Rev. Dr. Herbert Davis | Nehemiah Christian Center
Herbert Reynolds Davis maintains an active academic, ecclesiastical and advocacy profile engaging: Church Planting, Community Organizing and Advocacy, Christian Theology, Leadership Development and Organizational Consulting. Herbert holds a Bachelor degree in Religion, the Master of Divinity degree, the Doctor of Ministry and the Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership. He has earned professional certification in Leadership Education.
He served in academia as the Executive Vice President of a Title IV theological institution for more than a decade. Herbert has participated in broad based community organizing for over two decades through Metro IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation), serving on both local and national Strategy Teams. He regularly speaks to civic and faith-based groups effecting positive spiritual and social change. He is often requested to offer trainings for church leaders, nonprofit leadership teams and community organizations. Dr. Davis is the President of HRD Strategic Development LLC which offers training and development for religious organizations, higher education institutions, non-profits and small businesses. Herbert is the author of three books: The Visitation: Your Defining Moment in the Presence of God; The Christian Leadership Blueprint: Seven Principles for Building Something Great, Transformative, and Lasting; and Graced for This.
Herbert is ordained in the Church of God in Christ. He has served faithfully on the local, statewide, national, and international levels for more than thirty years. Locally he serves as the Senior Pastor of the multicultural Nehemiah Church. Herbert serves as a District Superintendent and Chairman of Ordination within North Carolina Second Jurisdiction. He has used his gifts through service both nationally and internationally with the Annual Leadership Conference, World Missions Department, the Pastors and Elders Council as well as the Education Commission. Herbert finds greater meaning and inspiration of life from his wife Psiyina and his four adult daughters.
Dr. Cullen McKenney | (formerly) Duke Memorial United Methodist Church
Dr. Cullen McKenney began organizing in 2014 while serving as a minister at Duke Memorial UMC. The congregation was actively engaged in a number of ministries meeting the immediate needs of people in the community around issues of food insecurity, homelessness, and refugee resettlement. As a new minister, he wanted to get to know the people of the congregation. At the same time, Cullen was invited to work with a Pastoral Intern from Duke Divinity school, the (spectacular) Casey Stanton (check out her current project here: https://discerningdeacons.org). Casey had a background in organizing and together they did over 100 one-on-one meetings with members of the church. They noticed that members of the congregation were growing in both their love for their neighbors through these ministries, and also growing in their frustration/anger at the systems perpetuating issues around things like food insecurity and homelessness.
At the time, Durham CAN was deeply engaged in an affordable housing campaign to pressure the City to build affordable housing units in downtown Durham along the proposed light rail line. One of those sites was literally across the street from Duke Memorial. The congregation attended several meetings, and was inspired by CAN's work. The church joined CAN and hosted an important meeting that secured support from City Council to build 82 units of affordable housing on Jackson Street -- the current Willard Street Apartments (https://dhic.org/property/willard-street/). CAN's work has inspired Cullen to serve as a member of the Clergy Caucus (2015-2019) and on the Strategy Team (2019-present). It is an honor to be a part of this organization and the work we do together to effect concrete positive change for Durham.
Rev. Jacqueline Brett | Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Rev. Jacqueline Brett (she/they) is Lead Minister of the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, located on Garrett Road in Durham. Her ministry is devoted to making a transformative and equitable difference in the world by taking an active stand for collective liberation both within and beyond the congregation’s walls. Rev. Brett received M.Div.and MALS degrees from Meadville Lombard Theological School (Chicago) where she was also a member of the Board of Trustees and received numerous awards, including those in preaching and religious leadership. She currently serves on the executive team and as a pane chair of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Ministerial Fellowship Committee, which guides the competencies and credentialing of UU ministers in the U.S. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), which advances human rights globally.
Rev. Brett hails from Brooklyn, NY and has two adult sons; she and her family have lived in North Carolina since 2003. She finds balance through her meditation practice, by walking at least 5 miles each day, and whenever possible, gathering with friends to share a good meal and to explore art, live music, dance, and theater.
