Speaker Bios

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Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is the Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 900-member multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City. She is an activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQ equality. Middle Church and Jacqui’s activism for these issues has been featured in media such as The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Essence and The Huffington Post. Jacqui is a frequent contributor to MSNBC. 

Jacqui is the Co-Founder of The Middle Project, which hosts an annual conference to train faith leaders to build multiracial congregations.  Jacqui earned her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and earned a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Psychology and Religion from Drew University. She has been adjunct professor at seminaries across the country, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and the Graduate Theological Union.   

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Jacqui is the first African American and first woman to serve as senior minister in the Collegiate Church, which was founded in New York City in 1628. She is the author of The Power of Stories; 10 Essential Strategies to Grow a Multiracial, Multicultural Congregation; and the children’s book, You Are So Wonderful! She is writing a book about finding a grown-up God.

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Casper ter Kuile is building a world of joyful belonging. 

He is a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School where he supports innovative community leaders across the secular/sacred landscape. Together with his colleague Angie Thurston, he's co-authored two reports - How We Gather and Something More - that map this emerging landscape. 

Casper co-hosts an award-winning podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, which engages a modern classic through traditional sacred reading practices such as Havruta and Lectio Divina. 

This year Casper is an On Being Fellow and was previously the co-founder of Campaign Bootcamp and the UK Youth Climate Coalition. He lives in Cambridge, MA with his husband Sean.

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Angie Thurston is an On Being fellow and a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, supporting leaders who are deepening community amidst increasing religious disaffiliation. She is the co-author of How We Gather and Something More, two reports profiling new forms of meaningful community in America.

Angie studied playwriting at Brown University and put on arts events in New York City for six years. She began chairing semiannual spiritual gatherings for young adults in 2010. Her faith is grounded in a text called The Urantia Book, and she is an active leader in the international fellowship of Urantia Book readers. She received an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School in 2016. Read more about her work at www.angiethurston.com.

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Rev. Dwight Andrews is a native of Detroit, Michigan and a product of the Detroit Public Schools System. He graduated from Cass Technical High School and received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from the University of Michigan. He continued his studies at Yale University, receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 1977 and his Ph. D. in Music Theory in 1993. He was ordained into the Christian ministry in 1978 by the United Church of Christ. His ordination was held at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit.

Andrews served as Associate Pastor of Christ’s Church at Yale University’s Battell Chapel for ministry to the minority communities there. For over a decade he served as minister at the Black Church at Yale and pastored several generations of Yale students and faculty as well as members of the greater New Haven community. He has also served as Interim Minister at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut and Plymouth Congregational Church in Beaumont, Texas.

His biggest accomplishment at Yale however, was meeting his wonderful wife, Desiree Pedescleaux of Baton Rouge. She was a graduate student in Political Science and an active lay leader in the campus ministry there. They were married in 1988 and Dr. Pedescleaux is now an Associate Professor of Political Science at Spelman College. Andrews continues the tradition of First Church ministers John Clarence Wright and Homer McEwen by being committed to both pastoring and teaching. He has lectured extensively throughout the United States and is an Associate Professor of Music at Emory University. In addition, Dr. Andrews has taught at Rice and Harvard Universities. In 1996 he was named the first Quincy Jones Visiting Professor of African American Music at Harvard.

Yale was a rich environment for Andrews, intellectually, spiritually, and artistically. During the “New Haven years,” he taught in Yale’s music department and Afro American Studies program and was selected by director and Dean of the Yale Drama School, Lloyd Richards, to serve as Resident Music Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre (1979-1986). The result of this particular opportunity led to a productive long-standing relationship with Richards and playwright August Wilson. Andrews served as the music director for the Broadway productions of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, the Piano Lesson, and Seven Guitars. He has also been associated with playwrights Pearl Cleage and Thulani Davis and film maker Louis Massiah. He has created music for film and dance and, as a saxophonist and sideman, been recorded on over twenty albums and performed throughout the U. S., Europe, and Iceland. Reverend Andrews views his preaching, teaching, community work and music, as discrete parts of a single public ministry. In each of these capacities he thinks of himself, first and foremost, as a minister. This perspective informs the way he performs his duties in the pulpit, the classroom, and on the concert stage. Andrews carries his ministry wherever he goes and is grateful that God continues to provide him with wonderful opportunities for ministry— within the walls of the church and without.

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Dr. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi serves as the director of the Center for Analytics, Research and Data (CARD), a ministry team of Local Church Ministries within the UCC’s national setting. Kristina has served in a variety of ministries including higher education, Christian education/faith formation, hospital chaplaincy, and youth ministry. 

Kristina is a graduate of Iliff School of Theology in Denver and has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Research and Policy from the University of Colorado.  In conjunction with colleagues, Kristina currently helps to collect, maintain, and analyze data on UCC congregations and ministers and conducts research and evaluation projects throughout the year (which can be found at www.ucc.org/research). As part of her national role, Kristina also serves on the steering committee of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) Project—a series of national surveys of American congregations begun in 2000—and is the author of the FACT 2015 report “Engaging Young Adults” available at www.faithcommunitiestoday.org.

