Plenary Session Speakers
Jerry Root is the Director of the Evangelism Initiative and Faculty/Scholar Practitioner at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, as well as an Associate Professor at Wheaton, teaching graduate courses (MA in Evangelism and Leadership Program) and undergraduate courses (Christian Formation and Ministry Department). In addition, Jerry is a visiting professor at Talbot Graduate School of Theology and Biola University.
He has written C.S. Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme, is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism, and is also co-author and co-editor of The Soul of C.S. Lewis: A Meditative Journey through Twenty-six of His Best Loved Writings. Furthermore, he is co-editor, with Wayne Martindale, of the best selling The Quotable C.S. Lewis.
His newest book The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis: An Introduction, co-authored with Mark Neal, is being released September 2015. Jerry has contributed to many edited works about C.S. Lewis and has published numerous articles about Lewis, evangelism, discipleship, and spiritual formation.
Devin Brown is Lilly Scholar and Professor of English at Asbury University.
He has written a number of books, including his three-volume Inside Narnia Series, The Christian World of The Hobbit, and A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis. In 2008 he served as Scholar-in-Residence for the Summer Seminar held at The Kilns, the Oxford home of C.S. Lewis. In 2010 he was a contributor to and a member of the Advisory Board for The C.S. Lewis Bible.
In 2013 he helped edit The Annotated Screwtape Letters, and in 2014, he published a new biography of Tolkien. Most recently Devin helped create Discussing Mere Christianity, writing the paper study guide as well as the script for the 8-session video.
Randy Steele is a consultant to churches in transition, preacher, and teacher. He served in full-time ministry for over 35 years.
Randy helps churches develop a proactive response to cultural change by first recognizing and embracing the needs of the world, and then demonstrating the power of the gospel in meeting those needs. Randy believes that if the church is to recover, the church must shed its institutional bias, transform its mission by empowering and equipping its members for ministry, and give itself wholeheartedly to what God is already at work doing in reconciling the world.
Randy was born and raised in Washington State. He came to Christ while a sophomore at the University of Washington, Seattle. In college he studied music and psychology in preparation for a teaching career. He received his call into full-time Christian ministry while serving as an elder and choir director. After graduation, Randy enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Randy was ordained in 1976 and called to be an Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Spokane, WA. During the 11 years of ministry in this parish, Randy enjoyed a diversified ministry that included 6 years of student ministry and 5 years of congregational development.
After his tenure in Spokane, Randy received a call as Pastor/Head of Staff and moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where he served for fifteen years. Prior to retiring from full time ministry a few years ago, Randy served for twelve years as Pastor/Head of Staff at Laguna Niguel Presbyterian Church in Laguna Niguel, California.
If you tell Bob Bennett his songs don’t sound much like Christian music, you’re likely to invoke a smile. After all, Bob has always lurked outside the fringes of contemporary Christian music, crafting songs that detail not only his joys and victories, but also his disappointments, struggles and failures.
Bob’s acoustic folk-style recordings have honestly confronted the messy side of human existence over the years. But those who have discovered his depth, wit, honesty and musicianship consider him to be one of Christian music’s foremost songwriters.
Bob was born in Downey, California, in 1955. He picked up his first guitar at age nine and formed a rock ‘n’ roll band in high school. In the late seventies he converted to Christianity, and his songwriting began to reflect his newfound faith. His career was launched with the release of his 1979 folk-style debut recording First Things First. Three years later came Matters of the Heart, a recording Contemporary Christian Music Magazine voted 1982’s “Album of the Year,” ranking it among the top 20 contemporary Christian albums of all time.
Soon after the release of his next recording, Non-Fiction, he served as opening act on Amy Grant’s Unguarded tour. Lord of the Past: A Compilation followed, with its title song reaching number one on the Christian radio charts in early 1990, followed by his second number one song, “Yours Alone.” Later that year Bob joined Michael Card on his The Way of Wisdom tour, performing in front of sold-out audiences across the country. Songs from Bright Avenue was released in 1991, a collection of songs he wrote while struggling with the dissolution of his marriage. The years that followed were a time of emotional healing, regrouping and moving forward with his life. Recently, Bob has found acceptance in the mainstream folk music scene, while performing in music clubs near his home in Southern California.
