Centered:

A Christian Discipleship Experience

Participants

Meet Our Host and Participants

The Rev. Altagracia Pérez-Bullard, Ph.D., is the director of Contextual Ministry and assistant professor of Practical Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. Altagracia has served in ministry over thirty years as youth minister, community leader, and priest in the Dioceses of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. She was the Canon for Congregational Vitality in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and rector of Holy Faith Church, Inglewood, and St. Philip’s, in South Los Angeles. Dr. Pérez-Bullard has brought leadership to the issues of HIV/AIDS, youth violence, worker justice and living wage, health disparities in communities of color, housing, and community empowerment. In each of these areas, she has sought to build bridges and create alliances between communities across lines of difference, whether they are characterized by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, or physical and mental abilities. Altagracia holds a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Claremont School of Theology, Calif., an M.Div. and STM from Union Theological Seminary, New York, and B.S. in Educational Psychology from New York University.

The Rev. Zack Nyein serves as Senior Associate Rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York, assuming responsibilities in a wide array of ministries, including social justice, creative worship, newcomer engagement, and children, youth, and families. Active in the wider Episcopal Church, Zack currently serves on the Task Force for Prayer Book and Liturgical Revision, the Board of the Episcopal Evangelism Society, the Board of Kanuga Episcopal Camp and Conference Center, and as Director of Worship for Imagine Church, an innovative online worship experience in the Episcopal Church begun during the pandemic. Zack is a lifelong choral singer and a lover of travel, the arts, and fitness. He holds degrees from the University of Tennessee and Yale Divinity School and resides in Hell’s Kitchen with his husband, Dr. Michael Waterson.

Ellie Singer is a textile artist, faith-based climate advocate, and multimedia editor based in Houston, Tex. In her studio, Common Prayer Shop, she creates clergy stoles using sustainable fabrics. Ellie served on the Presiding Bishop’s Delegation to COP26, the UN Climate Conference of 2021. She is also managing editor for podcasts at Earth & Altar Magazine and a contributor to the Episcopal Herald. As a young Episcopalian, Ellie sees discipleship, digital life, and sustainability as three inextricably linked themes. At her home parish, St. Aidan’s in Cypress, she enjoys Daughters of the King meetings and planning next year’s VBS. Her hobbies include baking, PC gaming, and trying to keep her single tomato plant alive. Follow her on Twitter @elliegsing.

Mildred J. Briones Reyes is the missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries and Diocesan Initiatives in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She has a passion for and commitment to strengthening Hispanic and multicultural congregations. In addition, she manages diocesan grants and supports key diocesan programs and initiatives to advance the diocesan strategic plan. She carries out her calling among the spirituality of joy, love, presence, forgiveness, humility and justice, as a professed member of the Third Order Society of St. Francis (TSSF). 

The Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga is the former bishop of Southern Malawi, former chair of the Anglican Consultative Committee, and Distinguished Professor of Global Anglicanism at the School of Theology, University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn.

The Rev. Isaiah “Shaneequa” Brokenleg is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Nation). She is an Episcopal priest in the diocese of South Dakota. From a cultural perspective, she believes we are all related and, as such, we are all called to be “good relatives” to one another. As a winktè, Shaneequa is called to be a healer and move communities in the direction of positive change. From an academic perspective, she has a Masters of Public Health Degree from the University of Minnesota and a Masters of Divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Shaneequa is the Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation at The Episcopal Church as a member of the presiding bishop’s staff and the Associate Rector at Church of the Good Shepherd. She is passionate about social justice, and working to end the structural oppression/violence that hurts us all. Shaneequa strives to live out her calling through her work, our church, her art, and in her life.

Ora Houston is a product of East Austin, Tex. She graduated from legally segregated public schools and received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from Huston-Tillotson University. She believes that access to quality education which includes skills training, is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Her parents instilled in her the desire to serve her community, engage in social, civic and political activism, and to be fiscally responsible. Her professional history of service-oriented work includes 27 years with the Texas Department of MHMR: survivor of domestic violence, volunteer and past member of Safe Place Board of Directors. Her lay ministry includes service on the Austin City Council, 2015 – 2019; Chair of the Standing Committee, Diocese of Texas; three time Deputy to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church; Life Member of the NAACP and the Union of Black Episcopalians-Myra McDaniel Chapter. She is an a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church—an inclusive, multicultural, multilingual, affirming congregation. She is now a ‘recovering public servant’.

