Lead Innovator

Stephanie Dodge has a M.A. in Religion with a focus in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and a B.A. in biology from Carleton College.  Originally from Minnesota, she is an ordained deacon in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church and is currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Glendale UMC and part-time Associate Pastor at Crievewood UMC, both in Nashville, TN. Steph enjoys cycling, triathlons, and playing pretty much every sport. She also likes reading books, going to movies, making yogurt in the Instant Pot, and getting free stuff.

Lab Church

Glendale UMC – Nashville is in the midst of what some have called “a church plant within an existing congregation.”  The church is focused on welcoming ALL of God’s children and has become a place where people who have not felt welcomed elsewhere can finally find a place to call home. As such, Glendale has recently been experiencing growth predominately from young adults, young families, and college students. Average weekly Sunday attendance is 40-50.

Website: glendaleumc.org

Lead Innovator

Andrew Mochrie earned his Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary through the Center of Youth Ministry Training, and a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric from Georgia College and State University. He worked in youth ministry for over 10 years in Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, and North Carolina. His wife is a chef and they love to spend time trekking around the Blue Ridge Mountains with their daughter and two dogs. You can find Andrew outdoors, reading, rock climbing,
or at a music festival.

Lab Church

Central United Methodist Church is in the heart of downtown Asheville and is the longest continuously operating church in Asheville, NC. It is a 3000-member church with an average weekly worship attendance of 650, pulling from all over Asheville/Buncombe County, and from bustling downtown to the country roads, including the heart of the South Asheville suburbs. Throughout the year members from Central can be found in the many pubs and breweries in Asheville, hosting theology talks and serving with its sister congregation Haywood St. Church. Central is present in the community at the many downtown festivals and partners with local public radio and event venues every summer to host Sanctuary Sessions in its historic space. Visit their website at http://www.centralumc.org

Lead Innovator

Samantha Hassell has a Masters of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Bethel University. She has been serving youth through the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for over 17 years, serving churches in TN & KY. She and her husband, Victor, have served the Sturgis CP Church in Sturgis, KY for the last decade. Samantha loves sarcasm, books, laughing, making lists, being outside and her three kids – not necessarily all in that order.

Lab Church

Sturgis Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located in Sturgis, KY.  The Sturgis Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a place where ALL are welcome, NO ONE is perfect, and ANYTHING is possible! It is  a progressive church which seeks to please God through witness, service, and fellowship. Sturgis is home of the “West KY Bike Fest,” and the church offers breakfast and a place to cool off during the weekend each July, when thousands of bikers descend on their little town.  Serving the community around us is central to who they are. Learn more about them at www.sturgiscpchurch.com or check them out on Facebook (Sturgis CPC).  

Lead Innovator

A CYMT graduate, Becca Bibee has a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and a Bachelors of Music Education from Birmingham Southern College. She is in her third year of youth ministry at her home church, Trinity United Methodist in Huntsville, Alabama. Becca has a passion for building community and doing the work of theology with her students. She feels most at home laughing and playing board games with her group. When she isn’t doing youth ministry, Becca reads books, wanders the aisles of Target, and shows people unsolicited pictures of her overly adorable niece.

Lab Church

Trinity is a large United Methodist Church in the middle of Huntsville that was started in the 1950s when a bunch of NASA engineers wanted a Methodist church closer to where they lived. To this day, it is still full of rocket scientists and engineers. Trinity averages around 800 weekly worshippers and has a youth ministry of about 150 active students. Take a look at all that is going on at trinityhsv.org!

Lead Innovator

Rob Click serves as the Pastor to Youth and Families at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, KS. Rob is an alum of Southern Nazarene University and has been in ministry for more than 10 years in a variety of areas from worship and creative arts, to children and family ministry, from down south in Texas, to Oklahoma, Idaho and now in Kansas. He and his wife have three beautiful little girls who love traveling to see family and visiting every coffee shop along the route.

