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Biographical information on members of Special Committee to Consider Amending the Confessional Documents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to Include the Belhar Confession in The Book of Confessions.

March 13, 2009

Louisville

The 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called for the formation of a Special Committee to Consider Amending the Confessional Documents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to Include the Belhar Confession in The Book of Confessions.

The assembly's action directed "the Moderators of the 216th, 217th, and 218th General Assemblies to name the committee to consider including the Belhar Confession, in consultation with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, and the Office of Theology and Worship.”

The following individuals have been named to serve on the committee.

The Rev. J.C. Austin has served as associate pastor at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City since 2000. An Atlanta native who attended Princeton Theological Seminary, Austin spent the 1998-99 academic year as a visiting fellow at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, studying the public roles of the churches in the apartheid struggle and the reconciliation process. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cape Town, where he is continuing that study.

The Rev. Jennifer Ryan Ayres is assistant professor of Christian ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where she also teaches courses on faith and politics, Christian social witness, and globalization. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a  degree in political science and of Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education. She earned her Ph.D. from Emory University, where her dissertation was on the practical theology of Reformed Christian social witness. She also studied human rights.

The Rev. Katie G. Cannon is professor of Christian ethics at Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. She has also taught at Temple University in Philadelphia, Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and New York Theological Seminary. She is the author or editor of six books, including Teaching Preaching: Isaac R. Clark and Black Sacred Rhetoric, Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community, and Black Womanist Ethics. Her current work is on a book about the Transatlantic slave trade.

Elder Jane Dempsey Douglass is a retired professor of the history of Christianity and historical theology. Holding a Ph.D. in history of religion from Harvard, she has taught at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont Graduate University and Princeton Theological Seminary. She made several trips to South Africa as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. She has served as president of the American Society of Church History and was vice-chairperson of the committee that developed the PC(USA)’s A Brief Statement of Faith.

The Rev. Aurelio A. Garcia has been professor of humanities at the University of Puerto Rico since 1999. He has also taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. A native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, he earned his Ph.D. in history of Christian doctrine at Princeton Theological Seminary. He has also studied at Temple University, Cornell University, and the University of Chile in Santiago. Fluent in Spanish and English, he has served several pastorates in San Juan Presbytery. He is a specialist in Reformation history, particularly the Swiss theologian Heinrich Bullinger.

The Rev. Jin S. Kim is the founding pastor of Church of All Nations in Minneapolis. He holds degrees from Georgia Tech, Princeton Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary. In demand as a speaker, Kim preached at the 2004 and 2008 General Assemblies. He is moderator-elect of Twin Cities Area Presbytery and is a PC(USA) delegate to the National Council of Churches General Assembly. Locally, he serves on numerous boards, including the Cross Cultural Alliance of Minstries and the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches.

The Rev. Mark Lomax is founding pastor of First African Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, Ga., where he has served for 15 years. A graduate of United Theological Seminary, he is assistant professor of homiletics at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, which includes PC(USA)-related Johnson C. Smith Seminary. He is currently the interim dean at Johnson C. Smith Seminary.

Elder Leslie McClure is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville and is a master’s degree candidate in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University. A native of Louisville, Ky., McClure is a singer/songwriter/recording artist who frequently raises money for various mission and hunger projects around the world through concerts and CD sales. She has traveled extensively in Latin and South America and has been an active member at Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville and Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

The Rev. David Moessner is professor of Biblical theology at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa, where his greatest joy is preparing students for ordained ministry. He has also taught at University of Pretoria in South Africa, Yale Divinity School, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Eberhard-Karis University in Tubingen, Germany. He has lectured in 10 countries, including Corinth, Greece, where he helped celebrate 1,950 years of Paul’s founding of the church there. He’s a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University.

The Rev. Paul Parsons has served as a pastor for 34 years ― three with the United Methodist Church and 31 with the PC(USA). A native of Maryland, he graduated from Johns Hopkins University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has served congregations in Richland, Wash., San Jose, Calif., Montrose, Colo., and Kansas City, Mo. He recently accepted a call to serve as associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, Colo. An avid mountain climber, he has scaled 110 summits.

Elder Judith Pingel is chairperson of the special committee. She is a public school teacher and trained mediator. She is currently moderator of Sierra Blanca Presbytery Council and has also served as a member and chairperson of the PC(USA)’s Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns. She describes herself as a faithful servant.

The Rev. George W. Stroup III is professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. A native of Tulsa, Okla., he graduated from Rice University, Yale University Divinity School, and Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 1986, he taught at the University of the South, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He has written and edited numerous books. Stroup served on the PC(USA)’s Council on Theology and Culture and on the A Brief Statement of Faith committee.

The Rev. Jerry Tankersley is pastor of Laguna Presbyterian Church, Laguna Beach, California. He has served pastorates in Southern California and served at all levels of the PC(USA). He has just completed service on the General Assembly Nominating Committee and was co-moderator of the 2007 National Pastors Sabbath. A native of Amarillo, Texas, he graduated from Westmont College in California and holds graduate degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the School of Theology at Claremont, California. Tankersley has taught American Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence at California State University in Los Angeles.

The Rev. Eugene Turner is a retired minister living in Fayetteville, N.Y. A graduate of PC(USA)-related Knoxville College in Tennessee and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, he did graduate work at Harvard. After serving pastorates in Patterson, N.J., and Philadelphia, Turner entered executive service, serving in Philadelphia Presbytery and then as a synod executive in San Francisco and Syracuse, N.Y. On General Assembly staff, he served as associate stated clerk and as ecumenical officer where he represented the church at the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

The Rev. Y. Dianna Wright is African American Ministry Advocate for Salem Presbytery, based in Clemmons, N.C. A graduate of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now Union-PSCE) in Richmond, Va., and Columbia Theological Seminary, she has been an education consultant and curriculum and devotional writer for many years, writing Christian education curriculum and devotions for These Days and Presbyterian youth resources. She is the founder of the Kuumba Center for Christian Education and Spiritual Growth in Florence, S.C.

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