Conference participants are grouped into small groups led by team leaders. These groups will engage in preparation before the conference, meet as a group during the conference, and consider meaningful collective action upon returning home. Some groups are grouped by region others are less geographic. One team is comprised of young adults.
Meet our SMALL GROUP Leaders
Northeast: Leah Johnson
Leah is a life-long Presbyterian and has been a member of Westminster in West Chester, PA, for 23 years in Donegal Presbytery. She has served for 12 years as the Clerk of Session. She is the Presbytery Moderator, serving her 2nd term on Committee on General Assembly (COGA) and is a member of IPMN. She is a long-time active PW member; a former medical social worker; and she served for 12 years as WPC's Thrift Shop Manager. Her newest title is "Mama J" to Jordan Maria, born in 2012 to her son and his wife. She cheers for Duke and the Cincinnati Reds and finds serving in various ways through the PCUSA a wonderful faith expression.
Mid-Atlantic: Ron Shive
Ron has been the Pastor/Head of Staff of the First Presbyterian Church, Burlington, North Carolina, for the past eleven years. Prior to this, he served three churches in South Carolina: Lake Murray Presbyterian Church, Chapin; Trinity Presbyterian Church, Travelers Rest; and First Presbyterian Church, Greenville. Ron served as the Chair of the Middle East Study Committee (2008-2010) and as a member of the Middle East Monitoring Committee (2010-2012). He is married to Pam Shive, an educator with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and they have two adult children.
South AtlantiC: Laura mariko cheifetz
Laura is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She received her Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and her Master of Business Administration from North Park University. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Church and Public Relations at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. She enjoys spending time with friends over food, exploring whichever region in which she happens to live, and still believes The Wire is the greatest television show in history.
Midwest: andrew rosencrans
Andrew is a Presbyterian "by birth and by choice". He has been the full-time Chaplain of Lake Forest Place, a continuing care retirement community in the Presbyterian Homes family, since 2008; and he has served concurrently as the part-time Stated Supply pastor for the Lansing Presbyterian Church for the last two years. Previously Andrew served as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Llanerch in Havertown, PA for 15 years; and as the pastor of the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Sanford, NC for 4 years. Andrew has visited Israel / Palestine three times, including his partcipation in the 2006 "Steps Toward Peace" Conference. He has been a member of various Presbytery committees, and is a former co-moderator of the Committee on Ministry for the Presbytery of Philadelphia. He has three children: Anne (23); Sarah (21) and John (18).
Central: Sue Dravis
Sue is a ruling elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque, Iowa, and is employed as a project manager in the information technology industry. She attended the 2006 Peacemaking Conference to Israel and Palestine. Her passion is particularly around the situation of Palestinian Christians and is involved with Sabeel, bringing Christians, Muslims and Jews who are seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through non-violence and education in Iowa.
MidSouth: lita simpson
Lita’s name is actually Elsa C. Mojica- Simpson but she goes by Lita. She lives in South Texas, McAllen, which is about as far south as one can go in Texas without being in Mexico! Lita is the Director of Youth Ministry for Mission Presbytery, which requires a lot of travel for various planning meetings and sleeping on church floors. She loves her work. Lita currently serves on the General Assembly Nominating Committee, the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board and is on the presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry. She is a Ruling Elder and volunteers with the youth ministry at First Church, McAllen. She loves to cook and read cooking magazines, loves to read books on Kindle, and enjoys spending quality time with her dog (Sadie-Miniature Dachshund), and go to movies. Her husband, Rob, is an architect and loves the outdoors. They have 3 lovely daughters ages 27, 27, and 25...all are employed in the food industry and are on their own! Lita’s experiences abroad have been through the Presbyterian Church to Japan and to Russia.
Rocky MountaiN; jerrod lowry
Jerrod is the pastor of Community of Grace Presbyterian Church in Sandy, Utah. He is a proud graduate of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to ministry in Utah, he worked as a tent maker, pastoring a small church in rural North Carolina and working part time as staff for the Presbytery of New Hope. Key to his ministry and personality is encouraging, building, and nurturing community. Jerrod has traveled internationally to Cameroon, Nicaragua, and Switzerland and is looking forward to his first visit to Israel and Palestine. Jerrod’s passions include food, football, and golf. He hopes to have developed a love for running in time for the conference.
Northwest: irene pak
Irene was born and raised in the wild west of Ogden, Utah. She is a cradle Presbyterian and graduated with her M.Div. at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She served as an intern for racial justice and advocacy at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville in 2007 and is particularly passionate about racial justice issues. Irene served for four years as an Associate Pastor of English Ministries and Christian Education at Daesung Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA and is currently serving as the Associate Pastor at Stone Church of Willow Glen in San Jose, CA. She loves to read, play music, cook, exercise, and eat good food.
Southwest: ron kernaghan
Ron has been a Presbyterian pastor for thirty something years and currently serves at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served at the General Assembly level on the task force on reparations which reported to the 2002 Assembly, and then served on the Advocacy Committee for Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) for six years. Ron is married to Brynn, has two sons (Chris & Darren) and one grandchild (Nolan).
YOUNG ADULTS/Recent Seminary Graduates/First Calls: Jessica hawkinson
Jessica recently graduated with her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Macalester College in 2008. Jessica is a former staff member of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, and serves as a member of the Peace Discernment Steering Team for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her academic interests include Christian social ethics and public theology, conflict resolution, human rights, and the Middle East.