Board of Directors
Rev. Betty Jo “B.J.” Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
B.J. Birkhahn-Rommelfanger is an elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC, and is currently pastor of Church of the Incarnation, UMC in Arlington Heights, a Reconciling Congregation since 2011. She is an activist and contemplative committed to an inclusive church for all, a witness for workers rights and issues of poverty and non-violence, and supports a truly multicultural church and empowering young adult leadership. She has served as a delegate to the NIC Jurisdictional Conference from 1984 to 2000, active on the General Conference team participating in legislation and witness with RMN, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Commission on Status and Role of Women. She has been a part of the Reconciling Movement since the mid 1980’s, and served as pastor of Wheadon UMC in Evanston, one of the first 4 Reconciling Congregations in the UMC. She has officiated marriage/civil and holy union services for same gender couples over 25 years. She has attended many Convocations offering her skills for worship, workshops and most recently leading the on-site Chaplain Program in Maryland. In the NIC she has served as chair of several boards and agencies, including most recently the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry and was a facilitator for the Bd. of Ordained Ministry provisional ministry program. She taught as an adjunct faculty of GETS as Field Education Staff. She is the mother of Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, former Board Member.
C. Kristian Clauser
Kristian Clauser began his work for LGBTQ inclusion as an undergraduate student and has fond memories of his campus Wesley Foundation, a welcoming oasis in a largely hostile community. After graduation, he spent a decade in the private sector before answering God’s call to attend seminary. He then spent several years as a lay minister at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church (Minneapolis, Minnesota), where he is still a member. During his tenure at HAUMC, Kristian announced his gender transition from female to male, and was blessed by an outpouring of support from congregation members and colleagues.
Currently, Kristian serves as the Business Administrator of Edina Community Lutheran Church (ELCA), hosts a monthly Science & Religion Roundtable, and chairs the United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion, RMN’s transgender extension ministry. He looks forward to the day when the UMC is fully inclusive and he can, in good conscience, finally pursue ordination in the church that he loves. Toward that end, Kristian has spent years supporting Reconciling efforts in his local church and annual conference, as well as working as a RMN National Trainer and Jurisdictional Organizer during three years of the Called to Witness Campaign.
When he’s not trying to open hearts, minds, and doors, Kristian and his wife enjoy good books, classic films, heirloom gardening, and their animal companions.
Parenting a gay son was made a great deal easier for Faith Geer because of her long-standing relationship with Reconciling Ministries Network. Having pastors who taught her how to really read theBible and getting to hang out with leaders of the Reconciling movement, gave Faith a foundation to build a ministry with the LGBT community in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of The UMC. Sharing RMN convocations with her youngest daughter since 2005 has made Reconciling a part of the family! An advocate for LGBT rights, she enjoys planning and organizing seminars. Being an alternate delegate to General Conferences since 2000 has given Faith the opportunity to advocate for change as well as understand the struggles The UMC faces. As the chair of Parents Reconciling Network she hopes to develop new ways to offer support for parents and families. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University and getting an M.Ed. from University of Pittsburgh, Faith began a fourteen-year teaching career with elementary gifted students. In 2000 she answered a call to become the administrative director for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church as a full-time lay professional. Faith’s days are spent managing the staff and volunteer ministries for this 1100 member church located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. Faith’s three children provide great places for vacations: Memphis and San Francisco as well as driving to Delaware, Ohio for college breaks to get the youngest from Ohio Wesleyan! Faith’s heart was left in Zimbabwe after two trips to develop mission outreach with teachers, pastors, and medical personnel at Nyadire Mission. During her days in Pittsburgh she enjoys exercising and walking her golden doodle, Brody.
Joseph R. Hurt
Joseph Richard Hurt ‘s career in legal education spans nearly 35 years, and includes deanships at three law schools and teaching appointments at six schools. He started his career at Mississippi College School of Law, where he was a member of the faculty for more than 21 years. During this time, he also served as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean and Dean for seven years. Following his deanship at Mississippi College, he served as Deputy Consultant on Legal Education to the American Bar Association in the Office of the Consultant which oversees the accreditation of American law schools for the ABA.
With his background in the law school accreditation process, Joseph led two of Florida’s new law schools, Florida Coastal in Jacksonville and Barry University in Orlando through the full ABA accreditation process as dean. Additionally, he has successfully provided guidance as an outside consultant to a number of other law schools either seeking ABA accreditation or dealing with issues of compliance with accreditation standards. He is currently a member of the full-time faculty at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando. Joseph’s service to the legal profession has extended beyond the academy including his membership on and chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Rules and numerous leadership positions in local, state and national bar associations. His contributions to the profession were recognized when he was named the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Mississippi and when he later received the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Award.
