Meet The Course of Study Faculty

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The Reverend David Allen Grady is the pastor of Druid Hills United Methodist Church. Obtaining degrees from The University of Alabama and the Candler School of Theology, he was ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference. He has served churches in a variety of contexts in The North Georgia Conference, The North Alabama Conference, and The Methodist Church of Great Britain. In addition to his role as pastor, Dave serves the annual conference as chair of the Leadership Ministry Team and is on the Board of Directors for Intown Collaborative Ministries as well as the Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation. He is married to the Reverend Susan Allen Grady. They are parents to their daughter, Joy.

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The Reverend Kandace Brooks is currently the Pastor at Tomoka United Methodist Church in Ormond Beach, FL.  Prior to her appointment at Tomoka, she served as the Director of Community Life and Adjunct Professor of Worship at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL; as Founding Pastor of Celebration United Methodist Church in Gainesville (3 years); as Coordinator of Worship Arts and Associate Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville (7 years), and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Florida (12 years).  She received the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from London School of Theology in Homiletics (1983); the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Georgia and the Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary.  Kandace has also taught a two-week intensive course in Homiletics at the West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Reverend Dr. Anne Burkholder, Associate Dean of Methodist Studies and Professor in the Practice of Ecclesiology and Church Leadership, is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, has served most recently as the director of Connectional Ministries and District Superintendent in the Florida Conference. She has extensive experience in the redevelopment of congregations in Florida and North Carolina. She has served as executive director of Miami Urban Ministries, where she oversaw the development of faith-based social service ministries, including the Head Start program for Haitian children. She holds a PhD in ethics and society from Emory. Her current research interests include Pastoral Ethics and United Methodist Polity.

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Dan ChesserThe Reverend Dawn Chesser is an ordained elder in the Holston Annual Conference and holds a PhD in liturgical studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Her focus in her doctoral work has been on understanding contemporary, alternative and emerging worship patterns in the United States as issues of inculturation. She grew up in Arkansas and then spent 19 years living, attending school, and serving churches in the Chicago metropolitan area as a member of the Northern Illinois Conference. She has served in ministry contexts ranging from urban to suburban to rural, large, medium, and small congregations, in varied worship styles,and more recently in campus ministry. She has taught a course in Worship at Candler School of Theology and a New Testament course at Tennessee Wesleyan College.  She is currently serving as the Director of Preaching Ministries for the Leadership Ministries Division of the General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church.

The Reverend Dr. Elaine Crawford is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Dr. Crawford was appointed as Lead Pastor of Newnan Chapel UMC June 15, 2014 and has served in several appointed positions in NGC. Dr. Crawford currently serves on the Leadership Team of NGC Connectional Ministries as the Stream Leader of the Committee on Religion and Race, and is a member of the NGC Congregational Development team.Dr. Crawford earned her Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond Virginia. Her list of publications include Hope in the Holler: A Womanist Theology of Hope and her 2014 publication of The Lord is Our Light.

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The Reverend Dr. L. Wesley de Souza, Arthur J. Moore Associate Professor in the Practice of Evangelism, is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Dr. de Souza, a Luso-Brazilian born in Sao Paulo, is a founder of and visiting professor at South American Theological Seminary in Londrina, Brazil, where he also served as vice president of the seminary's board of trustees. He was the founding director of the Jethro Institute, a ministry that focuses on research, ministry management, and leadership training for pastors and leaders serving in local churches and Christian organizations. In addition, he was president of the board of directors of the Paul Pierson Center for Global Mission, which works with fourteen mission agencies from Latin and North America seeking the development of common actions and resources. He also serves on the editorial board of Vida Nova Publishing House, Sao Paulo, and on the editorial advisory board for The Asbury Journal. He completed Candler's postdoctoral program in Practical Theology and Religious Practices in 2005, where his research focused on a comparison of Brazilian classical Pentecostalism, Methodism, and base ecclesial communities. 

