Léonce B. Crump Jr.
Founding Pastor, Renovation Church
Pastor Léonce B. Crump Jr. is an activist, author, social commentator, and the founding pastor of Renovation Church. In 2006 he felt called to plant a transcultural, socially conscious church, and through prayerful seeking of direction settled on the urban core of Atlanta. In early 2008 he and his wife Breanna moved to Atlanta to begin the process of planting Renovation Church, and in 2009 Pastor Léonce was assessed and approved as a member of the Acts 29 church-planting network, which he now serves as an executive board member. Renovation Church launched publicly on January 16, 2011 and since has baptized hundreds of new Christians, grown significantly, and continues to be an example of a transcultural, community oriented ministry that partners with the city of Atlanta, for its overall good.
Originally from Louisiana and raised Catholic, Pastor Léonce began following Jesus at age 16. He has been in vocational ministry of some kind for 14 years, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and holds Masters degrees in Criminal Justice, with a focus on Case Law (University of Tennessee), Missional Leadership (Resurgence Theological Training Center), and is finishing his Masters of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary this year. Most recently, his book Renovate was released in February of 2016 focusing on “changing who you are by loving where you are.”
Léonce and his wife Breanna have lived in the Grant Park community of Atlanta for 7 years, and have three children.
Mary Jo Sharp
Author, Speaker, Founder of Confident Christianity
Mary Jo is a former atheist from the Pacific Northwest who thought religion was for the weak-minded. She now holds a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and is the first woman to become a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mary Jo is an assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University, on faculty with Summit Ministries, an author with Kregel Publications and B&H Publications, author of the top-selling Bible study, “Why Do You Believe That?” and has produced a new DVD Bible Study with LifeWay Resources. A clear communicator with a heart for people, she finds great joy in sharing the deep truths of her Lord and Savior.
Lead Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Atlanta
A native of Houston, TX and a graduate of Baylor University, John received an MA from Dallas Theological Seminary. After serving with two church plants, John was sent out with a core team to plant Cornerstone Church in the Historic West End of Atlanta.
He and his wife, Shaundra, have been married for eight years. In his spare time you will find John reading, writing, playing basketball and coming out on top in games of Monopoly.
Dr. Daniel B. Wallace
Senior Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
Dan is Senior Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (has taught there for more than 28 years) and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. He earned a B.A. at Biola University (1975) with a major in biblical studies and minor in Greek; graduated magna cum laude from Dallas Seminary with a ThM degree (1979), with the equivalent of a major in Old Testament studies and a double major in New Testament Studies; graduated summa cum laude from Dallas Seminary with a PhD in New Testament studies (1995).
He has written, co-authored, edited, or contributed to more than two dozen books. As an internationally known Greek New Testament scholar, Wallace has been a consultant for four Bible translations—ESV, TNIV, New King James Bible, and New English Translation. He has also contributed articles to the ESV Study Bible and the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible.
Executive Director, Eikon Ministries
While attending the University of Memphis on an athletic scholarship, Soup was invited to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) event, and December 5, 1981, he surrendered his heart and life to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That day, his life was radically changed. Upon completing his eligibility at the college formerly known as “Memphis State”, Soup began to work with FCA in the inner city schools of Memphis, TN.
After working for several years with different ministries, including FCA, Youth for Christ, Neighborhood Housing Opportunity, as well as pastoring a church for 7 years, Soup felt the need to start a leadership and discipling ministry for kids in the inner city. In 1997, he established Eikon Ministries. Soup currently serves as Executive Director of Eikon Ministries, and has 11 staff members on his team.
Soup met the beautiful Linda in 1982 at Memphis State, and 2 years later they were married. Presently they reside in the Binghampton community, in the inner city of Memphis. Soup and Linda have four children: Antonio, LaSaundra, Jonathan, and Tabitha, as well as their daughter-in-law Janis, and 3 grandkids, Kecia, Kendra, and CaMaih.
Dr. John Bryson
Co-Founder & Pastor, Fellowship Memphis
Born and raised in Harlan, Kentucky, John spent eleven years in Denton, Texas before moving to Memphis in 2003. He married his wife, Beth, in 1994 and they are the proud parents of Brooke, Beck, Bo, Boss, Blair and Bayne.
John holds a doctorate in leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary along with a master’s in biblical studies from Dallas Seminary and a master’s in business from the University of North Texas. He is the author and presenter of College Ready and the lead writer and co-presenter of 33 The Series with Authentic Manhood. John travels the country consulting and investing in churches, leaders and great ideas. You can keep up with John on his blog and by following him on Twitter.
Women’s Discipleship Advisor, Grace Church, South Carolina
Chrystie Cole is the Women’s Discipleship Advisor at Grace Church in the Upstate of South Carolina. The mission of Grace Church’s Ezer ministry is to help women become mature disciples by equipping them to follow Jesus in all areas of their lives. To that end, Chrystie has focused on creating resources that provide a biblical perspective on areas that are often culturally gray such as identity, sexuality, body, and body image. She is a contributor and editor to Grace Church’s Biblical Femininity study and author of the Redeeming Sexuality and Body Matters studies. Chrystie and her husband Ken live in Greenville, S.C., and together parent a teenage son, Cameron.
