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August Preaching Forum: Around the Campfire

Ravensworth was invited to participate in an Activist Preacher series in August by fellow Alliance of Baptists’ congregations. Thanks to Rev. Lia Scholl, Wake Forest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Rev. Robin Anderson, Commonwealth Baptist Church, Alexandria, Va., we have the opportunity to hear from Judge Wendell Griffen and Rev. Melissa McQueen-Simmons. 
We are also excited to welcome Rev. Kyndra Frazier and our own Sara Sadler to the RBC virtual pulpit in August. What a gift for us to get to hear from these incredible preachers. 
We have stories to tell, stories to hear, and stories to examine. Join us Around the Campfire for August worship! Learn more about our preachers below:

8/2: Judge Wendell Griffen

Judge Wendell Griffen (he/him/his) prefers the term “radical” rather than progressive or liberal. He made national news when he faced ethics charges for taking part in a death penalty demonstration in April 2017. He is a pastor and a judge and the CEO of a consulting practice focused on cultural competency and inclusion. See below for his full bio.

8/16: Rev. Kyndra Frazier

Rev. Kyndra Frazier is a licensed clinician in the state of New York, and the Founder and CEO of KYND (Knowing Yourself In Need of Devotion) Consulting, Inc. KYND offers trauma-informed care through a variety of services from clinical therapy for individuals, families and couples to trauma-informed training for ecclesial communities and corporate entities. Rev. Frazier is the Founding Executive Director of The HOPE Center, a free mental health facility located in Central Harlem of NYC. She also served as the Associate Pastor of Congregational Care and Wellness at First Corinthian Baptist Church for 4 years. Known for her work in removing barriers to mental health access for communities of color. Rev. Frazier has been featured in multiple print and digital publications including Vice Magazine, New York Times, and Sojourners Magazine. Rev. Frazier holds a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology|Emory University, a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from North Carolina A&T State University.

8/23: Sara Sadler

Sara is the Director of Communications at RBC. She grew up in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Potomac, Maryland and has lived in the DC metro area her entire life. Sara earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, with a minor in History from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC with the intention to be ordained. Sara and her husband, Tom, live in Herndon with their two fur-children: Clark and Cayden.

8/30: Rev. Melissa McQueen-Simmons

Rev. Melissa N. McQueen-Simmons is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina and a first-generation college graduate. She is a mother to a charismatic toddler, Camdyn McQueen-Simmons, and the spouse to the beautiful and graceful Vondalyn McQueen-Simmons. She is a sister, an aunt, a friend, and Iraqi-Veteran. Melissa was born into Generation X, the demographic cohort between Baby Boomers and Millennials. She earned her Master of Divinity (M.Div.) with an emphasis in Pastoral Care at Howard University. 

Melissa is ordained in the United Church of Christ and is installed as pastor and teacher to Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for Gay and Transgender Justice. She is passionate about relationship-building within the  community. Melissa leads the LGBTQ committee for the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice. She also directs the Long-Term Strategic Planning Committee for Holy Covenant United Church of Christ. 

Melissa coordinates panel discussions relevant to social justice issues regarding the LGBT community and the Black Church. She conducts necessary research on the Black church, community, and ongoing sources regarding biblical scholarship and sexuality. She also assists with helping pastors and religious leaders address social and theological opposition in the Black community towards LGBT equality. She helps institutions create radically inclusive faith spaces.

She practices various healing techniques. She believes in African religious traditions, religious pluralism, liberation theology, black liberation theology, womanist theology and mindfulness living.  Her ultimate goal is to work with the oppressed and advocate for restorative justice in both church and community with the intention to enforce God’s inclusive love for all of creation.

Melissa is a lover of international cuisines, travel, and music. She is a musician, singer, and loves expressing herself in drumming, dance and expressive liturgical praise. Melissa says of herself, “As I continue on my path to living authentically, I am committed to helping others do the same – I am initiating the change I want to see.”

Full Bio for Rev/Judge Griffen

Wendell Griffen has served as Pastor of New Millennium Church since its inception in May 2009. New Millennium Church defines itself as “inclusive, progressive, and welcoming followers of Jesus Christ” based on the belief that social justice is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is also Circuit Judge of the Fifth Division, Sixth Judicial District, for the State of Arkansas, a position he has held since January 1, 2011. Griffen is also Chief Executive Officer of Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC, a consulting practice focused on cultural competency and inclusion.
Reverend/Judge Griffen grew up in rural southwest Arkansas near Delight (Pike County), and attended racially segregated schools until 1965. He graduated from Delight High School in 1968 and from the University of Arkansas in 1973 (Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, and
Distinguished Military Graduate). After serving three years as an Army officer, Griffen received an honorable discharge in 1976 and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for leading race relations and equal opportunity efforts within the 43d General Support Group at Fort Carson, Colorado. In 1979, he received a degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law
in 1979 (Juris Doctor), where he was Associate Editor of the Arkansas Law Review.
Since 1979, Griffen has actively devoted himself to law, public policy, and ministry. He was the first person of color to become an associate and later a partner in a major Arkansas law firm (Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings in Little Rock). For almost two years, he was Chairman of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission by appointment of then Governor Bill Clinton.
He pursued seminary extension studies through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was ordained in May 1988 after being called to his first pastorate. From January 1996 to
December 2008, he served as a Judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Then Griffen taught
administrative law, constitutional law, criminal procedure, and a seminar he developed on law and cultural competency as a Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law before being elected Circuit Judge for the Sixth Judicial District, Fifth Division, in Arkansas, his current post.
Inspired by the gospel of Jesus, Griffen regularly speaks and writes about legal ethics and
professionalism, religion and social justice, cultural competency and inclusion, and public
policy. His sermons and other essays can be found on the websites of New Millennium Church, Ethics Daily, and on his blogs, Justice Is a Verb! and Wendell Griffen on Cultural Competency.
Reverend Griffen is married to Dr. Patricia Griffen, a clinical psychologist in private practice, and they are parents of two adult sons.