Conference Speakers

Rev. E. Eugene Williams
President and CEO of T.R.A.I.L.S. Ministries

Main Session Speaker

"Diversity from the inside out"

Rev. E. Eugene Williams currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Lifeway Christian Fellowship, a distinctly diverse church Body in Beaver Falls, for the past 18 years. He also serves as the President and CEO of T.R.A.I.L.S. Ministries Inc. for 24 years, a ministry that serves incarcerated individuals and their families as they work towards restoration and reunification personally and communally.
Coach Williams, as he is affectionately called, is also an adjunct professor for the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Social Work Program and Geneva College’s Bible Department and Adult Degree Completion Program (ADCP).

Coach Williams once served as the Regional Director for the nationally-recognized Prison Fellowship Ministries, laboring alongside the late Charles Colson. One of Coach Williams’ responsibilities was to work with the Angel Tree Christmas Program and churches across the Northeastern part of the United States, introducing and helping them understand Urban/Suburban partnering.

“Suburban churches and ministries desire to help those in need and often have many resources with which to provide assistance. Urban churches and ministries are often connected to neighborhood leaders who understand the culture and the people of their communities. By joining forces, the power of the Gospel can be demonstrated and communities can be transformed.”

Coach Williams has been married 28 years to his college sweetheart, Valarie, and have two sons; Eddie, 26, and Evan, 23.


Kathy Y. Kinzer-Downs
Director of Multicultural Student Services at Geneva College

Main Session Speaker

"Stepping off the Boat In Order to Stand in a Kingdom Vision"

Kathy Kinzer- Downs, was born in San Diego, but is a native to Calvert County, MD. Kathy came to faith at the age of 16. She has earned degrees from Edinboro University of PA and Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. It was during Kathy’s time at Edinboro where she became a part of a CCO ministry and began to really learn how her faith is a part of every aspect of her life. With a heart for young people, especially young women, Kathy has strong convictions in ministry toward reconciliation, justice and young people understanding their calling, their value and their identity in Christ. She knows her purpose is to be a change agent for this cause unto God’s glory. Currently she has the privilege to share in ministry alongside her husband, Lamont Downs. Together, they work for the CCO in partnership with Geneva College as they seek to bring diversity and unity to Geneva, as well as be a beacon of light to its students. Kathy and Lamont currently reside in Beaver Falls, PA.


College Student Panel
A panel of former and current college students

Main Session

“Living In Color on a Predominately White Campus”

A panel of former and current college students will share their experiences of living and attending classes on primarily white campuses. What are the challenges? How does this environment affect learning? What types of ignorance do these students encounter? What can be learned from these experiences? And finally, how can this knowledge be used to make improvements in the future?



Ricardo Tavárez
Director of Outreach for Madison Square Church

College Students Track

Ricardo is a graduate of Kuyper College, where he studied Bible and International Business. He has served and continues to serve in various ministry roles, which include that of a leadership trainer, mentor, youth ministry leader and community organizer. Ricardo travels as a workshop facilitator, preacher and speaker, often speaking on topics related to cross-cultural ministry. With a passion for cross-cultural ministry and developing urban leaders, Ricardo is the Director of Outreach for Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He’s an Emerging Cohort Leader with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).

“Beyond the Color Line"

It was 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must face the sad fact that at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”  Nearly 50 years later, has anything changed?  Participants in this workshop will discuss the dynamics of diversity and homogeneity in the church and explore the principles of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) as it relates to breaking down ethnic barriers while building community.


Michael Thornhill
Campus Minister, Point Park University

College Student Track

Michael Thornhill, an Afro-Cuban American originally from South Florida, along with his twin brother, were adopted by an interracial family as infants. Around the age of 12, during his parents’ divorce, Michael searched for his place amidst various social circles, but found refuge under the banner of Jesus Christ. Transformed by the Gospel, he began to identify with his creed over race, in light of his freedom in Christ.

After graduating from Slippery Rock University, Michael joined the Coalition of Christian Outreach (CCO) and now works as a campus minister at Point Park University by day and as a salsa instructor in downtown Pittsburgh by night.

“Living for Christ in a Multiracial America: Bridging the Gap When Race Still Matters"

As believers, we find a reservoir of grace for one another when we remember the ocean of grace the Lord pours over us. Likewise, we find a reservoir of appreciation and intrigue for one another's background as we understand all that the Lord uses to develop our own story.

In this session, Michael will invite you into a space where we will learn about and discuss the dynamics of our race and cultures and their influences on our lives in an effort to heal the well-intentioned bruises of color-blindness and rather give room for the flourishing of seeing our backstories as the paint which makes us colorful. All in an effort to live into what Christ gave room for when the scriptures say, paraphrasing "I have come to make a nation out of many nations.”


