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Worship Design Team

Worship Design
Rev. Dr. Khalia Williams Worship Design

Rev. Dr. Khalia J. Williams is the Associate Dean of Worship and Spiritual Formation, Associate Professor in the Practice of Worship, and Co-Director of the Baptist Studies Program at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. As an ordained minister, she earned a doctorate in Liturgical Studies from Graduate Theological Union, where her research focused on African American women’s embodiment in worship. Her previous academic achievements include an M.A. in Theological Studies (Columbia Theological Seminary), MBA in International Business (Nova Southeastern University), and B.S. in Business Administration (Florida Memorial University). A native of Los Angeles, California, Dr. Williams is a professionally trained classical ballet and modern dancer and answered her call to the ministry of worship and arts at the young age of nine years old. In 2006, she founded Trinity Praise Dance Company, a Miami-based Christian dance company focused on spreading the gospel and empowering the nations through dance. Over the years, her work as a liturgical artist and leader has been called upon by churches and conferences throughout the country and abroad. Khalia was ordained to the gospel ministry in 2010 and is sought after for her ability to teach ministries in the areas of worship planning and leadership, and the integration of worship and the arts. She is noted for her work with many different ecclesial bodies leading the worship planning and design for several conferences across the country. Khalia greatly impacts the Christian community with her desire for integrity, passion and Christ-centered ministry. As a dynamic preacher and teacher, Khalia mentors women across the country, and is driven by her passion to empower God’s people to reach their full potential in Christ. She serves as the First Lady and executive minister at the historic Providence Missionary Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta, Georgia, where her beloved husband, Rev. Damon P. Williams, Ph.D. is the senior pastor. She is an ecstatic and supportive wife, and they are the proud parents of two sons, Thomas Christian and Ethan Miles.

Rev. Dr. Gerald Liu Preacher

The son of culturally Buddhist immigrants from Taiwan, the Rev. Gerald C. Liu, PhD is an ordained United Methodist Elder of the Mississippi Annual Conference and currently serves as Emerging Faith Communities Cultivator for the Great Plains Annual Conference. His role helps to revitalize an ecology of 716 United Methodist congregations across Kansas and Nebraska roiled by disagreements over human sexuality and to start new ministries. Previously, he resourced 3,000 students and counting, and budgets that together exceeded $10 million as Director of Collegiate Ministries, Initiatives, and Belonging for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He has also taught as Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary. He holds an honorific as Minister in Residence at the Church of the Village, a United Methodist Congregation in Manhattan. He preaches regularly in local congregations across the United States. Gerald chairs the Board of Artworks Trenton, the leading community arts organization for the state of New Jersey. He sits on the Vanderbilt Divinity School Board of Visitors, is co-chair of engagement for the Asian American Vanderbilt Alumni Association, and programming chair for Woodruff Alumni Advisory Board, a specialized board consisting of members from all 9 university divisions who have held the highest university scholarships and fellowships. He has held leadership positions in the North American Academy of Liturgy, Societas Liturgica, the Academy of Homiletics. He was invited to co-direct worship for the 15th Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies at Keble College in Oxford, England this August. Gerald has authored numerous print and online articles and book chapters about liturgy, preaching, and theology and the arts; as well as the books, Music and the Generosity of God (Palgrave, 2017) and has co-authored with "Music Week" extraordinaire, Khalia Williams, Associate Dean of Worship and Music at Candler School of Theology, of A Worship Workbook: A Practical Guide for Extraordinary Liturgy (Abingdon, 2021).

Hannah Barker Nickolay Theatre

Hannah Barker Nickolay is a theatre artist, writer, and worship designer who is passionate about helping others engage scripture with curiosity and creativity. She has an M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, and a B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. She is a member and co-founder of the liturgical arts company Wayfolk Arts. Hannah and her spouse, Jackson, work with churches and academic institutions to explore how the intersection between enactment and scripture can give vitality to the worshipping life of the church.

Jackson Nickolay Theatre

Jackson Nickolay is originally from the North Woods of Minnesota along the shore of Lake Superior, but has lived in Holland, Michigan for the last 6 years. He recently graduated with a M. Div. from Western Theological Seminary with a focus on worship design. He has a passion for living into the dual vocation of a minister and an artist and finds application for these callings in worship music, embodied scripture, theatre, and liturgical arts. Jackson is married to Hannah Barker Nickolay, who also graduated from Western Theological Seminary in 2019. Together with a group of friends they run a small liturgical arts ministry called Wayfolk Arts, which they are both excited to live more fully into in the days after seminary.

