Board of Advisors
The Board of Advisors is comprised of people both inside and outside of Ecclesia who provide ongoing input into the direction of the Network. Each member of the board carries a unique role related to their giftedness and focus. We are grateful for the help they provide us as we move along the journey of living the gospel together as churches.
Dr. Chris Backert *
Connecting churches and leaders together is something that Chris has always tried to do, so it makes sense that he would be instrumental in the founding of Ecclesia, and would also serve as Ecclesia’s Director & Organizational Architect. Chris also serves on the pastoral team of Imago Dei, and works with fellow board member Brian Hopper in trying to develop fresh expressions of church in Richmond, VA. In addition, Chris works with the Baptist General Association of Virginia as an Emerging Church Strategist, serves as the National Coordinator for Fresh Expressions US, and teaches in the doctoral program at Northern Seminary. He is married to his high school sweetheart Rachel, and loves hanging out with his little daughter Elliana.
J.R. Briggs *
J.R. is the Lead Pastor and Cultural Cultivator of a church plant called The Renew Community, a faith community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, PA in the Greater Philadelphia Area. He enjoys dreaming and implementing new kingdom initiatives and meeting with other church planters. He is currently completing his MA in Missional Theology from Biblical Theological Seminary (Hatfield, PA).
He has authored three books (When God Says Jump, Redefining Life for Men and The Message//Remix: Solo). He enjoys skiing, camping, reading, traveling, watching college football, bird watching, rooting for the Phillies and spending time with his family. He and his wife Megan have two sons: Carter (3 years old) and Bennett (3 months) and live in the heart of gritty Lansdale, PA. You can read his blog at www.jrbriggs.com
Dr. David Fitch *
David Fitch holds the chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Chicago. He also serves as the founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community–an emerging church in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. He is the co-founder of Up/Rooted, an emergent cohort that gathers leaders and thinkers to engage issues of the emerging church and the post-modern context. Up/rooted now has chapters all over the Chicago area. He has been a speaker and presenter at “emerging church” gatherings, the Ekklesia Project, as well as academic and denominational gatherings on the issues of church, postmodernity and culture.
He is the author of numerous articles on church, culture and theological ethics in journals as diverse as the Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, Discernment, Pastoral Psychology and the Journal of Christian Education.
He is the author of The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from American Business, Para-Church Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism and Other Modern Maladies (Baker Books, 2005) and holds a Ph.D with an emphasis in Theological Ethics, Church, and Society from Northwestern University. You can read David’s blog here: www.reclaimingthemission.com
Dr. Eddie Gibbs
Edmund Gibbs serves as senior professor of church growth in the School of Intercultural Studies and has been on the faculty since 1984. He is also director of the Institute for the Study of Emerging Churches, in the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts. The author of popular church growth text Church Next, he speaks about evangelism and church growth around the world. Currently, his academic interests include evangelizing nominal Christians, assisting local churches in becoming evangelizing churches, and developing the churches response to modernity and post-modernity as a missionary presence.
Gibbs came to Fuller from England with an extensive interest in mission that included practical experience in Santiago and Quilpue, Chile, with his wife Renee. In the last few years, his teaching has taken him around the U.S. and to such countries as Singapore, Korea, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and South Africa.
Some of his other publications include LeadershipNext: Changing Leaders in a Changing Culture (2005), Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (2005) with co-author Ryan Bolger, Way to Serve (2003), Way to Go (2003), In Name Only (1994), I Believe in Church Growth (1981, revised 1985, 1989), and Good News is for Sharing (1993).
Bruce Hopler *
Bruce is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Community Church of Columbia Maryland. Bruce planted an emergent church before the word emergent was known, even to him. He loves coaching church planters and hanging out with pre-Christians. He is working on his doctorate at Fuller Seminary in discipleship and leadership in an emerging context. He loves to read, go to the gym and smoke a fine cigar with a glass of red wine. He loves most of all though, his wife Terri and his two boys, Caleb and Levi.
Brian Hopper *
Brian is a former Young Adults Pastor at Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, Md. In his life prior to vocational ministry, he owned and ran a restaurant/catering business, worked in corporate sales for a foodservice company and national software firm. In 2000 he left his career to pursue full time ministry. For three years he served as a pastoral intern at BACC while attending and graduating from Bethel Seminary. In ’03 he was hired as the Young Adults Pastor at BACC. In ’06, with BACC’s vision to plant churches in the Mid-Atlantic region, he responded to the call to plant a new church in Richmond, a city that has captured his heart. Brian is currently planting a church in Richmond with fellow board member Chris Backert. He has been married to Suzi for almost 20 years. They have two really hip and cool teenage daughters, Abby and Ellyn.
