I am very pleased to introduce six new blog contributors to Vital Signs & Statistics! Each of these UCC ordained ministers brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and–most of all–passion for applying research and statistics to the practice of ministry. So without further ado, here is a little bit about each blogger.
Rev. Joseph Hedden: Joseph is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed (Hill’s) United Church of Christ in Export, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. He serves as Dean of the Penn West Conference Academy for Ministry and also chairs the Global Missions Team for the Conference. He is a graduate of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His interests around research and statistics include global missions, contextual theology, emerging churches, Millennials, and ecumenism.
Rev. Dr. David Lindsey: David is the Senior Pastor of Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale, Virginia, a large congregation in the Central Atlantic Conference. He previously served congregations in Minneapolis and California and is a graduate of Centre College and Claremont School of Theology. David recently completed a Doctor of Ministry degree in preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary on the use of literary criticism in preaching to move congregations into greater joy. His interests around research and statistics include preaching, church administration, congregational change, sociological analysis of church contexts, and the role of the arts in social transformation.
Rev. Beth Long-Higgins: Beth is the Director of Outreach and Mission Integration at United Church Homes in Marion, Ohio, which is a member ministry of the UCC Council for Health and Human Services Ministries. She came to this position two years ago following 25+ years as co-pastor (with her spouse) of two local congregations. Beth has undergraduate degrees in psychology (with a minor in sociology) and music from Heidelberg College and an M.Div. from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She is passionate about working with and on behalf of elders, as well as making connections with local congregations. Beth’s areas of interest around research and statistics include older generations within congregational life and parenting and formation.
Rev. Beth Lyon: Beth is Pastor of Glenside United Church of Christ in Glenside, Pennsylvania, which is part of the Philadelphia Association of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference. She has been in parish ministry since 1986 serving congregations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Beth has an undergraduate degree in English from William and Mary and an M.Div. and Th.M. in theology and ethics from Duke Divinity School. She pastors an increasingly multi-cultural, multi-racial, ONA congregation and is interested in telling the stories behind the facts. Her interests around research and statistics include new forms of church in progressive denominations (the focus of an upcoming sabbatical) and the rising numbers of multi-racial churches in the UCC and beyond.
Rev. Dr. Brice Thomas: Brice is the Director of Alumni/ae Relations and Adjunct Faculty at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He was called to bi-vocational ministry at Harmony Creek Church in Dayton and has experience with, and passion for, new church starts and emerging worship, the latest endeavor being a Biblical Storytelling Emergent Worship service that he developed and currently leads. Brice also recently completed a Doctor of Ministry degree in biblical storytelling from United. He is an accomplished author; and his interests around research and statistics include emergent worship, LGBTQ relationship counseling, and conflict resolution for congregations and communities, among others.
Rev. Jeremiah Rood: Jeremiah served most recently as pastor of a church in Western Massachusetts. He is currently pursuing web-based ministry through developing websites and social media platforms and has an extensive background in journalism, having served as a reporter and bureau chief for a daily New Hampshire newspaper. Jeremiah is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and Andover Newton Theological School, and his current interests focus on local church revival using big data and cutting-edge research. Jeremiah is already an avid blogger and currently blogs for four different sites.
In coming weeks, each of the contributors will be introducing themselves and their interests with greater depth. I believe that they will strengthen both the collective voice and impact of Vital Signs & Statistics on the wider church, particularly since they are situated within a diverse array of local ministry contexts. Please join me in welcoming these new voices!
As always, you will continue to see periodic posts from our other guest bloggers — Rev. Dr. Kirk Foster, Dr. Marge Royle, and very occasionally, Rev. Dr. Bill McKinney — as well as posts from me and other office staff. I’ve also invited regular representation and writing from the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA) Team in the national setting. Ultimately, adding these voices only broadens the scope of content for our readers to reflect upon and utilize. I hope that you will be enriched, challenged, and invigorated by what each of these contributors offers to the wider church.