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2022 Annual Conference Speakers and Leaders

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Ordination Service Preacher  - Bishop Jonathan Keaton

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Bishop Jonathan Keaton

Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton is a retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 1996-2016. He was assigned to serve as episcopal leader of the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church September 1, 2012 until he retired. From 2004-2012, he served as the resident bishop of the Michigan Area, which includes the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences. Prior to Michigan he served as the resident bishop of the Ohio East Area for eight years.

Bishop Keaton was elected to the Episcopacy in 1996 after serving as the district superintendent of the Aurora District in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Prior to that, he was an Associate Council Director in Northern Illinois. Bishop Keaton also served two churches: Broadway UMC in Rockford, Ill., and St. Luke UMC in Chicago, Ill. Bishop Keaton was elected to three General Conference delegations with the Northern Illinois Conference.

Bishop Keaton has served as a member of the General Council on Ministries from 1988-1996; the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2009-2012. His past involvement with general agencies include the General Board of Global Ministry from 1996-2004, and The United Methodist Development Fund from 1996-2004, where he served as president. Bishop Keaton chaired the denominational initiative, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC-21) from 1996-2008.  Bishop Keaton is serving as a member of the Council of Bishop’s Leadership Team on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.

Bishop Keaton graduated with a Master of Divinity Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he later received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. Bishop Keaton received his Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Philander Smith College.

Bishop Keaton has co-authored two books, The Confessions of Three Ebony Bishops with Bishop Edsel A. Ammons and Bishop Ernest S. Lyght and Our Father, Where Are the Fathers? with Bishop Ernest S. Lyght. He also contributed to, God Delivers Me: A Model from Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century. Keaton has co-authored two unpublished manuscripts.  One is titled The Beginning: A Garret Black Seminarians Anthrology 1968-971.  The other is named Unmasking Racism: Coloring with Love for the Church, Community and Academy.  

Bishop Keaton and his wife, Beverly, have been blessed with three children: Jonathan II and his wife Lisa reside in Illinois with the Bishop and Mrs. Keaton’s two granddaughters, Maliah and Amara.

Ecumenical Guest - Bishop Yehiel Curry


Bishop Yehiel Curry

Bishop Yehiel Curry was born, raised and still resides on the south side of Chicago with his wife of 23 years, Lashonda and their three daughters: Shemiah, Ashirah and Shekinah. On June 8, 2019, Rev. Yehiel Curry was elected to Bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and began his call of service on September 1, 2019. 

His first involvement with ordained ministry was an uncommon one. Similarly, the congregation he served prior to his election had an uncommon beginning as well. Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Riverdale, Illinois, grew out of a youth development and mentoring program for young African-American men called, Safe in My Brothers Arms (SIMBA), on the south side of Chicago. Yehiel Curry attended Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, where he received a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Secondary Education in 1995. After four years in the social service field, Yehiel Curry spent another four years teaching 6th grade Social Studies at Doolittle East Middle School, a Chicago Public School nestled in the Ida B. Wells public housing projects. 

In 1997, he was part of a team that was helping to organize a new worshiping community in Chicago with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 2007, Yehiel Curry began serving as the lay Mission Developer of Shekinah Chapel. Bishop Yehiel Curry was ordained on April 26, 2009, after two years of study at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) through the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) program. In 2012, Shekinah Chapel became an organized congregation of the ELCA and in 2013, Bishop Curry received his Master of Divinity from LSTC. 

Bishop Curry was blessed to minister God’s word in Liberia & Rwanda, Africa; before 35,000 youth at the Youth Gathering; at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly and various synods throughout the U.S. 

Bible Study Leader - Rev. Jane Easley

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Rev. Jane Eesley

Rev. Jane Eesley serves as senior pastor of Christ UMC in Rockford. In 26 years of ordained ministry, she has served Chicago: Mayfair, Naperville: Community (associate), DeKalb: First, and Rockford: Christ. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Northwestern University. From 1990-1993, she served as a Mission Intern through Global Ministries, serving in a Palestinian baby clinic in Jerusalem and then with Methodist Federation for Social Action in Staten Island.