Deliberately subjective in his lyrics, Bob allows listeners to eavesdrop on his personal observations and decide for themselves if the words ring true. Ultimately, he reaches into hearts, using his abilities to craft language and music to tell the stories inside each of us.
Ad Deum Dance Company is a professional modern/contemporary dance company based in Houston, Texas. It is directed by its founder Randall Flinn, who established the company in January 2000.
Ad Deum has toured across the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. Their work has been featured in Dance Spirit and Dance Magazine. Ad Deum has performed the works of many choreographers including Steve Rooks (former principal dancer with Martha Graham), Caleb Mitchell (former Houston Ballet dancer), Hope Boykin (Alvin Ailey), Stephen Wynne (Talk Dance Company), Bill Wade (Inlet Dance Theatre), Durell Comedy (Limon Dance Company), and Ryan Corriston (former dancer with Doug Varrone), as well as the works of Mr. Flinn and Ad Deum Company members.
Ad Deum’s purpose is to create and perform relevant and redemptive dance works that maintain a high standard of integrity, excellence and artistry, offering beauty, grace, and hope to those they serve.
Writers Workshop Sessions
Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art — painting, films, novels, poetry, and music — to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.
He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film; Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis; The Prayers of Jane Austen; 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer; and Bible Basics for Everyone. Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.
He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History. Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award. He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.
Lancia Smith is a Regional Representative for the C.S. Lewis Foundation, serving in a variety of capacities including our Program Planning Committee (various events), our Event Management Team (The C.S. Lewis Retreat), organizational development consulting, and official photographer for Foundation events.
Lancia writes on topics related to C.S. Lewis and arts intersecting culture. She hosts the website Cultivating the Good, the True and the Beautiful at lanciaesmith.com and is the founder of The Cultivating Project, a project highlighting spiritual and creative excellence in the lives of believing creatives. Lancia is currently writing two books related to the influence of faith-infused art in culture and the character formation of writers.
Lancia is currently president of an environmental consulting and engineering firm based in Denver CO. She has been photographing professionally for 30 years and spent many years in publishing and graphic design. Having served in church leadership capacities for more than 25 years, she has an extensive background in lay counseling in addiction recovery, bereavement, and women survivors of abuse.
Melanie Stiles is a Christian Life Coach, author, and speaker. She has accumulated hundreds of freelance bylines, authored two books specifically for writers, and frequently speaks at conferences, churches, and groups on topics relating to the journeys of Christian women, discipleship, and writing.
Her award-winning book, The Heart of a Ready Scribe: 52 Reflections for Writers, continues to be well received by the writing community. She has recently completed the second book of an intended six-part series titled, Let’s Write Devotionals!
Melanie offers services to other writers including editing, ghostwriting, book assessments and more. In addition, Melanie serves as a Life Coach with certifications through the American Association of Christian Counselors, and pairs with individuals or groups to assist in goal achievement. Her programs can be customized to fit individual or group needs.
Melanie spends her free time volunteering as a Lay Minister at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas and as the Writers Workshop Coordinator of the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
C.S. Lewis Readers Sessions
Andrew Lazo is a speaker, teacher, and writer on C.S. Lewis and his fellow Inklings. He presents on C.S. Lewis at retreats, conferences, and seminars. Andrew currently serves as teacher of English and C.S. Lewis at Houston Christian High School in Houston.
Andrew has published several articles and book reviews on Lewis and other Inklings and has co-edited Mere Christians: Inspiring Stories of Encounters with C. S. Lewis. His latest article, published in the journal VII, has corrected the accepted dating of Lewis’s conversion to Theism.
As a speaker on C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, Andrew’s resume includes, among many others, weekend conferences at Laity Lodge, St. Mark’s Episcopal (Jacksonville, FL) and St. Michael’s by-the-Sea (Carlsbad, CA) and a regular summer series at Christ United Methodist Church (Sugar Land, TX). Andrew presented to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and he has offered a number of popular courses and lectures at The Jung Center of Houston.
