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This Thanksgiving, TFE Director Ray Jones especially grateful for an increasingly diverse staff

Since he was named director in July, five new staff members have been added

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Carlton Johnson, associate for Vital Congregations, serves communion during a “Nobody Kill Anybody” service in Baltimore. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — This Thanksgiving, the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III is grateful, especially for his colleagues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Theology, Formation & Evangelism (TFE) ministry area.

Since being named TFE director on July 31, five new members have joined the increasingly diverse staff. They are pictured below, with a brief description of the gifts each person brings.

So Jung Kim

From South Korea, the new associate for Theology, So Jung Kim, is completing a doctorate in Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School.  Under the care of the Chicago Presbytery, she has earned theological degrees at Westminster Seminary, Drew Theological School and Union Theological Seminary in New York.

The coordinator for Theology and Worship, the Rev. Dr. Barry Ensign-George, said he’s thrilled that Kim has joined the TFE staff.

“So Jung brings a depth of theological education and knowledge, a breadth of experience of the church here and globally, and an ability to connect with people,” he said.  “These gifts will enrich our denomination.”

Ensign-George and Jones are also impressed with Kim’s strong faith in Christ and her commitment to Christ’s body, the church — and that she understands how critical discipleship formation is in the life of the church.

“She sees the connection between Reformed theology and the way we form people of faith,” Jones said, “and she gets the intimate connections between discipleship, justice and evangelism.”

The Rev. Carlton Johnson

From Atlanta, the new associate for Vital Congregations, the Rev. Carlton Johnson, brings a wealth of experience and theological knowledge to the office’s work of church revitalization.  Having worked in corporate America, he’s served as a hospital chaplain in palliative care, and in music and parish ministry.

The coordinator for Vital Congregations, the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill, said this has equipped Johnson to walk alongside presbyteries and churches going through the PC(USA)’s Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative, a two-year revitalization process.

“I’m excited for the gifts he brings to us, along with his deep sense of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said, “and for his heart and passion to see the Spirit of God renew churches.”

Johnson graduated summa cum laude from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary with an M.Div. He also has Master of Theology in Homiletics from the Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

He was ordained as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister on Sunday at the First Afrikan Church in Lithonia, Ga., by the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.

The Rev. Gad Mpoyo

From the Democratic Republic of Congo, the new Southeast associate for 1001 New Worshiping Communities, the Rev. Gad Mpoyo, is a seasoned leader of Shalom International Ministries near Atlanta.

According to the 1001 coordinator Nikki Collins, Mpoyo and Shalom have been a model of inspiration for other leaders in new worshiping communities movement.

“He brings the experience and wisdom unique to worshiping community leaders who have immigrated to the United States,” she said. “I’m grateful for his quiet and gentle persistence in leading and learning.”

Jones said that because Mpoyo is an experienced church planter, he will be able to connect TFE’s work in 1001 with even more mid councils and leaders throughout the Southeastern United States while continuing to serve at Shalom.

The Rev. Molly Atkinson, at left, and Kirstie Johnston

Theology, Formation & Evangelism has also added two new administrative assistants to the staff. The Rev. Molly Atkinson has joined the 1001 new worshiping communities team, while Kirstie Johnston will serve in the director’s office.

Most recently, Atkinson served as national registrar for the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 2016 and 2019.

“She has already helped us improve our processes and gained helpful feedback from the 1001 community,” Collins said.

Johnson, who previously served in Financial Aid for Service, is working closely for the time being  with ministry specialist Kari Hay in the TFE directors office. Hay says Johnson is especially gifted at being resourceful and thinking creatively, as well as designing and documenting processes and information visually, making them more assessible and clear.

Jones said a search is underway now for a new TFE associate director, whom Johnson will work with in 2020. He hopes the search will be completed by the end of January.

For now, he’s excited for each person on the TFE staff.

“For we are becoming more diverse,” Jones said, “and diversity is the gospel.”


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