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Dr. Naki Sung Kripfgans Organ

Naki Sung Kripfgans, a native of South Korea, received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Church Music from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Dr. Marilyn Mason. She also holds a master’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’ degree in Music from the University of Northern Iowa. During her studies, Naki received numerous scholarships and awards, including the prestigious James A. Walgreen Keyboard Scholarship and Graduate Student Scholarship from the University of Michigan; the Aspen Music School and Festival Scholarship; and the Civic Performing Arts Scholarship and the Music Scholarship from the University of Northern Iowa. She also won the MTNA Young Chang Piano Competition, and is a grand prize and a performance award winner of the Des Moines Symphony Young Artist Competition, performing as a soloist with the Des Moines Symphony. Naki has appeared as a soloist at the University of Michigan Organ Conference, the University of Michigan Organ Symposium, and concerts sponsored by the Ann Arbor Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. She has performed regionally as well as internationally in Western Europe, Russia, and South Korea. Her first European debut was at Stiftskirche, St. Arnual, Germany in 2009, and was followed by an appearance at the ‘Hör Zu’ concert series in Saarbrücken, Germany in 2010, and a solo recital at the International Organ Festival Orgues sans frontières of Germany, Luxembourg, and France in September, 2011. Naki recorded an organ solo CD on the 44-rank Kimball/Reuter organ at First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a virtuoso improviser, she won the Robert Glasgow Award for Organ Improvisation Competition at the University of Michigan in 2012, and served as one of the judges for its 2019 competition. She was featured in an article series, “Women in Improvisation” in the December 2020 issue of American Guild of Organists magazine. Naki is the Director of Music Ministries and Organist at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the University of Michigan, she is a resident collaborative pianist for the String Department at School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, and a lecturer in music program at the Residential College.

Rev. Dr. Anne Conover Visuals

Anne was born in Atlanta, Ga. Raised in an artistic family, her love for art was encouraged and nurtured from a very early age. Anne's earliest memories of art are of creating in her mother's studio while her mother worked at her easel. It is there that Anne developed a great love of painting, as well as a deep appreciation and knowledge of art history. Anne has a vibrant ministry and enjoys working in her studio, "Space for Grace," at College Place United Methodist Church, Greensboro, NC, where she is Artist in Residence. She received her Doctor of Ministry in The Arts and Theology at Wesley Theological seminary in Washington, DC. An ordained deacon in full connection in The Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, she combines her love for God, art, and theology to help others understand and claim their God given gift of creativity. Anne desires that everyone experiences the joy of creating, while also acknowledging their gift of creativity from God, and that art is a means of grace. Finding the children of the church enthralled by “Dr. Anne’s” storytelling followed by a creative art activity is not an uncommon event. Anne enjoys working with all ages and artistic abilities to help and encourage everyone to pursue creativity, artistic development, grow their artistic skills, and deepen their faith in God. Anne feels that being Artist in Residence at a church is the perfect place for her to bring her extensive theological background together with her love of art to help others encounter God, grow spiritually, and experience community. Challenging herself to create artwork that theologically reflects the seasons and special days of the liturgical calendar is particularly exciting to Anne as an artist. She enjoys creating art for bulletin covers for special seasons and days of the Christian year, as well as special events in the life of the church. In addition, she served for 8 years on the worship committee for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church Annual Conference. In this role she was commissioned to create art and design the worship space at Lake Junaluska, NC. She created several large 9’ x 12’ backdrops for the annual meetings. Anne has had some internationally recognized, as well as locally celebrated teachers and mentors. Among them are Tom Edgerton, Scott Burdick, Susan Lyon, Judy Meyler, and Addren Doss. Anne says, “ I am so grateful to the artists who have poured themselves into me, encouraged me, helped me learn, and grow. They continue to be a part of my life, on a weekly basis, filling me with their wisdom and encouraging me in my artistic development! I am very grateful.” Anne paints in oils, acrylics, pastels, mixed media, and enjoys creating with varies other mediums. She hosts weekly artists' groups in her studio, which include portrait groups, and several art classes. Anne is available to lead retreats, workshops, and teaches classes on "Art is a Means of Grace; Encountering God,Growing Spiritually, Experiencing Community Through Creative Visual Art". Education: Converse College, Spartanburg, SC. BA - Art History/Studio Art Pfeiffer University, Meisenheimer & Charlotte, NC. MCE Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC - M.Div. (Course work-39 hours). Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC - D. Min. (Doctor of Ministry). "The Arts and Theology"



Tom Trenney Adult Choir

Composer, conductor, organist, preacher, and teacher Tom Trenney has been blessed to serve as Minister of Music to First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, since 2009. In 2019, he became Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Tom’s choirs have been honored to perform for state, regional, and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and they have been award winners in the American Prize for choral ensembles. He serves as Music in Worship Chair for Midwest ACDA. Tom has been a featured performer at churches, colleges, and concert halls across the country, including Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Kansas City's Kauffman Center, Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. His choral compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress, Beckenhorst Press, Choristers Guild, E.C. Schirmer/Galaxy, Morningstar, Musicspoke, Pavane, and G. Schirmer. His piece "From Generation to Generation" won the Raabe Prize from the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians in 2023. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Eastman School of Music, Tom is grateful for the inspiration of his teachers and mentors – especially Anton Armstrong, David Davidson, Craig Hella Johnson, (Mister) Fred Rogers, William Weinert, Anne Wilson and Todd Wilson.

