On Thursday evening we will have the unique opportunity to host bishops from four denominations coming together to share their stories as well as their hopes for the future of as we work together. These leaders will have an opportunity to speak frankly about the challenges ahead and speak boldly about the future as we move forward.


The Rt. Rev. Bishop George Edward Battle Jr.

Presiding Prelate, Piedmont Episcopal District

George E. Battle, Jr. is a native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. A 1967 graduate of Clinton Jr. College in Rock Hill, South Carolina with an Associate Degree. A graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina with a B.A. degree. He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary, also in Salisbury. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Battle serves as Presiding Prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District and is the Senior Bishop of the entire African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

Bishop Battle is married to Iris Miller Battle (43 years). To this union one son and one daughter were born and they have four grandchildren.

Read more about Bishop Battle


The Rt. Reverend Samuel Gray

Samuel Gray is a Bishop of the Moravian Church in North America, elected by the Southern Province of the Church.

Sam was born in Winston-Salem, NC. His intercultural experience began at an early age when his parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Joe Gray, took him to Nicaragua when he was 5 weeks old. He lived in Nicaragua for 11 years; his mother taught her five children all through elementary school. After graduating from The Stony Brook School (Long Island, NY) in 1972, Sam attended Moravian College from 1972 – 1976, majoring in Religion. In 1978 he returned to Moravian College for further study in Elementary Education and then attended Fuller Seminary (Pasadena, CA) in the summer of 1979. In January 1980 he began full-time service for the Board of World Mission in Honduras.

During that time, he married Lorena Alvarez, a Registered Nurse, from Cocobila, Honduras. Sam returned to Moravian Theological Seminary in 1993, graduating in 1996 with a M.Div. and was ordained as a deacon in May, 1996.

Sam and Lorena have three sons: Luke, Tim and Christian David, as well as two granddaughters, Rachel and Gabriella Marie.

Read more about Bishop Gray


The Rt. Reverend Samuel Rodman

Bishop Samuel Rodman was elected the XII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Rodman was elected on March 4, 2017. Prior Rodman served as the Special Projects Officer of the Diocese of Massachusetts having recently completed a year as the Acting Chief of Staff during the transition with the new Bishop. From 2010 – 2015, I served as the Project Manager for the Campaign Initiatives in the Diocese of Massachusetts engaging congregations, clergy and laity, in collaborative local and global mission through the Together Now campaign and helping to raise $20 million to fund these initiatives.For 23 years, I served as a parish priest in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, most recently as rector of St. Michael’s in Milton for 16 years from 1994-2010.

Bishop Rodman graduated from Bates College and Virginia Theological Seminary.  He is married to Deborah Rodman, and we has two adult daughters.

Read more about Bishop Rodman


Bishop Timothy Smith

Bishop Tim Smith began his ministry with the NC Synod-ELCA on August 1, 2015. Bishop Smith is a native of Salisbury, N.C. and previously served as pastor of St Paul’s, Startown (1986-93), and Grace, Boone (1993-2010) in the NC Synod. Just prior to his election he served as senior pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta.

He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill (M.A.), Gettysburg Seminary (M.Div.), and Drew University (DMin.). His ministry experiences include supervising 22 full-year interns, serving as Appalachian State University campus pastor, and being a featured preacher for Day 1 radio broadcast (formerly “The Protestant Hour”).

Bishop Smith and his wife, Wendy, have three grown children: Matthew and his wife, Keri; Isaac; and Ruth and her husband, Tommy. They also enjoy spending as much time as possible with their three grandsons.

Inspired by Bold Like Jesus last year, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Little Rock AME Zion Church began meeting to explore life-giving ways of being community and being in ministry together. This year, we have invited Pastors Emily Kuhn Hartner and Belinda Austin to share some of their stories and serve as Chaplains for our Bold Like Jesus weekend.


Pastor Emily Kuhn Hartner

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

Pastor Emily Kuhn Hartner serves as the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Previously, she was Second Pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlotte. Pastor Emily has a Master of Divinity in Religion/Religious Studies from Yale Divinity School and a Master of Sacred Theology Degree in Lutheran Studies from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Locally, she has been active the Urban Ministry Center and Room in the Inn, and was instrumental in the creation of St. Mark’s soup kitchen. Pastor Emily and her husband, Ian, reside in Charlotte with their son Oliver.


Rev. Belinda Austin

Little Rock AME Zion Church

Rev. Belinda Austin serves as an Associate Minister under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker, pastor of Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Rev. Austin leads Intercessory Prayer weekly after noon day Bible Study.  She teaches New Members Class every Sunday morning.  She also teaches noon day Bible Study occasionally at the pastor’s request. Rev. Austin serves as Minister of Evangelism, providing oversight to approximately 17 outreach ministries at Little Rock. Rev. Austin has served as local chairperson for Little Rock Day; (celebration of ministries and fundraiser): Western North Carolina Annual Conference,  and The African Methodist Episcopal General Conference.   

