Annual Gathering 2023

Annual Gathering Formal Documents & Program Materials

Program & Workshop Leaders

Guest Preacher – Rev. Kathryn Ray

Rev. Kathryn Ray became a member of North Shore’s pastoral team in 2016.  As Pastor of Discipleship, she oversees programming for the youth and children of the church, as well as adult education. She also provides worship leadership in English and Spanish and oversees the church’s online communication.

Kathryn’s faith journey began at First Baptist Church in Madison, WI, where the multigenerational community was family to her and lived Christ’s love for her until she claimed it as her own.  While attending Oberlin College in Ohio, she realized one day while standing in the bookstore that her passion for her faith and her desire to serve humanity were deeply connected, and her call to ministry became clear.  She earned a B.A. in Religion and went on to received two Master’s degrees from the University of Chicago, one from the Divinity School and the other from the School of Social Service Administration (now the Crown School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice).

She is a fluent Spanish speaker, having taught religion classes to children and teens and tutored special needs students in Bilwi, Nicaragua from 2009-2011 through the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps. Before beginning full time at North Shore, she also served as program coordinator for Clergy for a New Drug Policy, a non-profit which fights to end the War on Drugs and establish evidence- and compassion-based drug policy in the United States.

In 2015, she was ordained to Christian ministry at Ellis Avenue Church, a racially and economically diverse Alliance of Baptists congregation on Chicago’s South Side.  In May 2016, the American Baptist of Metro Chicago voted to grant recognition of her ordination, which now gives her full standing with the American Baptist Churches, USA.  She now represents Metro Chicago on the Board of General Ministries, and also serves as the Special Director from the BGM on the Board of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.
Kathryn is a scholar emerita of the State of Formation blog.

Bible Study Leader – Rev. Dr. Demetrius Williams

Rev. Dr. Demetrius K. Williams is a native Milwaukeean and comes from a tradition of Baptist ministers. Currently in his 41st year of ministry, he has served as pastor of Churches in Dorchester, MA and New Orleans, LA. He is currently the pastor of the Community Baptist Church of Greater Milwaukee since 2009. As a bi-vocational pastor, he is also an Associate professor in the Global Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, offering instruction in the Comparative Literature program (and serves as its coordinator) and Religious Studies. He anticipates the publication of his fourth book, The Cross of Christ in African American Christian Religious Experience: Piety, Politics, and Protest (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023) and has begun research on another project on African American preaching titled, Black Preaching: White Backlash, Black Indifference—Hope for the Future (Orbis Books, 2024). He and his wife Robin have two children, Demetria Taylor who attends UW-Parkside and Demetrius Kelvin II who attends UW-Milwaukee.

Workshop Leaders

Jeni Pedzinski – An ordained American Baptist minister, Jeni is called and committed to walking alongside others as they explore God’s love and leading in their everyday lives. She does this as a spiritual director and as Director of Mission Mobilization at International Ministries (IM). In her role at IM, Jeni accompanies others through a process of discernment and preparation toward long term global service. Jeni previously worked for seven years as an IM global servant in Thailand.




Stephen Hawkins – An ordained American Baptist Minister, Stephen is also a  sociology PhD candidate at UW – Milwaukee.  His research interests include religion, nonprofit management, and environmentalism.  He received his MDiv from Princeton and his MBA from Marquette University.  Since moving to Wisconsin, Stephen has served churches locally as pastor and as moderator, as well regionally as a member of the Board of Managers and the Commission on Missions.  Stephen has represented ABC-WI on the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.  Beyond these professional interests, Stephen loves to travel, go on long bike rides, watch baseball, play basketball, and spend time with his family and dogs in nature.