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Tom ElliotThe Reverend Dr. Tom Elliott Assistant Professor in the Practice of Practical Theology, Director of Contextual Education II, Director of the Teaching Parish Program and Ministry Internships is an elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Since 2001, he has been a part of the Course of Study and Advanced Course of Study faculty teaching Wesleyan Movement, Preaching, Worship, Evangelism, and United Methodist Polity. Tom also teaches Theology of Stewardship, Church, Congregational Leadership, and United Methodist Polity in NICFA (Candler). Tom’s interests lie inreflective practice and theological imagination as it applies to vocation, discipleship, the ministry of the church and God's mission in the world. Tom is an elder in the North Georgia Conference where he has served as a pastor for 26 years. He is also a lifetime trustee of Salem Camp Ground, Inc. As a musical evangelist Tom appears in churches, coffee houses, and other various settings. He has a Bachelors of Arts from Mercer University in Psychology and Philosophy, a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry from Emory University. A native Georgian, Tom is married to Kelly and they have a grown daughter and son.

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Debby FoxThe Reverend Debby Fox is an ordained deacon in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Besides serving several local congregations in this conference, Debby has served in the KY and WOH Conferences. Her ministry area of expertise is in Christian Education and she is certified by the United Methodist Church as an Associate in Christian Education. Currently, she is an Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for the North Georgia Conference.  Her areas of responsibility include children's ministry, Christian education, and faith formation. 

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David GarberThe Reverend Dr. David G. Garber Jr. is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University. A graduate of Emory University's Graduate Division of Religion, Dr. Garber's research interests include studies of the Hebrew Bible prophetic literature, the use of the Hebrew Bible in reflecting upon issues of social justice, and the use of trauma theory to understand ancient Judah's experience of exile. As an ordained Baptist minister, Dr. Garber strives to bridge the perceived gap between the church and the academy, confronting the concerns of the contemporary world with the ancient biblical tradition.

Brian GermanoThe Reverend Dr. Brian Germano is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he has served appointments since 1989.  He currently serves as Senior Pastor of East Cobb United Methodist church in Marietta, Georgia, and has taught in the Emory Course of Study school since 1994.  His passion is for the development of vital 21st-century ministry in the Wesleyan tradition, in which he holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Saint Paul School of Theology (Kansas City, MO). 

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Mr. Christopher T. Holmes is a PhD candidate in the New Testament course of study in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. Informed by the larger religious and cultural world out of which early Christianity emerged, Chris approaches the study and interpretation of the New Testament with attention to the literary and theological particularities of the New Testament compositions and their use in contemporary faith communities. His research interests include the varieties of Judaism in antiquity, religious experience in the ancient Mediterranean world, ancient literary and rhetorical theory, and the history of interpretation of the New Testament. Chris teaches both of the New Testament classes for Course of Study. He is an aspiring reader of fiction and poetry, a confounded (and tired) parent of two great kids, a recovering collegiate athlete, an experimenting cook, and an inconsistent viewer of college football and basketball. Since moving to Atlanta, he and his wife have come to love the seasonal festivals and local eateries. Chris is also a candidate for ordination as Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Dr. Thomas L. Humphries, Jr., currently serves as Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion and Assistant Director of the Honors Program at Saint Leo University in Florida. He earned a BS in Forestry and a BA in Philosophy at the University of the South. Before beginning graduate education, Tommy worked as a lay parish minister and high school teacher. He earned an MA in Systematic Theology from The Catholic University of America and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology (Patristics) from Emory University, where he was an Aquinas Fellow. Tommy specializes in fifth and sixth century theology. He and his wife Christine enjoy gardening, playing guitar on the porch with their dogs (Loretta and Charlie), and wood-working.

