Featured Speakers

Kelly Edmiston
After a decade spent ministering to students and families in domestic and international contexts, Kelly Edmiston has developed a passion to equip the church for works of ministry. Ministry, particularly for women, can be a lonely and exhausting journey in which the minister’s inner life becomes a victim of neglect. Her class, “The Neglected Soul of the Minister,” will explore practical ways of addressing this reality on Monday at 10 A.M. at Summit this year.

Kelly, originally from Abilene, Texas, is currently the Student and Family Minister at the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, TX. She will complete a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University in May 2017. Her areas of interest and research are feminist biblical studies, spiritual formation, and practical theology. She enjoys “suburban life” with her husband Ben and two sons, Mason and Hunter.

When loving God and neighbor (and teaching others to do so) becomes a career, personal cultivation of spiritual growth can fall by the wayside. Kelly will discuss ways to prevent burnout and attend to our own souls.

Sara Barton
Monday morning at 11 a.m., as a Theme Speaker, Sara Barton will bring together her many years of experience and her heart of deep faith as she shares insights on “The Greatest Commandments.” Before becoming the University Chaplain at Pepperdine University, Sara served for eight years, with her husband John, in Uganda, Africa. Sara was assistant professor of religion for ten years at Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Michigan and while there she also served as campus minister and as small groups minister at the Rochester Church of Christ. In her book, A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle, Sara reflects on her call to ministry, living missionally, and her lifelong spiritual journey.

Sara’s gift of proclaiming God’s truths will encourage all of us as we come together to study the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jack Maxwell
In the ten years since Jacob’s Dream (http://highered.acu.edu/about-acu/jacobs-dream/) was designed and created on the ACU campus, many thousands of people have visited this special place. Jack Maxwell, the artist for Jacob’s Dream will share the “Dream behind Jacob’s Dream” at Summit. An ACU art professor, Jack’s highly refined talent is recognized by the art community far and wide. The ACU administration invited Jack to create Jacob’s Dream in conjunction with the university’s centennial celebration in 2006. In celebration of this tenth anniversary, Jack will tell the intriguing and inspiring story about his dream for the project and how it came to fruition. We invite you to attend hearing the dream behind Jacob’s Dream, on Tuesday, Sept.20, at 8:30 p.m. at Jacob’s Dream.

“The things I want from this piece seem almost pretentious,” said Maxwell, who hopes to draw people closer to God with his work. Jacob’s Dream is more than just a work of art, the sprawling sculpture should be viewed from multiple angles to begin taking it in. After hearing Jack share the story of his vision and design of the sculpture, the biblical narrative of Jacob’s dream will take on new meaning. We invite you to attend hearing the dream behind Jacob’s Dream,  on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 8:30 p.m. at Jacob’s Dream.

Tony Fernandez
ACU is honored that Tony Fernandez will speak at 2016 Summit about the amazing ways God’s Kingdom is breaking out in Cuba. He serves in a unique position as the representative for Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry. The Versalles Church of Christ in Matanzas, Cuba, where Tony also preaches, began as a partnership with his parents in 1992. Since then, the congregation, through prayer and evangelism, has grown from 3 to over 400 members and has planted more than 40 other congregations throughout Cuba.

An accomplished bass violinist,Tony has presented concerts both nationally and internationally, including tours of Spain, Austria, Brazil, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and the United States. In 2000 he helped begin the Church of Christ Chamber Choir, which has performed in prestigious events throughout Cuba, including two performances for President Raúl Castro. Tony lives in Matanzas with his wife Liudmila and their daughter Susana.

Eric Wilson
Eric Wilson has been an actor, playwright, professor at a University, Spiritual Director, keynote speaker, an Executive Minister and currently serves as Associate Chaplain at Pepperdine University. But for the majority of Wilson's life he has ministered to people of all walks of life and especially to young people who are desperate to change the world. While traveling throughout such an eclectic journey the recurring theme of realizing the hope of transformation has been prevalent.

This theme of transformation shaped the theatrical work of Wilson and led to receiving a prestigious award at the John F. Kennedy Center early in his career. That award and that theme of transformation led to over a decade of work as a playwright, screenwriter, actor and director. But it was during his doctoral studies at UCLA where this theme of transformation was refined by his study of philosophy and theology.

With the use of theater, spoken word poetry, and storytelling Wilson seeks to pass on best practices for churches, organizations and people seeking substantive transformation in their lives. Abilene Christian University Press is publishing his book, The 7 Irrefutable Laws of Spiritual Growth, which is also his topic for Summit 2016.

Jeff Childers and Phillip LeMasters
A fifteen year friendship of two exceptional men is bound to produce something remarkable. In the case of Jeff Childers and Phillip LeMasters, two remarkable scholars share interests which make for a real treat when they are together. Dr. Jeff Childers is Professor of Bible and Church History at ACU. His broad research interests include early church leaders, history of biblical interpretation, and Eastern Christianity. You can find his recent publications in New Testament Studies and the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity.

Dr. Phillip LeMasters is the priest at St. Luke’s Orthodox Christian Church. He is also a member of the faculty at McMurry University in Abilene where he teaches several religion courses. Like Childers, LeMasters has an interest in ancient expressions of the Christian faith. LeMasters attended Baylor University, Rice University, and Duke University. He is the commentator on Ancient Faith Radio and author of The Forgotten Faith: Ancient Insights for Contemporary Believers from Eastern Christianity (Cascade Books, 2013), The Goodness of God's Creation (Regina Orthodox Press, 2008), and other books on Christian ethics.

Childers and LeMasters will combine their expertise and passion for a lively discussion of the Syrian Church and the Church’s Response to Refugees. Dating back to the 1st Century AD, the Syrian Church provides a contemporary view of early Christianity. Numerous early biblical manuscripts were written in Syriac and are translated into English for accessibility to Christians in the West today. It's sure to be a special afternoon, where we take a long view of the Christian faith and explore ways to live into the peace that God has in store for the community of believers and the world.

Jim Reynolds
The Supreme Court of the United States ratified gay marriages in the highly publicized case of Obergefell v. Hodges during the summer of 2015. Reflecting on “Jesus, the Church, and the Supreme Court,” Jim Reynolds will present a theological perspective on same sex unions at Summit 2016.  Jim’s family law practice spanned more than thirty years, and his preaching ministry has impacted lives for almost five decades. Due to his years of experience and excellent training, Jim is highly qualified to lead the conversation on this issue facing churches today.

Jim has earned bachelor's and master's degrees in theology from Abilene Christian University, a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union, and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. Jim is a licensed marriage and family counselor and has published numerous articles and books and his popular blog addresses current issues of faith and culture.

Jim Gash
Divine Collision tells the story of Jim’s unsuspected friendship with a sixteen-year old Ugandan prisoner, named Henry. The friendship of Jim and Henry endures unyielding difficulty and ultimately reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on thousands of lives. This remarkable experience and unique struggle for freedom led Jim to write Divine Collision by Worthy Publishing.

Jim Gash is director of the Global Justice Program and a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated from Abilene Christian University with a B.A. in finance and from Pepperdine University School of Law. Throughout his career, Jim was clerk to a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals in the Fifth Circuit, he worked for a prestigious law firm and served as the Dean of Students at Pepperdine University School of Law. In 2010, Jim first traveled to Uganda to work on a juvenile justice project. Since then, he has returned to Uganda at least sixteen times. In 2012, he became the special advisor to the High Court of Uganda and in 2013 he was the first American to appear as an attorney in Ugandan Court. Jim is married to Jolene and together they raise their children: Jessica, Joshua, and Jennifer in Malibu, California.