Mark Miller Young Adult Choir

Mark Miller believes that everyone is a Child of God and that music can help heal the world. He also adheres to Cornel West’s belief that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Mark is Associate Professor of Church Music, Director of Chapel, and Composer In Residence at Drew University in Madison NJ, and is a Lecturer in Sacred Music at Yale University. He is also the Minister of Music of Christ Church (UCC) in Summit, New Jersey. A renowned composer of sacred music, Mark’s hymns and anthems are sung by communities of faith throughout the country and are published by Choristers Guild, Hinshaw, Hal Leonard, Abingdon Press, Santa Barbara Music Publishing and others. His album, “Imagine the People of God”, is available on iTunes. Miller spends a portion of the year traveling the country, often with his band ‘Subject to Change’, lecturing, preaching and presenting concerts focused on creating community and advocating for social justice. Over the past three years he has visited a hundred venues in over twenty states. Overseas he has led choirs and performed in Sweden, South Africa, Austria, Russia, and the Baltic states. Mark is a lifelong United Methodist. He is the grandson, son, brother, uncle, and cousin to United Methodist clergy and was a lay delegate to the 2000 and 2004, 2012 General Conferences. He was Director of Music for the 2008 General Conference and is a member of Covenant UMC in Plainfield, NJ. Mark resides in Plainfield NJ with Michael Murden, his husband of 26 years. They have two children Alyse and Keith.

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Dr. José Rivera Senior High Choir

Dr. José Rivera, Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, serves as the Coordinator of Music Education and conducts the University Chorale. Active conductor of numerous Honor and All-State Choirs across the US and abroad including Cantaré, Latin-American Honor Choir at the ACDA Southern Region Conference, All-State choirs in North Carolina, Florida, California, and Alabama. He has also conducted and presented choral workshops at the Universidad National Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, Universidad de Las Americas (UDLAP) in Puebla, Mexico, Instituto Superior de las Artes in Havana, Cuba, Universidad de Mendoza in Argentina, and the DoDEA High School Chorus Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. His research areas include teacher preparation and Global Music with a focus on the choral music traditions of Latin America and has presented choral clinics and lectures at state, regional, and national American Choral Director Association, and the National Association for Music Educators conferences. He has published research articles of Latin American choral music in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Choral Journal. Dr. Rivera has previously served as the ACDA Repertoire Resource for World Musics and Cultures chair for the Southern region and National chair. Recently, he and his partners founded La Voz Music Publishing, a music publisher specializing in choral music from Latin America. Dr. Rivera received his Ph.D, MM.E, and undergraduate degrees from Florida State University. He currently serves as NC-ACDA president and Director of Music at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Emily Williams Burch Mid High Choir

Dr. Emily Williams Burch began teaching in 2007, including founding and directing community choirs, teaching in public schools, training in professional development settings, and as an instructor at the university level. Currently a Professor of Music at The Savannah College of Art and Design, previously, Burch served as Coordinator of Music Education at the University of South Carolina, Aiken. As a volunteer, Dr. Burch serves as Chair for the ACDA National Standing Committee for Advocacy and Collaboration where she puts into practice her experiences founding and directing LLCs and Non-Profits. She is also an at-large member for the NAfME Council for Choral Education. As a published author, Burch co-wrote “The Business of Choir” in 2022. You can also catch Dr. Burch on her podcast “Music (ed) Matters” or co-hosting “The Illuminate Podcast” wherever you listen to podcasts, or follow her adventures running and pacing marathons all over the world at @elevatedrunningandpacing.

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James Wells Elementary Choir

James Wells is the Director of Worship and Arts at Brentwood UMC just south of Nashville, Tennessee. Over his 25 years in ministry at BUMC he has directed choirs of every age. Currently, James leads the Asbury Choir, grades 3-5; the Jubilation Choir, grades 6-8; and the Sonshine Choir, grades 9-12; while leading a vibrant Worship and Arts Team. Music time with students at BUMC can look like a traditional choir rehearsal, but can break out into a drum circle or an Orff jam at any moment. James believes that the best way to nurture students in a church music setting is to focus on developing them spiritually, emotionally, musically, and socially. In addition to his work at BUMC, James serves as the Artistic Director of the Nashville Children's Choir at Belmont University. NCC is a regional community choir for children and youth in residence at Belmont University. The NCC program includes three sequenced choirs for choristers in grades 3-8 and the Nashville Youth Choir for high school grades. Prior to his work in full time church music and community choirs, James taught 10 years of general music and treble chorus (grades 5-6) in the Franklin Special School District. He holds degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Ed from Middle Tennessee State University, as well as a Masters in Music Ed (conducting emphasis) from Belmont University. James has been a frequent attendee and clinician at Lake Junaluska since 2007. He is very excited to have the opportunity to be in community with the beautiful people of Music & Arts Week, and can’t wait to make music with the young students. James can be reached at or 615-587-0676 to be of any help to music week participants.

