Jonathan Wilson-HartgroveWriter and Speaker, Co-founder of Rutba House
Jonathan is a celebrated spiritual writer and speaker. In 2003 he and his wife Leah co-founded Rutba House, a Christian house of hospitality in Durham, North Carolina. In his 2008 book Free to Be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line, he writes about racism and the central importance of racial reconciliation to Christianity. He co-wrote the 2008 book Becoming the Answer to Our Prayer: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals with fellow New Monastic Shane Claiborne. He wrote two books that were published in 2012: The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith and The Rule of St. Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase. In 2013, he wrote a book about his experiences with hospitality called Strangers at My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests. During Holy Week2015, Wilson-Hartgrove was one of approximately 400 Christian theologians and leaders who signed a public statement arguing that capital punishment in the United States should cease. Wilson-Hartgrove has degrees from Eastern University and Duke Divinity School.
Nikki Toyama-SzetoExecutive Director of ESA-Sider Center
Nikki is Executive Director of Evangelicals for Social Action. She has a long history of working with leaders of faith communities to help ignite a passion for biblical justice among the Global Church. She speaks and trains leaders globally—past engagements include speaking for Tearfund (Nepal) and Centro Esdras (Guatemala), CCDA (USA), and Billy Graham Center (USA). 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.
In addition to her vocational ministry, she serves on the board of Interserve USA, Missio Alliance, and Casa Chiralagua. She has written articles on gender issues and multi-ethnicity for various magazines and she serves as a “Leading Voice” for the Missio Alliance. Her work was profiled in Christianity Today’s, “Who’s Next?” and Rejuvenate Magazine’s “40 under 40”. She was a co-editor of the book More than Serving Tea (IVP, 2006), a collection of essays, stories and poems looking at the intersection of race, gender, and faith for Asian American women. She also co-wrote Partnering with the Global Church (IVP, 2012) with Femi Adeleye and edited the Urbana Onward series. Additionally, she is a co-author of The God of Justice: IJM Institute’s Global Church Curriculum (IVP, 2015). Nikki also co-authored a paper on “The Pursuit of Shalom in the Face of Violent Injustice” for the Micah Global Consultation. Many of her insights stem from experiences living among poor people in the slums of Nairobi, Cairo, and Bangkok. She helped develop and direct the Global Urban Trek, an urban immersion program designed to challenge students to use their majors on behalf of the world’s poor people. She has a mechanical engineering degree from Stanford University and completed her masters in organizational leadership at Eastern University studying in South Africa. Nikki resides in the DC metro area with her family.
Pastor Refugio Sánchez was born in Mexico but immigrated to the United States in 1985 at only 18 years of age. He immediately encountered the Spanish-English language barrier, but with sacrifice and dedication he overcame it. That experience gave him a deep understanding of people immigrating to the U. S. and helped him to be an effective pastor to them. Refugio serves as senior pastor of the multicultural Free Methodist Church of Santa Ana, CA. He is a church planter and a MEG board member of Free Methodist Church of Southern California. Refugio is married to Maria E. Sanchez, also a pastor, and is the happy father of four children. He involves his whole family in the ministry.
Dr. Marlene Wall is in her 6th year as President of LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Her involvement in Eastern Europe and LCC began as an English instructor in 1991 when freedom from Soviet systems opened educational doors to help rebuild civil society. She has seen the university grow to a fully accredited Christian liberal arts university with 650 students from over 40 countries.
Born in Uruguay to missionary parents, a citizen of Canada, a graduate of high school in Paraguay, university educated in Kansas and Illinois, Marlene Wall is truly a world citizen. Her engagement with students living in community on a university campus has given her deep insight into global issues. Speaking from Ukraine to the United States, she talks about education as hope and hospitality that embraces students of all religious backgrounds, especially those from war-torn regions.
Prior to her appointment as President, Marlene spent several years as Academic Vice President at LCC. She is also a teacher trainer, conducting professional development workshops in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Her prior positions include ESL Director of a large public school system and adjunct university teaching in the U. S.