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The Reverend LeeAnn Inman is an ordained elder in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. As a native of Central Florida, and a life-long United Methodist, she is at home as lead lead pastor at Peace United Methodist Church in Orlando. LeeAnn began her academics at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and them moved to Chicago to finish up her graduate work at McCormick Theological Seminary.  Her first appointment was to a small mission congregation near Wrigley Field and she served additional churches in the area for 16 years before returning to Florida.  She has served congregations in Tampa and Orange Park before returning to Orlando.  She has tuaght Course of Study at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Duke Divinity, and is excited to now add Emory COS to her teaching adventures. Spiritual formation in the local church is her passion.  She and her husband Tom have three wonderful childre: Carrie, Theo, and Simon.  She is an early-morning walker, so that she can enjoy her husband's good cooking!

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The Reverend Dr. Paul 'Skip' Johnson is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  He has served local church appointments in Texas and the Atlanta area where he has had responsibilities for pastoral care ministries.  Currently he is the Senior Lecturer for Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary and also the Training Director for Pastoral Counseling with the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia.  He is a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia.

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Rex KaneyThe Reverend Dr. Rex Kaney is a native Georgian, having grown up in Macon, Georgia.  His college and seminary education is from three United Methodist Colleges and Universities – Young Harris College, Birmingham Southern College, and Candler School of Theology, Emory University.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Birmingham Southern and his M.Div. and D.Min from Candler.  Rex has served congregations in the North and South Georgia conferences and retired from the North Georgia Conference in June 2011.  He has taught for over 15 years in the Appalachian Local Pastor’s School and recently joined the Emory Course of Study faculty.  Rex has recently married Jane Joyner Alexander and together they have five children.

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The Reverend Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts is the senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in the Atlanta Emory District, of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Her husband Mark is a chaplain with Crossroads Hospice in Tucker. Beth and Mark have two teenage twins, Ellie and Joe. Both Beth and Mark hold PhD’s in Old Testament Studies from Harvard University. Beth served six years as a professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina and taught for eight years in the Religion Department at the University of Georgia while living and serving in the Athens Elberton District. Beth has also served the Bishop Circuit as pastor, Athens First, and at Snellville United Methodist as associate pastor, and Watkinsville as senior pastor.

Gene Morris LeeThe Reverend Mary Gene Morris Lee is an Atlanta native who received her AB and MEd degrees from Georgia State University (1971 and 1975).  She completed the Foundational Studies at Candler School of Theology, was consecrated a Diaconal Minister, and in 1997 was ordained as Deacon in Full Connection in The United Methodist Church.  For over 25 years, Mary Gene served urban and suburban churches in the area of Christian education.  She has led training events at the local, Conference, and national level.  She has served on the staff of the Conference Office of Connectional Ministries, the Board of the National Christian Educators Fellowship, and as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.  Now retired, she continues to lead workshops and consult with churches.

Nancy L. LongThe Reverend Dr. Nancy L. Long, D.Min, is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a member of the North Georgia Conference.  She has served local church appointments in Atlanta area where she was appointed at Emory University as a Staff Chaplain and Director of the Ben Hill United Methodist Counseling Center from 2002 to 2009.  Currently she is the Associate Director of Pastoral Services at Emory University Hospital Midtown.  She is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist (LMFT), a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia and an approved LMFT supervisor.  She is a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

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Sarah McDonaldMs. Sarah MacDonald is currently a Ph.D. candidate in ethics, in Emory University's Graduate Division of Religion. Her research explores how to think ethically and strategically about privilege and power in movements for social change. Prior to beginning her study at Emory, Sarah worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams, doing international accompaniment and supporting community nonviolent resistance in Colombia and the West Bank of Palestine. She also led educational delegations and helped facilitate nonviolence trainings.  In previous graduate studies, she earned a Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in English at the University of Iowa.

Bill McKoyThe Reverend Dr. Bill McKoy is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a retired member of the North Georgia Conference.  He received his BA, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Sacred Theology from Emory University. In his forty years of active ministry he served as conference director of youth work, a pastor in eight diverse churches (100-3500 members), and as a district superintendent. He also served lengthy terms on the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. After retirement he served part-time as Executive Pastor at Glenn Memorial UMC on the Emory Campus.  Bill and his spouse, Martha, enjoy traveling around the world when he is in’t teaching at Emory or one of the extension schools. He first taught in the Course of Study in the 1970s and now serves as the Chaplain for Emory Course of Study School's Summer Session.

