The JCSTS Team is faithfully committed to carrying out the mission of advancing communities of faith, justice, and compassion through innovation in theological education. They bring their passion, knowledge and experience to this mission and collaborations.
Rev. Dr. Deb Mullen
Rev. Deborah Flemister Mullen, PhD, joined the Johnson C. Smith’s Executive Leadership Team in July 2020, She serves as Principal Program Associate with primary responsibility for building and strengthening the seminary’s instructional programs and evaluating program effectiveness. She is the former Dean of Faculty and Executive Vice President at Columbia Theological Seminary.
Previously, she was Dean of Masters Programs and founding Director of the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies at McCormick Theological Seminary.
Rick serves as Institutional Advancement Officer of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, with primary responsibility for supporting curriculum development and funds development. He also is the Co-Director of the Center for Jubilee Practice.
His extensive service to the church includes twenty years of work with migrants and refugees on the U.S./Mexico border, two years as Moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the PC(USA), and twelve years as the Co-Director (with his wife Kitty) of Stony Point Conference Center. He is the father of three adult children.
Dr. Ouida Harding
Dr. Ouida Harding joined the JCSTS Team in 2020. She holds a Master of Arts in Church Music (MACM)/Concentration: Music Ministry Leadership from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) and a Doctorate in Worship Studies/(DWS)/ Concentration: Standards in Music Ministry Leadership from the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies.
She holds a Baccalaureate in Fine Arts from City College of New York. Known as a gifted pianist and educator, she uses her international platform to teach students, congregations and audiences, the power of unity through music.
Sarah Dunne Pickrell
Sarah is a visual artist, yoga practitioner, spiritual director and organizer based in Kansas City, MO. She was formerly the Director of New Worshiping Communities with Heartland Presbytery and presently works in Mission and Engagement with Village Presbyterian Church. She is a program associate with Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and on staff with the Souljourners Spiritual Direction Training program based in Atchison, KS. Sarah is a founding leader and antiracism trainer with The Open Table KC, a PC(USA) 1001 NWC.
Her background is in nonprofit administration, education, outreach and hospitality. In her free time, you'll find her hiking in the woods with her partner, cooking, playing with her dogs or making a mess in her art studio.
Lead Facilitator, Drum Major for Justice
Rev. Dr. Amantha Barbee
Rev. Dr. Amantha Barbee is the Senior Facilitator for the Drum Major for Justice Cohort. She is Senior Pastor at Quail Hollow Presbyterian Church. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. Amantha was the recipient of the E.T. George Award for Excellence in Homiletics, Worship, and Public Speaking from her beloved Union Presbyterian Seminary –Richmond, VA where she earned her Master of Divinity degree.
She earned her Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary. Amantha’s passions are firmly centered in Jesus’ love for all people. Her work has been recognized by the denomination for her relentless pursuit of justice. She is the 2018 recipient of the PCUSA Woman of Faith Award. She's been the Senior Facilitator for the Drum Major for Justice Series with great passion, pride, and impact.
Faith Community Formation
Rev. Jeya So
Rev. Jeya So is a co-founding and co-lead pastor of Anchor & Hope Church, a third-culture community in San Diego. Jeya also works with ministry leaders in many contexts through coaching, cohorts, mentoring, and training. She is passionate about shepherding others through the liminal spaces where spirituality is embodied, individuals connect with community, and people discern their multiple callings.
She is a contributing author to several books including Sustaining Grace: Innovative Ecosystems for New Faith Communities, Deconstructing Church Planting, and Building a Garden of Churches. Jeya is also a huge fan of K-Pop band BTS.
Faith Community Formation
Diane Anderson-Butts is a Commissioned Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church, USA.
Professionally trained as Social Worker, Diane was called to establish a unique ministry that intersects her professional skills and ministerial gifts. She is the founder and spiritual leader of Faith Works, an outreach ministry that goes into the streets of Paterson to reclaim God’s children among the homeless, addicted and broken. Faith Works is a healing ministry that seeks to build disciples by developing relationships with the unchurched, forming a community of believers out of those relationships and shaping those believers into disciples through prayer and bible study.
Diane possesses a Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University and is newly retired from Newark Public Schools (NJ) as a school social worker. Diane also completed a certificate program in Ministry and Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is a powerful speaker with a message of hope, healing and transformation through Christ.
Cecilia-Ananya Belser-Patton is the Principle and Culture Curator of JUST Systems, a systems change management, capacity and sustainability building consulting firm that specializes in Trauma Informed & Restorative Practices, specifically, REDI+A/B–Race, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion + Accessibility Development & Belonging & JEDI+A/B–Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion + Accessibility Development & Belonging ; Restorative and Social Justice framework and implementation, leadership development and strategic systems change.
As a veteran educator, her core compass in which she views the world is a strong conviction in restorative practices, racial and transformative justice, educational and health equity and social justice. JUST Systems provides lectures, workshops, organizational development, transformative leadership coaching, and grassroots strategy development and coalition formation designed to build equity and create systems change.
