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Cultivating vital communities,
vital conversations, and the public good.


JANUARY 14-15, 2014 


                                                 Preachers and Speakers Remind & Renew 2015


The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar

Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma 


Lavanhar grew up as a Unitarian Universalist in Illinois.  After receiving his bachelor's degree in Sociology from Tulane, he taught English and American Culture in Kyoto, Japan for two years. He followed that with a three year around the world bicycle trip, studying Buddhism in Asia, Hinduism in India, Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions in Israel, and cycling through much of Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North America.  Along the way visiting and writing about Unitarian communities on the Island of Negros in the Philippines, in the Khasi Hills of Northeast India, and in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Rumania. The experience helped him recognize the Unitarian ministry was his calling, and he enrolled at Harvard Divinity School.


At Harvard, he was selected to assist the Unitarian Universalist Association at interfaith and international relations, and was invited to present a message to the Triennial World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom in Korea. After graduating, he served as Minister of Outreach at the historic First and Second Church in Boston. He became widely recognized within the denomination for his development of the "Soulful Sundown Service" program in Boston, which reaches out to unchurched young people. His success demonstrated by wide distribution of a manual he wrote on how to bring young people into church.


All Souls called him in 2000 at age 32, making him the youngest senior minister of a major congregation in the denomination. Since coming to All Souls, Lavanhar has overseen exponential growth in the membership and attendance of the church.  In 2008, All Souls in Tulsa became the largest church in the Unitarian Universalist Association with almost 1,800 adult members.


Lavanahar was presented with an honorary Doctor of Ministry degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in May 2014.


Dr. Melanie Ross 


Ross is an assistant professor of liturgical studies at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music.


Prior to coming to Yale, she was Professor of Worship Leadership at Huntington University.  Ross pursues research that facilitates the intersection of popular American evangelicalism and academic liturgical theology.  Her articles have been published in the journals Worship, Pro Ecclesia, Liturgy, and Scottish Journal of Theology.  In 2010, with Simon Jones, she edited The Serious Business of Worship: Essays in Honour of Bryan D. Spinks (Continuum Books).  Her first authored book, Evangelical vs. Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy was recently published by Eerdmans Press. In 2014, she was awarded a Luce Fellowship by the Association of Theological Schools and a Sabbatical Grant for Researchers by the Louisville Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. These grants will enable her to work on an ethnographic study entitled "Varieties of Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic."  Ross holds a Master's Degree from Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music, and a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame.

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Duck           


Ruth Duck is Professor of Worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. She has written many books and articles about Christian worship, most recently, Worship for the Whole People of God: Vital Worship for the 21st Century (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013). Her hymn texts have been published in the hymnals and supplements of many denominations as well as three single-author collections, including "Welcome God's Tomorrow" (G.I.A. Publications, 2005). She is ordained in the United Church of Christ and has served urban, rural, and suburban churches in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. She received the Doctor of Theology degree in Worship and Theology from Boston University School of Theology in 1989.


Duck is the featured Wednesday evening guest speaker.


The Rev. Dr. Ray Owens

Pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Owens leads a multifaceted life as husband, father, pastor-scholar, and public intellectual. He has served as Assistant Pastor and Youth Minister at Union Baptist Church of Trenton, N.J., Public School Teacher in South Central Los Angeles, Ca., and Fund Development Director for Teach for America in New York City.


Since Rev. Owens’ tenure began, Metropolitan Baptist Church has more than tripled its membership base, weekly attendance, and annual budget.  Owens has a particular passion for issues related to youth and education. His doctoral dissertation, which is currently being revised for publication, seeks to address the contemporary crisis in black education by mining the resources of African American religion.

Owens earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989 and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998. In spring 2005, he received the cum laude distinction for his doctoral dissertation and earned the Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Society from Princeton Theological Seminary.


Owens has taught religious studies courses at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and Texas Christian University.  He is currently an Affiliate Professor of Christian Social Ethics & Black Church Studies at Phillips Theological Seminary.



