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475 Riverside Dr
New York, New York 10115
Roger is the Director of Christian Formation and Parish Life
at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston. An artist who paints
with children and adults in a variety of contexts, he is the author of five books including Jesus: God Among Us, The Painting Table, and The Very Best Day.
Roger serves as the chair of the Forma Council and is a member of the
National Association of Grieving Children and the Society of Children's
Book Writers and Illustrators. He lives with his family outside of
Board Term ends: Jan. 2021 - is able to extend to 2024
Meet Wallace Benton, who grew up at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church outside of Atlanta, Georgia as a precocious, loud, and mischievous child. When he graduated high school, he continued his education at Georgia Institute of Technology (the one true college in the state of Georgia) and studied International Affairs with the expectation that international law was in his future. After graduating and a stint working for a law firm, Wallace found himself volunteering and then, employed, as the Youth Minister at St. Edward’s Episcopal Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Currently, Wallace serves as the Youth Director at St. David’s in Roswell.
You may recognize Wallace as a member of Forma’s Council of Advice. He is also highly involved with EYCDIOATL (Episcopal Youth Community of the Diocese of Atlanta). Listen to him as one of the hosts on their podcast about youth ministry.
Wallace felt a call to serve others while serving as a high school team member at the middle school retreat weekend, New Beginnings. It was one of the few opportunities where he got to choose to serve, instead of being told to serve others or the Church. New Beginnings served to be a jumping off place for his relationship with God and the Church, and it also kept him connected to the church during his college years.
Wallace offers one piece of advice for new Christian formation people: “Connect as much as possible. I would not have had success in youth ministry without remembering the people who supported, challenged, and taught me along the way. Even if there aren’t people in your area or diocese you can talk to about your ministry, reach out to other local formation people from other denominations for advice about what works and what doesn’t. Forma has been a phenomenal outlet for me to learn and observe formation people from around the country who have been doing ministry longer than I have been alive.”
Wallace Benton enjoys spending time with his wife and rival youth minister, Sally; playing hide-and-go-seek with his dog, Bishop; hiking; and reading. He believes that relationships are the most important aspect of his ministry with youth and their families and puts diocesan ministry as a cornerstone of his own ministry.
Meet April Caballero, a young-ish adult with a passion for curating relevant and meaningful experiences of Christ through liturgy and creative expression. She has been a “proud” member of Forma for a little over two years now. It has been a primary source of inspiration to her, noting that “Forma is a network of absolutely dedicated Christian practitioners, and I have come away from each conference, each Council meeting, and each interaction with a renewed sense of purpose for the work of the Church and Christian formation.” For those new to Christian formation (in any capacity), April advises that you “sleep on any decision” before committing to a new endeavor. “There is so much exciting work to be done in Christian formation, and it is tempting to offer to do it all. This can lead to over-worked and over-burdened leaders; it can take the joy out of something we thought would be exciting. By taking a pause before committing, we allow our excitement some space to mingle with the rest of our work and our lives and we can make commitments that we are truly enthusiastic about.”
Currently April is the Executive Assistant for the Office of the Bishop at the Diocese of Olympia, serving the Episcopal Church in Western Washington state. Prior to her work at the diocese, April served as the Ministry Coordinator for Church of the Apostles (COTA), a Lutheran-Episcopal Mission Station in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle, while taking on freelance design and marketing projects as well as event planning. It was here that she found the Episcopal Church; a space for her to grow as a lay leader that embraced her passion for creative liturgy.
April has the habit of sitting on her west-facing deck for one hour each evening after the workday has ended. Sometimes she reads (right now it is Terry Tempest Williams who weaves faith, family, and life/death with the natural rhythms of creation), sometimes she has a Zoom happy hour with a friend, and sometimes she just sits and watches the sun go down through the trees. While this started during the stay-at-home order, it is a practice she intends on keeping.
April holds a BA in communications and religion from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She is passionate about liturgy, cetaceans, and backpacking. While loving her life in the Pacific Northwest since 2008, April will always be a Texan at heart (as you can tell). She offers her favorite piece of scripture: Simon Peter’s plea to Jesus: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ (John 6:68) along with this “lovely little song” from Poor Clare.
Kate is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma.
Kate first felt a call to professional lay ministry in the Episcopal Church while in college and serving as a counselor at St. Crispin’s Camp and Conference Center before going on to work as the youth minister at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Kate grew up in SW Oklahoma City and attended the University of Oklahoma where she received her BA and MA in Political Science. In 2015, Kate received a Certificate in Leadership in Lifelong Formation from FORMA (the network for Christian Formation in the Episcopal Church) and Virginia Theological Seminary. Kate has also served as the Assistant Secretary of Convention for the Diocese of Oklahoma, Secretary of Province VII, and as a Deputy to General Convention in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Kate is passionate about forming disciples and working with young people in the church.
Kate has one daughter, Brigid, and you can usually find them cooking together in the kitchen, reading a book, or watching a movie. Their family also includes Sully, a rescue Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd mix, and Oliver, the tabby cat.