Robert Chao Romero
With a Mexican father from Chihuahua and a Chinese immigrant mother from Hubei in central China, Robert Chao Romero is "Asian-Latino." Rev. Dr. Romero has been a professor of Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies at UCLA since 2005. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in Latin American History and his Juris Doctor from U.C. Berkeley, and he is also an attorney. Romero has published 15 academic books and articles on issues of race, immigration, history, education, and religion, and received the Latina/o Studies book award from the international Latin American Studies Association. He is also an InterVarsity Press author. Romero is a former Ford Foundation and U.C. President's Postdoctoral Fellow as well as a recipient of the Louisville Institute's Sabbatical Grant for Researchers. He is an ordained pastor. Together with his wife Erica he is the co-founder of Jesus 4 Revolutionaries, a Christian ministry to activists, as well as the co-chair of the Matthew 25 Movement in Southern California.
Rev. Dan McNerney is an associate director of Frontier Fellowship, a mission support group serving the global church. Frontier Fellowship’s sole purpose is to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ to unreached people groups, wherever they can be found. Before joining F. F. in 1996 Dan served as assistant pastor at the Winnetka Presbyterian Church in the northern suburbs of Chicago, where Dan and his family still live. Dan also served as a missionary in San Jose, Costa Rica in the early 1980s. He is a graduate of Yale University and the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dan and his wife, Sharon, have four daughters and one son.
With Frontier Fellowship Dan travels extensively throughout the United States preaching, teaching, and sharing the vision of frontier mission with local Presbyterian and other churches. Dan helps them to have prayerful, financial, or hands-on involvement with any of the numerous FF projects. Overseas, Dan visits various parts of the world, but his primary area of focus now is the Middle East. In recent years, Dan has helped churches in the United States establish redemptive, bridge-building relationships with local Muslim and Jewish communities for the purpose of being a Gospel witness among these unreached people in our own country. Dan is most excited to share these new mission opportunities with the wider church family. Dan now travels frequently to Egypt, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula to strengthen partnerships with the churches there. A strong witness among Arab Muslims worldwide has developed.
Jeff Shaffer and his wife Julia have been married for 26 years. They have three children - Kairos. Kennah. and Kalum. From 1992 to 2005 he was a pastor at Community Covenant Church in Goleta. For the past ten years he has been working with Christian Associates as the founder of SBAct (sbact.org), formerly known as Uffizi Mission Project. He has worked for the Turner Foundation, which owns the Village Apartments on the West Side of Santa Barbara. His primary work is on the West Side and with Friends without Homes through the work of both SB Act and Common Ground Santa Barbara (www.commongroundsb.org). Jeff received his theological training at Western Seminary in San Jose, CA.
Rita McGaw is a trained Marriage and Family Therapist who has been working with the CSEC population since 2010. She specializes in trauma informed, holistic, female specific, expressive, and attachment based therapies. Through her private therapy practice Rita offered specialized therapeutic interventions and services for couples, families and high risk or identified victims of CSEC. She is now the Program Supervisor for the Victim Witness Program at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. She supervises the Human Trafficking Advocacy Program/Advocates and the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator. She is a part of several CSEC specific MDT’s for protocol creation, policy development and service provision. She also trains victim advocates and social workers on best practice for Self-Care and Behavioral Wellness.
Dave Goss is the pastor and founder of Light and Life Isla Vista. Light and Life Isla Vista launched as “Light and Life Goleta” in January of 2008 but moved to Isla Vista in 2012 and changed its name shortly thereafter to reflect that move. In 2012 Light and Life Isla Vista began its ministry of “People’s Park Tacos” to provide a healthy meal to low-to-no income residents of Isla Vista immediately following their Sunday worship service. Now with tens of thousands of tacos and meals served, LLIV has become firmly established in the community through relationships of love and service.
Pastor Dave is a 2007 graduate of Asbury Seminary and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in Recovery Ministry from Fuller Seminary. He is married to Tracey, and together they have three sons: Noah (17), Caleb (15), and Micah (13).
