Guest Speakers

 We are fortunate to be able to offer Sunday guest speakers, once a month, to enrich our souls, enlighten our hearts and challenge our minds.



Dr. Andrew (Andy) Root – January 16, 2022

Andrew Root, PhD (Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of three volume Ministry in a Secular Age series (The Congregation in a Secular Age, The Pastor in a Secular Age, and Faith Formation in a Secular Age), and The End of Youth Ministry?.  He has also authored Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross and Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.  Root puts together theology and storytelling to explore how ministry leads us into encounter with divine action.  His book The Relational Pastor  as well as a four book series called A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry (titles include Taking Theology to Youth Ministry, Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry, Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry, and Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry) break new ground in this direction.  In 2012, his book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry (with Kenda Creasy Dean) was Christianity Today’s Book of Merit.  He has written a number of other books on ministry and theology such as The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being, The Promise of DespairRevisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation and Relationships Unfiltered.  Andy has worked in congregations, parachurch ministries, and social service programs. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Kara, two children, Owen and Maisy, and their dog. When not reading, writing, or teaching, Andy spends far too much time watching TV and movies.



Neal Watkins

Joining us in person, Neal Watkins is the Minister for Congregational Life of the Florida Conference of the United Church or Christ. He and his wife, Pam, live in Vero Beach, Fla., with their children, Casey and Caleb. Additionally, for the Florida Conference, Neal serves as liaison to the Youth Ministry Task Force, the EcoJustice Ministry Team, the Anti-Racism Ministry Team, the WISE Ministry Team, and the Justice Advocacy & Action Network. He is also participating in the Sacred Conversations to End Racism Facilitator Training under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Velda Love.

Dr. Andrew Sung Park

Andrew Sung Park is a Korean American Methodist theologian. Park teaches at United Theological Seminary in Trotwood, Ohio. He specializes in systematic theology, global theology, cross-cultural theology, Asian American liberation theology, Christian mysticism, and the relationship between religion and science. The Wounded Heart of God is Dr. Andrew Sung Park’s first seminal work (1991) on challenging and expanding traditional Christian doctrines–specifically in this case, the Doctrine of Hamartiology (Sin)–with the concept of Han (or Haan). 

Beth Jarvis

Beth Jarvis serves as the director of the Ministry Resource Center at Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University in Milligan, Tennessee. Jarvis is an ordained minister in the Christian church and brings 14 years of experience with non-profit Christian organizations. She most recently served as the care team coordinator for Christian Mission Fellowship International (CMFI) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her role involved coordinating pastoral care and programming for over 220 missionaries in 25 different countries. Jarvis earned her bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Point University and her Master of Divinity from Emmanuel Christian Seminary. 

Tripp Fuller

Tripp Fuller is an American theologian, minister, professor, and broadcaster. He is the founder and host of Homebrewed Christianity, one of the most downloaded theology programs in podcasting. He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology and Science at the University of Edinburgh.


Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. He also occasionally teaches at The Bridge in Abbotsford. Through his books and seminars, Brad shares the good news that God is Love, perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. He teaches others how to encounter God through the practice of ”listening prayer,” through which God’s love heals wounded hearts and empowers us to heal this broken world. 

Chuck DeGroat

Chuck DeGroat is associate professor of pastoral care and counseling at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan, and former teaching pastor of City Church San Francisco and executive director of City Church’s Counseling Center. 


Thomas Jay Oord

Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. Oord is a best-selling and award-winning author, having written or edited more than twenty-five books. He directs a doctoral program at Northwind Theological Seminary and the Center for Open and Relational Theology. A twelve-time Faculty Award-winning professor, Oord teaches at institutions around the globe. Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, open and relational theology, science and religion, and the implications of freedom and relationships for transformation. 



Rev. Vertigan is the Conference Minister in the Florida Conference and a member of First United Church of Christ in Orlando. He began serving as Conference Minister on Jan. 1, 2015. Engaging the community beyond the church is vitally important, and John is building on the UCC’s relationships with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Fair Food Program, Equality Florida, NextGen Climate Change, and other wider church and community partners with whom we can advocate a just peace for all people and for the earth.

John serves as a member of the United Church of Christ Board and on the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ Insurance Board.


Danielle Shroyer, is an author, speaker, spiritual director, and former pastor. A founding member in the emerging church movement, Danielle served as the pastor of one of the nation’s first independent emerging communities of faith for nearly a decade. Her primary goal as a pastor was to help people going through a season of spiritual deconstruction find healthy, sustainable, and meaningful ways to reconstruct their faith.


Bob Goff is the New York Times Best-Selling Author of Love Does, as well as an attorney who founded Love Does, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq, and Somalia. Bob is a sought-after speaker for leadership, church and university events, inspiring current and future influencers to get to the “do” part of life. Choosing to live audaciously, Bob connects to audiences in a powerfully inspirational, yet down to earth manner. Love Does has now been translated into ten languages.

We can’t wait to meet you!