Marc de Jeu
Pastor of The SOMA Gathering

Pastoral Track

Marc de Jeu is the planting Pastor of The SOMA Gathering, a missional church community in Beaver Falls, PA. He has also served as an Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Beaver, PA, since July of 2009. Before coming to the Beaver County area, he served as a pastor in Franklin, PA. Marc was born in Columbus, OH, and has lived in the Cleveland area; Indianapolis, IN; and most recently here in western PA.

Marc attended Grove City College and the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He is married to Emily, and they live in downtown Beaver Falls with their three children: Joey, Will and Katie.


May the Church BE 'Good News'!

One of the most 'evangelistic' things a congregation can do is move toward a fuller expression of the diversity that characterizes the Kingdom of God—right in its own neighborhood! During this time, we'll look not only at WHY a church body should pray and strive toward a more diverse worshiping community, but HOW your church can start to take those first (sometimes risky) steps.


Laura Pritchard
Director of Multicultural Living at Madison Square Church

Pastoral Track

Laura Pritchard currently serves as the Director of Multicultural Living at Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A certified antiracism trainer and organizer, she works to equip the Madison congregation to live, serve and lead in a culturally diverse environment. In her 17-year tenure at the church, Pritchard also worked with a multiethnic group of teens as Madison's Director of Youth Ministry, and she is a frequent consultant to churches on issues of antiracism and diversity.

In her current role, she facilitates Madison's sister-church relationship with Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia—a project that introduced her to her husband Henry Pritchard, a Liberian native. In 2010, Laura Pritchard founded Building Bridges, an initiative that fosters relationships between African Americans and West Africans and enables African-American Christians to see themselves as global citizens.


"The Journey to Unity"
Our church’s Vision is "To Be Diverse Communities Following Christ Together," sounds good, looks really good and feels good too... most of the time! The reality of building a multicultural body of believers is more difficult, painful and costly than one can imagine. And at the same time Paul tells us to make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit; and Jesus prays for us to be one; Psalms 133 says the Lord commands his blessing where there is unity, so this must be an important part of living as Christ’s body.

Laura will share the story of 17 years, on staff at Madison Square, and the intentional efforts of a church called to persevere in the work of racial reconciliation with justice. In this workshop we will hear one church’s story and engage in a conversation with those who are leading, serving or just considering how to be a multicultural congregation.



Dr. Bernardo Michael
Special Assistant to the President and Provost for Diversity Affairs at Messiah College

Faculty/Administration Track

Bernardo Michael is a professor of history and Special Assistant to the President and Provost for Diversity Affairs at Messiah College, PA. He interest in questions of inclusion emerges out of his experiences of living and working in India, Nepal and the United States. His research interests also include statemaking and colonialism in South Asia, which form the subject of the recent book Statemaking and Territory in South Asia: Lessons from the Anglo-Gorkha War, 1814-1816 (Anthem Press, 2012).


“The Imperative for Inclusion in the 21st Century”

Within American higher education, the imperative to create a culture of inclusion that embraces equity and diversity has emerged out of a particular history of struggles for equality and inclusion over the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the 21st century world of global and intercultural engagement, the struggles by the dispossessed can provide the theoretical and practical ingredients needed to create a culture of inclusion that transcends national boundaries and permeates all walks of life.

At the same time these new imperatives face possibilities and challenges as they navigate the terrain of Christian colleges with their own unique institutional and theological histories. This session will seek to understand these developments and give participants an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns from their respective vantage points at Geneva College.


Don Woo
Dean for Ethnic Diversity and Multicultural Programs at Trinity Christian College

Faculty/Administration Track

Don Woo is the Dean for Ethnic Diversity and Multicultural Programs and Assistant Professor of Education at Trinity Christian College. Before joining the Trinity faculty in 2004, Don spent 33 years in PK-8 Christian education, serving as a middle grades teacher for 18 years and as an administrator for 15 years. Don continues to serve the PK-16 community by assisting Christian Schools International’s (CSI) Accreditation Board, providing professional development for local Christian schools, and as a mentor for teachers in high-need schools.

Since joining Trinity Christian College, Don has partnered with high need and hard-to-staff school districts, gaining a better understanding of various underrepresented populations. His current areas of interest include fostering multicultural student leadership, creating inclusive college classrooms, examining teachers’ motives for choosing to work in high-need school communities and promoting effective ways to develop biblically based multicultural relationships in PK-16 communities and local churches. Don and his wife, Kay, have been married for 43 years. They have two married sons and three (soon to be four) grandchildren. Don serves as an elder, mini-church leader, and greeter at Faith Reformed Church in Dyer, Indiana.


“Creating an Inclusive Environment”
Workshop participants will discuss several questions aimed to stimulate self-reflection and evaluation of both their thinking and methods when connecting with people from diverse backgrounds. Participants will discuss whom the people are that reflect diversity in their campuses environment, and who might be missing from the picture? What opportunities exist for building community? What opportunities exist for encouraging dialogue across differences? And how are students involved so that they are honing leadership skills in a diverse context? Please join us for this interactive and informative session.



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