Lab Church

College Church of the Nazarene relocated to its current location over 60 years ago with the hope to partner with a newly established college to reach the growing community of Olathe, on the south end of Kansas City, KS. Today, their mission is to still to partner with the community to reach people with the gospel – at the university, through title one schools, in Mapou, Haiti, and intentionally across our five mile radius. They believe they are right where God has called them to be and maintain the bright hope that they are moving together to Imagine A Place where more is available with God.  Learn more at www.collegechurch.com.

Lead Innovator

Keri Cress currently serves as the Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry at Hillcrest UMC in South Nashville, where she has served on staff for the last eight years. She grew up in Minnesota, graduating from Bemidji State University with a degree in social work. She worked in various roles in the Tennessee child welfare system for nearly a decade before joining the Hillcrest staff to work with youth and community outreach. Keri recently completed her MAYM at Memphis Theological Seminary through CYMT. She is mother to a feisty but sweet little girl named Helen and likes hiking and social justice.

Lab Church

Hillcrest United Methodist Church focuses on community outreach and serves approximately 70 families twice monthly with its Food Bank. The church collects school supplies throughout the year for local schools. Nestled in one of the most diverse areas in South Nashville, ten countries are represented in this congregation. Learn more by visiting www.hillcrestumc.org.

Lead Innovator

Rev. Chris Cummings is the Pastor to Youth and Families at The Village UMC in Nashville and has been in youth ministry for 14 years. He is passionate about connecting teens in the community to Jesus and loves helping people discover and live into their callings. He is married to Rev. Joanna Cummings, who is the Pastor to Children and Families at the same church, and has a high energy dog named Shalom. In his “spare time,” Chris enjoys woodworking with reclaimed wood.

Lab Church

The Village is a two-and-a-half year old United Methodist Church plant in the South Nashville area with a vision to be a church for the community. It was planted to reach disconnected people to Jesus and a community of Jesus followers, and intentionally does things differently to do so. People from all backgrounds have become a part of The Village and are working to change the community. Read more at thevillagenashville.com

Lead Innovator

Kelly Mongoven was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida. She has her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Florida State University and holds a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and the Center for Youth Ministry Training. Before accepting the call of Associate Pastor at Hopeful, Kelly worked as a social worker and served churches in Birmingham, Alabama and Fort Myers, Florida. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys yoga, cooking and being with friends and family.

Lab Church

Hopeful Lutheran Church is in Florence, Kentucky and is associated with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). Hopeful was founded in 1806 and is the oldest Lutheran church west of the Allegheny mountains. Hopeful believes that that God has called them to;  welcome people to faith in Jesus, equip people with a faith that works in real life, and send people in service into the world in Jesus’ name. For more information please see www.hopefulchurch.org

Lead Innovator

Courtney Blacksten is the Director of Youth Ministry at the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd in Yukon, OK and has been in ministry for over 10 years. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Oklahoma City University and an MA in Religion with an emphasis in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and the Center for Youth Ministry Training. Courtney is passionate about ministry with youth. She enjoys walking alongside young people and their families as they follow in the footsteps of Jesus, pointing out where God is present in their lives, and helping them share that joy with all those they meet along the way. She and her husband, Rev. Brandon Blacksten, live in Edmond, OK with their daughter Elsie. Together they enjoy running, hiking, and reading.

Lab Church

The United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd was started in a double-wide trailer on a dirt and gravel road surrounded by farmland 36 years ago. Today, the church has two schools across the street, a turnpike that is being extended and will soon open to the west, and within the next five years will have a major retail and entertainment expansion to the north. What was once a country church has grown into a medium-sized suburban church. The church sees an average weekly attendance of around 250. Good Shepherd is made up of people of God who are learning to follow Jesus and inviting others to join the journey.

Lead Innovator

Mark Bogart is the Director of Youth Ministry at Memorial Drive UMC in Houston. He received a B.B.A. in Marketing from The University of Texas and has spent nearly 25 years at MDUMC as a student, intern and, eventually, full-time staff member. In addition to sharing life with his wife Becky and son Jake, Mark loves listening to and making music, playing all kinds of sports and often pretends to be on the TV show “Top Chef”. When Mark grows up he wants to play second base for the Houston Astros.