Bishop Clarence Laney | Monument of Faith
Pastor Molly Brummett Wudel | Emmaus Way
Elder James Blake | Fisher Memorial United Holy Church
Rev. Dr. Tim Conder | (Formerly) Emmaus Way
Rev. Dr. Timothy Conder has been organizing with Durham CAN since 2005. In addition to having served as a Co-Chair of CAN, he has also been a Co-Chair of the Clergy Caucus. Some of his priorities with CAN have included leadership in the criminal justice action that resulted in CAN's historic victory to secure a policy of written consent-to-search automobiles and strategic shifts toward community policing by the Durham Police Department; organizing in the statewide "10% is Enough" campaign addressing predatory lending practices by banks headquartered in NC; and representing CAN in the Metro IAF "Do Not Stand Idly By" national gun violence campaign. This latter action included leading satellite actions targeting renegade gun sellers and gun manufacturers like Sturm, Ruger, and Co. Tim has also been deeply engaged in organizing and reorganizing the internal structures and practices of CAN.
Tim was the Founding Pastor (2005-2018) of the CAN member institution, Emmaus Way, building the congregation with a dynamic team including Pastors (and CAN Strategy Team members) Daniel Rhodes and Molly Brummett Wudel around organizing principles and practices.
In 2020, he co-founded the Black Mountain School of Theology & Community <blackmountainschool.org>. The school is a collective of organizers, scholars, and activists who teach congregational and civic leaders how to build and revitalize their institutions through collaborative actions of durable social justice. He currently serves a Co-President of the school with Dr. Daniel Rhodes. The school is currently working with 30 congregations in NC and around the country. They have begun teaching virtual courses to individuals and have vital partnerships with the Freedom Center for Social Justice (Charlotte, NC), the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice at Vanderbilt University, and the Miller Institute at Pittsburgh Seminary.
Tim has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from UNC Chapel Hill researching the how leaders negotiate Protestant heritages/commitments to construct identities as social justice activists in an ethnography of the NAACP-convened Moral Movement in NC. Tim is Adjunct Professor at UNC Chapel Hill teaching courses on social justice in education and qualitative research. He is also a Part-time Professor at Shaw University Divinity School teaching courses on organizing leadership, theological writing, and action research.
Tim is also the author or co-author of three books for the church including Organizing Church: Grassroots Practices for Embodying Change in Your Congregation, Your Community, and Our World (Chalice Press, 2017) along with Dan Rhodes. He is a co-editor and co-author of an academic book, Mentoring Students of Color: Naming the Politics of Race, Social Class, Gender, and Power (Brill/Sense, 2019). Tim has also published many other journal articles and book chapters including forthcoming articles on a moral vision of action research and an a new geography of community-based education.
Matthew V. Soffer, Senior Rabbi | Judea Reform Congregation
Rabbi Matthew V. Soffer lives in Durham with his wife and three children.
Rabbi Soffer was ordained as a graduate of the New York Campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He served at Temple Israel of Boston since 2009, beginning as a rabbinic intern and finishing as Senior Associate Rabbi. As a Student Rabbi, he served at Main Line Reform Temple and Congregation Beth Elohim, both in New York. His work has included portfolios in Social Jusice and in outreach to and engagement of Jews in their 20s and 30s.
Among his honors are the Religious Action Center's 50 Faces of Justice, Newsweek/Daily Beast's 10 Rabbi's to Watch, and NFTY President's Award. His publications include "Global Swarming: Can We Become Worthy of Creation," CCAR Press, 2017; several commentaries and essays on My Jewish Learning, on Reform Judaism.org, and in The Times of Israel. His work also includes music composition and performance, comedy, and community organizing.
The topic of his Rabbinic Thesis, “Listening for Laughter: Sensing Humor in the Babylonian Talmud,” is a wonderful window on his character and style.
You can follow him on Twitter @MattSoffer and listen to his podcast, Pulpit on the Commons.
Reverend Tanya Johnson | Abundant Hope Christian Church
Reverend Tanya Johnson is an Associate Pastor at Abundant Hope Christian Church. Rev. Johnson is also a professional who works for Duke Hospital. She is a native of Durham, NC and born to preacher/teacher parents. Rev. Johnson lived in public housing in her youth, which has fueled her passion for Affordable Housing. Rev. Johnson has been an active member of CAN for over four years. She has been the lead on several actions calling for DHA accountability, City Council Accountability and CAN to do internal reflection on how we engage and consider our work based on race, gender and socio-economic status. Rev. Johnson is a voice of reason for the CAN organization. As a leader, she is not afraid to challenge power in order to advocate for all. Her faith is pivotal in all decisions she makes. She does not take any assignment given to her lightly. It comes with prayer, research and analysis.