Rev. Austin has a Master of Arts Degree in Christian Leadership from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.  She completed the AME Zion Conference Studies and is and  ordained Elder in the AME Zion Church.



Friday Morning - “My Story”

The Rev. Kenneth Wheeler is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) who received a B.A. in Religion from Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.), an M.Div. from Trinity Lutheran Seminary (Columbus, Ohio), and served in four called ministries, 16 congregations as intentional interim, and as an assistant to the bishop of the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod for 18 years. He has been married 42 years and is a father of three sons who have blessed him with five awesome grandchildren. In his retirement, he is an avid reader, frequent traveler and deep reflector.



The Rev. Sunitha Morta, Director of Global Formation, ELCA

Friday Afternoon - "The Story of Others"

An immigrant from South India, there a Dalit and now here an ELCA pastor, serving through the churchwide offices, she spoke of her struggle, having followed her father to Minne-soh-tah, encountering Lutheran kindness but having still to overcome the confusion of Lutheran faith with ethnic cultural pride, so that her faith might be her own. She will lead us through a challenging and life-giving conversation about what it means to listen through accompaniment and identify our own biases as we do.



Canon for Congregational Vitality

Saturday Morning - “God’s Story”

The Rev. Altagracia Perez-Bullard serves in the Episcopal Dioscese of New York. Canon Perez-Bullard assists congregations as they seek to engage and collaborate with their changing contexts to bring new life to their communities in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. She will challenge us to look for the ways that God is intersecting in our story – and challenge us to see God at work in our neighborhoods and communities.



Thursday Opening Service

John David Bryant, born in rural Georgia to mixed-blood Cherokee ancestors. Double majored Spanish-Education, minored in Psychology at Valdosta State University, to graduate with a B.S., S.Ed in 1993; Completed seminary education at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 2011 via the TEEM track, ordained in 2011 in the Florida-Bahams Synod, ultimately completed the MDIV track to become the first person to be graduated from the Lenoir Rhyne University campus with an MDIV in 2016. Does ministry among the Lakota of Pine Ridge, SD; most recently working with Harlen Standing Bear, Sr.,(Jumbo in the recent indie film Neither Wolf Nor Dog), Bishop Mike Rhyne of the Allegheny Synod, and Asst. to the Bp. Paula Schmitt of the Allegheny Synod to provide 40ish sets of Winter snow boots, socks., etc to the children of Pine Ridge. Married to Harriet since 4/94, children are LRU Student Body President, Stephen Bryant, and LRU Science Student of the Year, Sean Bryant. Currently serves as pastor of Zion Ev. Lutheran Church—Hickory, NC.



Friday Night Healing Service

Glen VanderKloot was baptized into the Christian Faith at Hope Lutheran Church, Chicago, where he was also confirmed. He received an AA from Concordia University, Wisconsin (1969), a BA in Education from Concordia University, Chicago (1971) and a Master of Divinity from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (1974).

Pastor Glen has served as an ordained Lutheran pastor for 43 years. He currently is a part-time interim at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mt. Pulaski. He is a member of the ELCA Renewal/Prayer/Revival Team. He currently is Dean of the West Central Conference and serves on the Synod Council of the Central Southern Illinois Synod of the ELCA. He has worked in building relationships across racial and denominational barriers. He is a regular contributor to Hopefull Living Devotional and writes a religious column in the Springfield, IL State-Journal Register every six weeks.

Glen married Carol Dallmann, daughter of Elroy and Arline Dallmann on April 3, 1971. They have three adult children - David, Joel and Rebecca; two daughters-in-law - Sylvia and Katherine; and three grandchildren - Maia Aki, Isabella Grace and Joel Peter Jr.



Saturday Closing Worship

Kevin Vandiver (affectionately known as Pastor Kevin) believes that all should rally around the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which should first be seen as much as it is heard. After traversing many different faith traditions, he has come to believe that God welcomes, accepts and loves all—no matter what!

Pastor Kevin was born in Anderson, South Carolina where the mud is red. Early on, he was raised in a Baptist Church, and it was clear that he had gifts for ministry. Kevin received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2011 from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, where he was licensed and eventually ordained in the Pentecostal tradition. He then attended Duke University Divinity School in Durham, NC and graduated with an M. Div. in 2014. It was while at Duke that Kevin first sensed a call to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, because of its emphasis on the message of God’s free gift of grace.

Kevin has worked extensively with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, served as the Director of Family Ministry at Christ Lutheran Church Churches-Charlotte, served as the Associate Minister of Youth and Young Adults at The Riverside Church in the City of New York, and is now serving as Sr. Pastor/Mission Developer at The Christ Center at Transfiguration in the heart of Harlem, NY.

Kevin is happily married to Dr. Marci, who is a prolific professor, author, and speaker.