2018 Arts, Recreation, & Worship Leaders
Kris "Bubba' Brammer lives in Lincoln, Nebraska but grew up surrounded by the mountains and trout rich waters of Roanoke, VA. Currently serving as the Church Educator at First Presbyterian, Lincoln, Bubba has also served churches in Hickory and Southern Pines, NC for over 20 years. When not working, Bubba enjoys, golf, tennis, and fly-fishing to releases the stresses of life, but most of his time is spent with his amazing wife Kris Adler-Brammer and their four legged child/dog, Wrigley.
Bill Buchanan is a pastor, Christian educator, youth worker, father, husband, and friend. He is the Executive Director of Youth Mission Co, which includes the youth mission immersion programs of Asheville Youth Mission, Raleigh Youth Mission, and Memphis Youth Mission. He loves live music, cooking, and watching college basketball.
Eric Dillenbeck lives in Shaker Heights, OH with his wife, Amy, three children and dog. He has served churches in Decatur, GA and Cleveland Heights, OH. In his free time he enjoys playing volleyball, riding his bike, connecting with friends and family, and laughing whenever possible.
Mandy Ealy is Director of Christian Education at Hawfields Presbyterian Church in Mebane, NC. When she isn’t listening to Broadway tunes, driving her girls to theatre rehearsal, or quilting, you can find her in her fairy themed office planning youth group events, children’s events, writing curriculum and facilitating the ministry of others. Organized, efficient and pragmatic are words used to describe Mandy. She has been married to David for 17 years and they have two daughters, three cats and a very spoiled dog. She received a MACE from Union Theological Seminary in 1999.
Joe Eberly grew up in Northeast Ohio but has been in Florida most of his adult life. He obtained his BS degree from Ashland University and attended the University of Michigan for graduate studies. Recently retired, Joe spent the majority of his business career as the senior human resources officer for a Fortune 100 company. He is now a full time volunteer, mostly at his home church, Riverside Presbyterian in Jacksonville. HIs most enjoyable volunteer activity is teaching stained glass/mosaics in the church’s stained glass studio. An avid golfer and hiker, Joe has hiked the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, twice.
Ken Evars-Hood started out in ministry launching the Presbyterian Church of Lake Travis outside of Austin, TX and has served as the pastor of Tualatin Presbyterian Church for the last 13 years. Last year Ken released his first book, The Irrational Jesus: Leading the Fully Human Church. The Irrational Jesus fuses behavioral economics and game theory in the attempt to help leaders at every level of the church be a little more human. When Ken isn’t writing or pastoring, he can probably be found on a soccer field watching one of his three kids or on a trail somewhere in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Deb Guess is a full-time jewelry and mixed media artist, producing artwork for galleries and teaching in the Soul Whispers Arts studio and other venues throughout the southeast. Her passion is helping folks make connections between creativity and personal spirituality. Deb also loves to garden, cook, travel, and hang out with her very fun adult children. She lives in Laurinburg, NC with husband, Deck, and her poorly behaved but lovable dog, Schnitzel.
Beth Gunn is a recreation leader from Western North Carolina. She is the Associate for Youth for the Presbytery of Western North Carolina with a particular emphasis in the field of Recreation Ministry. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband and two dogs. Their 3 daughters are all out of the nest and while she and Bruce miss them a lot they are enjoying being “GG” and Grumps to their 2 granddaughters! Time with family to play together has been a life long priority and made for a richer and stronger bond.
Matthew Hoffman is an adjunct instructor of religious studies at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. He received his training at Union Theological Seminary in New York and the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, VA. Matt has worked with a variety of interfaith organizations and religious communities, from Baton Rouge to New York City. He has taught numerous courses and seminars on the topic of interfaith dialogue, engaging with religious diversity, and combating Islamophobia. He is also in the process for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Michael Harper has been as a Presbyterian youth worker for over twenty-five years. Over the years, he has served as a full-time youth ministry director, youth and young adult curriculum editor for the PC(USA), and national registrar for the Presbyterian Youth Triennium. He currently serves as the director of the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association and is the owner/lead facilitator at Teamworx Talent Development, where he plays youth group games with business teams to improve their teamwork and communication. Because he can’t get enough of the church, he preaches at a small country church on Sunday mornings and leads team building for a local youth group on Sunday nights. Michael loves to talk around a big campfire, wants to eat Tex-Mex as much as possible, and has a passion for connecting young people with the triune God’s radical, transformational love.
Marisol Jiménez is the founder and lead consultant for Tepeyac Consulting, offering racial equity trainings and coaching for community leaders and organizations across the country. She is originally from Chicago where she began her political education trying to celebrate the Mexican, Irish and Puerto Rican cultures that so influenced her life while also struggling to navigate the strong racial and economic divisions and inequities that demarcated the city. In trying to heal the ways she had internalized these divisions, Marisol found a community of activists, advocates and allies working for social justice and racial equity that welcomed her and all her intersecting identities. Within this collective, the work became and continues to be as much about personal healing as solidarity in our intersecting struggles. Marisol believes that transformative practice comes through constant self-examination, compassionate conflict, and visionary action by both individuals and communities.
Through her work with the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform National Strategy Council, it became clear that dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression were often replicated within social justice movements and contributed to her own professional advancement. Marisol made a decision to lean into a growing analysis of her own privilege and shift her position within social justice efforts towards organizational development and leadership development. She continues to collaborate with OpenSource Leadership Stratregies, Inc, through her presentations, trainings, and workshop facilitation. Marisol has worked with leaders in the areas of education, immigrant justice, workers rights, youth leadership development, health, and the environment.