Dr. Corey Latta
Contributor to the Downline Builder and Online Resources
Corey has a B.A. in Biblical studies, M.A. in New Testament Studies, M.A. in English, and Ph.D. in Literature. He has taught in Christian higher education and served in ministry for over ten years. A few of his passions in ministry include teaching biblical interpretation, creating discipleship relationships, and helping people see God’s purpose for their lives.
Corey writes and teaches on C. S. Lewis, Christian Worldview, Theology and Literature, New Testament Studies, Apologetics, and Biblical Theology. He has published several books, including Election and Unity in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Functioning Fantasies: Ideology, Theology, and Social Conception in the Fantasies of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, When the Eternal Can Be Met: The Bergsonian Theology of Time in C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and W. H. Auden, C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing, and (forthcoming) Chasing Adam: A Return to Being Christian. Corey’s poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction have appeared in several journals.
Corey and his wife Jennifer have two sets of twin children, Justice and London, and Augustus and Emma Jane.
CEO & Executive Director, Downline Ministries
Shad Berry serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director for Downline Ministries. He is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in Business Management as a member of the university’s Emerging Leader program. Shad spent the first 11 years of his professional career in his family’s 40-year old communications firm, Memphis Communications Corporation. Shad served as a Vice President after spending several years as a Sales Professional and Sales Manager with the company before being led to Downline. Shad and his wife Veronica are also alumni of the Downline Institute and are members of First Evangelical Church where Shad serves as an elder and co-leads a Sunday School class. The Berry’s have four children, Ainslee, Abbie, Jack, and Ann Claire.
Dr. Kennon Vaughan
President of Downline Ministries; Lead Pastor of Harvest Church, Memphis
Kennon Vaughan serves as the President of Downline Ministries and the Lead Pastor of Harvest Church in Memphis, TN.
Kennon’s formal theological training includes a Masters of Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary (2008), and a Doctor of Ministry from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (2011).
In 2006, Kennon founded Downline Ministries, which seeks to encourage a restoration of biblical discipleship in and through the local church. Today there are over forty churches in the Memphis community that utilize the Downline Institute as a means of equipping their leaders to make disciples and nearly 200 pastors and lay leaders are being trained each year in Memphis alone. Downline also has many live institutes along with online communities all over the English-speaking world, where many more are receiving the discipleship training that Downline offers.
In October 2013, Harvest Church was planted in Memphis, TN with Kennon serving as the lead pastor. The hope of Harvest is to establish a gospel-driven, disciple-making church that God might use to catalyze and encourage a movement of other like-minded churches in the near future. In its first year, Harvest has experienced great favor from God and tremendous growth.
While pastoring a church and directing a nonprofit keeps Kennon very busy, he views his role as daddy to 4 little boys as his most exciting and challenging role yet. He and his wife Kathryn, along with their sons Caleb, Luke, Jonathan, and David reside in Memphis where they are enjoying immensely this season of life and the opportunities that have been placed before them to serve Jesus.
Founder, Dandelion Resourcing
Alex Absalom leads Dandelion Resourcing, which exists to resource leaders, churches, networks and denominations in creating missional and naturally supernatural cultures, which will consistently produce disciple-making disciples of Jesus.
Based at Grace Church in Long Beach CA, he serves on the senior team as Leader of Missional Innovation. Together with Hannah and their three teenage sons, Alex is a missionary to the USA from England. This means that he speaks with a funny accent, drinks his tea hot, and loves football of the round ball variety!
You can connect with Alex online, @alexabsalom.
Executive Vice President, Renewal Ministries
As an author and a speaker, one of Jani Ortlund’s chief goals in life is to connect women with the Word of God. As Executive Vice President of Renewal Ministries, God is using her in women’s conferences both in the United States and abroad.
Jani’s first book, Fearlessly Feminine (Multnomah, 2000), encourages women to boldly embrace God’s unique design for them as women. Her second book, His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy: Living the Ten Commandments and Giving Them to Our Children (Crossway, 2007) demonstrates the relevance of the Ten Commandments for today and offers practical ways to live them out and teach them to the children in your life.
Besides conference speaking and writing, Jani is a pastor’s wife, mother, grandmother, and former elementary school teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education. Jani is married to Rev. Dr. Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., author, former seminary professor, and pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ortlunds have four married children and twelve grandchildren, serving Christ throughout the United States and Great Britain. When Jani is not speaking, writing, or visiting family, you’ll find her in her garden, enjoying tea with a friend, or taking a long walk with her beloved husband!
You can connect with Jani online, @janiortlund.
