Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Preacher for Opening Worship Monday Evening

Bishop McKenzie was elected and consecrated as the 117th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2000. She was the first female elected to episcopal office in the more than two-century-old AME Church and is the first female to serve as President of the Council of Bishops and President of the General Board. She has served as presiding bishop in Southern Africa – Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho and in the United States in Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas.

She no stranger to ecumenical ministry. She has been a delegate, preacher and/or presenter to ecumenical bodies including the World Methodist Council and the World Council of Churches.

Bishop McKenzie is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Howard University, School of Religion and has an earned doctorate from United Theological Seminary.

Bishop McKenzie has been active in social justice issues for more than three decades. She was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to be on the inaugural White House Commission of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership. This group worked on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs. She was named by Huffington Post in 2014 as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women Around the World.

She is the author of six books including Not Without a Struggle and Journey to the Well. Her newest book is The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps to Move Closer to God. The book shows how to develop a stronger relationship with God with a more effective Christian lifestyle by taking small steps that lead to big changes.

Bishop McKenzie has been appointed to a two-year term as Interim President and General Secretary. In this role, she will provide executive leadership to a diverse covenant community of 37-member communions with 30 million Christians and 100,000 congregations from Protestant, Anglican, historic African American, Orthodox, Evangelical and Living Peace traditions which have a common commitment to advocate and represent God’s love and unity in the public square. Since 1950, the National Council of Churches has worked in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity. She is the third woman and the first African American woman to serve as General Secretary and the first woman to serve in the combined role of President and General Secretary.

Reverend Doctor Karoline Lewis

Reverend Doctor Karoline Lewis

Bible Study Leader, Tuesday Morning

Karoline M. Lewis is the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, where she has taught since 2007.

Lewis is the author of A Lay Preacher’s Guide: How to Craft a Faithful Sermon; Embody: Five Steps to Leading With Integrity; SHE: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry (including an accompanying facilitator guide, participant guide, and DVD); and John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries, as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Lewis was one of the 100 religious scholars in the United States to be a part of the Values and Voices Campaign 2016 ( and again in 2021. Her newest books coming soon are Preaching the Word: Contemporary Approaches to the Bible For The Pulpit, and Belonging: Five Keys to Unlocking Your Potential as a Disciple.

Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lewis holds degrees from Northwestern University (B.A.), Luther Seminary (M.Div.), and Emory University (Ph.D., New Testament Studies and Homiletics). She is the Program Director for the Festival of Homiletics, a contributing writer for Working Preacher, and co-host of the site's weekly podcast, Sermon Brainwave. Lewis leads conferences, workshops, and retreats internationally on the Gospel of John, the New Testament, interpreting the Bible, preaching, leadership, and women in ministry. You can learn more about Lewis and connect with her at

Reverend Doctor Carmelo Santos

Reverend Doctor Carmelo Santos

Keynote Speaker, Tuesday Morning

Carmelo Santos serves in the office of the Presiding Bishop as Director for Theological Diversity and Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Engagement. He is an ordained pastor of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA and has served congregations in the Metropolitan Washington D.C. synod. Carmelo has an M.Div., a Th.M. and a Ph.D. in Religion and Science from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has taught Theology & Neuroscience, Ethics, and Latinx Theology at Georgetown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico among others. He is interested in the intersections of Pneumatology, Theological Anthropology, Liberation Theologies, Science, and Decoloniality. As a pastor he marched and advocated for the civil rights of immigrants and currently serves as chair of the board of CASA, a national organization for migrants and workers rights. He serves in the ELCA as part of the team that encompasses work in Theological Discernment (e.g., development of social statements); Racial Justice; Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment; and Ecumenical & Interreligious Relations. He was the main author of the ELCA 500th Anniversary Study Guide of Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian, and is the author of Did God Make the Universe? A Bilingual Devotional for Kids with Big Questions and in is currently working on the manuscript for the book: Neuroscience, Theology and Decolonizing Emotions: Sketches for a Theology of Liberation of the Brain.

Deacon Doctor Mindy Makant

Deacon Doctor Mindy Makant

Bible Study Leader, Wednesday Morning

Dr. Mindy Makant is a theologian who serves as the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. She is the author of two books: The Practice of Story: Suffering and the Possibilities of Redemption, (Baylor University Press, 2015) and Holy Mischief: In Honor of Women in Ministry (Wipf & Stock, 2019, forthcoming).

Dr. Makant is also an ordained deacon in the ELCA and certified Spiritual Director. She is currently serving on the ELCA’s Task Force on the Social Statement on Church, Government, and Civic Participation.

