seasons of basketball for the Lady Warriors. Elicia went on to earn an M.S. in Religious Studies as well as an M.S. in Organizational Development from Calvary Theological Seminary.
Wife of D.A. Horton (whom she met when she was 10!), Elicia has served as a church planter/pastor’s wife while serving as a mother to her children. She currently serves as her husband’s road manager and has enjoyed homeschooling her kids the past two years while being able to travel and speak at conferences. Her greatest joy comes from serving her family and being able to pour into them first.
Elicia has a strong desire to see people liberated from their broken pasts and then used as models to be put on display for the glory of God.
Rasool Berry serves with Cru New York City on the millennials team and as the campus pastor for The Bridge in Brooklyn. Rasool’s name means ‘messenger’ in Arabic. It’s fitting because he is passionate about communicating with people, especially around the Message that God is pursuing reconciliation, peace and redemption in the world through us. He loves translating spiritual truths from the Scriptures into the language and ethos of our times, especially to college students and young adults. Rasool has been on staff with Cru since 2000. Rasool is passionate about leadership, sports, music (especially hip hop), food (cooking and eating), and inspiring people to live in light of eternity instead of immediate gratification.
You can follow Rasool on Twitter: @rasoolberry.
John Sather joined the staff of Cru® in 1974 and spent his first years of ministry reaching students for Christ. In 2002, John and his wife Chris transferred to the inner-city ministry of Cru to open the work in Minneapolis/St. Paul. John served as city director in the Twin Cities for 9 years. In 2010, John stepped into national leadership and currently serves as Co-National Director for Inner City with Milton Massie. John is committed to the precious power of the gospel and the biblical justice that glorifies the Lord. John and Chris live in south Minneapolis; have four grown children and six fabulous grandchildren.
You can follow John on Twitter: @johnhsather.
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of The Next Evangelicalism (IVP Books, 2009); Many Colors (Moody, 2010); and co-author of Forgive Us (Zondervan, 2014) and Prophetic Lament (A Commentary on the book of Lamentations from IVP Books, 2015).
Soong-Chan received his B.A. in Political Science and History/Sociology from Columbia University; his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his Th.M. from Harvard University; his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is currently in the Th.D. program at Duke University.
Rah is formerly the founding Senior Pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context.
Soong-Chan, his wife, Sue, who teaches special education, and their two children, Annah and Elijah, live in Chicago.
You can follow Dr. Rah on Twitter: @profrah.
A community college minister in Los Angeles by day, Kristy is passionate about seeing US Latino college students developed into world changers. She and her husband, Eric, have served among college students around the world for over a decade. Kristy passionately advocates for those on the margins and seeks to help people integrate all of who they are into their calling, especially their ethnic identity. She enjoys good food, good friends, and deep conversations. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Global Leadership from Fuller Seminary. Kristy and Eric have two beautiful daughters.
You can find Kristy on her blog, yosoykristy.com, or follow her on Twitter at @yosoykristy.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is the author of Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship (Zondervan, 2016). She intentionally serves as a credible witness of Christ’s leadership to engage, equip, and empower people to live and lead on purpose. As the visionary founder of Leadership LINKS, Inc., her vision is to holistically develop transformative and redemptive servant leaders who are united in community, and committed to generously investing in long-term generational and cultural change. She serves as a Bible teacher, writer, anti-human trafficking advocate, and champion for education.
Natasha graduated cum laude (M.A. in Christian Leadership) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Charlotte, where she received the Redemptive Leadership Award and completed independent studies in the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting, biblical justice, racial reconciliation. She is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. A former Marine Corps officer and Department of Homeland Security federal employee, she has over 15 years of leadership and mentoring experience in the military, government, church, seminary, and nonprofit sectors. She is a sought after leadership consultant, mentoring coach, and speaker. Connect via her official website www.natashaSrobinson.com, blog www.asistasjourney.com, Twitter @asistasjourney, or Facebook.
