Skip to Main Content

Race, America and the Church - Unafraid

Location: Online via Zoom

Unafraid: Stand up for Social Justice

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 12:00 -1:30 PM

Representatives from different conferences discuss what the local church and their conferences are doing to address racism.
via Zoom

Speakers: Rev. Derrek Belase, Rev. David Lagos-Fonseca, Rev. Dana Neuhauser, Rev. Brian Tillman, & Rev. Kathy L. Williams
Moderator: Rev. Pamela Pirtle

Video Recording

Find out more from the 2022 Speaker Series


About the Speakers:

Belase Derrek

Rev. Derrek Belase

Rev. Derrek Belase

After serving 13 years under appointment in local churches, Rev. Derrek Belase was appointed the Director of Discipleship for the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in August 2016.  On July 1, 2019, Derrek became the Director of Connectional Ministry for the Oklahoma Annual Conference. A lifelong Oklahoman, Derrek graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University and Saint Paul School of Theology.  He also studied at the Center for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University.  He has degrees in criminal justice and theology, and is also a certified police officer in Oklahoma.  Derrek is currently pursuing his doctoral degree at Eden Theological Seminary.   Derrek is married to Rev. Rebekah Belase, Senior Director of Funds Development for Church World Service and an ordained deacon in the Oklahoma Conference.  They are the proud parents of Madison (age 13) and Elizabeth (age 6). 

Pastor David

Rev. David Lagos-Fonseca

Rev. David Lagos-Fonseca

Pastor David Lagos-Fonseca finds his greatest joy in serving people regardless of their ethnic origin, race, gender orientation, beliefs, age, sexual orientation, physical and economic conditions. He is passionate about working for justice, equality, dignity for all. Pastor David was born and raised in Chile where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English teaching from the Pontifical Catholic University. He was ordained in the Northern Illinois Conference after he earned a M. Div. from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL. He has served the Northern Illinois Conference since 1998. He has led Our Saviour’s United Methodist Church since 2016. He is currently serving the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) through the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CCFA); the Prairie Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry (DCOM); CODERED Team.

Dana Neuhauser

Rev. Dana Neuhauser

Rev. Dana Neuhauser

Rev. Dana Neuhauser [she, her hers] is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. She likes to think of deacon as shorthand for justice-seeking, peacemaking, disciple-equipping follower of Jesus. She has a heart for racial, economic, and environmental justice and seeks to invite and equip others to work for justice in the world as part of faithful living. She is the Racial Justice Organizer for the Minnesota Annual Conference and Minister of Public Witness for New City Church in Minneapolis.

Pam Pirtle 250x250

Rev. Pamela Pirtle



Rev. Pamela Pirtle

Rev. Pamela Pirtle is the Senior Director of Leadership Development and Accountability for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW). She is the assistant pastor for St. Mark UMC Chicago. She serves on the Conference Committee on Finance Administration and is a former United Voices for Children board member. She is an Elder in the United Methodist Church and a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

P29 1

Rev. Brian Tillman

Rev. Brian Tillman

Rev. Brian Tillman is the Conference Director of Inclusion and Advocacy. He serves as part of the Connectional Ministries staff. Rev. Tillman earned his B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 2003 where his major was Child Development. He earned his M.Ed degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2007. He earned his M.Div degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in 2011 with a concentration in Scripture and Interpretation. He earned a certificate from the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership in 2017. He is currently in the D.Min program at Emory University. Rev. Tillman was commissioned in the North Georgia Conference in 2011 and ordained in 2015. He has served in churches in North Georgia in various roles and served for 4 years as the Chair of the North Georgia Commission on Religion and Race until joining the Conference staff as Director of Inclusion and Advocacy. He has written a popular series of articles for Rethink Church (UM Communications) called “Racial Reconciliation: No Handholding Kumbaya” and has had other writings and sermons published including one sermon titled “Breathe.” He has copyrighted his Racial Healing Framework which he uses to dismantle racist systems, structures, policies, and practices in North Georgia and other places where invited. Rev. Tillman is “super-duper” happily married to Shanika Tillman and they have 4 very unique children (2 boys and 2 girls).


Rev. Kathy L. Williams

Rev. Kathy L. Williams

Rev. Kathy Williams holds membership in the Great Plains Conference as an ordained elder and she currently serves as Leadership Development Coordinator for the Clergy Excellence Department of the Great Plains Conference.  Her current responsibilities include developing an onboarding process for international clergy and the congregations who will receive them and to heighten awareness of Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Ministry in the conference. Prior to entering full-time ministry, Rev. Williams received her Bachelor of Science and Specialist in Education Degrees from Emporia State University and previously worked as a School Psychologist for nearly 20 years. She graduated from St. Paul School of theology with her Master of Divinity Degree in 2012 and was ordained in 2015. She has spent the remainder of her career in pastoral ministry serving local churches in the Kansas and Missouri Areas. Rev. Williams has a strong passion for justice, equity, and social issues involving vulnerable populations and she previously served as Co- President of Justice Matters, a faith-based justice initiative involving congregations in the Lawrence, KS area.  She currently serves on the Topeka District Committee on Ministry and chairs the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Task Force of the Great Plains Conference. Rev. Williams is the proud wife of Earl Williams, and they have two adult children; Christopher 29 (wife Kellie), and Alexandria 25.

Find out more from the 2022 Speaker Series

News & Announcements


NIC Seeks Events Coordinator/Admin Assistant

The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church is seeking an events coordinator/administrative assistant.


Avoid the echo chamber and walk alongside other cultures

"I know that my episcopal area is not the only area dreaming of new ways of being better siblings to those who were here first . . . We collectively have the opportunity…

Ashley Boggan D Cr

Wesleyan Vile-tality: A Call to United Methodist Renewal

Dr. Ashley Boggan D. of the General Commission on Archives and History urges NCJ delegates to embrace "Wesleyan vile-tality" as a core aspect of Wesleyan identity.  


Northern Illinois Conference seeks to yield to God’s leading: 2024 Conference Summary

Observing a Wesleyan spiritual practice rather rallying around a slogan, members of the 2024 session of the Northern Illinois Conference o…