The Rev. Trey Flowers

Minister of Youth and "The Bridge" 

Woodmont Christian Church, Nashville, Tennessee


Born in Memphis, Flowers is one of four children and considers his family to be the most important part of his spiritual formation. After joining Lindenwood Christian Church in Memphis when he was in fifth grade, he became an active part of the church youth group and leadership opportunities. Flowers was a counselor at Bethany Hills camps, a volunteer youth sponsor, host of Vacation Bible School, and a member of the statewide Tennessee Christian Youth Fellowship Cabinet.


During his time at Texas Christian University, Flowers became active in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and TCU student government.  He also studied in Washington, D.C. in the spring semester of 2005, where he worked on Capitol Hill in the United States Senate.  Each summer he returned home to direct the Lindenwood Life Center Summer Day Camp, where he introduced daily devotionals, weekly worship services, and regular prayer breakfasts featuring spiritual leaders like Rev. Clay Stauffer.


In December 2010, Flowers completed his Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt University, and in May 2012 he completed a Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt.


Since August 2007, Flowers has served on the ministerial staff at Woodmont, previously as the Children's Minister and now as Minister for Youth and The Bridge. Flowers has grown spiritually at this church and considers it both a family and a home. He was ordained at Woodmont on January 16, 2011.

The Rev. Dr. Deborah A. Phelps
Senior Pastor
DisciplesNet Church (


Deborah A. Phelps is the founding and senior pastor at DisciplesNet Church, an online Disciples of Christ church and ministry founded in November 2010.  Each week DisciplesNet creates and releases a new 30-minute worship video, as well as songs, prayers, Bible studies, and special worship services. 
All are designed especially for those whose best possibility for attending and connecting with the Church may be online in their moment.  DisciplesNet's audience includes home- and facility-centered seniors, persons with disability and caregivers, pastors and chaplains, house churches, and Christians living in areas where public practice of their faith jeopardizes their well-being.  DisciplesNet videos have been viewed from every continent, nearing 200 countries, and each week receive about 1000 "hits."

DisciplesNet Church has developed a strong partnership with Phillips, including working as a supervised ministry site, and in common exploration of where  God is calling the Church and ministers to serve in ministry in this digital age.

Phelps holds a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). With roots in Oklahoma, Phelps currently resides in Denver, Colorado, where her spouse is the Interim Executive Regional Minister for the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church.


Worship Leader

The Rev. Emily Bowen-Marler

Associate Minister, Brentwood Christian Church

Springfield, Missouri


Bowen-Marler will return to Phillips for a fifth year to lead the worship on both days of Re-Mind & Re-New. 


Services she designed and led at the 2012 and 2013 events were among the most dynamic anyone can remember at this Phillips annual gathering.  


She has served at Brentwood Christian Church since October of 2001. Her primary responsibilities include the  cultivation of vibrant, rich expressions of worship, music, and the arts, as well as offering oversight to children’s ministries and assisting with congregational care. An accomplished singer and musician, Bowen-Marler has led worship at the Disciples of Christ General Assembly and was the music director for the 2010 Disciple Women’s Ministries event Quadrennial. She holds degrees from Phillips Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Christian Theological Seminary (M.A.), and Chapman University (B.A.). She is the co-author with Phil Snider of Toward a Hopeful Future: Why the Emergent Church is Good News for Mainline Congregations (Pilgrim Press, 2010).


The Rev. Julia Jordan Gillett

Jordan Gillett has led the Children's Worship and Wonder program in Midwest City, Oklahoma for eight years and is a certified trainer for the program. She is beginning a new program at the Del City Christian Church in Oklahoma City.  She holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Phillips University, a Master of Divinity and Master in Pastoral Counseling from Phillips Theological Seminary.


Through Children's Worships and Wonder, children ages three thru second grade learn about God as they experience God. They learn the value to stop and listen to the still small voice inside each of us and to pray. They hear Bible stories in a way that allows them to enter into the stories and form responses out of their own life experiences. CWW is based on methods put forth in the book Young Children and Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman.


Jordan Gillett will give a special presentation on Children's Worship and Wonder during the Re-mind and Re-new lunch hour on Thursday, January 15, 2015. 

Phillips offers Christian graduate theological education in service of intelligent, just, and
compassionate religious and civic communities. We welcome students to a safe space for truth-seeking conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and faithful living. Courses are available on campus and online for certificate, diploma, MDiv, MAMC, and MTS programs, and on campus for the DMin program.

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