Rev. Brandon Wrencher
Brandon Wrencher is a minister, teacher, organizer, and consultant working across faith, higher education, and non-profit sectors at the intersections of decolonizing church, contemplative activism, and local presence to build beloved communities. He is the founding minister of Good Neighbor Movement, an alternative faith community based in Greensboro, North Carolina and Senior Community Organizer with Carolina Federation, a statewide, multiracial, multiclass, power-building political organization.
Brandon is the author of Liberating Church: A 21st Century Hush Harbor Manifesto and Buried Seeds: Learning from the Vibrant Resilience of Marginalized Christian Communities. Together Brandon with his spouse and best friend Erica founded Wrencher Collaborative, a community-rooted education and consulting project. Brandon is an On Being Social Healing Fellow and serves on the board of the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Erica Wrencher is a public educator, speaker, vocalist, and activist working with schools, churches, and neighborhoods to build beloved communities. Erica is a high school history teacher in Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. She is passionate about mobilizing students to make connections between the past and the present to realize their responsibility in bending the shape of history toward justice and peace. Her teaching and faith-rooted community leadership spans urban and rural contexts in North Carolina and Chicago. Erica holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Teaching from The University of North Carolina at Chapel. She enjoys leading worship and eating good food and drinking good wine with her community and family. Erica is married to her best friend Brandon, and they are the parents of two sons, Phillip and Morris.
Understanding Polity and Governance as Liberative Practice
Rev. Aisha Brooks-Johnson
The Reverend Aisha Brooks-Johnson is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Music from Temple University. She obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She served various other churches in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and the surrounding area through her music ministry and in her ministry of preaching, teaching, and pastoral care.
In 2018, Aisha began her role as the Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta serving over 80 plus congregations and encouraging 26 new worshiping communities. She is honored and overjoyed to serve as an encourager to congregations and leaders within a presbytery filled with a deep cultural diversity and a vast theological landscape. She believes that it is her part of her call to support healthy and vital congregations and to equip healthy and innovative leaders to live into their passion and purpose as the people of God.
Aisha gives thanks for her recent marriage to the Rev. Dr. Alonzo T. Johnson. Together, they have three children (Maya, Jasmine, and Ellington), Momma Debbie, and CJ the dog.
Understanding Polity and Governance as Liberative Practice
Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson
A minister and educator ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA, with over 20 years experience working in congregational, urban ministry, youth ministry and academic settings. Skilled in research, teaching, written and oral communication. Strong interest in existential, Neo-Orthodox, liberation, and postmodern theologies, Christian education and pastoral care.
Proficient in creating, designing, planning and implementing workshops and events centered around spirituality, education, leadership development, sociocultural issues and pastoral care. Strong passion for creating, engaging and challenging arts-education ministries for youth and adults.
Preaching the Gospel without Fear
Rev. Paul Roberts
The Reverend Paul Timothy Roberts Sr. is President of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA, a position he has held since the spring of 2010. Under Paul’s leadership, JCSTS has redefined itself—and is helping redefine theological education and expanding social justice understanding in the process.
Kimmothy Cole is a Producing Community Artist based in Tsenacomoco, the traditional land of the Powahatan Confederacy (Richmond, VA). Cole’s work spans genres and expressions ranging from community organizing to ritual facilitation, immersive performance to interactive visual art experiences, children's story times to workshops for adults. Their focus is culture creation as a tool for decolonization and world building. In the tradition of Jesus, Cole encourages individuals and communities to practice community intentionally with a belief that we can build a new world right where we are.
They prioritize play and joy as foundational elements for developing thriving communities. Through education, events, written resources, individual experiences, community building and ritual practice, Cole guides the creation of collaborative, dynamic culture. Their work has been featured in publications, festivals, conferences and venues across the country. Cole also works as a culture consultant and ritual transformation guide. They hold certifications in Movement Chaplaincy (Faith Matters Network) and Embodied Social Justice (The Embody Lab) as well as a BFA in Musical Theatre from Catawba College. The release of their first book A Liturgy for All Bodies (Cyclical Publishing) and the premier of their latest ritual performance The Sacrament of Corpulence are set for early 2023
Rev. Dr. Derrick McQueen
Rev. Dr. Derrick McQueen earned his Ph. D. in Homiletics and New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. He entered the Ph. D. program after completing his M. Div. with a focus on Theology and the Arts, also at Union. He earned his B.A. in Theatre Arts at Drew University in 1987. Derrick’s interests include: practical theology; integrating current academic theologies and Empire critical biblical studies into congregational and community life, classical dramatic structures and their influence on Christianity, early Christian community models of social justice and their modern applications on issues such as poverty, sexuality, race and gender. He has taught New Testament at Fordham University, Worship and Preaching Courses at Lancaster Theological Seminary, as well as Preaching and Worship and a Homiletics course "Preaching with a Biblical Character" at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Rev. McQueen is currently editing his dissertation for publication, "Preaching and Teaching the Word to Reclaim Christian Identity: LGBT African Americans Who Are Black Church."
Rev. Derrick McQueen is an ordained Teaching Elder in the PCUSA and serves as the Pastor of Saint James Presbyterian Church USA in the Village of Harlem, New York City.