Ruben and Holly Gil
Ruben and Holly Gil are both educators and have been working with youth in Santa Barbara's Eastside community for over 30 years. Throughout their time working with at-risk teens and living in this community it became clear that the most effective way to steer kids away from destructive behaviors was to reach them at a young age and point them to Jesus. In everything they do they seek to share the love of God with their neighbors. By building relationships with elementary school children and involving their families in the process, they support children and teens until they graduate from high school or beyond. For the past 17 years, they have done this primarily through Kids Club, a weekly after-school outreach program run out of their home and through various partnerships in the community. Over the years hundreds of children have come through their doors. Ten years ago they became a non-profit organization, "Querencia,” which in Spanish means a place of comfort where one feels safe and at home, a place from which one's strength of character is drawn. Ruben was born and raised in Santa Barbara and attended local public schools. He works as a counselor at Santa Barbara High School, and Holly works as a science education consultant for Santa Barbara Unified School District. They have four children, who are all teenagers now. They have grown up participating in Kids Club and now serve as leaders.
Richard Haney is Executive Director of Frontier Fellowship. He assumed this role in 2014 after serving as a missions pastor, new church development pastor, and interim pastor for over 35 years. He has a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and Middlesex University (London). He also currently serves as adjunct faculty at Gordon-Conwell and in other theological education capacities. His role as Executive Director of Frontier Fellowship keeps him traveling often, meeting with church and frontier mission leaders and mobilizing partnerships and projects. He has led short term trips to 14 countries and spent time in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Asia. When he’s not traveling throughout the US (and beyond), he enjoys fly fishing, music, reading and gardening. He and his wife, Pam, live in Richmond and have three grown daughters and nine grandchildren.
Desta is a name that comes from Ethiopia, it means “happiness”. Desta has a passion to help others find their place in the Body of Christ. As a spiritual director she serves and cares for many college students. When the murders occurred at Borderline, she was actively engaged with many students both at the Bar and Grill and later that day on campus of California Lutheran University where she serves as the Director of Congregational Relations. She also serves as a Spiritual Director, is married to an ELCA pastor and has three children under 14. She has served in the Lutheran Church for 20 years in congregational youth ministry her Synod, Lutheran outdoor ministry and on the staff of the Southwest California Synod.
Rev. Dr. Kate Wiebe is the founder and director of the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth, and serves as an organizational consultant, specializing in education, coaching, and therapeutic services following crises, trauma, and disaster. She lives with her family in Santa Barbara, CA.
Rev. Suzanne Malloy entered the hospital chaplaincy 13 years ago after completing a 31-year career in law enforcement. Her long service in the crisis field prepared her for her current position as an on-call hospital chaplain. In addition to serving the hospital population, Suzanne recently served as Head of Staff at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara. Suzanne serves locally as a Vice Chair of the Santa Barbara County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and Disaster Spiritual Care Lead for the American Red Cross Pacific Coast Chapter. Nationally, Suzanne is a member of the National Response Team for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and has offered a ministry of presence at a variety of disasters, both natural and human-caused. Suzanne was certified as an PFA (Psychological First Aid) instructor by Dr. Robert D. Macy of International Trauma Center. She is certified to instruct PFA and Disaster Spiritual Care with the American Red Cross.
Tom Stephen serves as pastor of Monte Vista Presbyterian Church in Newbury Park, California. Tom is committed to helping people grow in prayer, compassion, humility and their enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus. He grew up in Southern California and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Redlands. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990, where he met his wife Virginia, who is an ordained Methodist Minister. Together they have written articles for Youth Worker Journal and curriculum for Focus on the Family and published Fearless: 40 days of living with no fear which incorporates extreme surf photography devotional scripture readings. Tom and Virginia have four kids, three dogs and lots of fun.
Jono Shaffer is the Executive Pastor at Oceanhills Church in Santa Barbara. He has served on staff there for 15 years as a pastor, leading worship, teaching, preaching, and leading. He earned his MDIV at Fuller Seminary in 2003 after getting his BS in counseling from Northwestern University in 1997. He has been married to his wife Erin since 1998 and has three kids - Nathan(12), Kyle(11), and Keira(8).
Jono enjoys having fun with his family, running on the trails of Santa Barbara, playing tennis, swimming and paddle boarding in the ocean, and hiking the back country with friends. He is passionate about people experiencing the adventure of faith in Christ and encouraging people to follow Jesus more closely.
Brandon Michael Wong
Graduated from Westmont College in 2015 with a degree in Biology. Currently works at Oceanhills Covenant Church facilitating youth ministry and young adult ministry. Active member of the SB Mission Conference Council.