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We are called to rebuild, reconcile, reimagine, and renew the Church.

Church & Community Partners

The 2023 Northeastern Seminary Rebuild Conference was sponsored by the following:

Guardian Wealth Management

At Guardian Wealth Management, we believe that ministers who spend their lives serving others deserve a secure retirement. That is why, since the beginning, our focus has been to provide educational and financial services to pastors, churches, and denominations around the country. We understand the unique challenges ministers face saving and planning for retirement, and we strive to help ministers utilize unique tax advantages, create sustainable retirement income, and limit market risk.

The Justice Network of the Free Methodist Church

Founded in 2019, The Justice Network was birthed from previous justice-oriented movements in the Free Methodist Church. The vision of the Justice Network is to galvanize the Free Methodist Church USA, annual conferences, churches, and all clergy and laypersons toward life and ministry that intentionally, and unapologetically, oppose racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, environmental, ability, and other injustices. We do this through GATHERING, ADVOCACY, MONITORING, and RESOURCING. Our central event is the annual Justice Network Summit where our goal is to learn how to partner with God in restoring wholeness to all of creation.


WayFinder gives Christian leaders an introduction to the work of Christian Conflict Transformation. Christian leadership teams are presented with theological vision and Biblical frameworks that provide a Christ-based way forward in a culture that largely only offers two polarizing viewpoints. Leaders will also learn and apply the five practices of WayFinder to their current institutional rhythms, imagining how they can better love God and one another through organizational meetings, communal gatherings, and personal conversations.

The conference is also made possible through the support of:

Dr. Byron S. Lamson Memorial Fund

Wayne and Darlene McCown Endowed Symposium

B.T. Roberts Symposium

 "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Frederick Buechner

Keynote Speakers

Workshops Include:

With Eric Logan & Rev. Marissa Mattox Heffernan

With Dr. Doug Cullum & Dr. Kristina LaCelle-Peterson

In this workshop, Dr. Kristina LaCelle-Peterson and Dr. Doug Cullum consider what it means to be God's people in today's polarized and divisive world. Grounded in the central teachings of the Holy Scripture, the workshop explores potential models for faithful ministry amid the most pressing concerns of our 21st-century cultural context. Rather than building fences, the session explores the creation of gracious spaces where life-changing, loving, and caring dialogue can unfold.

With Dr. Josef Sykora & Jae Newman

At a time when the culture becomes less willing to associate with Christianity and simultaneously is increasingly less secular, the church needs to find a new way to communicate the truth it confesses. This workshop will aim to examine Jesus’s poetic language as a way to understand how parables, as poetic stories, can teach us how to present ideas in deep and meaningful ways.

With Marie Moy and Dr. Fredrick Johnson

With Pastors Melvin & Ashley Cross

The Church’s engagement in the community should be a part of its missional value system. A church that’s present gives Christ-centered language to the community it’s called to serve and love. Melvin and Ashley will be discussing ways to engage the various spheres of society while providing resources and equipping the church to be Christ-centered solutionist.

With Rev. Grace Douglass & Peter Englert

With Dr. Joyce Wagner & Carl Binger, LMHC

With Rev. Dr. Marlowe Washington and Pastor Colleen Dick

Many churches in America have plateaued or are in decline. Churches that once packed their pews are wondering why their once vibrant churches are lacking young people and diversity. They often want to blame the culture when in reality they should be blaming themselves. Perhaps they have forgotten their mission. Perhaps they are refusing to put on new wine skins. Maybe they’re more inward focused than outward focused. Or maybe their few remaining members are grasping onto their last bit of control and change is not an option for them. God wants to bring renewal to these churches, and he wants to move mightily in their context. Join Rev. Dr. Marlowe Washington and Pastor Colleen Dick as they share their stories of cultural renewal in churches that needed to experience new life and a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.

with Northeastern Seminary students enrolled in the Social Policy Conference Course

More information to come.

with Northeastern Seminary students enrolled in the Social Policy Conference Course

