Juanita Campbell Rasmus is a Transformational Coach, Author, and speaker with a passion for coaching people to live their most expansive lives. Juanita co-leads the St. John’s Church in Downtown Houston with her husband Rudy. She travels speaking on spirituality and the transformational lessons she learned after a life-altering major depressive episode. Juanita’s memoir chronicling her dark night of the soul moment titled, LEARNING TO BE: Finding Your Center after the Bottom Falls Out was published by InterVarsity Press and released in the Fall of 2020. Additionally, she released Forty Days on Being A One (Enneagram Daily Reflections) May 2021.
Johnny Sears is the Director of the Academy for Spiritual Formation®, an international ministry that offers experiences in contemplative community and emphasizes an integrated spirituality of body, mind, and spirit. Johnny is a native of Kentucky and a layperson who holds a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Louisville. Prior to joining the staff at The Upper Room in July 2010, Johnny spent twelve years as a specialist in product design and sustainable practices for Lexmark International. His personal search for a deeper connection to God carried him on a pilgrimage into the world of contemplative prayer and spiritual formation that eventually led him to leave his job in the corporate world to lead The Academy. His ministry is driven by a deep passion to help people awaken to and embrace the contemplative life for their own transformation and, ultimately, for the healing of the world.
Johnny studied at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and is a graduate of the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation (Academy #25). He is a certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner, certified Pastoral Counseling Specialist through the AAPC, and trained facilitator for the Confronting Whiteness experience. Johnny has also studied with Parker Palmer to become a Circles of Trust® facilitator for the Center for Courage & Renewal. He has published a number of articles for Weavings spiritual journal and has served as a retreat leader and spiritual director for various groups, including the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife, Becky, and their two sons.
Bishop Robin Dease is the episcopal leader of the North Georgia Conference. She was elected bishop by the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church and consecrated on November 4, 2022. Her first assignment as bishop is to the North Georgia Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church and she began service in North Georgia on January 1, 2023.
Bishop Dease grew up in Brooklyn, New York, one of 13 siblings. She graduated from Claflin University in Orangeburg in 1992. She earned a master of divinity degree and a doctor of ministry degree in stewardship from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
She joined the South Carolina Conference in 1992, became a full-time local pastor in 1998, and was ordained an elder in 2001. She has served as pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Johns Island (1998-2008), John Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville (2008-2012), and St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church in Hilton Head (2021-2022). She also has served as superintendent of the Hartsville District (2013-2021), and in 2012, was interim chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Claflin.
Bishop Dease has been involved in numerous denominational and conference boards and committees, served on the 2012, 2016, and 2020 General & Jurisdictional Conference delegations, has served as an Upper Room Spiritual Formation Leader, and has been active in organizations in the communities where she has served (Ministerial Alliance, Chamber of Commerce, United Way Faith Based Committee, Rotary, and more).
Bishop David Graves serves as episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Bishop David Graves’ passion is sharing Jesus, seeing the overlooked, joining God in transforming lives, and changing the world one person at a time. His study of leadership permeates all his work as a pastor, district superintendent and bishop. As a pastor, Bishop Graves led a small-membership church to become a medium-sized congregation and later a medium-sized church to become a large-membership congregation. He has a heart and hands for missions and has led several short-term (local, national, and international) mission teams. The Acts 1:8 model for missions came alive in the churches he has served. These churches raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for mission work, plus trained laity in hands-on ministry.
As a district superintendent, Bishop Graves implemented a district strategy that empowered both clergy and laity with leadership tools for effective and vital ministry. This strategy revitalized several churches that experienced growth in worship attendance and membership; Sunday School and small group discipleship; missional giving and professions of faith. On Christmas Eve 2014, through a district offering, the Kingsport District generously gave more $230,000 for the District Partnership with Giru, South Sudan.
For the past five years, Bishop Graves has served as the episcopal leader of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Because of the postponement of General and Jurisdictional Conferences, Bishop Graves will oversee both the South Georgia Conference and the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
Georgia Pastor's School, Copyright © 2021 United Methodist Church. Image courtesy of Portland Gallery, London. Copyright, Gary Bunt 2017.