Magrey R. deVega is the Senior Pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, FL. He is the author of several books, including Embracing the Uncertain: A Lenten Study for Unsteady Times, Embracing the Uncertain: 40 Devotions for Unsteady Times, One Faithful Promise: The Wesleyan Covenant for Renewal, and Songs for the Waiting. Magrey is also the Leadership Editor for the Covenant Bible Study by Abingdon Press, overseeing the weekly small group classroom experience. He is a graduate of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH, and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, and the father of two daughters, Grace and Madelyn.
Suzi Byrd is an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, currently serving as Pastor for Worship, Mission and Congregational Care at Westminster United Methodist Church in Houston, TX. She facilitates the creation of all worship services at Westminster whose styles range from traditional to contemporary to blended, and emergent. She believes in the connection between worship and mission and is leading her congregation in becoming the neighborhood church that worships and serves together in partnership with neighbors beyond the walls of the church.
R. DeAndre Johnson, an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, is the pastor of music and worship life at Christ Church Sugar Land in Sugar Land, TX. He was the worship leader for the GBHEM Exploration events in Denver (2013) and Portland (2017), a vocational discernment event for college students. In 2016, he served as the music coordinator for both the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Portland, OR and the World Methodist Conference in Houston, TX. Through his work in churches of various sizes, demographics and worship styles, DeAndre has developed a passion for enlivening congregational song and exploring the ways in which worship becomes a catalyst for true reconciliation.
Nathaniel Gumbs is a native of the Bronx, NY and is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree, studying with David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He received the Master of Music Degree in Organ Performance from Yale University and Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. His playing has been described by music critics as “mature, lyrical, accurate and energetic.” Nathaniel served as the Director of Music and Arts and Church Organist at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC from 2012-2017 and has been recently appointed the director of Chapel Music at Yale University in New Haven, CT.
Pearl Shangkuan is a highly sought-after conductor, lecturer and clinician all across the United States and internationally. Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, she is also chorus master of the Grand Rapids Symphony, a Grammy-nominated professional orchestra. Her conducting, teaching and adjudicating engagements have taken her to Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and all over Europe and Asia. She has a signature choral series with earthsongs and is the music editor of the Calvin Choral series, published by GIA.
André J. Thomas, the Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, is the Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University. Since 1988, he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. He previously was a faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin. He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa.
Young Adult Choir
Mark Miller serves as Associate Professor of Church Music at Drew Theological School and is a Lecturer in the Practice of Sacred Music at Yale University. He is also the Minister of Music of Christ Church in Summit, NJ. Mark’s dream is that the music he composes, performs, teaches and leads will inspire and empower people to create the beloved community.
Senior High Choir
Stephen W. Mitchell is in his 17th year as Director of Music at Athens First United Methodist Church, Athens, GA, where he directs the Sanctuary Choir, Chamber Ensemble and two handbell choirs, and oversees an extensive choral, instrumental and handbell program. His choirs have recently toured to England, France, Spain, and Salzburg singing concerts and festivals. Stephen is also in his 13th year as Director of the Athens Choral Society, a 90 voice, non-auditioned community chorus. He is active as a choral clinician having recently conducted festivals in Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida.
Middle High Choir
Damion Womack currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music, Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Director of Choral Activities at Huntingdon College. He is also serving as the American Choral Director’s Association National Chairman for High School Choirs. Prior to his appointment at Huntingdon College, he served as Director of Arts at The Montgomery Academy, where he received the McLemore Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is in demand as a guest conductor and clinician in the Southeast and has served in this capacity in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Illinois.
Danny Lyons is a solo handbell artist, handbell director, composer, and clinician who plays concerts and conducts clinics, festivals, and handbell classes regularly throughout the southeast and across the nation. He has played solo handbell concerts all across the United States; in Paris; Liverpool, Novi Sad, Serbia; and in the Bahamas, and has recorded 2 CDs and a concert DVD of solo handbell music with piano, harp, and organ. He is currently director and founder of Christ Church Ringers handbells at Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola, FL. Danny rings in the handbell quartet “Bellissimo!” as well as accepting solo handbell and teaching/directing engagements around the country.
Carol Lynn Mizell
Carol Lynn Mizell has been the Handbell Director at First United Methodist Church in Denton, TX, since 1994. She rings handbells with Concert Bells of Fort Worth (charter member-1998), and has been the Conductor of the Denton Community Band since 1978. Carol Lynn retired in June 2017 from her long time “day job” as a Band Director in the Denton Independent School District. She is a published composer, has served as Handbell Clinician at Handbell Musicians of America Area and National events, and as Massed Conductor for Area Events. She was elected President of the Greater Dallas Handbell Association in 2018.
