Plenary and Workshop Leader
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. Over the past six years his blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said, has reached a diverse worldwide audience, recently passing the 100 million views mark.
A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside of faith communities. His books include A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Stuff That Needs to Be Said, and If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk.
Katie Nakamura Rengers
The Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers is a native of Birmingham, and helped launch The Abbey, a church plant in the Avondale neighborhood. Currently, she serves on the Presiding Bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Church, working with new ministry developers. She is passionate about helping church leaders and faith communities recognize the way the Holy Spirit is already at work in their midst, birthing something new. Katie, her husband Josiah, and their two young girls continue to live in Birmingham where they enjoy listening to and playing music, and practicing Tang Su Do as a family.
The Rev. Cecelia D. Armstrong is a cradle Presbyterian who held membership at Calvary, New Life, Belle-Terrace Presbyterian churches in Detroit, MI, Atlanta, Georgia, and Augusta, Georgia, respectively. She was educated at Spelman College, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Interdenominational Theological Center, where she attended Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and is currently enrolled at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary pursing a Doctor of Ministry degree. She was ordained as a Deacon, and then an Elder, before she accepted the call on her life into ministry.
Pastor CeCe served Grady Memorial Hospital as a chaplain and Beth Salem as supply pastor. As an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacraments, Rev. Armstrong served as Solo Pastor of Grace in Lantana, Florida and now is the very proud Associate Pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church on James Island in Charleston, South Carolina.
Conference Artist and Spirituality Center Director
The Rev. Mary Button is a native Texan and graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (BFA), the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (MTS), and United Lutheran Seminary (MDiv). An artist and activist, Mary’s work explores connections between Biblical narratives and contemporary social justice issues. Mary’s work has been exhibited across the United States and the United Kingdom, with exhibitions at the Museum of Biblical Art, the Church Center of the United Nations, and Wesley House at Cambridge University. She has written curricula on a number of social justice issues. Her Stations of the Cross series have been shown in dozens of churches and explore such themes as mass incarceration, mental illness, climate change, migration, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You can see her work at marybutton.com.
G. Phillip Shoultz, III
Worship and Music Leader
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, is known as artist, educator, consultant, speaker, and pastoral musician. Phillip serves as Associate Artistic Director of VocalEssence, where he founded the Singers Of This Age. Phillip is also Cantor for Worship, Music, and the Arts at Westwood Lutheran Church, a member of the Graduate Music Education faculty at the University of St. Thomas, and he serves as host for Minnesota Orchestra Young People’s Concerts. In the summer of 2020, he created “Table for More,” a consulting and conversations platform to help arts organizations, schools and churches consider ways to create more belonging through equitable and inclusive practices.
Michael W. Waters
Worship and Workshop Leader
Michael W. Waters is the founding pastor of Abundant Life A.M.E. Church in Dallas, Texas. A pastor, professor, author, activist, and social commentator, Waters’ words of hope and empowerment inspire national and international audiences. He has appeared on major media broadcasts including ABC Nightline, BBC Newsnight, CBS This Morning, MSNBC Live, NPR, PBS Newshour, and VICE on HBO. He has also been featured or mentioned in/on The Associated Press, The Christian Century, Ebony Magazine, Essence Magazine, GQ Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Today Show, and The Washington Post. Waters’ non-fiction and children’s books have garnered national literary awards, and his leadership efforts have garnered commendations from The White House and the U.S. House of Representatives. He has been further honored with Southern Methodist University’s Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award. Waters is married to Attorney Yulise Reaves Waters. They are the proud parents of four children.