Her passions include developing theologies of research and critical understandings of church vitality, engaging in intersectional social justice and liberation activism, and cultivating creative expression through oil painting, writing, and cooking. 

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Rev. Dr. Chris Davies is the coordinator for the Congregational Assessment, Support and Advancement (CASA) Ministry in Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ. Davies is a graduate of Smith College and Andover Newton Theological School, and previously served as associate pastor at Wapping Community UCC in South Windsor, Conn. A lifelong member of the UCC, she has also served as a member of the Connecticut Conference Board of Directors, volunteered at the Silver Lake Conference Center and with the ONA Coalition, and served as a delegate to General Synod.

Davies is the artist and creator behind the “Queer Clergy Trading Cards," this is something that reflects the unbridled creativity, enthusiasm, passion and energy she brings to her work and in lifting the inclusive values of the UCC.

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John and Kathryn Heinz founded CenterForm, a coworking community in Atlanta, with the question: “If the Good News really is the Good News, what does it look like in the real world?” CenterForm is a networking community of Christians, non-Christians, entrepreneurs and leaders that leverages the creativity, social capital, and resources of that community to address complex challenges, such as gentrification, immigration and addiction, to promote the shalom of the city. “CenterForm is an important place for the Church to participate in the shaping of communities, instead of freaking out that the world is changing,” Katheryn said. Katheryn has a BA in Cinema/Television Production from the University of Southern California and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary, where she is currently an adjunct professor. John has a B.S. in Psychology from Maryville College and an MA in World Mission and Evangelism from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is a provisional deacon in the United Methodist Church and an adjunct professor with Asbury Theological Seminary.

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Tuomi Joshua Forrest, Executive Vice President, Partners for Sacred Places has offered technical advice, training and consultation to thousands of congregations, arts groups, community organizations, and denominational bodies on the funding, community use, and management of their facilities since joining Partners in 1997.  He has contributed to publications such as Sacred Places at Risk (1998), Open the Doors: A Guide to Serving Families in Sacred Places (2001), Your Sacred Place is a Community Asset: A Tool Kit to Attract New Resources and Partners (2002), and The Economic Halo Effect of Historic Sacred Places [2016].  Tuomi is a lead designer and trainer for Partners’ New Dollars/New Partners program and Arts in Sacred Places training program, provides consulting services to clients around the country, and oversees Partners’ program and research portfolios.  He received an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Political Science from Haverford College.

With initial funding from the Lilly Endowment and the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Partners was founded in 1989 by a task force of religious, heritage, community development and philanthropic leaders as a national, non-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to care and support of America’s sacred places. Since then, Partners has served several thousand congregations, faith-based and other organizations and represents concerns of community-serving sacred places in every town and city across America.  With a national headquarters in Philadelphia, Partners also has offices in Fort Worth and Chicago.

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Rev. Dr. Patrick Garnet Duggan was ordained a Baptist minister in 1989, then granted Privilege of Call and subsequently, Full Ministerial Standing in the United Church of Christ in 1995. Dr. Duggan has served as Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church of South Hempstead/ United Church of Christ (CCSH) since 1995. Under his leadership, CCSH has experienced sustained membership growth and missional vitality for 22 years.

A bi-vocational pastor for most of his career, in 2012 Dr. Duggan was called to serve as Executive Director of the United Church of Christ Church Building and Loan Fund (CB&LF). CB&LF’s mission is to assist new and renewing United Church of Christ congregations and other Christian congregations regardless of sect or denominational affiliation, that are planning to buy a first church building or land site, or who want to construct, renovate or develop a church building, school, parsonage, or other church-owned real property that advances the mission of the Gospel. The Fund’s vision is to re-invent the concept of “church” through innovative uses of buildings and space created through unique partnerships and the application of biblical principles, to dramatically improve the economic, social, environmental, and spiritual vitality of poor communities and gentrifying neighborhoods.

A blogger, a preacher, and a transformational denominational executive, Dr. Duggan asserts that he is “on a mission to enable church leaders and congregations to live into God’s economy” in alignment with the Gospel mission as explicated in Luke 4 and Matthew 25.

A native New Yorker, Duggan earned the Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1980. Dr. Duggan earned the Master of Divinity in 1993 and the Doctor of Ministry in 2013, both from New York Theological Seminary (NYTS). An adjunct instructor at NYTS, Dr. Duggan has taught a course on the Black Church in the Transformation of Society, and a primer on church real estate projects, “Church Building 101.” In 2015, CCSH became a community site for the NYTS Certificate Program in Christian Ministry, graduating its first class of aspiring church leaders in May 2017.

Married since 1982 to Patricia Phillips, an educator, the Duggan family includes two adult sons, Jameson and Christopher, their youngest son Aaron, who is now a student at the University of Connecticut, and four grandchildren, Makeda, Malik, Maki, and Ava.

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Rev. Bryan Sirchio is a gifted musician and the director of the Convergence Music Project, an all digital source of music and liturgical resources for worship that reflect a progressive theology. Bryan is ordained in the United Church of Christ, has served churches in pastoral and music ministry, and is the author of The 6 Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music.

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Rev. Rob Dalgliesh is an experienced ministry innovation executive, a visionary entrepreneur, and an organizational adaption conslutant.