New Wilmington Mission Conference

NWMC 2022

COLOSSIANS 3:12

Speakers

Prashan De Visser

 Prashan is the Founder and President of Sri Lanka Unites, a youth movement for hope and reconciliation, in Sri Lanka. He is also the Founder and President of Global Unites, an international youth movement for transforming conflict, with established and emerging movements in 13 countries across the world. Recently Sri Lanka Unites was named one of the Top 20 youth movements of the Commonwealth region and one of the Top 8 Youth movement models to follow. Prashan was the recipient of the Queen’s ‘Points of Light’ award in 2018 , awarded by her Majesty the Queen of England for his exemplary voluntary service to his nation through his work at Sri Lanka Unites.

Prashan completed his MA at the University of Notre Dame in Peace Studies and Public Policy. He was selected as a TEDx speaker at UND and has been featured on NBC, BBC and Al Jazeera for his innovative peacebuilding approach. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, where he majored in International Affairs. He was the first South Asian student to be elected Student Body President at his College.

Prashan returned to Sri Lanka after his Bachelors to initiate the vision for Sri Lanka Unites and is committed to the cause of reconciliation, conflict transformation and youth engagement in Sri Lanka and across the world. Sri Lanka Unites is the largest youth movement in the country for peace today ,with over 25,000 members, 50 full time staff and 10 offices across the country. The movement is committed to the cause of post war reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Under Prashan the movement launched in 2008 and has hosted eleven seasons of Future Leaders’ Conferences for reconciliation. In eleven years these conferences have inspired, trained and mobilized over 5000 student leaders representing every ethnic and religious group in post war Sri Lanka. Prashan also led the expansion of the movement to the Sri Lankan diaspora across the world. Today SLU has chapters among the Sri Lankan diaspora in Melbourne, Toronto, DC, LA, London, and Wellington.

Global Unites was launched as an umbrella movement, in 2015 with the establishment of Congo Unites, a youth movement inspired by Sri Lanka Unites. Today Global Unites has 13 established movements and emerging movements in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Congo, Uganda, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Palestine, Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal and USA. Global Unites has held two global summits in 2015 and 2019. The most recent summit concluded in Nairobi, Kenya bringing together 100 peacebuilders and activists from 18 countries and four continents.

Prashan worked part time as a TV host on Channel One Sri Lanka. He was the host of “Good Morning Sri Lanka (2009-2012). He was also the co-host and co-producer of a foreign policy show named Global Perspectives, which was the highest rated show of the year 2011 on Channel one. Prashan is also an international speaker and trainer in conflict transformation and proactive youth leadership. He has spoken at international youth conferences in Kenya, Pakistan, India, Australia, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC , Malaysia , Indonesia, Canada , UK and USA.

Prashan is a visiting lecturer at Crozer Colgate Seminary, (the alma mater of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King) where he teaches the PhD course on the Theory and Practice of Peace building. He was appointed as a Justice of Peace in the Negambo division of the Western Province in Sri Lanka. He was one of the youngest recipients for this civilian honor. He is the author of the upcoming book named “The Phoenix Generation” , on the role of youth in transforming conflict , to be published later this year.

Website: www.srilankaunites.org / www.globalunites.org

Twitter: @Prashandevisser
E-mail: prashan@srilankaunites.org / prashan@globalunites.org

Francesca Nuzzolese

Conference Pastor

This year, Francesca Nuzzolese will serve our conference in the role of Conference Pastor. In this role, she will facilitate the following activities:

  • Roundtable conversations to debrief the conference experience — at lunch time
  • Meditative Prayer Times (Vespers) — at the end of the day
  • Leading the staff Day of Prayer
  • Individual opportunities for prayer, spiritual guidance and conversation — at different times during the day
  • Coordinating the prayer room

Look out for designated places and times for checking in with your soul and making new soul friends!

Rev. Dr. Francesca Nuzzolese is a pastoral theologian and care practitioner, who fulfills her calling by engaging the academy, the Church, and the needs of the world. She has held tenured teaching positions at Palmer Theological Seminary and Eastern University in PA; at Melbourne School of Divinity in Australia, and most recently at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, where she also served as the Director for the Master of Counseling Ministries. Her main teaching areas are pastoral theology, spiritual formation, pastoral care and counseling, and trauma care. She holds a private practice as a psychotherapist and spiritual director, while continuing to teach and consult with NGOs worldwide.