This workshop will focus on the importance of partnerships between schools, social programs, churches, governments, and families. When all of these work together for the betterment of students in the community, educational equity is possible but it is arduous work! We want to reiterate the beauty in partnerships — asking them what they need instead of pridefully deciding what the church thinks is required in order to help. If we are called to rebuild, reconcile, reimagine, and renew the church, one vital way to participate in this work is to creatively reimagine how we set our sights outside of our congregations in the world — not investing so much of our time and resources reinventing the wheel or in quick and easy charity/bandaid responses to issues — but investing in partnerships with secular organizations who are already dealing with root causes to issues that the church could do so much to support humbly.

with Shanterra Mitchum and Shane Wiegand

Join local educators and Shanterra Mitchum, the Director of Programs at the Center for Teen Empowerment Rochester, and Shane Wiegand, the Co-Director of the Antiracist Curriculum Project at CCSI for a bus tour exploring sites of Black joy, resilience, and resistance in Rochester. From enslavement to civil rights participants we’ll investigate Rochester’s rich, but sometimes ignored history and consider how this history informs their work to rebuild, reconcile, reimagine, and renew the Church.

With Dr. David Carr and Pastor Barbara Isaman-Bushart

The workshop will explore the gifts that those living with disabilities can offer the Church and world-at-large, with a focus on the many ways that they have been prevented from exercising their God-given contributions: benevolent paternalism, a cult of perfection, misuse of the healing narratives in Scripture, and judgment based on what is “lacking” rather than a view of alternative giftedness. The concept of healing will be addressed from a broader perspective than simply physical wellness for the individual, but what the Body of Christ experiences when ALL diversity is embraced and celebrated.


With Prof. Marlena Graves & Christopher Hopper

With Rev Matthew Martin Nickoloff and Maria Hartz
Shalom — the restoration of relationships with the Creator, Creation, Community, and Church through Christ — is central to the biblical worldview. We’ll explore how Shalom can help us reimagine missional engagement and spiritual formation, especially in relation to the scriptural mandate to steward the environment. Participants will experiment with how a shalom worldview can help deepen their particular community’s practice of discipleship, and how we are called to lead in the face of the pastoral issues raised by the threat and fear of global climate change and other ecological concerns.

With Dr. Rebecca Letterman and Pastor Todd Daningburg

The United States of America is deeply divided, and American churches are not exempt from this division. Christians are divided across churches and within churches. What can you do to attend to the souls of congregants in ways that support their relationships within and beyond the walls of their churches? Come and experience some proven strategies to open people to scriptural guidance and ways of interacting with each other that make authentic dialog possible – and growth in respect, connection, and faithful discernment more probable.

With Rev. Derrill Blue & Dr. Dara Delgado

The workshop will explore the legacy of the Black Church in the United States, focusing on the importance of community and its contributions to Black Americans' health, survival, and well-being. Together, the facilitators will use social-historical and practical approaches to examine the history of the community in the Black Church through the lens of civic and social engagement, leadership development, and digital discipleship in a post-pandemic/COVID age. The concept of community broadly will serve as a means for engaging where the Black Church has been, where it is, and where it is going.

With Jamison Davis

A workshop designed to educate ministers on the unique aspects of ministerial finance and retirement planning. This includes reasons not to opt out of Social Security, why every minister should maintain a mortgage, and how to maximize housing allowance by contributing to a 403(b)(9) Church or Denominational Retirement Plan. The discussion will be followed by a Q&A session.

with Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens and Rev. Kaitlyn TeBordo-Wood

What do you do when every day seems to bring a new email, statistic, or headline about the decline of “the church”? The trustees are concerned about numbers, the senior members can’t understand why younger generations don’t make church a priority, members are at odds about politics, and online strangers seem to delight in every new church scandal. To make matters worse, you (and most leaders you know) are tired, lonely, and wondering what to do next. Some days it’s hard to imagine church renewal is even possible. How do you move yourself, your congregation, and your community from languishing to flourishing? How can you be a resilient leader that leads a resilient church? This workshop will help you leave hopelessness and languishing behind by getting curious with your local context, exploring tools to think beyond the overwhelmed feeling, and develop a process for renewing yourself and the church you serve without adding to the challenge at hand.