Pamela "P.L." Grove Bronze Level Handbells

Pamela “P.L.” Grove has been a handbell ringer and director for more than 45 years. As a founding ringer with the critically acclaimed Sonos Handbell Ensemble, her more notable performances included those with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Kronos Quartet, Frederica von Stade and twice on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. She served as artistic director for Velocity Handbell Ensemble for over 20 years, has rung at several Distinctly Bronze events, was the Distinctly Bronze West Chair from 2014 to 2016, represented the United States as the director at the 18th International Handbell Symposium in Australia, and rang in the inaugural Zenith event in 2023. She is one of a few people to have completed a bachelor’s degree in handbell performance and is a Past President of Handbell Musicians of America. Retired from her work as a government public information officer, P.L. currently works as a church vocal choir director and spends as much time as possible making music.

Brian Childers  Copper Level Handbells

Brian Childers is an accomplished composer, conductor, and clinician. His choral, instrumental, and handbell works are performed frequently throughout the world. He is in demand as a featured clinician and conductor at music conferences, festivals and workshops across the nation. Brian serves as Music Advisor for Handbell Musicians of America, helping to promote the wealth of handbell music in the AGEHR Catalog. He is currently on the music staff at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. Brian enjoys creating and shaping compositions that are meaningful, distinctive, expressive and timely. His most recent book, “Boo and His Amazing Bells” is a children's book about a young boy who discovers the wonderful world of bells and the thrill of ringing. His devotional book “Ringing Deeply” for directors, and ringers, has been received with strong reviews. Brian is an avid runner and a rabid fan of the San Antonio Spurs. You can learn more about Brian, Bellissimo and Cantate Publications, “Boo and His Amazing Bells,” “Ringing Deeply” and his conducting schedule at

Rev. Crystal DesVignes Dance

Crystal (she/her/hers) is a mother, daughter, preacher, teacher, liturgical dancer, and child of God. Born in NYC and raised in New Jersey, She currently resides in Durham with her two sons. Crystal is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist church and has served congregations in North Carolina since 2017. Crystal has been a minister of liturgical dance since 2012, earned a certificate in dance ministry and has led multiple dance workshops and bible studies on the incorporation of dance in worship. She holds a Masters in Political Science from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. While pursuing her MDiv at Duke, Crystal led the liturgical dance ministry that ministered during Goodson Chapel worship services. Crystal is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Theology (ThD) focusing on prophetic preaching and ethics. She focuses ministry on the intersections of Womanist theology and ethics, prophetic preaching and embodiment in preaching and worship. Her favorite book of the Bible is Revelation (because it’s a love story), she enjoys a good cup of coffee with friends, and watching Disney movies with her sons. She concludes: “In all matters that love must be the ethic by which we conduct ourselves… because, God is love.”

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Joseph Lee Orchestra (Strings, Wind, Brass, & Percussion) 

Joseph Lee, conductor, is the Resident Conductor of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra, Music Director of the Tennessee Valley Music Festival, Music Director of the Festival Internacional de Música Cóbano (Costa Rica), the Director of Music Ministries at East End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN, the Principal Conductor of Nashville’s professional modern music ensemble, “chatterbird,” and the Artistic Director of Nashville in Harmony’s youth chorus, Major Minors. Recently, he also served as the Interim Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Alabama. On stage, he has led a diverse group of performers including Grammy award winning artists Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, the world-famous Canadian Brass, the performers of Cirque de la Symphonie, Act of Congress, Riders in the Sky, Tony Award nominee Jodi Benson, and other Broadway stars including Gary Mauer, Julia Murney, Virginia Woodruff, Burke Moses, and many others. Mr. Lee has also led the Huntsville Ballet Company in over 100 performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.” Mr. Lee served on the conducting staff of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival from 2007-2011 and served as the conductor of the University Orchestra at Sewanee from 2011-2014. In the Spring of 2011, Mr. Lee returned to his alma mater to serve a one- semester appointment at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Orchestra and Conducting. In 2018, Mr. Lee founded the University Orchestra at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and led that ensemble until December 2021. In addition to his regular conducting activities, Mr. Lee frequently travels the Southeast US and Central America leading clinics, adjudicating band and orchestra festivals, and guest conducting. Mr. Lee is the President of the Alabama Orchestra Association, and currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology.

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