Chakravarthy Zadda – A Baptist missiologist from India, Chaks served his home church, Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches, a mission church of ABC-USA. He has provided leadership both at regional and national levels for the Church in India, specifically the National Council of Churches of India on the Dalit and Adivasi Commission, actively advocating for their rights. Before coming to ABC Wisconsin, he served as the Associate Regional Minister of American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, empowering the ethnic Churches for the issues of leadership, interfaith-witnessing and justice in the Chicago land area. He taught in the area of missiology and World Religions at Northern Seminary, Chicago. His research interests include missiology, history of evangelical & ecumenical movements, world religions and interfaith witnessing, modern history of India. Currently he is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church – Waukesha,  a multi-ethnic congregation.   Chaks is married to Chosen Glory,  a software engineer. He is blessed with Richie Steve Arthur (son) and Reshma Serene Shakaina (daughter) who are currently pursuing their postgrad degrees at University of Illinois, Chicago.


Nicole Cox – The Associate to Short-Term Mission and Emerging Leaders at International Ministries, Nicole received her Master of Divinity in Adaptive Leadership from Palmer Theological Seminary in 2021 and is returning to Palmer in the Fall of 2023 to start her Doctor of Ministry in Contextual Leadership.




Thomas Aldworth – A retired American Baptist pastor. He is a current member at Memorial Baptist Church in Fond du Lac. He is the award-winning author of Shaping a Healthy Religion and Fashioning a Healthier Religion. He served as a Franciscan priest for 33 years before entering marriage and being called as the pastor of Morgan Park Baptist Church (Chicago). He is a licensed professional counselor (State of Illinois) and taught community college for 15 years (Ethics, World Religions, Critical Thinking, Introduction to Philosophy). He is also a certified third-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo.



J. C. Mitchell – A minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He received his M.Div degree from Andover Newton Theological School in 2008, shortly before his son A.J. was born. Besides being the father of a developmentally disabled child, he began Open Gathering, a church inclusive of people with disabilities in Bellevue, WA. He has also served churches in Massachusetts and Oklahoma and is currently the Program Coordinator for the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. He is married to Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell.



Michelle Peterson – A native of Gary, Indiana.  She is an alumnus of Indiana University where she received a BA in Criminal Justice (1991) and a MS in Education in College Student Personnel Administration (1996).  In 2008, she received a MDiv from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana. She dedicated over 15 years of her life to student development and persistence.  In 2009, she changed career paths and became a chaplain. Currently, she is the Director of Spiritual Services a Tudor Oaks, a retirement community in the Greater Milwaukee area where she currently resides. She acknowledged God’s call on her life to preach the Gospel in October 2002, was licensed to preach in October 2004 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati, and in 2008, she was the first woman to be ordained at First Baptist Church North Indianapolis , where she served as the youth pastor.  In addition to preaching the word of God, she facilitates workshops and groups on topics such as leadership, grief and loss as well as time management. Currently, she co-facilitates a dementia support group which provides support and education to caregivers. She has had the privilege of serving as moderator for the Commission on Ministry as well as a member of the Board of Managers for the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin organization.  She is currently on the ministerial staff at Calvary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin under the leadership of Rev. Dr. John R. Walton, Jr.

Michael Burch – The is the Executive Director at The Crossing, UW-Madison, Michael has decades of pastoral ministry, non-profit leadership, and university teaching and coaching experiences. He completed seminary in the Graduate Theological Union-UC Berkeley joint program and earned a graduate degree in ancient Mediterranean religions and philosophies from Brown University.  Prior to coming to The Crossing Michael was a visiting faculty member at the Berkeley School of Theology (ABC-USA) for over a decade and has also had significant experience in interfaith collaborations. His 20 years of pastoral ministry includes ABC congregations in the SF Bay Area and Rhode Island, including The First Baptist Church in America in Providence, RI.  Rev. Burch has taught and been a featured speaker on transitional ministries, community organizing, students’ rights, gender equality in sport, and LGBTQI inclusion.




Thomas DeWitt – an experienced Board Certified Chaplain (ACCC, SCA, and NAVAC), Ordained Pastor, Chaplain Educator, and is a supervisor with the Institute of Clinical Pastoral Training at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies (Lee University), a Master of Divinity (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), and a Doctor of Theology in Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy (SCA Capstone University). His background includes involvement in a variety of leadership positions within the church, hospital, hospice, and correctional ministry, working alongside others to accomplish the goal of ministry. In addition to his CPE work, Tom is a faculty member at Bethel University, Trinity Theological Seminary, and Capstone University. He has also served as an adviser to the Interfaith Interest Group in the School of Medicine. For several years he was a certified instructor in Healthy Interventions, a class that taught hospital staff how to deal with potentially violent and volatile situations. He is passionate about pastoral care and education of ministers and believes that every minister should have professional and clinical training.



