Meet the Facilitators
Rev. John Carr
My name is John Carr. I have had the opportunity to pastor in several different locations. I’ve lived and done ministry in Haiti, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Kansas City, and Hawaii. I was ordained in the UCC through the Hawaii conference and Kaua’i association. I have a passion for theology and education.
A few fun personal details: I am happily married to my wife and we have two children. I have a couple of hobbies which include woodworking and running. While I am admittedly an amateur woodworker, I have a lot of fun with it.
Thanks for checking out my bio. I look forward to getting to know you
The Rev Kathy Clark
Rev. Kathy Clark is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who retired from the UCC National Staff. There she served as the Minister for Members in Discernment on the Ministry Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA) Ministry Team. Prior to that call, Rev. Clark served as Associate Conference Minister for Ministry Formation and Leadership Development for the Southeast Conference of the UCC. She was the developer and dean of the on-line regional education program, PATHWAYS: Theological Education for a Changing World, former executive Director of the Theology Among the People (TAP) Program, and is strongly committed to excellence in ministry, both lay and authorized. Rev. Clark has a passion for lifelong, transformative learning. She holds two master’s degrees, an M.Ed. from the University of Georgia in Adult Education and an M.Div. from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. She has over 30 years of experience in theological and higher education and has served as an adjunct faculty member of Lancaster Theological Seminary. She also served on the Ministry Issues Pronouncement Implementation Committee in the national setting of the UCC and was part of the original writing group. Her areas of expertise include adult and collaborative learning, small group dynamics, faith development, lay theological education and ministry formation. Her hobbies include reading and writing, fabric arts, travel, and Scrabble. Currently living in northeast Georgia with her partner Tom and near her four adult children and nine grandchildren, she has joined PATHWAYS as a course facilitator.
The Rev Trish Greeves
Trish Towle Greeves, a retired United Church of Christ pastor and former adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary, has served churches in Virginia, Minnesota, and Georgia. She received her M.Div. degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia and a D.Min. from United. She is the author of Prophetic Faith: Preparing Your Church to Advocate Social Justice; Recollections: Mantras, Wisdom and Prayers Guiding My Life; Shared Morsels: Selected Sermons with Commentary and Discussion Questions; and co-author of seven Kerygma Bible Study Leader's Guides. She currently teaches online courses for the UCC-related Pathways Theological Education Program and serves on the Board of Directors for Senior Enriched Learning based in Roswell, Georgia.
The Rev Ray Jordan, ABD
Pastor Ray Jordan is a trailblazing preacher, teacher, academic, keynote speaker, workshop leader, and consultant to churches, non-profits, corporate entities, and institutions of higher education. As an ordained United Church of Christ clergyperson, Ray is formerly the Senior Pastor of Central Congregational UCC in Dallas, TX (serving as Central’s first African American and openly gay senior minister in its 120-year history), formerly the President of the North Texas Association of the UCC (it’s first African American president) and is currently the Lead Pastor for First Community UCC of Dallas (serving as First Community’s first openly gay and African American senior minister in its 73-year history).
Ray has worked within three distinct populations, rural, suburban, and urban, and has enjoyed community engagement, therefore he has served on a number of local and national boards, including the North Texas Executive Leadership Council for the United Negro College Fund, for which he received the organization’s Rising Star Award for his outstanding contribution.
Considering himself a scholar-practitioner, his education and vocational experiences have been a testament of interdisciplinarity, demonstrating a marriage of theory and praxis, faith and practice. For example, Ray has worked as a public-school teacher, university professor, non-profit administrator, corporate trainer, clergyperson, and consultant in areas of conflict mediation, organizational development as well as diversity and inclusion. Having led civil and human rights experiential learning opportunities for over 15 years, Ray continues to be a sought-after preacher, speaker, workshop leader and facilitator in the areas of difference (race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) and cultural competency.
Although Ray is originally from Oakland, CA, he was raised by his grandmother on a farm in rural Arkansas, where both she and other “church ladies” stressed the importance of education. Hence, Ray holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Theological Studies from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and is completing his PhD (ABD) from Union Institute and University, with research in public policy, faith communities and social change with a concentration in Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies.
In addition to serving as a community activist and local church pastor, Ray is also an academic, having taught Philosophy and World Religion for Dallas College, Interdisciplinary Studies and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington and Political Science at Southern Methodist University. Currently, Ray teaches courses in Human Rights and Social Justice for both the Graduate Liberal Studies and Human Rights Programs at SMU when not spending time with his three children, Trey, Alley and Joshua Caleb.
Rev. Valerie Coe Lowder
The Rev. Valerie Coe Lowder is an authorized minister in the Southeast Conference, United Church of Christ, where she serves as an Intentional Interim Minister. She is also a D.Min. student at McAfee School of Theology. She has been pastor of congregations in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee, a campus minister in Delaware, and a youth minister in Indiana and Pennsylvania. As an educator, she has taught Spanish to elementary and middle school students; religion, philosophy and ethics to college students; and served as administrator of two preschools. Ordained as a Baptist in 1990, she came to the UCC in 1997 by privilege of call, after sojourning among Methodists, Moravians and other ecumenical exploits. She holds a B.A. from Wake Forest University, a M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, a M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with further studies at the Divinity School of Duke University. She has earned certificates in Clinical Pastoral Education and in Interim Ministry and is trained in therapeutic parenting and emergency response. For decades she has been a mentor to many women and men preparing for ministry, including chairing the Commission on Ministry of Southeast Conference and serving on the Members In Discernment committee at Kirkwood UCC in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also a mental health advocate, a hand-weaver and quilter. She is married to Dr. Patrick Lowder. They have two grown sons, an old black cat and three xoloitzcuintlis.