Dr. Richard Pratt
President, Third Millennium Ministries
As President of Third Millennium Ministries, Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr., is actively involved in all aspects of the ministry. He also travels extensively to evangelize and teach. Richard holds a Th.D. in Old Testament Studies from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Roanoke College. He is the general editor of the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, a translator for the New Living Translation, and a Christian theology consultant for the Islamic Encyclopedia. Richard has authored numerous articles and books, including: Pray with Your Eyes Open, Every Thought Captive, Designed for Dignity, He Gave Us Stories, as well as commentaries on both Chronicles and Corinthians. Dr. Pratt taught at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, and Orlando, FL, for 21 years and chaired the Old Testament Department in Orlando.
You can connect with Dr. Pratt online at @drrichardpratt.
Director, Memphis Teacher Residency
David Montague is the founder and executive director of the Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR), an urban teacher residency began in 2008. David is also currently a member of the Pahara Aspen Institute Education Fellowship. Prior to MTR, David served for two years (2005-2007) with Campus Crusade for Christ in East Asia.
From 2000-2005, David was the Executive Director of Service Over Self, an urban home repair ministry. From 1987-2000, David was an investment broker with Morgan Keegan & Co., and served as Managing Director from 1993-2005.
A lifetime Memphian, David graduated in 1986 from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He has been married to his wife, Kelli, since 1992 and they have five daughters ranging in age from 22 to 8.
Counselor, Moriah House
Ariyana is constantly recognizing God’s grace as she teaches the bible and makes disciples in her everyday life. Ariyana first recognized God’s grace in her life when she heard the gospel and responded in faith while in college at theUniversity of Illinois at Chicago. A few years later, she moved to Memphis to join the staff of Downline Ministries.
While at Downline, she served as the Women’s Director for the Emerging Leaders program for 6 years. Those years shaped her heart for discipleship as she poured into women from all different backgrounds. After several years of volunteering with Moriah House, a long-term recovery program for women and their children, she joined its staff in 2014 as a counselor who walks with women through their recovery.
Ariyana also teaches at the Downline Institute in Memphis and Little Rock. She has spoken at the past five Downline Summits, international discipleship conferences, youth conferences, and women’s retreats.
Her passion for discipleship and the Word of God is contagious. She desires to help people recognize their thirst for the Lord through the study of His Word. She is amazed every day that God chooses her to teach His Word. She enjoys building friendships that cross cultural and geographical lines.
In her free time, she loves traveling, Netflix and trying new Memphis restaurants.
Pastor and Church Unique Navigator
Jason Stewart has served churches in his home state of Tennessee plus Seattle, WA and Northern CA over the last two decades. As a pastor and Church Unique Navigator, Jason has guided churches and organizations to catalyze movement for fruitfulness in their vision and strategy. His expertise lies with developing strategic ministries based upon clarified vision, team synergy, and a disciple-making first heartbeat.
Jason recently served as Discipleship Pastor for Bridgeway Christian Church in the Sacramento region where he led BCC to reshape its vision to focus on Jesus’ methods of disciple-making through missional communities. He continues to serve as Adjunct Faculty for William Jessup University in their Masters of Leadership program.
Jason, wife Kelly, and their four children, including a son adopted from Ethiopia, recently relocated to the Middle TN area to continue their ministry calling. His education includes a Master of Arts in Leadership and Education from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Kathryn trusted Jesus as her Savior at a young age. She was blessed to have parents who didn’t just tell her about God, but loved Him lavishly before her. After graduating from college, she decided to pursue opportunities for research and family studies in Washington, D.C. and then Colorado Springs.
These experiences began the stirrings in her heart to help strengthen families. God brought a young man passionate about discipleship, into her life, and love quickly blossomed into marriage.
One of her great joys is walking alongside her husband Kennon in his calling to lead Downline Ministries and shepherd the flock of Harvest Church. When God began to bless them with a house full of little boys, the connection between discipleship and family began to unceasingly stir in Kathryn’s heart.
She is privileged to spend her days growing by grace in the ministry of motherhood and discipleship in the home with her four boys – ages 9, 7, 6, and 3 – who keep her moving, laughing, and on her knees every day.
Assistant Director of Global Outreach, Downline Ministries
Pepper was born and raised in Southern California. He came to know Christ while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He attended San Diego Christian College and graduated with a bachelor of arts in biblical studies. He later moved to Memphis to attend Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
After graduating, Pepper served in Albania for two years with the International Mission Board. When he returned to Memphis, he met someone who modeled how someone could intentionally build into the life of others with the goal of impacting the whole world for Christ.
In 2002, he moved to Costa Rica and spent a year learning Spanish. Pepper comes to us after having served on a church planting team in the capital city of Honduras. He has traveled to all 50 states and 50 countries internationally.
He went to Honduras single and came back married to a beautiful, godly and gifted young woman named Gabriela. She enjoys investing her life in young women. Pepper enjoys playing basketball, waterskiing and road biking.