Conference Speakers

Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah
Author, speaker, and educator

Featured Speaker

The Myopia of Color-Blindness:
Living out an Authentic Faith Vision
in a post-Ferguson world

Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Author of several books, including Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for the Changing Church (Mood Press, 2010) and the upcoming Commentary on the Book of Lamentations (IVP Books, 2015).
Dr. Rah is formerly the founding senior pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, a multi-ethnic church focused on urban ministry and living out the values of racial reconciliation.
He currently serves on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners, the Christian Community Development Association, Evangelicals 4 Justice and the Catalyst Leadership Center.
Dr. Rah received his B.A. in Political Science and History/Sociology from Columbia University; his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his Th.M. from Harvard University; his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is currently working towards his Th.D. at Duke University.
Dr. Rah and his wife, Sue, who teaches special education, live in Chicago with their two children Annah and Elijah.


Michelle Ayala-Rivera
Wife, mother, international speaker, and author

Speaker, Panel Member

Diversity Discussions:
Does It Even Matter Anymore?

Michelle Ayala-Rivera is a wife, mother, international motivational speaker, and author of Letters To You, My Friend, and Nuyorican from the Bronx. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. Michelle decided to leave a successful career in engineering to pursue her passion speaking and inspiring others to “Find what you’re passionate about and make somebody pay you to do it.”. She and her husband, Ariel, are currently the leaders of Iron Sharpens Iron, the young adult ministry at Lighthouse Family Community Church as well as the directors of The Sabbath House in Lansdowne, PA, where they live with their son, Ezekiel.


Rev. Wayne Younger
Pastor, Cityview Covenant Church

Speaker, Panel Member

Pastoring Multi-Ethnic Movements for Christ: The Challenge and the Glory

Wayne and Leeann Younger live on Pittsburgh's Northside along with their three children. They are the founding co-pastors of Cityview Covenant Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-socioeconomic church in the Spring Garden section of the city. Wayne has been on the pastoral staff of several multi-ethnic churches and has also worked in leadership at various para-church ministries. He attended Asbury University and is currently enrolled at Trinity School for Ministry seeking a Master's of Divinity.

Multi-ethnic church sounds good. We all love each other. We are committed to each other's best interests. We all want to see our neighbors impacted by the gospel. And yet worship in diversity is still not a reality for most American Christians. In this session we will discuss today's challenges to multi-ethnic Christian community. We will explore solutions to these challenges and identify the Best Practices of multi-ethnic leaders. We will also take time to explore the special opportunities that multi-ethnic communities experience in a divided culture that doesn't realize the depths of the divisions it lives with.


Ricardo Tavárez
Director of Outreach for Madison Square Church


Transformational Ministry:
Urban Community Development

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

The urban setting is fraught with challenges including poverty, racism, and hyper individualism. Yet, the church is called to go, not inward, but outward. Authentic urban ministry requires a movement from a church that lives within its wall to the church that lives in life together with its community. Christian community development is a key for transformation and witness to the power of Jesus Christ. What happens when the church dares to live outside its walls? In this workshop participants will overview a Biblical and theological framework for mission, learn 8 practical principles for Christian community development, and what it means for the Christian living here and now.


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


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.


Marc de Jeu
Pastor of The SOMA Gathering

Panel Member

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.


Rev. Dr. Roger Woodworth
Director of Cross-Cultural Ministries for the Coalition for Christian Outreach

Panel Member

Dr. Woodworth has been married to Wende, his college sweetheart for 44 years. He is a father of two, a grandfather of seven, was the founding pastor to hundreds at an interracial church called New Hope, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the North Side of Pittsburgh and founded New Hope’s community development corporation. Rodger is presently the Director of Cross Cultural Ministries for the Coalition for Christian Outreach and the Lead Pastor for New City Church, a church plant in downtown Pittsburgh. He writes a blog called cross-cultural convergence, is an adjunct seminary professor at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) with a Doctorate of Ministry in Complex Urban Settings and serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry. Rodger’s greatest passion however is for the gospel of grace that saves broken people like him and broken people different than him and makes us all equal at the foot of the cross.


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