Joseph earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi College, a master’s degree in History and the J.D. degree from Baylor University and the LL.M. degree from Yale University. Joseph grew up in Mississippi as the son of a Baptist minister of the moderate tradition. In recent years, he began attending First United Methodist Church Winter Park where he is now a member. His faith pilgrimage, along with his academic background in Constitutional Law, has led him to active involvement in LGBTQ equality and inclusion causes. He is a member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Federal Club where he has been actively involved in Central Florida. At Florida A&M is a faculty advisor to Stonewall LGBTA Law Association which was begun under his leadership. Having been troubled about the Church’s failure to actively minister to the LGBTQ community, Joseph is excited about Reconciling Ministries Network and the opportunity to serve on its Board.
Giselle attends St. Mark UMC in Atlanta where she serves on the administrative council. She has been a district at-large delegate to the North Georgia Annual Conference since 2011. Giselle has been active with RMN since the 2009 Called to Witness campaign. She attended Sing a New Song in 2011, volunteered at General Conference in 2012, and attended ChurchQuake in 2013. Giselle is active with RMN in Georgia and currently chairs the North Georgia Reconciling United Methodist team. Since 2009, she has lobbied her Georgia senators and congressmen with the National Center for Transgender Equality in both Washington, DC and Atlanta, advocating legislation for employment nondiscrimination. Giselle marched in the National Equality March in Washington, DC. She is employed as Manager of Forecasting for Shaw Industries, Inc. in Dalton, Ga.
Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey
Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey is an ordained elder of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church serving as Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning at Boston University School of Theology. In addition to this work, Dr. Lightsey serves as co-chair of the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group of the American Academy of Religion. Her scholarly work has been published in several online journals and web-blogs and she has contributed to numerous publications: “Inner Dictum: A Womanist Reflection From the Queer Realm.” In Black Theology Journal 10.3 (2012); Proclamation and Embodiment and If There Should Come a Word in Black United Methodist Preach! ed. Gennifer Brooks. Abingdon Press. 2012 and Reconciliation in Prophetic Evangelicals: Envisioning a Just and Peaceable Kingdom, eds. Malinda Berry, Bruce Benson and Peter Heltzel. Eerdmans Publication. 2012 An Army veteran and mother whose son served in Iraq, Dr. Lightsey is active in social justice ministries but particularly those focusing on global peace, LGBTQ civil rights, eradicating racism and the engagement of viable reconciliation methodologies. RMN’s history and work is contiguous with her own experiences. She has worked with RMN and supported its several programs and is happy to offer her scholarship and ministry skills to the organization. Pamela hopes to help RMN especially to understand and further support the unique challenges of being a queer person of color.
Rev. Alka Lyall
Rev. Alka Lyall is a life-long Methodist. She grew up in the Methodist Church in India and came to the United States in 1996 as a seminary student. She is an ordained elder in the Northern Illinois Conference and has been serving the people of God, with the people of Northern Illinois Conference, since graduating from Seminary in 2000. Alka is currently appointed to Bethany of Fox Valley UMC in Aurora IL. She has two sons and a husband without whose support she could not have done anything. Alka has always been an active and involved member of the church. She was a delegate to World Methodist Council as a youth representative from India in 1986 and later served on its Presidium. She has been a delegate to 2012 and alternate to the 2008 General Conference. Alka has chaired and served on various boards, agencies and committees in her conference. She currently chairs the Annual Conference committee of the Northern Illinois Conference and serves on the Board of Directors of Northern Illinois Conference Justice for our Neighbors. She is also active in the Northern Illinois Conference RMN task force. Alka desires to share the love of God, which welcomes all people, with all the people of God but especially with those who have been rejected, refused and forgotten by the church. Her prayer is that someday the church will open its doors to all people and to that she continues her ministry.
Deborah Maria hails from the Carolinas and has enjoyed living in Washington and Oregon all her adult life (so far). Armed with a bachelor’s in sociology, she worked in Vietnam with the U.S. Army Service Clubs in the early 1970s and is a retired Federal employee. She now has time to devote to various passions with Reconciling work leading the list (a list which includes fostering orphan kittens). She became involved with Reconciling ministries nearly 20 years ago, thanks to an activist pastor (or two), and has led the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network and the Oregon-Idaho Reconciling United Methodists. She has worn many hats in her local churches (Vancouver Heights UMC, Vancouver WA, and currently Lake Oswego UMC, Lake Oswego OR) and devotes energy weekly to hunger abatement. Deborah has participated in Convocations since 1997 and has provided witness at three General Conferences. She has attended too many church trials. She plans to listen and provide support as her talents allow as an RMN Board member. She strives to be a gentle and effective justice seeker.
