James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; president of Serious Times, a ministry that explores the intersection of faith and culture and hosts ChurchAndCulture.org which features his messages and blogs; ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president; and author of twenty books, which have been translated into ten languages.
Mecklenburg Community Church (Meck) began with a single family and has grown to over 11,000 active attendees on four campuses. Meck experiences over 70% growth from those who were previously unchurched. During its formative years Meck was often cited as one of the fastest growing church starts in the United States. Dr. White’s commitment to local church ministry also includes service as Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Anderson University.
Among Dr. White’s many books are Gold Medallion nominees Serious Times and A Search for the Spiritual, Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year, Embracing the Mysterious God, as well as bestselling titles such as Rethinking the Church, A Mind for God and The Rise of the Nones. His most recent release is Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.
Danielle Pilgrim is Associate Pastor of the Atlanta Berean Seventh-day Church in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). She spearheads Encounter, a ministry for teens, Connect, a ministry for young adults, and Youth Leadership Camp, a summer camp for the kids in the neighboring community. Danielle is also an active leader in the AND Campaign, a non-denominational community organization that seeks to bridge the divide between social justice advocacy and the faith-based groups in Atlanta. Danielle was recognized as the Youth Pastor of the Year at the 23rd Annual Gospel Choice Awards in Atlanta (2017).
Before receiving her MDiv from Andrews University, Danielle received her BS in Community Health Education from CUNY (New York). This informs her passion for taking impact of the church beyond its four walls to it matters most—where the people truly live.
Born in Brasília, Brazil, Dr. Allan Novaes is Vice President for Communication and Institutional Development and Professor in the School of Theology at UNASP (Adventist University of São Paulo, Brazil). He teaches media and religion and youth studies classes for undergraduate and graduate programs. He received his PhD in Religious Studies from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, and he was a research visitor at the University of Notre Dame Department of Theology.
Dr. Novaes is founder and director of Excelsior!, a research group focused on the interface between youth, media, and religious studies. Excelsior! also publishes materials, such as comic books, graphic novels, gamebooks and board games, that seek a dialogue with pop culture themes and elements to reach young people. He has published several books and essays on religion and media and religion and youth, including The Adventist and Pop Culture and “Seventh-day Adventism and Comic Books.”
Justin Khoe is a digital missionary. Known online primarily as “That Christian Vlogger,” his YouTube videos have been seen around the world by over a million people. With over ten years of preaching, literature evangelism, and teaching experience under his belt, Justin’s current focus is to leverage social media to help reach unchurched young adults.
Cohosting the show with him is his wife, Emily. Justin and Emily aim to equip young adults to have a stronger and deeper relationship with God and to help them discover who God has created them to be. They call this way of living, “experiencing faith in the first person.”
Edwin G. Vargas
Edwin G. Vargas is a Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor who has successfully planted two churches in Portland, Oregon (USA) and is currently planting a third church in Denver, Colorado. He has a passion for developing best practices for church planting lead primarily by young adults. His focus is on intentionally reaching the underserved cities while reflecting the diversity of each particular city. He regularly coaches church planters and is currently writing a book on planting missional churches. Edwin’s dream is to plant more vibrant missional churches in which his three children can serve and lead like Christ.
A. Allan Martin, PhD is the teaching pastor of Younger Generation Church, the vibrant young adult ministry of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church in Texas (USA). Dr. Martin serves the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) as the coordinator for the Growing Young Adventists initiative in collaboration with Young Adult Life and the Fuller Youth Institute.
Recently, Dr. Martin served the NAD, in partnership with the Barna Group, as the lead research facilitator for the Adventist Millennial Study. Dr. Martin continues as an adjunct faculty member for the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, specializing in discipleship and young adult ministry. He and his wife, Deirdre, tour internationally, speaking about relationships and equipping new generations in Christian lifestyle and leadership. Their daughter, Alexandria, is a nursing student at Southern Adventist University. Allan and Deirdre reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Manuela Casti Yeagley
Manuela Casti Yeagley works full time as a research assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA). She received her PhD from King’s College, London. Her research area is practical theology, focusing on contemporary missiology, spirituality, and youth ministry. She recently completed a research project on post-institutional youth spirituality in the European context.
Previously serving as a faculty member of Adventist theological seminaries in Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, Manuela has been involved for almost two decades in training Adventist pastors in the areas of missiology, sociology of religion, contemporary youth culture, and youth ministry. As Director of the Inter-European/Trans-European Division Center for Youth Ministry, she led the European Valuegenesis Survey, an international project studying young adults’ faith development within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Shawn Brace pastors in Maine, which, along with the other New England states, ranks as the most unchurched and non-religious place in the USA. In response to this challenge his ministry has become increasingly focused on mission and discipleship—incarnating the gospel in his city, and teaching and training others to do the same. He is currently transitioning his church to be a church of missional communities. Shawn and his wife, Camille, have a podcast tracking this transition called, “Mission Lab,” explaining what it’s like to live life on mission along with their three children.