Lisa Victoria Fields grew up as a pastor’s kid; however, she had no ministry ambitions. Growing up, Lisa wanted to be a stockbroker. She planned to move to New York and work on Wall Street, but God had another plan. In 2005, Lisa started her undergraduate career at the University of North Florida (UNF) with a major in Investment Finance. It was during the end of her first year of college that she encountered God in a very real way. She then began to pursue God like never before. She decided to take a religion course at UNF to cultivate a deeper knowledge of God’s word. However, she was shocked on the first day of class when her New Testament professor declared, “I’m going to change everything you thought you knew about Jesus.” With this statement, her professor quickly shattered her expectations for the course. Lisa was presented with information about the Bible that she had never encountered. The professor focused on biblical contradictions and textual criticism. Lisa’s faith was challenged on a level that it had never been before. It forced her to rethink what she believed. Through months of prayer and reflection, Lisa was faced with a decision, believe the Bible or abandon the faith. She chose the Bible, however, not with blind faith but faith informed by theological evidence. Since that time, Lisa has been on a mission to equip believers with the tools to defend the faith. She believes that one of the greatest tools to defend the faith is biblical literacy.
Lisa graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Religious Studies and Liberty University with a Master of Divinity with a focus in Theology. Lisa is the founder and President of the Jude 3 Project. She has spoken at evangelism, apologetic and biblical literacy events at various universities and churches. She has a passion for teaching the Word of God. She believes it's important for Christians to engage the culture and represent a biblical worldview. Above all, Lisa hopes to be marked by her love for God and people, because in her mind that is the only thing that really matters. You can find more about her work at www.jude3project.com, or follow her on Twitter at @LisaVFields or @jude3project.
Run51 is challenged to point the hearts and minds of young men and women to what truly satisfies. While popular culture often promotes the corrupt and destructive pleasures of money, power and sex, Run51 promotes freedom, peace and love given to us through the gift of the cross
Chris Webb was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. At a young age he realized that he was blessed with a passion and gift for art. He began performing plays and poems around his city, and as God expanded his skill set, his horizons began to expand as well.
In high school, Chris began performing plays on a national level at theater festivals and camps across the country. Chris also began seeing his gift start to “make room” for him in the area of poetry as well. He began finding opportunities to minister poems on more elevated platforms including BET, MTV, Showtime, and Adelphia cable, also in front of many prominent entertainers including Harry Belafonte, Clay Aiken, Tye Tribbett, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Guillaume, Don Cheadle, and many others.
Chris also entered poetry competitions, competing for three years at the “Brave New Voices” International Youth Poetry Slam, finally becoming an international finalist in 2007, and gaining the title of 4th in the world. After graduating from the Cleveland School of the Arts he went on to the California Institute of the Arts for acting, graduating with his BA in Acting in 2011 after a myriad of training, travel, commercials, and made-for-TV movies.
You can find him at www.chriswebbnow.com
Mazaré Rogers lives every day amazed at the incessant blessings the Lord showers down upon her. This spoken word poet hailing from Durham, NC describes herself as raw honey, “a teaspoon of brutal truth fresh from the comb--bold and thick with sweet.”
Mazaré graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English and a minor in Creative Writing. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Divinity (MDiv) at Covenant Theological Seminary, where she co-founded Poets’ Ink, the seminary’s poetry writing group.
She is the Editor of the St. Louis Poetry Center newsletter and an educator who delights in leading workshops that help writers identify their unique literary voice and cultivate their technical writing skills. Mazaré speaks at conferences about various topics including how church leaders can come alongside the creatives in their midst. She looks forward to the release of her upcoming spoken word album, Raw Honey, in 2016.
Shin hails from New Jersey and New Haven, CT and just started drawing again recently after an eight-year hiatus. He started seeing faces and profiles in knotholes 25 years ago. He draws his inspiration from graffiti, comic books, the pictures he sees as he prays for his community and the city, and video games. Shin has been a full time artist for the past 4 years. He is a graduate student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and is pursing a degree in Masters of Urban Leadership.
You can find him at www.shinhappens.com
Dave Young Kim is a muralist and studio-based artist. He received his MFA from Mills College and his BA at the University of California–Davis. As he grew up in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, he was inducted into the gang and graffiti scene that was prevalent at the time. These origins continue to influence his work today: Dave’s blend of Northern California academic credentials and Los Angeles street education come together in his commissioned work. Ranging from small- to large-scale, each mural he makes is a reflection of its surrounding community and the idea that we are all searching for a place to call “home.” He is currently working on the documentary film Interlaced about finding his Korean roots.
Dave resides in Oakland, CA, with his wife Elaine, infant daughter, and cat Honey Meow Meow. His works can be found in Norway, Korea, Mexico, and across the United States.