With Dr. Richard Middleton

Given the amazing biblical vision of God’s intentions for the flourishing of earthly life, what are we to do in times of crisis and suffering, when God’s purposes do not seem to be fulfilled? This presentation will probe the nature and power of the lament psalms as faithful models for bold and honest prayer to the God of all creation. Not only are these psalms grounded in the very pattern of the biblical story, but they provide the people of God with a powerful existential resource for processing pain in a manner that leads to genuine hope both for ourselves and those with whom we minister.

With Pastor Amanda Williams & Pastor Carey Tanzola

More information to come

With Matt Pickering and Rev. Dr. Sandra L. DeMott Hasenauer

Navigating Church Conflict — The family of God doesn't have to be the "family feud." This seminar will provide biblical principles and group processes to assist church leadership in working toward conflict resolution in the local church.

Northeastern Seminary Vice President Dr. Ben Espinoza will moderate a panel conversation on Gen Z & the church. The panel will include:

Shanterra Mitchum
Isaiah Santiago
Robyn Englert, LCSW

With Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt & Rev. Scott Sittig

This workshop will present ideas to understand the role patriarchy has played historically, and presently, that undermine, devalue, or otherwise marginalize the voice and role of women in leadership in the church. How to recognize overt, and less obvious patterns, and offer some ideas for developing a plan to change it.

Workshop speakers

Jae Newman

Jae Newman is the Director of International Engagement at Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary. He also teaches creative writing at RWU, where he merges his training as a professional writer with his seminary training in the missional bent of teaching spiritual discernment through poetry and storytelling. 

Ben Espinoza

Ben Espinoza, PhD, serves as the Vice President of Northeastern Seminary. He is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and has several years of experience as a youth pastor, community life pastor, college pastor, and lead pastor.

Scott Sittig

Scott is a servant of Jesus Christ and a resident of the City of Rochester. A pastor by calling and professionally employed through the Free Methodist Church of North America in the City of Rochester, NY. A lifelong learner with a strong interest in the intersection of Public Policy and Theology, Scott is on a mission to be a bridge between resources and needs.

Eric Logan

Eric W Logan (RWC Class of '77) is vice-chair of the FMCUSA BOA and in his second term on the Genesis Conference Ministerial and Educational Guidance Board, and serves as a founding member of the Justice Network of the Free Methodist Church. 

Marissa Heffernan

For over 20 years, Rev. Marissa Mattox Heffernan has served in several different contexts of worship ministry. She built and led worship teams, toured as a part of a worship duo, and teaches inclusive practices of worship leadership. The unity experienced in worship has driven Marissa to explore what the culture of Christianity would look like if all people were equally recognized as image-bearers of God.

Maria Hartz

Maria Hartz is entering her third year of their Master of Divinity with a concentration in Theology and Social Justice at Northeastern Seminary. Maria is passionate about urban gardening and food sovereignty and spends her days at a mission-driven Episcopal church in the City of Rochester. 

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a woman of prayer, passion, and the pursuit of purpose! She is a dynamic speaker and a charismatic woman of faith with a God-given burden to see men and women fully realize their true identity in Christ. 

Barb Isaman-Bushart

Barb has served on the pastoral team at Community of the Savior in Rochester, NY since her ordination and conference appointment by the Free Methodist Church USA in May 2011. Barb has served the greater Rochester community as a professional social worker, disability rights activist, and educator in the community and human services. 

Grace Douglass

Rev. Grace O. Holley-Douglass is a woman of faith who loves all of God's people. Rev. Douglass actively serves on the ministerial staff at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church. She is a gifted teacher, speaker, and workshop leader. Teaching and administration are dear to her heart. She currently serves as Director to Evangelism Explosion which is a 13-week training ministry that teaches laypersons to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Peter Englert

Peter Englert is Adult Ministries Director at Browncroft Community Church. He graduated from the University of Valley Forge with a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and an M.A. in Theology. He hosts the podcast Why God Why, which has featured several Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary staff. 