Crystal Hurd is an educator, writer, poet, and scholar in Virginia.
She is the author of Thirty Days with C.S. Lewis: A Women’s Devotional and a contributor for Women and C.S. Lewis: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture. She has published articles and reviews in VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review, Inklings Forever, Mythlore, The Englewood Review of Books, and Sehnsucht: The C.S. Lewis Journal, with poetry published in Neon Ink. She is also a monthly contributor to the art/faith website All Nine Muses and a staff writer for the sci-fi/fantasy news site Legendarium. Her work explores aspects of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers, while also examining the role of artists as leaders and the rhetoric of power.
She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), with a Master’s in English and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from East Tennessee State University. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.
Breakout Session Leaders & Panelists
Abigail Santamaria is a New York City-based freelance researcher and biographer.
Her first book, Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis, was published in August of this year. She has contributed to Christianity Today, Lithub.com and to Christianity magazine in the UK, where she recently discussed Joy on the BBC’s “Women’s Hour.”
Abigail earned a MFA in literary nonfiction writing from Columbia University, was the recipient of the Marion E. Wade Center’s 2010 Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant, and has been awarded fellowships from Jentel Arts, the Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
William O’Flaherty is the creator of the All About Jack podcast (a feature of EssentialCSLewis.com) where you can find author interviews and unique talks about the life and writings of C.S. Lewis for both the casual and serious reader.
He has also contributed articles to Breakpoint.org, NarniaFans.com and HarperOne’s official C.S. Lewis blog. He has a special interest in clarifying questionable quotations attributed to Lewis. He is author of the forthcoming (March 2016) C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell: A Companion and Study Guide to The Screwtape Letters.
While having professional experience as an announcer in Christian radio, he holds a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling and presently works as a Family Therapist.
Lewis & Women Panel
Carolyn Curtis is an author, journalist, and speaker.
Her most recent book project is Women and C.S. Lewis: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture, published in 2015. She is a veteran journalist with many awards from publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the Evangelical Press Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. She has been published in On Mission, Christianity Today, Facts & Trends, By Faith, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, and numerous other publications. She has reported from daily newsrooms, from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and from presidential campaign trails.
She has also worked in communications management for Fortune 50 companies and at domestic corporate headquarters for two major church denominations. She has taught college journalism and has been a speaker at numerous conferences. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Communications from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Mary Pomroy Key is Director of Special Programs for the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
She has served California Baptist University as faculty teaching in the Psychology, Education and Literature departments and in the Counseling Graduate Program. She has held positions as Counseling Center Director, Director of Women’s Housing, and Career Services Director. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, was in private practice for several years, and conducted seminars in organizational consulting. Her calling for the past several years has been to Home Education and the development and networking of community resources in that context.
Mary earned both her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology degrees from California Baptist University. She earned a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a specialty in College Student Development through the School of Education at the University of Southern California.
Devin Brown (See Above)
Crystal Hurd (See Above)
Andrew Lazo (See Above)
Kasey Macsenti teaches philosophy at Imago Dei Community Church’s School of Theology and works as a Director of Continuous Improvement in the wireless industry.
Kasey Mascenti is a graduate of Gutenberg College, Eugene, Oregon, a liberal arts college that offers a degree in The Great Books, a curriculum centering around the most influential ideas of western civilization. The degree is comprised of the major historical works of science, history, philosophy, theology, and mathematical theory.
Steve Elmore serves at the C.S. Foundation as Vice President of Events and Communications.
Prior to joining the Foundation in June 2006, Steve had experience working as a community college instructor (English composition), software instructor (basic to advanced MS Office), GED instructor (science, history), and as technical and clerical support staff in the nonprofit, education, and small business sectors.
He has a B.A. in English from Pepperdine University and an M.A. in Literature and Film from Claremont Graduate University.
* Program schedule, program elements, and speaker/artist lineup is subject to change.
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