Rev. Donna Banks currently serves at the Lead Pastor of Saint Francis United Methodist Church in Cary North Carolina. Upon graduation from Duke Divinity School, she joined the staff as the Associate Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. She also served appointments as the senior pastor at Evergreen United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, NC and as Director of Student Life at Duke Divinity School. Prior to her current appointment, Donna served as the District Superintendent for the Corridor District of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. She has previous experience from her 16-year career in the chemical industry which afforded her the opportunity to have a succession of roles as a research chemist and in corporate sales, marketing and management. Donna is married with two daughters.
Rev. Jennifer Copeland is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches. She is a native of South Carolina and an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church. For ten years she pastored United Methodist churches across the South Carolina Upstate and then spent sixteen years as the United Methodist Chaplain at Duke University where she continues to teach one class each semester. She attended Duke University where she earned a BA, double majoring in English and Religion, a Master of Divinity, a PhD in religion, and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. She is the author of Feminine Registers: The Impact of Women’s Voices on Christian Preaching and a co-editor of Preaching Gospel: Essays in Honor of Richard Lischer. Jennifer has two children: Nathan, a software developer who lives in Durham, NC, and Hannah, a student at the University of Tampa.
Rev. Rose Marsh Cornelious, D.Min., has been in ministry for almost 25 years, has served as a denominational official for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Department of World Mission, preaching and training in over 100 churches. She has also ministered in over 25 countries, leading mission teams to five continents. She currently serves as Development Director for Dorcas Ministries, Cary, NC. She and her husband Tony have been married for 36 years and have four children. Rose resides in Apex, NC.
The Rev. Dr. Carolyn J. Sharp is Professor of Homiletics at Yale Divinity School. Her research explores the poetics and theology of Hebrew Scripture texts as resources for homiletics. She is interested in ways in which preaching can draw artfully on biblical studies, feminist perspectives on power, and emancipatory pedagogy. Her books include Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (2009) and Wrestling the Word: The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Believer (2010). Professor Sharp has edited or co-edited six volumes, including The Oxford Handbook of the Prophets (2016) and Feminist Frameworks and the Bible: Power, Ambiguity, and Intersectionality (with L. Juliana Claassens; 2017). Her current projects include an introduction to biblical prophetic literature (Abingdon) and a commentary on Joshua (Smyth & Helwys). A member of the Academy of Homiletics, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Society of Biblical Theologians, Professor Sharp serves on the editorial board of the journal Horizons in Biblical Theology. An Episcopal priest, she preaches regularly at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in New Haven and elsewhere. She and her husband live in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
Dr. Sharon Schulze graduated with a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in December 2016 after working for 25 years in science, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) education. Her work in STEM education was focused primarily on securing resources and support for students and teachers who are underrepresented in STEM fields. That concern for marginalized populations has been magnified as she seeks to understand how communities hold together to support people physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Sharon is also an avid weaver and delights in working in an art form that is all straight lines and right angles. Currently serving a year-long pastoral internship at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Raleigh, NC, Sharon is listening carefully to learn where the spirit will send her next.
Rev. Cely Chicurel is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and part of a very artistic family. Her parents, Joel and Eleanor Carter, encouraged her early on to pursue a career in teaching and the arts. She spent many hours in the family kitchen working with clay and, before too long, was showing her wares at Carolina Friends School and Apple Chill art fairs. Her formal education includes art and design at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cely holds a Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University with a major in pottery and weaving. She has completed further study at Penland and Arrowmont schools of arts and crafts. Cely’s love of nature and the created world is joined with an interest in using the imagination to create fun, new worlds. For more than 30 years, she has made and sold pottery creations, castles, and fantasy creations. Although production pottery is no longer part of her activities, Cely still has a passion for teaching and sharing her love of pottery and the arts as a means of self-expression. In 2001, Cely received a Master of Christian Ministry degree from Duke Divinity School and has added a new dimension of art and spiritual retreat to her growing list of offerings.