Jane attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she received the Hoyt Hickman Award for Liturgical Scholarship and Practice. She helped to lead Bethlehem ’99, a service-learning opportunity for youth and young adults from NIC; and in 2003 she taught “Creating Interfaith Community” through Mission U. In 2013 she received a Distinguished Alumna award from Garrett. She served on the NIC Board of Ordained Ministry for 12 years and currently serves on the UM Foundation Board. She also chairs the Prairie North District Superintendency Committee.

Worship Leader - Rev. Dr. Addison Shields, Jr.

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Rev. Dr. Addison Shields, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Addison Shields, Jr., retired July 1, 2014 as an Elder within the United Methodist Church after serving the denomination for 34 years. He serviced 6 congregations before his retirement. Dr. Shields served as the District Superintendent for the former Rockford and Chicago Southern Districts. He is currently serving as senior pastor for Transformation Community United Methodist Church in Harvey, Illinois.

Dr. Shields musical ministry started at a young age. He was the organist for many churches across the Chicago Metropolitan area. He studied voice under the Late Thelma Wade Brown at American Conservatory of music at Roosevelt University. While singing with the Kennedy-King College Community Choir, the choir sung as the guest chorale performing with the Ohio Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Dr. Shields sings baritone as a member of the South Holland Master Chorale in South Holland, IL.

Music Co-Coordinator - Rev. Dr. Tércio B. Junker

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Rev. Dr. Tércio B. Junker

Rev. Dr. Tércio Bretanha Junker has been a Brazilian Methodist Elder since March 1992 and a NIC Affiliate member since May 2020. He served as a Methodist Associate Pastor to three congregations and as Senior Pastor to two congregations from 1985 to 1996 and 2003 to 2006 in São Paulo, Brazil. Rev. Dr. Junker holds a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2003. He has two master's degrees in Theology/Ecclesiastical Music (ISEDET, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1993) and Master Theology Studies – Church Music and Choral Conducting (Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN, 1999). Dr. Junker also holds a bachelor's degree in Theology (Brazilian Methodist Seminary, São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, 1985). Rev. Dr. Junker returned to the US in June of 2006 when he was appointed the Assistant Professor of Worship and Director of the Sweeney Chapel at Christian Theological Seminary, where he worked until June 2015. From July 2015 to November 2020, Rev. Dr. Junker worked at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as the Regional Director of the Course of Study and Dean of the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful, where he also taught liturgy courses.

Rev. Tércio B. Junker has been serving as pastor of the Poplar Grove United Methodist Church, IL, since January 2021. As a liturgist, musician, and composer, he has vast experience in ecumenical contexts in Brazil, Latin America, Caribe, Europe, and the US. The most recent work for international organizations was his appointment as Music Director for the 10th World Council of Churches Assembly, held in Busan – South Korea, 2013, and as a workshop facilitator at the 21st World Methodist Conference, Houston, Texas 2016. As a Choir Conductor and producer, he recorded six choral CDs. Rev. Dr. Junker wrote several articles, book chapters, liturgical resources and is the author of Prophetic Liturgy: Toward a Transforming Christian Praxis, PICKWICK Publications, 2014.

Rev. Dr. Junker is married to Dr. Débora Barbosa Agra Junker, the Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogy at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. They have two daughters, one son, and one granddaughter: Dr. Yohana Agra Junker, Louise Agra Junker, married to Rafael de Freitas Ferreira – parents of Alice Junker Ferreira – and Tércio Agra Junker.

Pianist - Arnold Sevier

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Arnold Sevier

Pianist, Arnold Sevier was born the second of six children to Carl and Lessie Lowe-Sevier April 18, 1949 in Chicago, IL.  His musical pursuits began in 1957 under the tutelage of Frances R. Murrell, a local music instructor, and attending the Chicago Conservatory of Music under Blanche McGuire-Zhouk. His  formal education was in the Public Schools of Chicago-John D. Shoop Elementary, 1963 graduate and Morgan Park School, 1967 graduate. He later attended Kennedy-King CCC and Chicago State University, 1968-71. During all of these years, Arnold played piano for various churches throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. He later attended Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, graduating Magna Cum Laude 1995/97 with BM and BME degrees. He currently is Director of Music for the Transformation Community UMC, of Harvey, Ill., under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Addison Shields. He is known further for his compositions, especially his choral adaptation of "Precious Lord/Prof. Thomas A. Dorsey.”

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