Learn from these Leaders about Digital Fresh Expressions
By Emily Reece
Meet the Practitioners Who Will Lead Our January and February Digital Webinars
Especially over the past two years, many new approaches to ministry have helped churches address the needs of their congregants and communities. The Fresh Expressions movement has been a key for many churches to connect with people who otherwise would not attend worship services (either in-person or virtually) or other church activities. Fresh Expressions offer possibilities for those exploring faith to build relationships with disciples in familiar settings, such as dog parks, local pubs, and online gatherings.
As part of our continued training for churches seeking to plant digital faith communities, we’re offering a series of seven webinars in January and February on Thursdays (5:00-6:30 p.m. CST) that will cover a wide range of topics. We’re excited to have local practitioners leading these sessions, and we want to introduce them to you.
Here’s the lineup of leaders and topics:
Thursday, January 13
Presenter: Luke Edwards
Luke Edwards is the Associate Director of Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church and a trainer for Fresh Expressions US. He co-leads a community of dads and father figures called “Who Let the Dads Out? Lake Norman.” He was the founding pastor of King Street Church, a network of Fresh Expressions in Boone, North Carolina. Between his upbringing and his work in local, regional, and national levels of the Fresh Expressions movement, Luke has a unique perspective on how creating micro-communities can offer a path for the church’s future in a post-Christian society. He lives in Huntersville, North Carolina, where he enjoys going for walks in the woods with his wife and daughter. His Substack, podcast, and digital communities can be found at faithfulcommunity.com.
The Loving First Journey: Learn about a framework for cultivating new Christian communities with practical examples that make the principles and practices real.
Thursday, January 20
Presenter: Micah Blanks
Micah joined team Trinity (Trinity UMC, Gainesville, Florida) in the spring of 2021. He is elated to share in the privilege of walking alongside the Trinity community in its spiritual formation, Sunday school curriculum development and instruction, small-group formation, evangelism coaching, and resourcing disciples of Jesus Christ. Micah has a BA in Humanities/Pre-Law from Bluefield State College and an MDiv from United Theological Seminary. Before Trinity, he served as a licensed local pastor in the West Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he was awarded the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. "Sharing of Self Award," by the Governor and Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. From Appalachia to Alachua, Micah seeks to live into his life-verse, Micah 6:8, and this quote from coach Phil Jackson: “Love is the force that ignites the spirit and binds teams together.”
Missional Ecclesiology: Many Christians today articulate feeling like something is lacking in their faith. They want to impact their communities, friends, and loved ones in meaningful ways but feel like “church” is in some ways confining.
Thursday, January 27
Presenter: Stephanie Moore Hand
Stephanie Moore Hand serves as Metro District Vitality Strategist for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. A deacon and a doctoral candidate, Rev. Hand studied at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Graduate School, Pfeiffer University; Seminary, Hood Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary.
Stephanie is married to Walter “Chip” Hand Jr. and together they have two high-energy children, Ashlee and Walter III. She enjoys hanging out with family and friends, sports, the beach, the mountains, music, and deep laughter. Most important, Stephanie is passionate about telling the old, old stories of Jesus in a relevant and meaningful manner to a twenty-first-century generation.
Missional Discipleship: Missional discipleship gives focus to our Christian life, meaning as we grow in our faith, we long to share it with others, cultivating community.
Thursday, February 3
Presenter: Piper Ramsey-Sumner
Piper Ramsey-Sumner is an Oklahoma-born, Texas-raised pastor’s kid with a passion for lifelong learning, community building, and creating spaces for personal and spiritual transformation outside the walls of a church. She has been involved in Christian ministry for more than a decade—working in youth ministry, homeless outreach, and intentional communal living.
Piper received her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology, and she currently serves as Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, where she explores new ways of reaching new people outside of traditional churches. In the Tallahassee area, Piper facilitates Tally Brew Theology, a community that meets in local breweries and pubs to engage in meaningful dialogue on subjects related to religion and philosophy. Last summer, she joined the video-based social media app, TikTok, as a way to engage in public theology and connect with others as they explore their faith. Piper also runs a book club and an online community for those hurt by the church.
Belonging Before Believing Evangelism: Reappropriate some of the fundamental practices of early Methodism to manifest God’s organized love.
Thursday, February 10
Presenter: Tiffany McCall
Tiffany McCall serves as senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. A graduate of University of Illinois at Carbondale with a Bachelor of Science in workforce education and curriculum development, she also holds a Master of Theology and spiritual formation from Asbury Theological Seminary. Tiffany is currently seeking ordination in The United Methodist Church Florida Annual Conference. She’s a mother of three and the wife of Troy McCall. Tiffany loves music, dancing, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the summer of 2020, Pastor McCall was featured in the Jacksonville Resident Community News, with an article about “Grace in Uncertain Times.”
Network Church for a Network Society: Re-think the idea of “space,” “place-fulness,” and digitally enabled human connection in our rapidly changing reality of human community in a “glocalized,” digital, network society.
Thursday, February 17
Presenter: Jorge Acevedo
Jorge Acevedo loves Jesus Christ and his church. Jorge is the lead pastor at Grace Church (www.egracechurch.com), a multisite, United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida with three campuses (Cape Coral, Fort Myers Shores, Fort Myers Central). Jorge was ordained as a deacon in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church in May 1986 and as an elder in May 1990. He was the 2001 recipient of the Denman Evangelism Award from the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, given to a pastor for excellence in evangelism. In 2007, he was named the Distinguished Alumni of the Year at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Jorge co-authored A Field Guide for Methodist Fresh Expressions (Abingdon Press, 2020), wrote Neighboring (Abingdon Press, 2019), co-authored The Grace-Full Life: God’s All-Reaching, Soul-Saving, Character-Shaping, Never-Ending Love (Abingdon Press, 2017) and co-authored Sent: Giving the Gift of Hope at Christmas (Abingdon Press, 2015). He has also written for the United Methodist Publishing House, Circuit Rider magazine, Good News magazine, and Our Faith Today.
Team-Based Digital Ministry: Explore an “ecclesiology of gift” and the need for the “democratization of church planting.” Jesus’ discipleship took place in the ordinary places and rhythms where life happened – and in our time, that’s the digital space.
Thursday, February 24
Presenter: Heather Jallad
Rev. Heather Jallad serves as lead pastor at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia, and as lead cultivator of The Greenhouse (a network of pioneers) for the North Georgia Annual Conference. She pioneered the Common Ground Network, a network of Fresh Expressions at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek and The Douglasville Dinner Church in Douglasville, Georgia. She holds a BA in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida, an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Church Renewal and Pioneer Ministry at United Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Marten, have been married for twenty-eight years and have two daughters.
Cultivating a Blended Ecology of Analog and Digital: Explore how to do analog AND digital to leverage what you have on hand to start something new, use online worship as evangelism, and sustain the center while living on the edge. Investigate old-school acts of care and learn how digital churches can help traditional congregations thrive.
Questions? Contact Emily Reece at [email protected].
Emily Reece is the Director of Recruiting, Assessing, and Training for Church Planting at Discipleship Ministries. She is a lifelong United Methodist with 25 years of professional ministry experience. Emily has worked primarily in church planting and revitalization, ministry coaching, resource development, and church communications. Prior to serving for almost 20 years at the General Church and Indiana Conference, she worked in lay ministry coordination for congregations in Illinois and Indiana.