Shawn received his MDiv from Andrews University in 2007, with an emphasis in Old Testament, and he has authored three books.
A native of Mexico City, Andrés learned to love urban contexts. While in the United States, he has served with the Illinois Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, reaching urban young adults in the city of Chicago (USA). He and his wife Janette planted Epic Church in 2012, and launched a second campus in the city of Lombard, Illinois in October 2017. His story has been featured in the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies’ documentary short series, This Is My Story. Andrés’ passion is to help urban millennials grow as leaders and disciple-makers. He holds a MDiv from the Andrews University.
Seth Pierce is lead pastor of the Puyallup Seventh-day Adventist Church, just south of Seattle, Washington (USA). During his six-year tenure the church has grown to include two services and has retired over one million dollars in debt. The church is now pursing the completion of their church and school campus, envisioned more than ten years ago. The story of the church and school was recently featured in a documentary short film.
Seth is currently pursuing a PhD in Communication at Regent University. He received an intensive residency during the summer of 2017 at Oxford University exploring the works of C.S. Lewis. His current research interests are homiletics, media ecology, spectral rhetoric, postmodernism, and metamodernism. He has published numerous books and articles and speaks internationally.
Steve Case grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist family, received his formal education through Adventist schools, and has pastored and taught in Adventist contexts. Why bother having somebody like this involved with the CSPS conference?
For the past 40 years, Steve have been involved in various forms of youth and young adult ministry—a fertile environment for secular and postmodern life. With a doctoral degree in religious education, Steve’s ministry organization, Involve Youth, provides a launching pad for him to speak at events, train others, create resources, lead short-term mission trips, and coordinate the Andrews University Intergenerational Church DMin cohort.
Steve’s wife, Marit, is a pastor and licensed therapist from Europe. His daughter, Kate, seeks to end human trafficking with International Justice Mission.
Simret studied Theology in Bogenhofen, Austria (BTh) and Friedensau, Germany (MTh). He also recently earned an MA in Transcultural Studies from Heidelberg University (Germany). Besides serving as a pastor, he currently directs PRESENCE kulturlounge, a cultural center in Frankfurt, Germany where people come together to experience inspiration and good encounters through different cultural and spiritual activities. Simret’s passion lies in reflecting issues of culture and experiencing people as sources of inspiration and in exploring how biblical and Adventist approaches to life personally relate to us today. He loves music, reading and quality time with friends and family.
Todd Stout is the senior pastor of Church of the Advent Hope, a Seventh-day Adventist congregation in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he has pastored for the past ten years. Advent Hope is a diverse congregation which includes an active and vibrant body of millennials.
Todd received his MDiv from Andrews University in 2002.
Gabriel Perea was born and raised in Texas (USA). He and Jessica McKinney Perea have been married and pastoring together for 13 years. They have four awesome, smart, beautiful and godly children. He is the Planting and Lead Pastor of Advent Project, a millennial, Adventist church in San Antonio, Texas, located on the campus of Scenic Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church where he also serves as the Associate Pastor. He is also working on his doctorate, concentrating on the millennial church (DMin, Andrews University). Pastor Gabe and Jessica have pastored English speaking, Spanish speaking, and Korean speaking churches. They believe Jesus is not only coming soon, but that He is returning in this generation! “Even so come Lord Jesus!”
Sam Neves has no roots. He was born in Brazil where he spent his early childhood planting churches with his parents. At great sacrifice, they sent him to an Adventist boarding school in England where he learnt to live among 40 nationalities. After earning a BA in Theology in Brazil, he was called to the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to minister in London and complete his Masters at Newbold College. He has served as a local church pastor for more than 10 years, ministering to over 60 nationalities. Recently he has moved to the United States to serve as Associate Communication Director at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, managing the Church’s visual identity and social media strategy. He is married to an English girl named Amy, and together, they have three boys aged 7, 5 and 3.
Kleber D. Gonçalves
Born in Brazil, Kleber D. Gonçalves has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the areas of publishing, media ministry, church planting, teaching, and pastoral ministry. His doctoral work (PhD, Andrews University) focused on urban mission and postmodernism. His interest took him back to Brazil to plant Nova Semente (New Seed) Seventh-day Adventist Church, a church plant focused on secular/postmodern people in São Paulo, Brazil. Nova Semente began with 16 members and now surpasses 1,400 attendees each Sabbath.
Dr. Gonçalves now directs the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies, the organizing entity for this conference. He also serves as Associate Professor of World Mission and director of the Doctor of Ministry program for the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, co-sponsor of this conference.