Timothy Maness, PhD
Tim Maness is a theologian with a Ph.D. from Boston University. His research focuses on the relationship between science and religion, and he is especially interested in questions about time and personhood. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
The Rev Dr Kathy Harvey-Nelson
Kathy is a graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary (2003 - Mdiv; 2019 - DMin). She has held positions in local churches, as Director of Continuing Education for Lancaster Seminary, and Director of The Center for Spiritual Formation. She is passionate about spiritual formation and growth in the lives of clergy and laity, and maintains a thriving practice as a Spiritual Companion.
Kathy loves to read, travel and spend time with family and friends. In addition to facilitation with PATHWAYS, she is coordinator of the Ministerial Studies program with Lancaster Seminary, consultant with The Center for Spiritual Formation, and her spare time is re-learning to play the piano. She lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, Hill, and her puppy, Starr.
The Rev. Dr. CJ Wood
Rev. Dr. CJ Wood grew up in the Houston area. After graduating from Tomball High School, she lived abroad as an exchange student in Germany. Upon return from Germany, she earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and Reading/ESL (language acquisition) from Houston Baptist University and became a certified classroom teacher by the State of Texas. From there she moved to Waco, Texas to study at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University earning her Master of Divinity in Global Christianity and World Religions.
CJ worked in education for around 12 years including adult education (ESL, TOEFL prep, Citizenship, and GED), elementary education, and as an education consultant in India for three and a half years. After returning to the U.S., CJ completed a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio, Texas. Afterwards, she moved to Corpus Christi, Texas to work for CHRISTUS Healthcare System as a staff chaplain. While there she was ordained at St. Paul's United Church of Christ through the Heart of Texas (HOT) Association of the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Just prior to the pandemic, Rev. CJ moved to Austin to work for Ascension Seton Healthcare System and officially became a board certified chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. Also during the pandemic, Chaplain CJ completed her Doctor of Ministry in Formational Counseling from Ashland Theology Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. Formational Counseling focused on pastoral care and counseling, spiritual formation and direction, and formational healing prayer. Her research looked at how pastoral caregivers can be better spiritual companions to people with bipolar disorder.
Rev. Dr. CJ's interests include the intersectionality of the various forms of liberation theology including Queer Theology, Racism in Healthcare especially in Maternal Health and Perinatal Care, Disability Theology, and Mental Health Theology. CJ serves on the Committee on Ministry for the HOT Association overseeing and caring for ministers. She also is a deacon at her local church, Congregational Church of Austin of the United Church of Christ. CJ enjoys reading, going to the movies and arcades, and streaming shows. She loves snuggling her two cats, Logan and Lucy. Her greatest joy is spending time with her nieces, Emma and Lila.
The Rev LaVetta Ross-Hall
Rev. LaVetta Hall, a 2015 Eden Theological Seminary graduate is an ordained minister in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. LaVetta cultivated a heart for pastoral care through her congregational leadership as Student Pastor, Assistant Pastor and Sr Pastor serving congregations in Kansas City, Mo, St Charles, MO Manchester MO and Caseyville, IL. She is committed to journeying with others through pastoral care and contemplative spiritual practices. LaVetta currently serves as FT Hospice Chaplain in New Jersey.
A member of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in Princeton NJ, LaVetta supports her congregation by providing Pastoral Care, preaching and leading the morning prayer call via Zoom when called upon.
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears was ordained as MCC clergy in November 2001. He has served as Settled Pastor for congregations in Corpus Christi, Texas, Brookfield, Illinois and Fairfax, Virginia. A certified Interim Specialist, Danny served as a Intentional Interim Specialist in Charleston, South Carolina and Athens, Georgia. He is currently the Spiritual Leader of Unity Gainesville (GA), and is working toward full ordination in Unity.
Danny holds an AAS in Industrial Supervision, BAS in Business Administration, and both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Danny and his husband, Richard Lofstrand, live in Canton, Georgia. They have three adult children, 5 grandchildren, multiple grand cats and grand dogs; and they share their home with their 13 year-old “kitten,” Dylan.
Rev. Dr. Brice Thomas
Rev. Dr. Brice Thomas attended United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (UMC) for his MDiv (2004) and DMin (2015). He was ordained into the UCC in 2005, and has served congregations in Ohio and Tennessee. He is currently serving as chaplain/clinical care manager for a sexual health clinic in Nashville, TN focusing on the testing, treatment and counseling for communities most at risk of STIs and HIV. In 2012, he published a pastoral care resource for gay/lesbian couples called “Committed to Love: Pastoral Care for Same-Sex Christian Couples.” In addition to speaking on issues of sexual health, stigma and healthcare disparities among the LGBTQ and minority communities, his passion is leading peer recovery programs for people living with mental health and substance abuse comorbidities. His research and writings on biblical storytelling has reconnected progressive congregations to the power of the sacred stories–helping folks who have suffered religious trauma find their way back to God and the church. In addition to ministry, Brice loves to sing, ballroom dance, acting, and hanging with his Great Pyrenees/Pitbull mixed pup named Betty White.
Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagán-Banks
The Rev Sarah Werner, PhD
Sarah Werner is an editor, writer and pastor living in Columbus, Ohio. She is the Communications Coordinator for Central District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA and the pastor of Olentangy Wild Church.She is also the Senior Book Reviews Editor for the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. She earned her PhD from the University of Florida, specializing in Religion and Ecology. Her dissertation focused on Mennonite environmental initiatives in the US and Canada. She earned a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, specializing in Scripture and Interpretation. Her book, Rooted Faith: Practices for Living Well on a Fragile Planet (2023, Herald Press), offers resources for grounding faith in our local places and for confronting the climate crisis in ways that strengthen ourselves and our communities. In her free time she enjoys backyard birding and photography.