David J. Stanley is a master’s conducting student at the University of Georgia, where he serves as a graduate assistant actively involved in band program planning, logistical support, performances, and instruction. From 2014-2018, David served as Director of Bands for William Fleming High School in Roanoke, VA, and facilitated the program’s reorganization process, resulting in enrollment and adjudication improvements for all ensembles. David holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Furman University.
Molly M. Stanley is a master’s candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include student motivation, behavior, and academic performance. Prior to accepting her graduate assistantship, she spent several years teaching middle school orchestra in South Carolina and Virginia. Her wide range of experience includes Suzuki violin, elementary strings, middle and high school orchestra, and children’s ministry. Molly received her Bachelor of Music Education from Furman University. A native of Waynesville, NC, and raised in the First United Methodist Church, Molly remains connected to her hometown and Lake Junaluska.
Mary Button is a native Texan and graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. An artist and activist, Mary’s work explores the connections between Biblical narratives and contemporary social justice issues. Mary’s work has been exhibited across the United States and the United Kingdom, with exhibitions at the Museum of Biblical Art, the Church Center of the United Nations, and Wesley House at Cambridge University. Her Stations of the Cross series has been shown in dozens of churches and explores themes like mass incarceration, mental illness, and climate change. She is currently pursuing ordination in the Lutheran Church (ELCA) and is a student at United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia.
Stephanie Crockett is a dance instructor in the Baltimore County Public School System in her hometown of Baltimore, MD. She recently graduated from Towson University majoring in Dance Performance, Choreography, and Education. Stephanie began her dance training at the age of 3 at the Baltimore County Youth Ballet, Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Dance Theater of Harlem Residency Program. She has received numerous scholarships to train over summers at Ballet Austin, Dance Theater of Harlem, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and Alonzo Kings Lines Ballet.
Hycliff Soler was called by the Lord after receiving training in dance since his adolescence (1990). He served as a professional dancer for many years at a secular level, where he belonged to a Musical Magazine for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and had the opportunity to dance in cities including Las Vegas, Broadway, New York, and Denver, among others. Currently, Hycliff is part of the leadership of the Dance Company for the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Israel. He is founder and director of Dánzale Christian Dance Academy since 2003 with his wife, Luna.
Dramatic Reading in Worship
Catherine Nance is the Director of Music Ministries at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Aiken, directing choirs of all ages, handbells, and overseeing all worship aspects of services held in the sanctuary. She recently earned her Doctorate in Worship Studies from the Robert Webber Institute of Worship Studies. Outside of church leadership positions, she has taught voice and music appreciation and served as the music director for the theater department at the University of South Carolina, Aiken. Catherine is presently a member of the SC Chapter of The Fellowship as well as being the Vice-President of Content on The Fellowship’s Executive Board. Bringing Scripture to life is another passion and Catherine is honored to help that happen at MWAW.
Older Elementary Choir
Malcolm J. Merriweather is Music Director of New York City’s The Dessoff Choirs, known for their performances of great choral works from the pre-Baroque era through the 21st century. He is an Assistant Professor, Director of Choral Studies and Voice Department Coordinator at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Artist in Residence at Union Theological Seminary, and the Artistic Director of “Voices of Haiti,” a 60-member children’s choir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, operated by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation. He has earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Syracuse University (summa cum laude).
Experienced using a variety of genres and instrumentations, Brian Hehn has led worship for Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and many more across the U.S. and Canada. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Wingate University, his Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and is certified in children’s church music (K-12) by Choristers Guild. He has articles published on sacred music and congregational song in multiple journals and co-authored the book All Hands In: Drumming the Biblical Narrative, published by Choristers Guild. Brian is the Director of The Center for Congregational Song (a resource center by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada), adjunct professor of church music at Wingate University in Wingate, NC, and Associate Director of Contemporary Music at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore, MD.
Younger Elementary Choir
Amanda M. Craft currently serves as the Associate Director of Choral Ministries (Children) at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, TN. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Belmont University, and is close to completing her dual Masters degree in Church Music and Music Education. She has written for Growing in Grace children’s music curriculum and has served as a Stephen Minister in The United Methodist Church.