Amy MorganThe Reverend Dr. Amy Morgan is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference where she has served both large and small churches.  She completed her Master of Divinity Degree at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in 1986 and her Doctor of Ministry Degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in 1999.  Her doctoral work focused on power of story and ritual in spiritual formation.  Amy has served on numerous district and conference committees including Conference Trustees, Committee on the District Superintendency and the Conference Board of Ministry.  Amy has taught Preaching in ACOS and Worship and the Sacraments in COS.

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The Reverend Dr. Philip Ott is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and a member of the Indiana Annual Conference. While in graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.M) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D) he served appointments in the New Jersey Annual Conference. He spent his professional career at United Methodist colleges and universities, first at the University of Evansville in Evansville, IN as a faculty member, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Coordinator of the World Cultures Program, and Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. After 28 years in Evansville he moved to Athens, TN where he held the position of Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Tennessee Wesleyan College. He retired in 2001 and took up residence in Savannah, GA. During the academic year of 2007-2008, he served as Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. His research and writing interests have focused on John Wesley and eighteenth century medicine.

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The Reverend Elaine Puckett is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and a retired member of the North Georgia Annual Conference. She presently serves as a Transitional Interim Ministry Specialist endorsed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. She is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology where she was a Woodruff Scholar. Since 1988 she has served diverse appointments in the Atlanta area. Elaine has been an instructor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology teaching courses in Wesleyan theology and Women in Ministry and has been an instructor in the Emory COS since 1996. 

The Reverend Dr. Richard Puckett is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and a member of the North Georgia Conference. After receiving his doctorate in Biblical Studies, he served local church appointments in North Georgia before being appointed Director of Public Relations and Development at the United Methodist Children's Home in Decatur, Georgia.  He has served on the board of the national United Methodist Association and various other planned giving and development organizations.  He is currently Lead Associate at Gainesville First United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia.  Dr. Puckett also has a law degree and is a member of the State Bar of Georgia in an inactive status. 

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The Reverend Mark Reynolds graduated from the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in 1992 and then went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts from Florida Southern College (1996), Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University (1999), and Master of Arts in Religion at Vanderbilt University as a PhD candidate (2007). Although ordained as an Elder in Full Connection in June 2010 (UMC), he has served in various ministries over the last 19 years, taught college classes in Christian theology and philosophy, and published articles for denominational resources. In addition to being the Senior Pastor at Shepherd’s Community UMC, Rev. Reynolds also teaches Ethics in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Florida Southern College, serves on the South Central District Board of Ordained Ministry, and co-leads Conference mentoring groups for those interested in becoming certified candidates for ministry.  

The Reverend Vance P. Ross currently serves Discipleship Ministries as the Director of Annual Conference Relationships. In this role he connects the agency with other denominational entities for the purpose of congregations’ vitality through making disciples of Jesus. From 2011-2015 Ross served as Senior Pastor of the Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church, an urban church of 1100 members. Focusing on the mission of the church, the congregation’s worship attendance increased by over 70% (from 200 to 340). Over 150 persons joined the congregation in the first 24 months. Prior to his appointment to Ross served as the first ever Deputy General Secretary at the General Board of Discipleship, a promotion from his position as Associate General Secretary for Leadership Ministries. From 1998-2004 Ross served as the Senior Pastor of the First United Methodist Church, Hyattsville, MD. This multiethnic and international congregation experienced attendance growth from 337-484 during this time, served the community through the Shalom School AfterSchool for the Arts and began ministry as a Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) site. A native of Bluefield, WV, Ross has the B. A. degree, Government/Youth Services from West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is an honor graduate of Gammon Seminary (ITC) and in 2015 earned the Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary. Vance is the husband of the Rev. Bridgette D. Young Ross, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He has three adult children: Kristina, Alyssa and Bryant. He has two grand children: Christopher Bryant and Jaylie Alyssa. 