Sr. Madeleine Mary, CSM, is the prioress at the Community of St. Mary, Southern Province, and holds an M.Div. from The School of Theology as well as a certificate in spiritual direction from the General Theological Seminary. She has been a Religious for fifty-two years, has served as a spiritual director for more than thirty years, and is a member of Spiritual Directors International. She has served as a spiritual director for seminarians and clergy for the School of Theology at the University of the South, Virginia Seminary, the General Seminary, Union Seminary, and Yale. She has also done retreat work and programs widely throughout the United States as well as in Europe. While living in New York as a member of the Community of the Holy Spirit, she served as the Reverend Mother for twelve years, represented the Episcopal Religious Orders and the Diocese of New York in international ecumenical work, and was the program director for the CHS Earth Ministry.  Since she transferred to the Community of St. Mary, she has ministered as prioress, a spiritual director, and retreat leader, and has used her writing, photography, and video skills to help people explore the connections between faith, care for creation, and Benedictine spirituality.   

The Rt. Rev. Frank Logue is the bishop of the Diocese of Georgia. He previously served on the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church and was the church planter for King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, Ga.

Meet Our Content Contributors

Rebecca Hall founded and has been the primary steward of The Abbey since 2019. This was the natural outgrowth of 14 years as the Director of Spiritual Formation at St. David’s Episcopal Church. She also works as Program’s Director at the Iona Collaborative at Seminary of the Southwest (SSW), where she teaches Christian spirituality and spiritual direction and leads the Thriving programs. Rebecca has a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation from the Seminary of the Southwest. She is a spiritual director who works with individuals and groups.

The Rev. Jenifer Gamber, ordained to the priesthood in 2019, has served The Episcopal Church for most of her life as a layperson committed to the ministry of forming disciples. She treasures her ministry preparing candidates for baptism and confirmation and supporting a lifelong journey of life in Christ. She is the author of several books for Episcopalians, including two books of prayers–Common Prayer for Children and Families with Tim JS Seamans and Call on Me: A Prayerbook for Young People with Sharon Pearson, and two books to prepare candidates for sacramental commitments– My Faith My Life: A Teen’s Guide to the Episcopal Church and Your Faith Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church. Gamber lives with her husband, Ed, and her Westie, Carrie, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and currently serves as the founding Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative in the Diocese of Washington.

The Rev. Scott Gunn is executive director of Forward Movement, a ministry of The Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. Known widely for Forward Day by Day, they also publish books, host conferences, create curricula, and offer digital resources. Scott travels across the church regularly as a preacher, teacher, and retreat leader. His latest book is Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide. Before serving at Forward Movement, Scott was a parish priest in the Diocese of Rhode Island. Prior to ordination, he worked in technology for such diverse organizations as The Atlantic, Fast Company, MIT, and Education Development Center. You can find him on Twitter (@scottagunn).

Rachel Jones loves Jesus and is grateful to work on formation and discipleship resources. She also enjoys being outside, raising plants, making good trouble, and cooking with her husband. 

Ellis Reyes Montes is an accomplished musician and writer whose writings have been published by Forward Movement and Church Publishing. He is a life-long Episcopalian from Houston, Tex., and pursues his passions in music and writing with the loving support of his family. He often leads music and liturgy around The Episcopal Church. In addition to researching and leading church music, he performs with various ensembles around North America, and he maintains a blog, openlyepiscopalian.blogspot.com, and a podcast, The Faithful Music Master, where he seeks to investigate the love of God for all of God’s creation. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in musicology at McGill University, focusing on sacred music and colonialism in the Americas during the 16th-18th centuries. Whenever he is not writing or practicing/performing, he can be found studying languages, playing bridge, gardening, or reading.

Br. Keith Nelson is a monk of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a monastic community of The Episcopal Church in Cambridge, MA. SSJE Brothers take life-long vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience and serve the church and the world through lives of prayer, teaching, preaching, spiritual direction and service. Before he entered the monastery in 2014, he was educated at Kenyon College (2004) and Harvard Divinity School (2008), and worked in secondary and adult education. Br. Keith currently serves as the community’s Deputy Superior and is in training to be an Episcopal priest. He is passionate about the intersection of contemplative practice, our call to love, heal, and bless the earth, and our language(s) for God. He aspires to be the kind of Christian who listens more than he speaks.

Small Group Training Hosts and Writers

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.

Miriam McKenney seeks to find God in everyone she sees. Miriam loves her husband, David, and three daughters, Nia, Kaia, and Jaiya, picture books, Jesus, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, libraries, and books. In her ministry, Miriam serves as director of development and mission engagement at Forward Movement and Becoming Beloved Community formation staff in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Jerusalem Greer is the Staff Officer for Evangelism for The Episcopal Church in the Office of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry. Her portfolio includes Evangelism, Way of Love, Good News Gardens, and Discipleship. She serves on the Council of Advice for Episcopal Relief & Development and on the board of Edible Theology, an educational ministry connecting the Communion table to tables we eat at every day. In addition to her work for The Episcopal Church, she is also a speaker, preacher, podcast host (Spade, Spoon, Soul), and published author.

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