May May Latt – is the Pastor of Milwaukee Myanmar Christian Church. She works full time at Atla as a Metadata Analyst for Biblical Studies, Archaeology and Religions. She teaches at Central Seminary in Kansas as an Adjunct Professor of Hebrew Bible, and Contextual Learning: Cross Cultural Studies. She is a curriculum writer for adult Sunday School, called “Journeys” at Judson Press.




Althea Miller-Sims – is a multi-genre artist, educator, advocate, and minister-in-training who dabbles in poetry, spoken word, visual art and graphic design, dance, singing, and songwriting. She prides herself in the powerful meaning of her first name, derived from the Greek language, meaning “healing.” In an effort to live up to her name, she employs art as a pedagogical tool and change agent in endeavoring to encourage spiritual, psychological, and emotional healing, as well as the advancement of various liberatory policies and practices. Althea holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she focused on developmental and clinical psychology, emphasizing stereotypes, prejudice, and stigma. She is a master’s student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison studying Multicultural Education with expertise in teaching across the lifespan, culturally relevant pedagogy (including educational adaptation and inclusion), and parental involvement in education. Althea serves as the Director of Family and Community Engagement at Lighthouse Christian School and is the director of All Things Youth – the children’s and youth ministries at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison, WI. She shares her life with her wonderful husband, Daniel, and their two children, Andréa and Seth.



Ron Zielinski – the lay pastor of Falls Community Church in Sheboygan Falls since December of 2018. He retired from the work-force in 2006, having worked with the U.S. Postal Service and with a protective tape production company. He and his spouse Sara have two daughters and one grand-daughter.




John Jones – From January 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022, Dr. John A. Jones IV serves as Interim Regional Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin.  He was originally appointed as Associate Regional Minister-Education, effective January 1, 2017.  This appointment included responsibilities of the Site Coordinator of CENTRAL Wisconsin CBTS, inclusive of the Hispanic Lay Institute and the Korean-Language program that met at the Elm Grove offices.  Prior to assuming this position, John has taught classes at CENTRAL since 2008. Originally from the south, John grew up in Georgia, graduating with a B.A. from Mercer University in Christianity, Psychology, and Greek in 1991. He enjoyed a year at Regents Park College of Oxford University in England before pursuing the M.Div. degree at the Baptist House of Studies of Duke Divinity School in North Carolina where he graduated in 1995. Soon thereafter he received ordination through his home church Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Georgia. In 2017 he received ABC recognition of that ordination through the Commission on Ministry. From 1995-1996, he served as pastor of Crystal Hill Southern Baptist Church in Virginia before moving back to Georgia to be with his father after the passing of his mother from cancer.


Carolyn Dugan – appointed as the Associate Regional Minister for Outdoor Ministries for Camp Tamarack and serving the Region of ABC-WI.  From 2012-2020, Carolyn was the part time Camp Director and then the full time ARM-Camping where she worked with many different staff members, volunteers, renters and campers. Camp has been a part of Carolyn’s life even before she was born and she started attending when she was in 5th grade, that led to volunteering in several areas until she was brought on staff in 2012. Carolyn attended CENTRAL at the Region Office and through on line learning, graduating in 2016 with her Master of Divinity. During this time she also worked as the Christian Education Director for The Federated Church of Green Lake.  In the fall of 2016, Carolyn celebrated her ordination with the support of the Region and The Federated Church. Carolyn lives in Randolph with her husband Jim and many different animals on their 5 acre farmette. They have one daughter, Emma, who is studying astrophysics at Michigan State University. Carolyn loves being active and you can find her doing a workout, walking the dog, kayaking, playing tennis, coaching volleyball or reading a great sci-fi book.

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