Meet the 2019 General Conference Core Planning Team!
Lauren Bennett serves Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) as the Conference/Meeting Coordinator which includes co-leading this amazing conference. She is in her last year of the Master in Divinity program Wesley Theological Seminary and is in process for ordination with MCC. On Sunday, she attends MCCDC where she leads a creative monthly worship service that moves around the downtown area. In her free time she likes being outside, reading, dancing, and drinking coffee.
Mike Haase serves MCC as the IT Manager. His “other duties as assigned” includes co-leading General Conference. In his free time, Mike serves as the minister of music at All God’s Children in Minneapolis where he has attended since 2002. Mike is an accomplished organist and pianist, a respected coach/accompanist, and a singer. He has served as a church musician for over thirty years at various churches. In addition to leading the worship team, Mike conducts the Chancel Choir, Praise Band, and Chamber Instrumentalists.
Worship Team Leads
Rev. Vickey Gibbs has the pleasure of ministering with and to the people of Resurrection MCC and Los Casa de Todos in Houston, Texas. She serves as the Associate Pastor. She is a member of the Houston Coalition of Black Affirming Pastors, Houston Faith Leaders Coalition, Planned Parenthood Faith in Action Cohort and Texas Advocates for Justice. Vickey serves on the Board of the Montrose Center Women’s Programming Advisory Committee. She loves living in the most diverse city in the United States of America as it affords her to opportunity to immerse herself in the cultures of people from around the world. She loves learning new things and is looking forward to the joy of being a part of such a diverse group of people who will co-create the worship experiences for General Conference 2019. She is married to Cassandra and is the co-parent of two lovely young women.
Rev. Dr. Kevin Downer brings years of experience in transformational ministry as Interim Pastor to MCC San Antonio, All God’s Children MCC in Minneapolis, and Founders MCC in Los Angeles. He is the founding pastor of aChurch4Me? MCC in Chicago and was the Executive Pastor of MCC’s largest congregation MCC Toronto. He is currently the Interim Minister at Greendale People’s Church in Worchester Massachusetts.
Prior to becoming a pastor, he spent 14 years as an international business consultant. He holds a BS in Computer Science, an MBA with concentrations in finance and marketing, and an MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He recently received a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminar. His doctoral thesis was titled “Transforming Community: Dialogue and Inquiry as a Just and Loving way for Leading Increasingly Diverse People beyond Fear, Loss and Uncertainty.” Kevin and his spouse Toby have been together for over 17 years.
Programming Team Leads
Collis Floyd is called to help others make a difference in their lives by understanding their purpose and passion! By sharing methods to create positive change, she works to improve wellness and spiritual connection. She has served in various professional and church leadership positions throughout the last 20 years
In MCC she has served as Board of Directors member, Strategic Planning Team member, and leadership consultant. Using her professional and spiritual experience she leads workshops on topics such as stewardship, church leadership development, personal empowerment, small group leadership, public speaking and grief and loss. Using her experience in these roles, Collis hopes the General Conference Programming Team will fulfill needs of attendees in an impactful and meaningful way. She invites you to come learn, experience and share all of who you are with others through programming at conference!
Rev. Wes Mullins is in his 14th year of ordained ministry in MCC and has served in a wide variety of churches. He is a true progressive, and yet he is passionate about trying to marry the best of the evangelical and progressive church traditions. Specifically, this means doing personal spiritual formation and social justice. Wes hopes that his work on the General Conference Programming Team will bless all who attend by offering deep, meaningful experiences that balance these two important aspects of the Christian life. He believes that striking this balance will aid in forming lay and clergy leaders of the ilk needed for our future. Since 2013, he has joyfully served as the Senior Pastor of MCC of Greater St. Louis.
Marketing and Communications Team Lead
Joel Ogburn was born and raised in north Florida, into a spiritually guided and musically talented family, where Joel began sharing his music gifts. At the age of 16, he had the privilege of sharing God’s good news of unconditional love across this great nation. After spending 10-years on the road full-time, recording 5 albums, he found himself called to be in local church.