Board Term ends: Jan. 2021 - is able to extend to 2024
Meet Patrick Christopher Kangrga (he/him/his), whose start in ministry was through the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) in the dioceses of Maryland and Massachusetts. For two years he had the opportunity to “try on” youth ministry and found it to be “the most challenging and craziest thing I ever did. I absolutely loved it.” Born and raised in Arkansas, he has lived and worked in ministry in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, and Mississippi. He currently resides in Jackson, MS where he ministers with 6th-12th graders as Director of Youth Ministries at St. James’ Episcopal Church. Most of his free time is spent with his partner, Laura, their dog, Sunday, and recent rescue cat, Jackson.
Patrick didn’t grow up going to church and didn’t really participate in a faith community until his young adult years. However, an early memory that sticks with him is from late in elementary school or middle school when he attended a neighborhood friend’s church around Christmas time when everyone sang “Go Tell It On the Mountain” around a piano.
During his second year with ESC in 2014, his host site supported the cost of his attending his first Forma conference. Since then, Forma “has given me a network of colleagues who I look to for inspiration and trust and whom I respect immensely – not to mention a group of people whose friendship and partnership I find invaluable.” Patrick has been an integral part of Forma in recent years as part of the conference planning team and was appointed to the Council in January 2020. His words of wisdom to anyone in the formation field: “You are not alone. You don’t have to do it alone. Reach out and connect to people. Reach out and connect with lay people and colleagues in your congregation. Reach out and connect with other ministers of all kinds and orders in your city and diocese or region. And reach out to the wider network of ministers available to you through the whole of your denomination. For me, Forma has been the best place to do that and the start to being able to find connections and networks other ways as well.”
At the moment Patrick is listening to a lot of Christmas music, including Mariah Carey’s “Joy to the World,” and one or possibly a dozen too many Hallmark movies. When the world is not in the midst of a pandemic, Patrick loves to travel domestically and internationally. Asked what his claim to fame might be, he shared that he learned to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. But then came this caveat: “Honestly, I don’t know that I want a ‘claim to fame.’ Don’t get me wrong, I want to live a unique and adventurous life. I am ambitious in my work and ministry. If people remember anything about me after my time on this world, I hope that it is that I was a loving and faithful person, I constantly strived to be better, and I failed miserably at it – but I got up each day and tried again and prayed to God for help. I hope I would be seen as one who was a fierce advocate for youth and other people, as well as a half-decent manifestation of God’s love. I really think that would suffice. But it’s also really hard work. The hardest work I know. “
Author and speaker Dorothy Linthicum is a catechist for the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) Baptized for Life initiative. As an adjunct instructor at VTS, she has studied and taught courses and workshops about older adult spirituality and ministry throughout the country. She co-authored Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science, with Janice Hicks, for caregivers and people facing dementia. She is currently working with a cohort of small churches in Arkansas to better understand their ministry needs.
Meet Marvin McLennon (he/him/his), a “cradle” Episcopalian born and raised in Little Rock, AR where he grew up attending St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. After high school, he went to Hendrix College, a liberal arts school in Conway, AR where he studied communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. After graduating in 2013, he joined the Episcopal Service Corps in Baton Rouge, LA. Moving back to Little Rock in 2016, Marvin began working at Christ Episcopal Church where he is today, serving as the Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries. The favorite parts of his ministry are the surprising deep conversations that occur in youth group. Seeing the gears turn in young people’s heads and watching them connect the dots months later is very rewarding.
In his free time, you’ll find Marvin playing “Dungeons and Dragons” and other board games along with spending time with friends. He plays guitar and also nerds out over video games and comics. While he enjoys reading, he has a bad habit of starting one book and then another, and then another without finishing any of them. While currently watching season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, he claims his (unfinished?) reading stack includes How to Ruin Everything (a collection of essays by musician and poet George Watsky), The Art of Gathering by Prya Parker, and Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.
Marvin has been a member of Forma since 2016. He shares, “Forma has been an invaluable
resource that has given me so many wonderful ideas and has helped me form so many wonderful friendships that I am grateful for. I come back from every Forma meeting feeling rejuvenated, reminding me that I am a part of a large, wonderful Episcopal family.” He encourages others who are new to their formation ministries to spend their first year building relationships with your youth, children, and their families.
Some of Marvin’s earliest memories of church include sitting with his family during worship, playing in the pews with his friends, and hearing the choir sing while watching the organ director’s hand frantically conducting just above the back wall of the altar. He regularly attended youth group as soon as he was old enough, was a member of the youth council in the Diocese of Arkansas while in high school, and during his college summers worked as a counselor at Camp Mitchell. You can understand why Marvin might say the Episcopal Church has always been a part of his life.
One of Marvin’s favorite Bible stories is from 1 Kings 19. After strong winds and an earthquake, Elijah hears God in the silence. It reminds him to strive to slow down and try to be truly present in quiet moments. One way that helps him is an app (1 Second Every Day
If you ever get a chance to meet Marvin in person, ask him about the cookbook he published with three college buddies - The College Guide to Smoothies. Turns out he is a wiz at combining unusual items from a campus cafeteria and turning them into pretty good smoothies.