Dr. Makant and her husband, Russell (an ELCA pastor), have been married for over 30 years and have two wonderful young adult children, two amazing kids-in-law, four adorable grand-puppies, and an absolutely perfect new grandson.

Jeff Chu

Jeff Chu

Keynote Speaker, Wednesday Morning

I wear several different hats to cover my coarse Chinese hair, which requires too much product to tame: Writer, reporter, editor. Editor-at-large at Travel+Leisure. Teacher in residence at Crosspointe Church. Author of the newsletter "Notes of a Make-Believe Farmer" ( and Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America as well as co-author, with the late Rachel Held Evans, of the New York Times best-seller Wholehearted Faith. Community facilitator for BIPoC folks at Evolving Faith. Occasional preacher. Ordinand in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Ph.D. student at the University of Stellenbosch. Cook, gardener, and dog walker to Fozzie in Michigan.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Keynote Speaker, Thursday Morning

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton was reelected to serve a second six-year term as ELCA presiding bishop at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Eaton is the ELCA’s fourth presiding bishop and was first elected at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the College of Wooster.

Eaton was ordained in 1981 and served three different congregations in Ohio before being elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006. She was reelected synod bishop in May 2013, shortly before her election as ELCA presiding bishop.

Eaton’s four emphases for the ELCA are: We are church; We are Lutheran; We are church together; We are church for the sake of the world. These four emphases are fundamental to identifying who the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is.

In 2015, under Eaton’s leadership, the ELCA underwent an extensive vision process to help this church journey faithfully and effectively together in the years ahead. The process resulted in Future Directions 2025, a strategic framework that helps shared leadership across the ELCA realize common aspirations and better face the challenges of this church.

In addition, with Eaton’s guidance, the ELCA launched Bishop Eaton’s Leadership Initiative, which encourages all ELCA members to seek out and inspire gifted people in our congregations and communities to consider a call to the ministry of the gospel.

As chief ecumenical officer of the ELCA, she represents this church in a wide range of ecumenical and interfaith settings. She is vice president for North America on the Council of the Lutheran World Federation and serves on the governing board and development committee of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and on the Religions for Peace USA Council of Presidents.

As presiding bishop, Eaton travels extensively, representing the ELCA in a variety of capacities. This has included a visit to a Syrian refugee camp; commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Lutherans from around the world in Namibia; participating in an ecumenical service to commemorate the Reformation in the Lund, Sweden, cathedral with Pope Francis; visiting with migrants in Honduras; and attending the fifth consultation of women pastors and theologians in Tanzania.

Eaton’s husband is the Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest. They are parents of two adult children, Rebeckah and Susannah.

Bishop Kevin Strickland

Bishop Kevin Strickland

Preacher for Closing Worship Thursday Morning

The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland was elected Bishop of the Southeastern Synod on June 2, 2019. Prior to the election, he served in the ELCA Churchwide office since August of 2014 as the Assistant to the Presiding Bishop, Executive for Worship of the ELCA.

Born and raised in Lexington, SC, Bishop Strickland is an honors graduate of Newberry College (Newberry, SC) with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Philosophy and a minor in History. He also obtained a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (Columbia, SC). In December of 2019, Newberry College awarded him a Doctorate of Divinity. In August of 2021, he began work on a Doctorate of Ministry degree (class of 2024) in Church Leadership and Community Witness from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Bp. Strickland also holds a certificate in Executive religious fundraising.

Bishop Strickland served as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran (Nashville, TN) and St. Paul Lutheran (Maryville, TN) prior and has served at Incarnation Lutheran (Columbia, SC), St. Philip’s Lutheran (Newberry, SC), Lutheran Church of Redeemer (Newberry, SC), and Mt. Tabor Lutheran (West Columbia, SC) in the area of youth and family ministry.

With a heart for justice and advocacy ministry, Bishop Strickland has served on various local and national non-profit boards. He currently serves on the boards of Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Council, Inspiritus, Middle East Ready Bench of the ELCA, Ecumenical and Interreligious Committee of the ELCA, Immigration Ready Bench of the ELCA, 1517 Media, Newberry College, NovusWay, Region Nine Council, James R. Crumley Archives, Day 1 Advisory Council, and many others.

Bishop Strickland has been published in several worship and preaching journals and books. In April of 2021, he was inducted into Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Ministers. He and his spouse, Robby, are excited about what God has in store for the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA and look forward to walking this journey together.