His passion is simple, lifting up the name of Jesus through powerful Praise and Worship. Psalms;100 challenges us to SHOUT to the Lord, all the earth and to WORSHIP God with a joyful song – praising God each step of the way. He is blessed to be in the journey with his husband, Ryan, beautiful daughter Abbey and three furry kids Annabelle, Ashton and Asia.
Inclusion and Accessibility Team Leads
Rev. Cathy Alexander; Washington, D.C. (USA),serves MCC of Washington DC as the Minister of Congregational Connections as well as the Network Leader for the Eastern Network. Cathy has a passion for living worship, music, theology and learning. She is actively involved with MCC at both?the local and denominational levels from leadership retreats to serving on denominational teams, most recently as chair of the MCC Governing Board Nominating Committee. She is a graduate with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and has served as a contributor to the MCC Theologies Team Holy Conversations. Cathy enjoys singing, small group conversations, playing the guitar and traveling.
Rev Catherine Dearlove is Senior Pastor of Trinity MCC in Gainesville, Florida. She worked in the UK as Founding and Senior Pastor of River of Life MCC, Dorchester, Dorset. She also served as Interim Pastor at MCC Brighton, East Sussex. Rev Catherine has been a member of MCC since 1982 in England, Australia and now the USA. She has a Bachelor in Theology from Brisbane College of Theology, Queensland, Australia and completed her Masters in Christian Spirituality through Sarum College, Salisbury, England.
Rev Catherine has served as the European Coordinator for the Office of Formation and Leadership and Development and on the Governing Board Nominating Committee for MCC, and is currently part of the OASIS Team who are working on a virtual ministry worldwide for MCC.
Jim East, Accessibility Consultant, is the former Lay Delegate of Trinity MCC of Gainesville FL in the US. He is totally blind and has earned a BA in Political Science and a Minor is Sociology. He completed a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation and mental health counselling. Both degrees are from the University of Florida. He has worked for Walt Disney World providing quality assurance and has worked as a counselor for both the private and public sectors.
Be A Gem Team Lead
Linda L. Brenner, Associate Director for Communications for Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), sets and guides the communications strategy for a diverse, international population. Linda is especially passionate the mission of the Be a Gem Scholarship Program, which she oversees. Before joining the MCC staff, Linda was a high school journalism teacher, adjunct instructor for international students in the English as a Second Language program, writing instructor for teachers of writing, and educational director in a psychiatric boarding school. Linda and her wife, Susie Brenner, have a nationally touring music/storytelling ministry. Linda enjoys precious time with family, in addition to graphic design, photography, and editing her wife’s memoir.
Finances and Operations Team Lead
Barbara Crabtree has been a member of MCC for more than 25 years and Director of Operations since June 2009. Prior to joining MCC leadership team, Barb was Vice President and Senior Consultant at a large market research firm, leading global brand management studies for Fortune 100 companies. As Director of Operations, Barb is responsible for MCC General Conferences and events, Financial Operations and corporate business operations. Barb first joined MCC at Open Arms MCC in Rochester, NY. Over the past 25+ years, she has served several MCC churches in the United States as a member of the Board of Directors, served as Assistant District Coordinator in the former Northeast District, and served on MCC’s Board of Administration. She currently lives in Gainesville, Florida, USA with her wife, Rev. Catherine Dearlove. Barb holds a MBA in Operations Management and Marketing from the William Simon Graduate School of Business, University of Rochester (New York) and a BS in Applied Science from Miami University (Ohio).
Reverend Elder Rachelle D. Brown is a ministry leader who addresses challenges through strategic planning and brings creative energy that fuels action. Her interdisciplinary education and experience includes communications, marketing, systems theory, theology, and ethics. Rev. Brown employs a collaborative team-building model that inspires transformation. She uses both metrics and relationships to evaluate strategies and actions that emerge from clear objectives.