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Joy SamuelsThe Reverend Dr. Joy Samuels is ordained in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and an active member of a Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee. She is a licensed professional counselor (Mental Health Service Provider) in the State of Tennessee and a Fellow in Thanatology. Supporting her active duty military spouse (GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY) has taken the family to duty stations across the United States and Europe, where she has served local churches as education minister, provided counseling services in both private practice and for the Department of Defense and has worked as a Hospice/Hospital Chaplain. Currently she is in private practice in Franklin and teaches in the undergraduate and graduate psychology department at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Reverend Dr. Melissa Sexton is an elder in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Her vocational path has taken her into many different contexts for ministry, including serving a congregation as a co-pastor, running a retreat facility at Lake Junaluska, being a free lance retreat facilitator and storyteller across the Southeastern United States, being a hospital chaplain for children and families in head trauma clinics, working in a senior adult living complex, and, currently, as a private practice pastoral counselor/ marriage and family psychotherapist in Decatur, GA.  Her training includes:  BA from Furman University in Religion, with an emphasis in Psychology; MDiv from Candler School of Theology at Emory, with an emphasis in Pastoral Counseling;  ABD from Columbia Care and Counseling Center of GA, with emphasis in Pastoral Theological Methods, and PhD from the Laney Graduate School in Comparative Literature, with an emphasis in Psychoanalytic Interpretative Theory.  Her dissertation work focused on how Love and Play are resilient methods for breeching the gap, wrought by traumatic experience.  Her post-doctoral work with the Transforming Community Project furthered her exposure to the import of difficult dialogues, across divisions of race, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

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Virginia TinsleyThe Reverend Virginia Tinsley is an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church and currently serves as Director of the Housing and Homeless Council for the North Georgia Conference, where she has been appointed since 2003. She has been involved in ministries that serve poor and homeless people for more than thirty years. Her passion is to provide opportunities for people representing the church to get involved with poor people in ways that are empowering for all the people involved. Before that she was Director of Action Ministries' programs in Atlanta. 

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John B. WeaverDr. John B. Weaver is the Dean of Library Services and Educational Technology at Abilene Christian University, providing leadership for ACU’s academic information resources and a consortium of libraries in the Abilene area. His responsibilities at ACU include The Brown Library, The Adams Center for Teaching and Learning, and The AT&T Learning Studio. Weaver’s current research includes work on Christian practices of receiving faith and transforming self and community through technology, especially virtuous habits related to hospitality, literacy, and pedagogy among churches in the ancient and modern world. Weaver is married to Vivi, and the couple has four children:  Josephine, Adela, Thessaly, and Eben. 

Waite WillisThe Reverend Dr. Waite Willis is the Edward J. Pendergrass Professor of Religion at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where he also serves as the chair of the Humanities Division. Since 1992, Waite has taught in the COS at the Candler, where he earned his Masters of Divinity before attaining the Ph.D. in systematic and constructive theology from Emory’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is an ordained elder in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and for twelve years served as a theologian on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. He has been the director of the Florida Conference Ministerial Licensing School since 2001 and now also serves on the Conference Board of Directors for Camping and Retreat Ministries. Waite is also a part-time staff person at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, where he is the Director of Contemporary Worship and weekly leads the music and worship of the 9:30 service, which currently is averaging over 800 people. At Florida Southern, Waite has been honored by students and colleagues with various awards for teaching excellence, including the Phi Eta Sigma Lover of Wisdom Award, the Omicron Delta Kappa Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award.  

Winston WorrellThe Reverend Dr. Winston O. R. Worrell is an experienced evangelist, lecturer, administrator, pastor and preacher in national, international, multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multilingual settings worldwide.  He serves as Director of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, a ministry of Emory University and the World Methodist Council where he has served for twenty years.  He holds a doctorate in evangelism from Emory University and a master’s degree in media communications from Georgia State University, and has served in pastoral positions in several countries.  He is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, and a former circuit superintendent minister of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean.  He has served in ministries in 55 countries.

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