Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of seven books including A People's History of Christianity: the Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009). Her best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us (2006) was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won the Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, and was featured in a cover story in USA TODAY.
Diana regularly consults with religious organizations, leads conferences for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues. She regularly comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR. From 1995-2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She is a contributing editor for Sojourners Magazine has written widely in the religious press, including Christian Century, Clergy Journal, and Congregations.
From 2002 to 2006, she was the Project Director of a national Lilly Endowment funded study of mainline Protestant vitality—a project featured in Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary in New York. Diana also serves on the boards of the Beatitudes Society and Public Religion Research.
Diana has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary. She has taught church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, religion and politics, and congregational studies.
She lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a member of the Episcopal Church.
***Lake Junaluska Ministry and our partner the ALBAN Institute are pleased and grateful that Rev. Lyndon Harris and Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards are being added to the roster of event leadership in place of Dan Benedict would could not participate at the last moment due to illness.
Rev. Lyndon Harris
The Reverend Lyndon F. Harris, a priest in the Episcopal Church, joined the staff of Trinity Church, Wall Street, and Saint Paul’s Chapel next door in New York in April 2001 in order to develop an alternative urban worship program at Saint Paul’s. Less than six months later, he found himself the priest in charge of the relief ministries at Ground Zero offered through Saint Paul’s Chapel after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. From September 15, 2001, to June 2, 2002, Saint Paul’s Chapel was converted into a multi-faith relief center for the rescue and relief workers, and victim’s family members, at the World Trade Center site. By the end of the operation, over one half million meals were served. Harris has traveled the country speaking about the transformative experiences of Saint Paul’s Chapel and the wider community’s response to 9/11. Among his current projects are of The Garden of Forgiveness, an initiative of Sacred City, Inc., an educational non-profit which seeks to teach about forgiveness as a strategy for both personal healing and wellness, as well as conflict transformation and peacemaking. He was recently selected for membership in the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, USA. His heart remains centered on the power of liturgy in a variety of forms to express and transform the lives of individuals, cities and nations.
Taylor Burton-Edwards is an elder serving as Director of Worship Resources with the General Board of Discipleship since fall 2005.
Previously, Taylor had served as Director of Community Impact with United Way of Madison County (2002-2005), and in pastoral roles in four congregations in Indiana, including three small churches (1991-2002). Education: BA, Kenyon College ( 1985), MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1990) and M. A. in Peace Studies, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (1997). Family: Wife, Grace: Episcopal priest, Associate Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and Chaplain of St. Richard’s School (Indianapolis, Indiana). Sons: Jacob (18) and Will (14).
EVENT WORSHIP LEADER
Susan Leonard-Ray is an ordained Elder in the South Carolina Annual Conference, serving churches of varying sizes throughout her ministry. Whether in small membership, medium membership or large church settings, shaping and cultivating a vital worship life has consistently been the focus of her ministry. In two of the three churches where Susan has been appointed, additional worship services have been created that seek to bridge the ancient practices of faithful worship with a style that is reflective of the community in which it is located. Word, water, bread, wine and one another – these are all tangible ways of engaging the whole of oneself in the worship of God, yet in a style that is accessible and in dialogue with the 21st century context. For Susan, this is best described not as ‘new’ worship, but rather ‘renewed’ worship.
Susan is frequently asked to lead seminars on worship and passionate spirituality and has served since 2005 as the principal designer of the worship services at the South Carolina Annual Conference.
Susan is presently the Senior Pastor of Advent UMC in Simpsonville, S.C. where she has served for nine years, and provided leadership as the church has grown to a membership of 1450 and a worshiping community of 800+ Her husband, Keith, is also an Elder in the S.C. Annual Conference and together they have three children.