David Mauzy, a native Texan, is a longtime resident of Austin. Baptized and raised in the Lutheran Church of America (now ELCA), he was drawn to The United Methodist Church as a young adult because of its rich history of social engagement and its connectional model. In 1992 he joined first the choir and then the congregation of First UMC–Austin. At FUMC, he has taught adult Sunday school, Disciple Bible Study, and adult continuing education classes; served on the Staff-Parish Relations, Property, Nominations, and Education committees; sponsored the college class; and served as lay preacher and liturgist. He has been an annual conference delegate more than 10 times and is a former vice-chair and chair of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference Education Committee. A former member of the Reconciling Ministries Network board (2004–2009), David served on the Conferences Section team as a part of the Common Witness Coalition effort at General Conference 2008 and led the Conferences Section team for the Love Your Neighbor effort at General Conference 2012. David has been employed by the State of Texas for more than 20 years and in his spare time frequently teaches and lectures on the history of the American presidency.
Jamie Michaels is a candidate for ordination in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. A young adult, she has been serving on the leadership of MOSAIC since 2007, and has worked as a process coach for local congregations in the Reconciling process. After receiving her BA from Brevard College in North Carolina, Jamie served as a US-2 Young Adult Missionary. She worked with the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, DC doing justice education and advocacy work, especially with young people. Later she served the UMCOR West Office and Depot in Salt Lake City, UT, helping to get the Depot up and running and beginning its volunteer program. Jamie received her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2012. While there she focused on Theology from the Margins, emphasizing Queer, Black, and Womanist theologies. She has served for three years as Campus Minister and Executive Director of the Wesley Foundation at UC Merced in Merced, CA. She has a passion for liturgy and creative worship, especially progressive liturgy that brings together art and justice in interactive ways. Jamie finds the work of racial and economic justice to be integral to the work of LGBTQ liberation. She is excited to join the RMN board!
Matt is a nonprofit development specialist and LGBT advocate from Washington, DC. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Florida, and subsequently received his Masters in Forensic Psychology from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. At Marymount, Matt worked in the Office of Student Life as a Resident Director, and advised a social justice-based organization in his free time. In this organization, Matt committed to reducing stigma around a number of issues, including mental health and the LGBT community. Prior to joining the Board, Matt worked at Foundry United Methodist Church and with the Common Witness Coalition to prepare for the 2012 General Conference. In these roles, Matt organized at the Conference and National level to build grassroots communities of action and inclusion. Matt’s full-time job is at a nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health, thereby educating their peers and encourage help-seeking behaviors. The organization focuses on changing their campus and community cultures by providing information, leadership opportunities, and advocacy training to the next generation.
Dave Nuckols is a Minnesota lay person who grew up in the south where his family has 235 years of history with Virginia Methodism pre-dating and including attendance at the 1784 Christmas Conference. He has been married to Karin for 25 years and they have two cherished daughters. In his local church, Dave has served as Lay Leader, Staff-Parish Relations Committee and Stewardship Chair. Minnetonka UMC become reconciling in 2010 and continues to grow in spiritual vitality, attendance, finances and mission. Dave is an RMN-trained reconciling process coach and an advocate for marriage equality. In 2012, he was a Reserve Delegate to General Conference where he served as a Legislative Coordinator for the Love Your Neighbor Coalition and reached out actively to conservatives. He continues to serve on the North Central Jurisdiction Restructuring Task Force and on the Minnesota Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Professionally, Dave is enjoying a second career in local government after spending 20 years in high tech sales and marketing. He is a graduate of Duke University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Dave has a passion for justice for LGBTQ peoples and also for the growth and unity of the United Methodist Church.
Rev. John Oda
Rev. John Oda is an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is a current member of the Board of Directors for Reconciling Ministries Network and Chair of the Board. He also chaired RMN’s Search Committee for the Executive Director and is the past Chair of RMN’s United Methodist of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church. He is a past recipient of the Bishop Melvin Talbert Racial Justice Award of the Cal Nevada Conference and past Chair of the Conference Committee on Reconciliation for the Cal Nevada AC. He also currently serves as Adjunct Faculty at the Pacific School of Religion, Board Member of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership and a member of the Cal Nevada Board of Ordained Ministry. In his spare time John loves to work out, hang out with his 15 year old daughter, read and watch science fiction action movies with spiritual overtones.
