Embracing Evangelism

Embracing Evangelism: Participants

The course instructors and designers bring a combined 80 years of experience to the practice and teaching of Evangelism. The material is drawn from David Gortner’s work at Virginia Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Evangelism Team’s evolving research and teaching about Evangelism 101, and a healthy mix of sources within and beyond the church.  

The course participants featured in the videos represent a range of communities, generations, and life experiences. They are lay and ordained, from the Midwest, East Coast, South, West Coast, and beyond. They are straight and LGBTQ, white, Asian, Latino, Black and mixed-race, lifelong Episcopalians and converts. Some identify as “evangelists,” and some were newer to the concept. In other words, whatever your perspective, we hope you will resonate with and learn from the voices gathered here.

Meet Our Teachers

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers serves as the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation, helping Episcopalians to follow Jesus’ Way of Love and to grow loving, life-giving and liberating relationships with God, each other and the earth. The author of Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other and the Spirit of Transformation – as well as The Episcopal Way and Companions on the Episcopal Way (with Eric Law) – she has directed mission and evangelism work at General Theological Seminary and as a canon in the Diocese of Long Island; founded The Crossing, a ground-breaking church within St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston; and led numerous church-wide renewal efforts. A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, and a graduate of both Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, she makes her home today in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.

The Rev. Dr. David Gortner has trained and taught laypeople and clergy across the Episcopal Church in evangelism. His book, Transforming Evangelism, laid the foundations for the Episcopal Church’s way of seeking and sharing God’s goodness with all people. As a priest and psychologist, David served nearly two decades as a seminary professor at three different seminaries – most recently as Associate Dean for Church and Community Engagement at Virginia Theological Seminary. David has chosen to return to fulltime parish ministry at St. Luke’s in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, while still leading churchwide initiatives such as VTS’s Thriving in Ministry for clergy, local and regional training in evangelism and community engagement, and education in mental health pastoral care. He is married to the Very Rev. Heather VanDeventer, Dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Spokane, Wash.

Jeremy Tackett serves as The Episcopal Church’s Senior Manager for Creative Services and Digital Evangelist. For more than 10 years, Jeremy’s professional work and personal creative ambitions have centered around finding “what’s next” for sharing the message and mission of the Church. Collaborating alongside pastors, priests and lay church leaders, he has worked to lead the way in creating strategies, tools and content to serve the Church’s mission and further the reach of its message. A native Kentuckian, Jeremy currently resides in and works from Philadelphia, Penn.

Jerusalem Greer is the Staff Officer for Evangelism for The Episcopal Church in the Office of the Presiding Bishop, and member of the Way of Love creation and leadership team. Additionally, she is on the Council of Advice for Episcopal Relief & Development and served on the board of Forma: The Network for Christian Formation.  She lives with her husband and two teenage sons on a hobby farm in rural Arkansas and is the author of At Home in this Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises, and A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together, as well as several curricula.

The Rev. Nancy Frausto serves as associate rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach, in the Diocese of Los Angeles and as a consultant for the Presiding Bishop’s Office for Evangelism. As a Latina who grew up in a Spanish-speaking congregation and pursued ordination, she recognizes the importance of honoring diversity in language, culture, socioeconomic status, and race in people’s stories. Her passion for storytelling and finding God in the midst of chaos, pain, laughter, and joy drives her desire to share her personal story and hear the stories of others who seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in their lives. 

Meet the Participants

Billy Boyce serves as a lay leader from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. He lives and works in Boston Massachusetts as a tax accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

Lisa Brown is the Director of Digital Ministry for Membership Vision. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and from there helps churches across the country tell their story in the digital space. 

The Rev. Deon Johnson was elected the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Missouri in November 2019. He currently lives with his family and two dogs in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The Rev. Grant Mansfield serves as Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Maplewood, N.J. His ministry passions include seeking God’s justice in the world, tackling the hard questions of our day, and proclaiming the loving name of Jesus to all he encounters. 

Sandy Milien serves as the Missioner for Community Engagement and Assistant to the Bishop in the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is also a Storyweaver with The Episcopal Church’s Beloved Community StorySharing Campaign.

The Rev. Leonard Oakes serves as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of California.

The Rev. Marcea Paul serves as Curate for Pastoral Care at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, Texas. She also serves as a member of the Commission on Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

The Rev. Kerlin Richter is the rector of Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church in Southeast Portland, Oregon.

Eduardo Solomón Rivera is managing editor of Education for Ministry’s Latinx curricula (EfML). He lives and works from sunny Southeast Florida.

The Rev. Alice Sawyer serves as the priest-in-charge of Trinity Episcopal Church in Belleville, Mich.

The Rev. Bryan Spoon is a board-certified staff chaplain at Children’s Mercy Hospital and an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of West Missouri. He administers the website www.neurotheology.info that highlights the intersection of belief and neuroscience. 

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