Lab Church

Memorial Drive UMC believes that church should be welcoming to everyone. We understand the Christian life as one in which faith and love are put into action and we insist that faith and good works belong together. With many diverse opportunities to share community, MDUMC is a vibrant and growing place to learn, live, give, and serve. Learn more at mdumc.org or, better yet, some see us in person.

Lead Innovator

Kat Bair serves as the Director of Youth Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth and is a graduate of CYMT and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While working at First Church, she has helped develop curriculum used at over a dozen Methodist churches in Texas and beyond. Her previous experience includes working in Northern Thailand on the investigation, prosecution, and provision of aftercare for victims in cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and as researcher on democratic consolidation during the Arab Spring as part of her first graduate degree at Miami University in Ohio. Kat in a native of Brentwood, Tennessee, and now lives in Grapevine with her husband, Andrew, who is a video game developer.

Lab Church

Founded in 1874, First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth is a historic downtown congregation of around 5,000 members, with 1,200 worshipping every Sunday. With 4 different on-site non-profit organizations, 7 different worship services offered each week, and a campus that covers 9 city blocks of downtown, FUMC Fort Worth is a vibrant, multi-faceted congregation deeply rooted in the life of the city. Supporting a full array of ministries geared to every age and stage of life, First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth is an ever-expanding faith community always on the move to Love God, Serve People, and Transform Lives. Learn more about us at www.fumcfw.org

Lead Innovator

Tiffin Wilsford currently serves as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at St. Paul’s UMC in Houston, Texas where he has been on staff for the last twenty years. He was born and raised in Texas, graduating from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s of Art in Biology and a minor in Religious Studies. He has been married to his high school prom date for 24 years. They have three teenage children. They enjoy traveling, mission trips, skiing and being outdoors together. Tiffin loves sharing his passion of working with power tools with youth. He is well known for his offensive driving of the church bus.

Lab Church

St. Paul’s strives to be a cathedral for the city of Houston that embodies its diversity, inspires faith, and leads change for the common good of all peoples and communities.  St. Paul’s was founded in 1905 to reach people in a growing area south of downtown. St. Paul’s is now located in the heart of Houston in the Museum District. The congregation is made of 3,000 plus people from all cross the Houston metroplex. St. Paul’s is known for vibrant worship, faith formation, and serving others through missions and outreach. Get to know St. Paul’s UMC better by visiting stpaulshouston.org

Lead Innovator

Katy Sabayrac currently serves as the Director of Family Ministry at Westbury UMC in Houston, TX, where she has served on staff for the last two years. She grew up in Houston, graduating from Houston Baptist University with a degree in History and Political Science. She worked as a paralegal for nearly a decade before answering God’s call to full-time ministry and earning her Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. When Katy isn’t working with youth and children, she enjoys art, reading, and discussing Harry Potter with her daughter, Alex.

Lab Church

Westbury United Methodist Church is a diverse congregation located in Houston, TX. We are constantly pursuing our vision to be “a church for all people with more than enough love to go around”. While our church has grown and changed with the city over the last 60 years, what guides us today is our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and world through God’s love, as well as our values of multicultural inclusivity, grace, community, accountability, and transformation.

Lead Innovator

Zach Cheeseman earned his Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree in Religion and the Arts from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He is the Director of Youth Ministries at Katy First United Methodist Church and is in his fourth year of ministry. Zach has a passion for worship and exploring theology through beauty and culture. He lives with his wife and his dog in Houston. When not doing youth ministry Zach can be found reading, spending time with family, or in a local comic book store.

Lab Church

Katy First United Methodist Church is a mid-sized church located in the old town Katy outside of Houston, Texas. Katy First is a historical church, steeped in tradition with a warm and welcoming atmosphere and a heart to serve. At Katy First we seek to explore, understand and apply God’s truth to our lives at every level in a spirit of love. You can find more about Katy First at www.katyfirst.org