Gheeta Smith was adopted from India as a baby and raised United Methodist in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a BS in Geography with a Minor in Arabic Literature from the University of Utah. Gheeta is passionate about social justice issues, particularly issues of equality, equity, poverty and education. Over the years she has held many leadership roles in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference. She was a delegate at the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006 and was a reserve delegate to General Conference 2008. Gheeta was the Utah Sub-district Lay Leader from 2011-2014. She has been actively involved in RMN since 2002. She was the Annual Conference Team leader for Utah/Rocky Mountain from 2010-2014, and recently spent time as a Jurisdictional Organizer for the Believe Out Loud and Love Your Neighbor campaigns. She is the newly-elected Co-Chair of United Methodists of Color for A Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC).
Rev. Terri Stewart
Rev. Terri Stewart is a provisional elder of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. They serve as the Director of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition and as the Spiritual Leader of www.BeguineAgain.com, an online spiritual community. They are married and have two sons, one who identifies as transgender/asexual and the other who identifies as cisgender/”I don’t know.” The boys both use the pronouns he, him, his. Terri identifies primarily as cisgender/bisexual and uses the pronouns they, them, their. They desire to make churches safe places for the lost, the least, and the lonely. But most especially, for those who have been hurt by church because of their sexual or gender identification.
Bishop Melvin G. Talbert
Melvin Talbert received a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education in 1959. In his final year at Southern University, Talbert accepted the Call to the Ordained Ministry. He entered Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia, in January 1959. Talbert received the Master of Divinity Degree from ITC (Gammon) in 1962, with the first full class of graduates from ITC. He became involved with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helped plan the first student sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta in 1960. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the invitation to join with the students in the sit-in demonstrations and was arrested with them. Thus, Talbert spent three days and nights in the same jail cell with Dr. King, an experience that shaped his life forever.
Bishop Talbert served as Secretary of Council of Bishops and President of NCCCUSA and attended every General Conference since 1968. In 1973, Talbert was elected General Secretary for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church and served until he was elected bishop in 1980 by the Western Jurisdiction. He was assigned to the Seattle Area and served eight years. In 1988, Talbert was assigned to the San Francisco Area and served until retirement in August of 2000.
In retirement Talbert was elected Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops for 2000-2004 and was President of Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) ‘02-‘04; served as Adjunct Professor for the United Methodist Polity and Practice Course at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN ’01-’04; served as Executive Director of National Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR) 2004 to 2007. He is committed to racial, gender and sexual orientation inclusiveness. He believes there is room at God’s Table for everyone. Bishop Talbert is proud to be considered for board membership for Reconciling Ministries Network.
Carol Waymack, Seattle, became active in the reconciling movement in 2000 after learning that her church had had LGBT pastors, both of whom were charged. This issue became personal when one of her two children identified as lesbian, then transgender. She is active in the local Pacific Northwest RMN and in the Parents Reconciling Network, serving on the PRN Steering Committee and as editor of its newsletter, Kindred Connection. She has attended five Convo’s and provided educational workshops to the PRN steering committee and at Convo. In the fall of 2012, she committed lots of hours as a trainer for phone banking and canvassing for the successful Marriage Equality referendum in Washington state.
Educated at Oregon State University and University of Arizona, Carol taught home economics and child development in high school for 10 years. She then returned to school at University of Washington School of Medicine in preparation for a 22+ year career as a family physician. She has been able to combine her passions for full inclusion and health in her practice and in medical mission trips to DR Congo and Vietnam and is a volunteer physician with a free mobile medical clinic in Seattle.
Aside from working on social justice issues, Carol is enjoying retirement and pursuing hobbies in gardening, photography, playing the piano, travel, and reading
- Board Development
- Fund Development
- Strategy Committee
- Personnel Committee
- Executive Committee
- Incoming Board members of 2017
- Extension Ministries Representatives
Gheeta Smith, Chair
Rev. Terri Stewart
Rev. Alka Lyall
Dr. Carol Waymack, Chair
Rev. Theon Johnson III
Rev. B.J. Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Rev. John Oda
David Nuckols, Chair
Rev. Alka Lyall
Rev. Elyse Ambrose
Rev. Cedrick Bridgeforth
Rev. Dr Beth LaRocca-Pitts
Rev. B.J. Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, Chair
Rev. Jamie Michaels
Chair: David Mauzy
Vice Chair: Rev Alka Lyall
Secretary: Terri Stewart
Treasurer: Joseph Hurt
Strategy: David Nuckols
Board Development: Gheeta Smith
Fund Development: Dr Carol Waymack
Personnel: Rev B.J. Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts
Rev. Jarell Wilson
United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion (UMATI) – Rev. Terri Stewart
Parents Reconciling Network (PRN) – Faith Geer
Reconciling Ministries Clergy (RMC)
United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC) – Rev. Theon Johnson, III
Methodist Students, Seminarians, and Young Adults for an All-Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) – Rev. Jarell Wilson