Dr. Tasha Levert
Tasha Levert, pronounced (love-air), grew up all over the US, but she claims Texas and Louisiana as her home states. Why claim two states? Simple. She was born in Texas, and she married a Louisiana boy. The two cultures run deep in her blood and have shaped who she is today. It’s true Tasha Levert style to wear cowboy boots while eating jambalaya and cheering on the LSU Tigers.
Tasha went to Mississippi College to play basketball, volleyball, and softball for the Lady Choctaws, while working on her Bible degree. She then attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and earned an MA in Marriage and Family Counseling in 1999, a ThM (master of theology) in 2002, and a PhD in marriage and family counseling in 2005.
Tasha served as a licensed marriage and family therapist for ten years before shifting her focus to become a full-time conference leader and writer.
Tasha is married to the hottest youth pastor on the planet, Tim Levert. Tim and Tasha enjoy leading worship together, eating, traveling, dancing, dreaming, and playing with their kids. They have three beautiful daughters, Elle, Zoe, and Ashton, and a dog named Gumbo.
Dr. Tim Levert
Tim has served as the lead pastor of Crossroads Church since 2003. Before coming to the Baltimore-Washington area he served several churches in Louisiana. He has over a decade of experience in student ministry, and earned his PhD in Christian Education in 2005. Tim is hopelessly in love with his wife, Tasha (who also has a PhD and is much smarter than he is), and their three daughters, Elle, Zoe, and Ashton. He is also a huge LSU fan. Huge! Really, it’s embarrassing.
Dr. Keith Matthews
Keith is Chair of the Ministry Department and Professor of Spiritual Formation and Contemporary Culture at Azusa Pacific University’s Graduate School of Theology. He is a long time pastoral practitioner in many differing contexts, serving churches from coast to coast. Keith has been a Church Planter, an Associate Pastor, Executive Pastor and Lead Pastor in small, medium and large church settings. Now serving as a teacher to pastors, Keith’s expertise is in Ministry Leadership and Spiritual Formation, along with Contemporary Culture/Emergent Ministry Issues. He is an Adjunct Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary teaching with Dr. Dallas Willard and Dr. Todd Hunter in Fuller’s Doctor of Ministry Program. He has written articles for Sojourners Magazine and Leadership Journal, as well as designed and co-authored Dallas Willard’s Study Guide to The Divine Conspiracy. He is an ordained pastor, church consultant, retreat speaker, and conference speaker for Renovare Inc. Keith is married to Christa and has three children, Cori, Kyle and Kate, and now resides in Southern California.
Dr. Marykate Morse
MaryKate Morse is Professor of Leadership and Spiritual Formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and the Director of Strategic Planning for the University. She teaches regularly in the areas of New Testament Greek, Spirituality, Prayer, and Church Health. She has planted two churches with pastoral teams in Portland. She is a recorded Quaker minister, a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Academy of Religion, and is a trained spiritual director. She also does conference and retreat ministries and writes, including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence. MaryKate is married to Randy and has three adult children and two grandchildren.
Jim Pace *
Jim has been immersed with one church, New Life Christian Fellowship, for the bulk of the time he has been a follower of Jesus. He has served [nlcf] for the past 13 years as a staff member and was ordained as one of their pastors seven years ago. He started with helping to lead a small group bible study and has developed into a conference speaker, church coach and church strategy nerd. He also has just finished writing his first book, “Should We Fire God?” that should be out early 2010. Having been involved at almost every level of leadership in the church he understands much of what it takes to lead at every level and likes to focus on seeing the church accomplish the goals they feel God has set for them as well as seeing those who work in the church fully access their God-driven dreams. He enjoys reading, lifting soup cans with his post-operative right shoulder, talking smack about country music and NASCAR and writing run-on sentences. He and his wife Tracy have been married for 13 years and have three kids that are just a little bit more amazing than yours. Read Jim’s Blog. Jim also happens to look EXACTLY like Scott Van Pelt.
JR Woodward *
JR is a person who helps individuals and communities awaken to their God given dreams and live them out. He is the founding pastor of [nlcf] at Virginia Tech and he and his current team are starting three new churches in the Los Angeles area – Hollywood, West LA and Downtown/USC. These multi-ethnic communities of faith are helping to bring the reality of the kingdom of God to the Los Angeles area, through building neighborhood churches that are committed to social justice, walking with God and pursing wholeness in the context of community as they immerse themselves in the narrative of God. JR is a church consultant, a conference speaker, a blogger (www.jrwoodward.net) a church planter assessor and coach and loves to awaken churches live out Missio Dei. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Art in Global Leadership at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. He loves to surf, travel, have a glass of wine with old and new friends, watch films and engage in the art of photography. He resides in Hollywood, California.
*Denotes Board of Directors Member
The BOD is currently comprised of seven individuals. The BOD is responsible for guarding Ecclesia’s mission, vision, values, and distinctives. The BOD is also responsible for approving and governing financial and legal matters, as well as the outworking of the various functions of Ecclesia.