Tom Albin was raised on the family farm and educated in a one-room schoolhouse on the Kansas prairie. His later education includes studies at Oral Roberts University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Cambridge University. Tom answered God's call to ministry and was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church in the spring of 1977 and elder in 1983. In 1982, he returned to pastoral ministry in Oklahoma.. In 1987 Tom joined the faculty of Boston University School of Theology where he taught courses in American Church History, Wesley Studies, Evangelism and Church Growth. The following year he accepted the invitation to develop a program in Christian Spiritual Formation at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, serving as the Director of Contextual Education Program from 1992-1999. In 1999 he began work at Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, where he helped develop Companions in Christ spiritual formation resources and provided leadership in Upper Room Programs including the Walk to Emmaus, Chrysalis, the Academy for Spiritual Formation, the Living Prayer Center, Pathways for Spiritual Leaders, the Chapel, Christian Art Center and The Upper Room Book Store. In 2012, Tom was the co-leader of the Prayer Ministry of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Tom is in demand as preacher, teacher and workshop leader in the areas of spiritual formation, Wesley studies, historical theology, mission and evangelism. He and his wife, Maryle, have three married daughters and seven grandchildren.
Robert Benson has written more than a dozen books about discovering the Holy in the midst of our everyday lives. He is a lifelong churchman, a graduate of the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a member of the Friends of Silence and of the Poor, and has been named a Living Spiritual Teacher by Spirituality and Practice. Benson is the author of numerous books, including Living Prayer, The Echo Within, Digging In, and Home by Another Way. A retreat leader, Benson writes and speaks often on the life of prayer and contemplation, the practice of faith and spirituality, and the art and craft of writing. He has served as an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room. Benson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and he dances on the head of a pen every day no matter where he happens to be.
Young Jin Cho was born in Onyang, South Korea, and graduated from Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul. He came to the United States in 1979 and earned M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. He was ordained in the East Annual Conference of the Korean Methodist Church in 1977 and transferred to the Virginia Conference in 1983. He was senior pastor of Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington in McLean, for 22 years before being appointed superintendent of the Arlington District in 2005. In seven years, under his leadership, the Arlington District started more than 10 new faith communities and introduced many training events for the clergy and laity to strengthen spiritual foundation of ministry. Cho was elected to the episcopacy at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2012. He is the first Korean-American elected to the episcopacy in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Cho has served the church and the community in various capacities, including president of the Korean Wesley Foundation, president of Partner’s Church Association for the renewal of the Korean United Methodist Church, Board of Ordained Ministry, Board of Discipleship and Commission on Ethnic Minority Local Church Concerns. He was elected delegate to the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences. Cho received the Denman Evangelism Award in 1991. He was also the U.S. chair of an organization that assists refugees from North Korea. Kiok Chang and Young Jin Cho were married on May 19, 1975 in Seoul, Korea, and have two daughters, Grace and Sophia, one son, Chris, and one grandson, Luke.
R.G. Wilson-Lyons has been serving as a pastor in the North Alabama Conference since 2006. He was the founding pastor of Community Church Without Walls in the West End neighborhood of Birmingham, which started as a series of house churches and grew programs such as Urban Kids, WE Community Garden, We Diner and more. He was appointed to serve at Birmingham First United Methodist Church in June of 2016. R.G. has been an Alabama fan for his whole life but also pulls for the Duke Blue Devils in basketball as he is an alumni of Duke Divinity School. R.G. loves to play most any sport, but especially basketball, tennis, and disc golf. He is also an avid hiker and camper and his favorite vacation destinations are places that have mountains to climb. R.G.'s favorite part of First Church is its desire to wrestle with what it means to be a faithful church in downtown Birmingham. R.G. is married to Mary Page Wilson-Lyons, the Strategic Initiatives Director for the Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham and visiting instructor in Religion at Birmingham-Southern College. They live in Crestwood with their preschool daughter Nina. The Wilson-Lyons family will welcome their second child in March.
Terry Teykl is prayer pastor for the Faithbridge United Methodist Church in Spring, Texas. He also serves as Chaplain for the Christian radio station KSBJ. For eight years they have been inviting their listeners to pray the Lord’s Prayer at Noon. Now thousands pray across Houston and the Gulf Coast and the results have been phenomenal. As result Dr. Teykl is taking this idea to the local church in every time zone to pray in the same manner. He has written 15 books on prayer in the span of his ministry in addition to leading hundreds of workshops helping people and local churches pray more effectively. His presentations are mixed with humor and real life stories of people finding better communication with the Father. He thrives on offering creative ways to make God real to a hurting world. His books include How to Pray After You Have Kicked the Dog, The Presence Based Church, The Most Wanted List, Outside the Camp, My Healing Devotional, My Financial Devotional and Praying the Lord’s Prayer at Noon. His book Acts 29 has been used by many churches in finding the power of the Holy Spirit for changing your city. He lives in Houston with his wife of over 50 years and his two dogs. He has 10 grandchildren who are a delight to his life. In his spare time he teaches on the staff of the Bible Seminary in Houston.
Dana Trent is a graduate of Duke Divinity School, Baptist clergywoman, award-winning author, speaker, and workshop facilitator. She teaches World Religions and Critical Thinking at Wake Technical Community College. Her work has appeared on time.com, Religion Dispatches, Religion News Service, NBC affiliate WRAL, The Christian Century, and Sojourners. Her second book with Upper Room Books, For Sabbath’s Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community, explores the how and why of slowing down for spirituality in a 24-7 world. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, a devout Hindu and former monk. Their Christian-Hindu interfaith marriage is chronicled in Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk. She loves naps with cats, vegetarian food, and teaches weight-lifting for the YMCA.
Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she served as Lead Pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. During her tenure, St. Luke grew in membership, strengthened its infrastructure, built a $4.5 million Ministry Life Center, and launched a multi-cultural worship service. Her previous service to the church includes six years as District Superintendent of the Prestonsburg District, with two years as Dean of the Cabinet of the Kentucky Conference, three years as pastor of Paris First UMC, and eleven years on staff at Lexington First UMC. She served in a variety of roles in the Kentucky Annual Conference as well as Jurisdictional and General Conference levels. These include Board of Ministries; District Committee On Ministries/Local Pastors team chair; Methodist Home Board chair; Kentucky Conference Education chair; Kentucky Episcopacy Committee chair; Primary Task Team; Children and Poverty Board; SEJ Episcopacy Committee member; General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board, (2004-20012); World Methodist Council; General Conference and SEJ delegate (2000, 2004, 2008). She was the first clergy elected from the Kentucky Conference in 2008 and in 2012. Bishop Wallace-Padgett is a graduate of Berea College, Scarritt College and Graduate School, Lexington Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary. She is married to Rev. Lee Padgett, a deacon in the United Methodist Church. They have two children, Leanndra and Andrew. Wallace-Padgett is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Frank Wallace. Her father is a United Methodist elder.