For the past few years, she has been a committed contributor to our conference in the roles of Adult Speaker (2019), Keynote Speaker (2020), Soul Circle Facilitator (2021-2022), and now Conference Pastor (2022).

Twyla Foreman

Speaker

Twyla Foreman is an award-winning singer/songwriter from west Texas. She is currently serving on the worship team at her local church, as she has done in most every church she has attended. Twyla’s musical accolades date back to her childhood as her parents were ministers and many times they enlisted their children’s help. Twyla has sung on thousands of recording projects through her 30+ years as a studio recording artist crossing all genres. Twyla has released album projects of her own that can currently be found streaming online. She has shared the stage and television screen with many actors and artists over her career. Some include legendary Red Steagall, Pat Green, Ronnie Milsap, Diamond Rio, and Johnny Rodriquez, to name a few. Twyla continues to be called upon for her musical talent by producers and artists wanting her vocal expertise on their projects, while also managing a successful business of her own. God and family have been the center of Twyla’s life. Married for 38 years, she has 3 grown children and 9 grandchildren who love to visit the ranch!

Julie Hokanson

Middle and High School Speaker

Julie Hokanson has been involved in high school ministry for 20 years with Young Life – first as a volunteer leader and then as an Area Director. She now supports the ministry in a part-time capacity. She has spoken at numerous camps and leadership events. Julie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Josh and their daughter, Lizzie, who is four years old. 

Mark Goeller

Sunday Evening Speaker

Mark Goeller recently retired from the US Army Reserves as a Colonel with 26 years of Active
and Reserve service and has also served in multiple full-time ministry and missionary roles over an
unconventional dual military and ministry career. He currently is in transition between positions and is
exploring options for future full-time ministry.

Mark lives with his wife Maria of 17 year and their seven children ages 4 to 14 on a 107-acer
farm in West Virginia. They are adventuring into the “wild and wonderful” West Virginia mountain life
and are experiencing a wide range of activities from farming, animal husbandry, creek stomping,
hunting, and lightning bug catching with their kids!

In the military, Mark served in the Army in Armored Cavalry units standing watch on the front
lines against North Korea and Iraq. He then trained Army ROTC cadets in leadership and values to
become future leaders in the military. Mark served as a strategic planner in a crisis response unit,
surging globally to support senior military leaders develop theater campaign plans. His most recent
assignment was working with FEMA to support any disaster response operation withing the United
States. He was deployed from August to November 2021 to Fort Pickett Virginia during the Afghan
evacuation crisis in support of Operation Allies Welcome.

In ministry, Mark and Maria served as full time missionaries in South Korea focused on North Korea. They then severed in a college ministry role at Azusa Pacific University mentoring students and have served in youth and music ministries in multiple churches. Mark attended seminary and completed a Masters in Executive Leadership and Old Testament studies from Liberty University. His most recent role from 2016 to 2021 was as the Executive Coordinator of the Korean Reconciliation Initiative and Network (KRIN).

Rev. Dr. Mark Mueller

Speaker

The Rev. Dr. Mark Mueller, Executive Director of The Outreach Foundation since October 2020,
served congregations for 22 years in Alabama and Indiana before arriving in 2018 at The
Outreach Foundation as Director of Development. Prior to ministry, Mark worked in the public
school systems of Utah and Arizona as a teacher and administrator. Mark participated in an
African Medical Mission to Tanzania in 2008, in prison ministry, and several Outreach trips over
the years. Over the last four years, Mark has traveled extensively to the Middle East, Europe,
Mexico, and Africa.
Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona, a Master of Educational
Leadership at Brigham Young University, a Master of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree at Columbia Theological Seminary with
an emphasis on Evangelism and New Church Development.
Mark and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Toby Mueller, live in Franklin, Tennessee, and have two married
daughters and four grandchildren. Toby is currently serving as pastor of Historic Franklin
Presbyterian Church.