Matthew Nickoloff

Rev. Matthew Martin Nickoloff is the founder and priest at the South Wedge Mission, an ecumenical parish committed to cultivating life within Jesus’ vision of shalom. Matthew is passionate about practice-based, person-centered, prophetically-engaged spirituality, with a focus on men’s work, non-violence, and providing transformational spaces of reconciliation and healing for those harmed by their religious experiences.

Carl Binger

Carl Binger is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes adults who struggle with depression, couples, and individuals dealing with spiritual abuse/hurt. Counseling became a joy and passion of his when he went through his own struggle with depression for three years. 

Joyce Wagner

Joyce Wagner has a Ph.D. (Regent University) in Counselor Education & Supervision, an MSW (Roberts Wesleyan), and an MS in Higher Education Administration (University of Rochester). She is the owner of Restoration Counseling of Rochester, pllc, and has been a therapist for 25 years. In addition to counseling, Joyce is a speaker, teacher, and clinical supervisor in the Rochester area. Joyce enjoys working with a variety of clients from teens to older adults. 

A photo of Derrill Blue

Derrill Blue

Rev. Derrill Antonio Blue is a native of Broadway, NC. He received his undergraduate education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Organization Leadership from the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. He obtained his Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology in Oklahoma City, OK. He is in the final year of completing his doctoral studies at Boston University, pursuing his Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Transformational Leadership.

Marlowe Washington

A graduate of St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. with a baccalaureate in political science and history minor. In 1997 he graduated with a Master of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary in Manhattan, NY. He graduated from Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College attaining the Doctor of Ministry in transformational leadership in Rochester, New York. He successfully completed his second doctoral work at St. John Fisher University in Rochester in May 2019 with a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Executive Leadership with a concentration in diversity and inclusion in higher education administration.

Melvin Cross

Pastor Melvin Cross is the leader of Glory House International. Since it began in 2014, Glory House International has grown into a community of people known for its exciting and inviting culture and focus on leading entire families and individuals to a place of purpose and destiny. 

Kaitlyn TeBordo-Wood

Rev. Kaitlyn TeBordo-Wood was born and raised in upstate New York. She was ordained at the United Church of Cohoes where she has been working with the congregation to bring about transformation, a renewed sense of vision, and a heart for the region. Kaitlyn is passionate about equipping smaller churches for transformation, spiritually formed leadership, teaching the holistic narrative of Scripture, and encouraging whole life discipleship.

Carey Tanzola

Carey is a western NY native. Born and raised in a small town with dreams of working in social policy, she moved to Rochester to pursue a Masters in Social work. That education lead to work within the child welfare system, refugee resettlement and socio-economic work with vulnerable populations. She is passionate about personal transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit, holistic spiritual formation and community renewal.

Matthew Pickering

Matthew Pickering currently serves as District Superintendent of the Penn York District of The Wesleyan Church. He is a graduate of Houghton University (’93) with a B.A. in Biblical Studies & Asbury Theological Seminary with an M.Div. (’96) and D. Min (’11) with a focus on leadership and church health. Dr. Pickering was elected to the District Superintendent role in 2014, after serving in pastoral ministry for 18 years, serving churches in PA and NY. He and his wife Carmen have three adult children and three grandchildren.

Jamison Davis

Jamison is a financial advisor with over 20 years of experience, 10 of which as a bi-vocational minister. His experiences have given him a unique perspective and a wealth of knowledge, enabling him to serve ministers and churches well. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife, three kids, and one St. Bernard.

Sandra L. DeMott Hasenauer

Sandra L. DeMott Hasenauer is the Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region, which includes 50 congregations in the Greater Rochester Area, Western NY, and nine additional states. Sandy has a DMin in Transformational Leadership from Boston University School of Theology in which she studied the practical implications for an organization when truly embracing a core vision of beloved community. 

Robyn Englert

Robyn Englert is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Private Practice in the Rochester area. She has worked as a therapist for 17 years. She has had the opportunity to serve with the MS Society to facilitate groups and workshops for various subject matters. Additionally, she has spoken on various topics including anxiety, depression, mental health in adolescents, anger, and teaching Lay Counseling Skills. 

