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2012-2013 Brite Student Association Members

Moderator- Jonathan Brink

“I have been created in love so that I may also love” -Anonymous

I grew up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and am a proud member of First Christian Church of Pasadena. My calling to ministry has been based upon my desire to love others as I have been created in love.  I am in my final year here with the Brite community and I love being a part of a place that can be diverse in its programming, academic course work, and culture.

I am an MDiv student and currently serve as a the Associate Minister of Music and Worship at Richland Hills Christian Church. My passions lie with teaching, global missions, languages, and interfaith dialogues. As such, Brite provides many wonderful opportunities for me to expound upon these kinds of exploits. Through eclectic ministry opportunities I hope to continue learning and share those teachings with others. Should you have similar interests or questions concerning these areas feel free to find or email me and I’ll be glad to help where I can!

Many Blessings,
Jonathan Brink

Vice Moderator- Shirley Johannsen:

Hi!  I am in my fifth year as an MDiv. student here at Brite, and I am completely excited and humbled to be graduating next spring.   I hope to serve in congregational ministry after graduation, and I am passionate about sharing the good news of the loving God I have experienced.  I am thankful to be serving Forest Grove Christian Church in the Lucas/Allen area as a Ministry Intern, where I lead music, preach occasionally and teach youth and children. Brite and Forest Grove have been wonderful places to explore my theology and discern my call.

I enjoy preaching, teaching, theological reflection conversations, local outreach, leading music for worship, activities with youth, and just doing together whatever needs doing! I represent the commuter community, since I drive 60 miles or so each way from Allen twice a week for classes.  If you are also a commuter student, I encourage you to attend whatever events are going on on campus during the days you are here. Even though I’m a distance commuter, I am involved in BSA this year in serving as your vice-moderator because I want to support and take part in the great work that I have seen them doing over my years here.

When I am not at Forest Grove or here at Brite or studying, I can usually be found in my car driving my kids somewhere!  I have three kids, Angela who is a high school senior this year (future FROG maybe!) and is an artist, Melody who is a high school freshman and rides on an equestrian drill team, and Matthew who is in 6th grade and is getting close to his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  My husband of 20 years, Kris, is also getting close to his black belt in Tae Kwon Do!

If you have questions or would like to share some thoughts, feel free to get in touch.

Shirley Johannsen

General Secretary- BJ Tapley:

“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark!”- Anonymous

I am excited to be in my second year in the M.Div program here at Brite. This has been a long journey in my life, but I can honestly say that I have never felt happier or more at home than I do as part of this community. I am thankful to be able to serve as General Secretary for the Brite Student Association where I hope to exhibit the acceptance and love to those in this community that I have felt from you. We are a diverse group, and for that I am truly thankful. I was raised to believe that it is only by knowing what the other side believes on any given issue to know what you believe. I am thankful to call First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Lubbock Texas home.

When I am not studying for class, I enjoy watching the Texas Rangers or hanging out with friends over drinks. I also enjoy target shooting so if you are interested in a trip to the range or learning more about guns in general, all you have to do is ask.

Grace and Peace



Community Conversation Coordinator- Amber Churchill:

As a once closeted extrovert, it took me almost twenty years to find my voice, humor, and ridiculous understanding of the world. Since that point it has been a non-stop verbal assault of quotes, random facts, pop culture references and strange facial expressions, hence my life was destined for ministry of some kind. Currently, I’m on a schtick about disproving the evil binary system, but that is a conversation or rant for later. While a great part of my life revolves around humor, I am rooted in a desire to be genuine and honest. One of my life’s mantras can be summed up by a Mother Theresa quote, which says “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Anyway, onward to the official autobiography…. I am second generation Disciple of Christ, a 2nd year MDiv student and a PK. Since starting at Brite, I have had the honor of serving Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas as the Minister-in-Training, with a focus of Children, Youth and Young Adults. We are an Open and Affirming DOC congregation that focuses heavily on being inclusive, doing justice, and honoring diversity. Alongside church duties, this is my second semester serving on BSA as the Community Conversations Coordinator, no relation to FDR, so if you have dietary needs or would like to volunteer time just let me know.

Agape Feast Coordinator- Gabe Pfefer

I am a proud life long member of the Disciples of Christ, a native Missourian from the Kansas City area, and a recently converted fan of the Great State of Texas. I hold memberships in Raymore Christian Church and Community Christian Church in the Kansas City region, and I currently serve as pastor at Bethany Christian Church in White Settlement, TX. Answering the call to ministry was a many year process, but since coming to Brite I have truly begun to find direction through this journey of following the way of Christ. I am in my final year at Brite as an M.Div student and hope to continue to pursue parish ministry after graduation. Beyond school and ministry I enjoy the outdoors, music, movies, books, and rooting on the TCU Horned Frogs and my beloved Mizzou Tigers. Thursday Agape Feasts have become a cherished part of my weekly routine and I honored to be taking this more active role in preparing them .

At Large Member- Sarah Almanza:

I am in my fourth semester at Brite Divinity School where I am working to receive my MDiv.  I am very blessed to be where I am today and I am very grateful to the many people who have supported me through my journey that has led me here.   Brite was very appealing to me for many reasons but, after the time I have spent here, I am positive this is where I need to be to grow in ministry.  At the core of my beliefs is that God’s love is greater than anything and I am continually amazed by where that love can lead a person.

I am a member of the Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) and my family has always been my greatest example of what it truly means to serve others.  I was raised in the DFW area and received my Bachelors of Science in Social Work from Texas Christian University.  After graduation in 2008 I moved to Seattle, WA to find out more about myself.  This experience was one that will forever be with me and only reassured my calling to ministry.

I am the Minister to Children and Families at Irving North Christian Church and have had the most wonderful time working with these beautiful children of God who teach me more about faith than I could have ever expected.  Although, I never truly know where God will take me next, I am happy about where I am now and excited to see where my journey will take me in the future.

Sarah Almanza

At Large Member- Sara Beckham:

Sara Beckham graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in Psychology in December 2011 ready to start attending her calling at Brite Divinity School in Spring 2012.  During her time here, she has really enjoyed all of the programs that Brite has to offer.  Sara is super awesome so if you have not gotten to know her, you should. She doesn’t mind if you come up to her and randomly start a conversation.


At Large Member- Casey Carter:


At Large Member- Douglass Anne Cartwright:

What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.     ~John Updike

Although I am a sixth generation member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the daughter of two Disciples ministers, a call to ministry was not something I ever considered as I was growing up.  Now, in my third year of seminary at Brite, I am still amazed with the ways that God has shaped my life and my call to ministry.

I am an artist with many mediums, and am continuously finding ways in which the Arts can connect the Church, worship, and the community together.  I am a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington D.C., where I received a B.A. in Music and a B.A. in theatre.  I have also lived in New York City, Iowa, North Carolina, Louisiana, and, of course, Texas.  I plan to continue acting, directing, singing, dancing, writing, doodling, and learning new things as I find my place in ministry.

If you have any questions about things that are going on at Brite or in Fort Worth, please feel free to email me!  I’d love to talk to you and hear about what moves you!!

Douglass Anne Cartwright

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