Hope Italiano Lee

Sunday Morning Worship

Hope Italiano Lee can’t wait to return to NWMC this summer!  Hope just became the Lead Pastor of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia in the fall of 2021, following over a decade of ministry at the beach in Bradenton, Florida.  VPC, the largest Presbyterian church in Virginia,  is a congregation that highly values long-term relationships in ministry and has cultivated relationships with mission partners in Serbia, Ukraine, Kenya, Mexico, Colombia, and Haiti.  Locally, the church started its own non-profit mission wing, called “Belong!” and has stepped up to assist Afghan refugees that have come to the United States through the Washington, DC area. 

 

It through the work of mission at the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma, FL that Hope came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  The ministry so changed her life that she went on to serve a term as the President of the Board of Directors.  Her deep passion is educational advocacy for economically disadvantaged and minority students, particularly those with special needs.  She has spent the last several years as the President of the International Baccalaureate Parent Alliance for her oldest child’s Title I high school, where over 70% of the students live at or below the poverty line.  Her background in ministry is in redevelopment of existing congregations:  helping them to give thanks for where they have been and moving with them boldly forward into God’s great future ahead!

 

Hope is a graduate of Eckerd College, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  She has spoken at conferences all over the country on topics of evangelism, church growth, and mission.  She’s been married to Sung Ho, also a Presbyterian pastor, for the last 20 years.  They are the very proud parents of Anna, Peter, and Maria.  When Hope has a chance to get away from it all, you will always find her exploring one of the National Parks!

George Pendergrass

Speaker

George Pendergrass resides in Hendersonville, TN and attends  Community Church. He’s been an adjunct professor, motivational  speaker, and recording artist. Originally from New York, George has served as a lead singer for gospel choirs and small groups. He has recorded with well known artists such as: Vanessa Williams, U-2, Acappella, Todo, Billy Preston, Amy Grant and Faith Hill, to name a few. He’s appeared on television with John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Maria Shriver, Paramount movies, and soundtracks The Prince of EgyptScrooged and U2’s Rattle and Hum. He is currently a full-time mission mobilizer for Frontier Fellowship. His greatest accomplishment, however, has been to marry his best friend and wife of 37 years, to be a father to a faithful son, and to be a grandfather to two strapping young boys.

Rev. Nancy & Rev Shelvis Smith-Mather

Speakers

 Nancy and Shelvis became friends as teenagers. They were two kids deeply concerned with the world’s brokenness and curious about making a difference for Christ. Their mutual admiration for each other blossomed into friendship, friendship to love, love to marriage, and marriage to a partnership in ministry. 

They first met at the Westminster Schools. Nancy, a widely touted soccer player, led their school to two State Championships and a top ten national soccer rankings. She was voted Team Captain by her peers and a North/South All-Star by the Georgia High School Players Association. In addition, she joined the nation’s top young talent in the US Olympic Development Program. She guided her club team to national prominence and a Region III Championship within the program. Nancy was a superb athlete and a brilliant student, maintaining an “A” average throughout high school and receiving several distinguished academic accolades. She also maintained an “A” average in college, completing double majors in Religion and Sociology. Furman’s Religion Department awarded Nancy the university’s highest academic distinction for student research. While in college, Nancy continued her athletic career, quickly winning the role as the starting Mid-Fielder for the University of Michigan’s Varsity Soccer team. She helped the Wolverines capture a Big Ten Conference Championship and the best NCAA women’s soccer tournament performance in school history. After her sophomore season, she transferred to Furman University, where she helped lead her new team to two more conference Championships and a national ranking. The team also voted Nancy “Team Captain.” A proven leader on and off the field, Nancy led Furman’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes while also serving communities plagued by poverty and racial injustice in the Greenville area. Members of the communities often inspired Nancy because of the tangible ways they exercised their faith through actions. After graduating from college, Nancy traveled to Bolivia, South America, where she once again witnessed Christian using their faith to address poverty and injustice. After returning to the US, she began seminary at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

 Shelvis was a phenomenal three-sport athlete at the Westminster Schools. His notoriety came primarily from football as he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, but he was also the school’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year and a track state champion. Shelvis also deeply loved music and served as President of the School’s Ensemble. In addition, he earned a spot in the Georgia All-State Choir and toured internationally with the Atlanta Boy Choir. Because of these accomplishments and his efforts in class, Westminster awarded Shelvis the top male student award. 

