Course of Study Faculty

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.

Ms. Julia Buckner is a member of the United Methodist Church in the Western North Carolina Conference. She graduated from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University with her Master of Divinity degree in 2009. Julia grew up in Hayesville, North Carolina and is passionate about local missions within the community and how our theology and hospitality blend in our faith traditions. She has dedicated 20 years to mission programs in the Hayesville, NC area, while spending many of those years also teaching at the local high school. 

The Reverend Dawn Chesser is an ordained elder in the Holston Annual Conference and a candidate for a PhD in liturgical studies at 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. She was appointed to the historic Cascade UMC in June of 2010 where she serves as the Pastor of Programs. Dr Crawford earned her Ph.D in Historical Theology from Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond VA. She has served in appointed positions at The Interdenominational Theological Center, and several local churches.  She is adjunct faculty at ITC teaching in the areas of Theology and Ethics. She is vice-chair of North Georgia Black Clergy Women, and serves on the Advocacy Team of NGC as the chair of Committee on Race and Religion, Additionally she serves as the chair for Connectional Ministries for the Atlanta College Park district. Dr. Crawford has preached, lectured and taught extensively both nationally and internationally. Her extensive list of publications including, Hope in the Holler, was published by Westminster John Knox.

Mr. Drew Denton received his M.Div. from Candler School of Theology in 2009 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion.  His research focuses on antebellum American Catholicism, although his latest article, which he is honored to be publishing in the Methodist Review, prominently features nineteenth-century Methodists as well.  His personal, pastoral, and academic interest in the borderlands between Catholicism and Protestantism extends back into the Reformation period, an era he especially enjoys teaching about in the Course of Study School.  A Catholic layman of Protestant heritage (including one Methodist grandfather!), he is an active leader in the adult education ministries at his local parish.

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. 

The 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.

The 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. 

The 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.

The 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). 

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.

The 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.

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.

The 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.

The 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.

Ms. Sarah McDonald is currently a Ph.D. student 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 an Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary and an Master of Arts in English at the University of Iowa.

The 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.

The 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.

The Reverend Tavye Morgan is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a member of the North Georgia Conference. She obtained her Master of Divinity form Candler School of Theology, Emory University and a Masters of Clinical Mental Health from Mercer University. She has served in several congregations in the North Georgia Conference both as a senior pastor and as an associate pastor. She is a licensed therapist, certified Spiritual Director, Enneagram coach, seminar and retreat leader. She works at Lullwater Counseling in Decatur and volunteers as a counselor at Positive Impact.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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.

The 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 Shively T. J. Smith is a doctoral candidate in New Testament Studies at Emory University. Her research area includes studies in 1 Peter, Hellenistic Jewish Diaspora literature and studies, and call narratives. She is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Shively began working with the Course of Study School while completing here Master of Divinity as a student assistant, and has been a faculty member for Course of Study while completing her PhD. Shively teaches both levels of New Testament for the Course of Study. She is the spouse of Reverend Brian R. Smith and mother of two beautiful little girls. 

Mr. Kyle Tau is currently a PhD student in Emory University's Graduate Division of Religion.  He graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a BA in Theology and Philosophy and from the Candler School of Theology with an MTS degree.  His core interests are in narrative theology, the doctrine of the human person (identity, desire, embodiment and sensory experience), liturgical and sacramental theology, and the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar.  He is an active member of Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta. 

The 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. 

Dr. 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. 

The Reverend Dr. Brady Whitehead, Jr. is a retired ordained elder of the Memphis Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He is also retired from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee where he taught in the Religion Department for thirty-two years, serving also at various times as Chaplain, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Dean of the School of Humanities. He has served as Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Memphis Theological Seminary and as Adjunct Professor of Old Testament at The Evangelical Seminary of Almaty, Kazakhstan. He co-taught with Dr. Charles Page in the Holy Land on two occasions, has taught in the Emory Course of Study each summer since 1979, teaches Old and New Testament courses in both the Alabama COS and the Tennessee COS extension schools, and served as the first director of the latter. He has led Bible studies in churches and districts in thirty-six states and the District of Columbia.  In 2008 he led the Bible Study at the meeting of the Memphis Annual Conference. "Of all the teaching I have done," said Brady, "teaching the ministers in the Course of Study has been the most rewarding."

The 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.  

The 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.