Rev. Cathlena was ordained into the Transitional Diaconate in June of 2014. Later, she was ordained to the Priesthood in November of 2015. She attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California receiving her Master of Divinity Degree. Her title is Reverend Canon for Spiritual Formation, she assists in developing programs for both clergy and laity in the formation of spiritual discernment and practices.
She serves on the Economic Development Board, and is the current Vicar of Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, AZ. The vision and mission Rev. Cathlena would desire to achieve at Good Shepherd, echo the faint legacy of her father our former Bishop of Navajoland, the late Rt. Rev. Steven T. Plummer Sr. His vision and legacy of a Navajo led laity and clergy with the teachings and spirituality of Navajo and Christianity combined, echoed in ECN’s Hooghan Learning Circle formation.
In her downtime, Rev. Cathlena is very much a music enthusiast she plays the traditional and wood flutes, and can often be found enjoying a Bollywood film starring famous Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Erin Redden, serves as the Christian Formation Director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia. She also teaches music at Beauregard Elementary in Opelika, Alabama where she holds several leadership positions including writing and being awarded the first state funded grant to implement a PreK class in the school system and developing a school system safety plan that was recognized by the State of Alabama and adopted by schools across the country. Music brought her to the Episcopal Church and the opportunity to live into her baptismal covenant by sharing the good news of Jesus for all people is why she stayed. Erin recently served as the 2019 Conference Coordinator for the Christian Formation Conference, Gather at the Table - Answering Christ’s Call to Radical Hospitality at Kanuga. She remains on the Lifelong Christian Formation Planning Team for Kanuga Conferences. Erin lives on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee River with her husband Roger, children Maddie and Hugh and furbabies, Coconut and Bella. Erin has a knack for creating a warm, inviting and inclusive environment and strives to build intentional relationships. Erin looks forward to bringing a positive attitude, go-getter mentality, creative mind, and collaborative approach to the Forma Council.
Melina Luna Smith is the founder of StoryMakers NYC.
I enjoy mixing together ministry, creativity, and imagination with the hope of creating Gospel content for niños.
Over the last 10 years, I have dabbled in interiors, and floral design, with the constant backdrop of children’s ministry at Calvary St. George’s Church. Over the years, I have loved gathering and working with artists with the intention of retelling the stories of the Bible. I have thought over the years, why hasn’t design, beauty, and imagination been maximized when sharing the greatest stories ever told.
Together with a team of writers, artists, and jacks-of-all-trades, we are humbly approaching the Bible with the intent to create content to foster connection and more fun. Our team believes that when we play, imagine, and create together, learning takes deep roots.
Meet Chris Yaw (he, him, his) who always seems to have a smile on his face. New ideas wake him up in the middle of the night and he looks forward to each day to whatever surprises await him. You may already be familiar with Chris as the founder of ChurchNext, an online education company which produces many learning experiences for individuals and congregations, including Forma’s free program, This is NOT Sunday School. Born in Detroit, he is the rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield, MI (since 2007) and serves in many roles in the Detroit-metro community: president of Oakland Housing, an $11 million non-profit that provides middle-income families with better housing; a trustee for the Diocese of Michigan which oversees $30 million of diocesan investments; dean in the McGehee Deanery; and convenor of a local interfaith group called “Lift Up Southfield!”
After discerning a call to the priesthood, Chris attended Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA where he discovered the Episcopal Church. He says he’s been a member of Forma “forever” and the organization has given him community, contact, inspiration, and hope for a renewed and healthy church. Chris was a Forma board member and made the transition to what is now the Forma Council. His words of wisdom to anyone involved in Christian formation (especially those new to this vocation) is to “seek the Lord first. Never allow the dance with the institution to take you from your first love.”
When Chris isn’t pastoring in his congregation or creating new programming for ChurchNext, you’ll find him with his wife and young children, running, or reading. The books in his current stack include Sapiens by Yuval Harari, Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon, Rediscovering Life by Anthony DeMello, and American Prison by Shane Bauer. If you’re so inclined, check out the video “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz; look closely to see Chris riding a Harley!
Melissa Rau is the Staff Liaison to Forma at the Episcopal Church Foundation. Her primary roles include membership support and engagement, collaborating with the Forma Council, and managing the annual Forma conference. Prior to her current role, Melissa served as ECF’s Director of Partnerships and New Initiatives before accepting the position of Chief of Staff at Bexley Seabury Seminary.
Melissa has been a formation leader for more than twenty years. Prior to joining ECF, Melissa was very active as a Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects, an organization that provides consulting for churches in a number of different capacities. She’s currently earning an M.Div. at the General Theological Seminary. Living just outside of Philly, she is married to Mike, an Episcopal priest and rector. They have two daughters and a son. She loves to read and is particularly fond of giraffes and the color orange.