Shelvis often followed his youth minister into Georgia’s youth detention centers as a teenager. There he saw God at work in ways he had not imagined. He met incarcerated young men who radically followed Christ despite their previous gang affiliation and years behind bars. These experiences helped Shelvis better understand the transformative power of God in daunting circumstances.

Deeply curious about ministry, Shelvis completed a double major in Religion and Sociology with a minor in Classical Studies at Furman University. While at Furman, he led the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, sang in the university’s acclaimed choir, and was chapter president of his fraternity. A Team Captain and Honorable Mention defensive back, Shelvis anchored one of the top defenses in the nation. His play helped Furman gain two Conference Championships and a National Championship appearance, where he was named “Player of the Game.” Furman University also awarded him its highest male student award and inducted him into their Leadership Hall of Fame. After graduation, Shelvis completed two master’s degrees at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where he graduated Valedictorian. While at Emory, Shelvis worked through the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, the National Black Presbyterian Caucus, the National Office of the PC(USA), and the National Council of Churches. 

Shelvis and Nancy married in 2005 and together accepted a call to ministry in East Africa (2008). During most of this time, Rev. Nancy Smith-Mather served as the Project Manager for the PCUSA South Sudan Education and Peace Project (SSEPP), the denomination’s most comprehensive educational effort in a country enduring famine, a national economic collapse, civil war, and Africa’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. Shelvis served as Principal of the RECONCILE Peace Institute (RPI) in South Sudan. Along with a team of inspiring South Sudanese peacebuilders, Shelvis contributed to building a nationally recognized peace institute proclaimed by CNN News as boldly “enriching the world.” National Public Radio (NPR) defines RECONCILE’s efforts as bringing peace and healing to communities hurting from decades of war.  

In 2016, the rise of civil war set 10,000 homes ablaze in our town and displaced 70% of the population. As a result, the Smith-Mather family and most of their neighbors moved across the border to Uganda. While living in a town outside the refugee camps, Shelvis and Nancy trained South Sudanese seminarians with skills in counseling survivors of war. Shelvis also worked alongside his South Sudanese colleagues and RPI alumni to facilitate peacebuilding and trauma recovery programs in the refugee camps, while Nancy led the SSEPP. 

 Nancy and Shelvis remain inspired by how South Sudanese Christians often put their faith into action. To build upon these lessons, Rev. Nancy served as a delegate at this summer’s Presbyterian General Assembly on behalf of mission co-workers working with partners across the globe. Rev. Shelvis, on the other hand, is researching the peacebuilding role of the local Church in South Sudan at the University of Oxford. Ultimately, the project allows him to collaborate with South Sudanese partners to create resources addressing the current civil war. Nancy and Shelvis have four children: Jordan (9), Adalyn (8), Nicole (5), and Alice (1 ½). The Smith-Mathers continue to marvel at God’s transformative power and how they get to work for change alongside Christians around the world.

 

To God be the Glory!

Ingrid Reneau Walls

Adult & Evening Speaker

Ingrid Reneau Walls: migrated to USA from Belize, and pursued American literature & Women’s Studies at Hunter College, NYC and at Rutgers University, NJ graduating Phi Beta Kappa at the former, and PhD at the latter. She taught African Diaspora literature and Black feminist theory at the University of South Carolina; then undertook international mission service in Ethiopia, then with the PC(USA) in South Sudan, Kenya and Ghana. She has been Senior Research Fellow at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture, Akropong, Ghana, and Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of African and Asian Christianity at Liverpool Hope University. Her special field is the history, literature and religion of people in the Americas of African descent; concerns: she is interested in relations of Christianity and popular culture; African Christians and those of the first and second African diaspora.

Ingrid’s spiritual heritage is Wesleyan Methodists and Anglicanism, as practiced in the Caribbean, and the Primal Beliefs of her native Belize.  She is currently a minister of Shiloh Church, Oakland-California, and was with her recently deceased husband, Professor Andrew F Walls, a member of Crown Terrace Methodist Church, Aberdeen Scotland, where she resides.

In addition to her academic writing, she has written poetry and short fiction. Her hobbies are reading widely, hiking, and discussing films, music and other works of art from around the world.