Racial hostility remains one of the most challenging issues for the church and our world in the 21st century. The complexity of race, class, gender and culture often lead to superficial, short-term, programmatic solutions rather than transformational change in our personal lives, ministries and organizations.
At this conference, we will offer robust theology, tools, practices, and space for dialogue to equip followers of Jesus to be peacemakers and reconcilers.
Whether you are just getting started on the journey of connecting the gospel to race, or whether you are already immersed in a context committed to racial justice and reconciliation, this conference is for you.
Rich Villodas is the Lead Pastor at New Life Fellowship Church. On October 6, 2013, Rich succeeded Pete Scazzero as Lead Pastor. Rich was born and raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn. He graduated from Nyack College and then went on to obtain a Masters of Divinity degree at Alliance Theological Seminary. He is currently part of the writing team for Missio Alliance. When Rich is not reading, he is cheering on his beloved Mets, Knicks, NY Rangers and Jets teams. Rich is married to Rosie and they have a little girl and boy, named Karis and Nathan.
The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, Mark speaks with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and conciliation for the nation. He serves as the Washington DC correspondent and regular columnist for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” Mark also consults with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW), has served as the pastor of the Christian Indian Center in Denver CO and is a founding partner of a national conference for Native students called “Would Jesus Eat Frybread?” (CRU, IVCF and CICW). Mark is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram under the username: wirelesshogan.
Dr. Brenda earned a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, a Doctorate of Ministry from Palmer Theological Seminary, and was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from both North Park University and Eastern University. She is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church and serves as a member of the pastoral staff of Quest Church in Seattle, WA. Presently, Dr. Brenda serves as Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University, where she also directs the Reconciliation Studies program. She was featured as one of the 50 most influential women to watch by Christianity Today in 2012. Dr. Brenda is the author of Roadmap to Reconciliation (2016), A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race (2008), and The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change (2005), coauthored with Rick Richardson. She resides in Seattle with her husband, Dr. J. Derek McNeil and are the proud parents of two young adult children.
Nikki Toyama-Szeto works with leaders of faith communities to help ignite a passion for biblical justice among the Global Church. She speaks and trains leaders nationally and globally. She writes and speaks from her experiences as a leader in organizations like International Justice Mission, the Urbana Conference and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She served on the Third Lausanne Congress(2010), helping to develop the plenary program.
As the Executive Director of ESA, Nikki works with Christians who are motivated to have their faith engage with some of the most pressing issues of today.Much of her insights stem from experiences living among poor people in the slums of Nairobi, Cairo, and Bangkok. Nikki resides in the DC metro area with her family.
David W. Swanson is the founding pastor of New Community Covenant Church, an intentionally multiracial congregation on the South Side of Chicago. He is the CEO of New Community Outreach, a non-profit organization that seeks to reduce the causes of trauma and raise opportunities for equity in Chicago. He is married to Maggie and they have two sons, Eliot and Winston.