Marisol lives in a house full of noise, laughter, and love with her son, Roan, in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.
Jayn Lando retired from full time at the Christian Life Center at Advent Presbyterian in Memphis ... which means she still does some of the same things but just doesn't get paid for them any more. Loves being inspired by creativity and dabbling in many different arts, fueled by ARW experiences over the years. Enjoys sports, both participating and watching. Having two grown daughters and their families living elsewhere means lots of travel opportunities for Jayn and her husband.
Brian Maness has worked in sports, recreation, or as a stained glass artisan for 20 years. He is renowned well-beyond these workshops for his creativity and expertise with both fused and traditional glass.
Roger Maness, although officially "retired" from church ministry, is anything but retired. He has shifted his time and energy to a large non-profit youth sports ministry. In his limited spare time, he continues to enjoy teaching others the "how-to" of creating with stained glass.
Sophie Maness is the Director of Children's Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. She thoroughly enjoys laughing, learning and playing with children of all ages.
Rev. Ashley-Anne Masters is an interfaith chaplain for Hematology, Oncology, and Palliative Care at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. She holds a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. She is co-author of Bless Her Heart: Life as a Young Clergywoman and contributor to Talking Taboo: American Christian Women get Frank about Faith. She blogs at revaam.org.
Darci McKinnon is a musician, artist, recreation/workshop leader and mother of two, daughter Aidan (14) and son Ian (5). She recently moved to Edmond, Oklahoma when her husband accepted a call to First Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City. Darci spent most of her professional career working with youth and adults as a Camp and Conference center director and as a Christian Educator/Youth Minister for the Presbyterian Church (USA). She enjoys camping, playing games, sewing, knitting, reading, creating art and having fun with family and friends.
Nancy Myer is the Staff Associate for Children's Ministries at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, NC. Her favorite thing about children's ministry is that no day is ever the same! She loves spending time with family and friends, cheering for the Michigan State Spartans, and is always willing to try a new craft.
Eric Nanz is an accomplished instrumentalist, vocalist, song leader and songwriter. A professional instructor, he teaches guitar, piano, voice, bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, songwriting and music theory at his private studio in Fort Myers, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music industry from James Madison University, where he majored in classical guitar and sound engineering. Eric currently helps lead music for Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fort Myers, as well as for retreats and conferences.
Jo Nygard Owens currently serves as associate pastor at Guilford Park Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC. Jo and her family, husband BJ, and children Amelia (7) and Graham (4) love living, learning, and playing in Greensboro. Jo believes that God can be known in creative ways, and she seeks to do just that through liturgy & worship, education, and communications. A Montreat veteran, Jo has served at Youth Conferences in many ways-her favorite way is leading the arts & worship group Jeremiah Project for many conferences. Jo also has a side hustle- Red Door Creative Resources- that empowers churches and non-profits through communication and design.
Steve Price is a happily retired Presbyterian minister (after 25 years in campus ministry), living in Greenville S.C.with his husband Scott and two of the cutest, most spoiled Boston Terriors in the world. Steve says,"I am so happy to have the opportunity to give back to the ARW---It was here that I experienced the joy of recreation as re-creation and it changed my life. Cheers!
Josh Richard never thought he'd join his church handbell choir 18 years ago; never thought he'd play bells at the PAM Worship & Music conference; never thought he'd be on Montreat Summer Staff; never thought he'd work in the Montreat marketing office; never thought he'd wind up as Communications Director at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte; and never thought he'd find himself leading a workshop at ARW. He also never thought he'd find church work so weird and wonderful and exciting.
Julie Shannon has served as the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries for over 16 years at Northminster Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN. During this time, she has created and directed various Presbytery and Synod retreats, mission trips, & developed a young adult group. She provides weekly youth, family & parent programming. Worship arts, art, dance, drama are an important area she facilitates in the church. Besides cultivating and encouraging the faith development of teenagers, she enjoys teaching fitness classes. She has over 20 years of experience teaching aerobics, Pilates, yoga, and specialty classes. Julie loves her soccer obsessed family & absolutely adores Dogs (& is increasing her love of cats) Believing the power of God’s love can transform, she believes in living out her faith by following Jesus and modeling the actions of love, encouragement, compassion, steadfastness, & hope – with a little bit of goofiness thrown in for fun!
Lynn Turnage is Director of Children & Family Ministries, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC. Lynn LOVES (in no particular order!) ARW, Montreat, chocolate, dancing, Pinterest, being outside, fresh ways to worship and pray, children's ministry, intersections of worship, work, and play, and most of all: playing with her daughters!
Despite showing promise as a youngster, Scotty Utz ended up as kind of a slacker. He doesn't keep any goats of his own and only milks the neighbors once a week. He holds the Artist in Residence position for The Old School- Asheville, but got to make up that title. Scotty hankering is to build sculptures that echo his faith perspectives and our human condition. He started working with metal, mostly cast off horseshoes, over 20 years ago when cowboying in Wyoming and Montana. While vagabonding his youth away he managed to walk out with a BS from Samford University, nab a M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary, and snatch a MA in Sociology from the University of Wyoming. He’s still keen on drifting and yet grows deeper and deeper roots in Appalachia with his wife three kids, and assorted barnyard critters.
Marilyn Werst came to ARW as an Episcopal youth worker looking for new games, dances and activities. Late in life, she began attending art workshops and landed in the world of three dimensional found object art(assemblage). Marilyn loves sharing her passion for art with others--epecially those who say “I am not artistic”—and see them discover joy of creating.