Isaiah Santiago

Isaiah Santiago is a sophomore at St. John Fisher University studying political science. Isaiah founded the We Got This organization, an organization working to end gun violence by allowing youth to get involved in arts and music. At 16 years old, he started a free after-school program for at-risk youth to experience the process of creating and recording music. He currently sits on the board of directors for families together NYS as a board member and on the New York State Board of Regents Student advisory committee. Isaiah is currently the youngest candidate for the Rochester City School Board and, if elected, the youngest to ever fill the role.

Shanterra Mitchum

Shanterra Mitchum is a wife and mother of 3 beautiful creations. She is the Director of Rochester Programs at the Center for Teen Empowerment. She has over 16 years of experience in youth and program development. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in 2014 and her Master's in 2021, focusing on the history of structural racism in Rochester's housing, employment, and educational systems. She serves on several boards and committees addressing economic and racial disparities in our most marginalized communities. She has traveled the country presenting and providing expertise on youth voice, power, and engagement.

Kristina LaCelle-Peterson

Dr. Kristina LaCelle-Peterson is an adjunct professor at Northeastern Seminary and is a Professor of Religion at Houghton University. 

Louis Colon

Louis is the Pastor of Heart and Soul Community Church in the inner city of Rochester. He has a passion for seeing disciples of Jesus raised up in the inner city. He loves connecting with people and learning their stories no matter what their background or socioeconomic situation. He is an alumni of Northeastern Seminary both as a student and as staff. He is married to his bride Amy, and his 3 children, Daniel (16), Sara (9), and Samuel (5) are the joys of his life. He loves sports, great books, and meaningful conversations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Conference attendees are senior church leaders, pastors, seminarians, community leaders, youth leaders, university students, professors, and non-profit leaders. We expect at least 300 attendees.

There are three ways to get discounts: 

  1. Be an enrolled student.
  2. Register before April 1 before the registration rate goes up to $65/per person
  3. Purchase tickets in bulk to receive a group rate. Below are the following discounts:


$300 Bring 10 people from your church or organization


$500 Bring 20+ people within your denomination or organization


$1000 This price point unlocks the freedom to invite generously

An EXHIBITOR is any business, organization, not-for-profit, or ministry that wants to communicate its mission and connect with others to promote its messaging.

A PARTNER is a church or organization that wants to receive a group rate discount in order to provide tickets they can distribute to their leaders, church attendees, board members, friends, and family.

Church and community leaders including seminary faculty will teach on  great topics such as:

  • Leading & bringing polarized people together
  • Gen Z and the Great Commission
  • Hopelessness in Communities and Churches: What to do
  • How to prepare your congregation for the upcoming election
  • Lunch and Learning Lab- Grab your lunch and jump on our bus to take a trip into the city of Rochester to observe firsthand the impact of redlining in a neighborhood. Leading experts will be sharing with you more information as you travel.

Growth and Rebuilding comes from conversation and a deeper understanding of each other and difficult topics. Northeastern is hosting these conversations through a podcast. Be part of the conversation! Watch for upcoming episodes and if you are interested in participating, let us know. Especially if you are already an approved workshop presenter or exhibitor.

During your visit to Northeastern, there will be an opportunity to walk over to the new Golisano Community Engagement Center for a tour.

Overnight accommodations are available for a discount at Hotel2Suites in Greece, NY if you book before June 11, 2023. Each room is $129.00. 

Group Link Available Here


585-432-1010 (then press 0 to get to Front Desk)

Group Name: Northeastern Seminary

More accommodations can be found here.

Actually, there are! Grow with us! The Rebuild conference is literally the beginning of a Masters course. The first Monday consists of a conference for both students and the public followed by all-day classes from Tuesday to Thursday. Learn more and sign up here.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact Kathryn Garrett at 585-594-6420 or email

The Rebuild Conference had the privilege of receiving a generous donation from a sponsor that enabled us to provide deep discounts on all registration tickets. So because of that, we are not offering one-day tickets.