Governing Board Slate Announced

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GB 2013.small
Current MCC Governing Board (left to right): Rev. Onetta Brooks, Liz Bisordi, Kareem Murphy, Raquel Benítez-Rojas, Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis, Bryan Parker

(En español)

Opening Statement from Current Governing Board

As the first Governing Board of MCC, we are very grateful for the service of the Governing Board Nominating Committee (GBNC) as they present the slate of nominees to fill vacancies at our upcoming General Conference. We are pleased that our new structure is fully operational, and we are thankful for the dedicated volunteers who have brought us to this moment. As your Governing Board, we are indebted to those who are completing their terms and excited to welcome new members to our work for the years to come, which will bring challenges, changes, and unprecedented opportunity for our denomination and movement.


GBNC Announces Slate of Governing Board Candidates

Governing Board Nominating Committee
Governing Board Nominating Committee (left to right):
Rev. Cathy Alexander, Rev. Catherine Dearlove, Rusty Hall
Peace and blessings to you. We are honored to announce today that the GBNC has completed its work and is recommending a slate of qualified candidates for election to the Board by General Conference.

In July, Clergy and Lay Delegates will have the opportunity to elect 2 clergy and 3 lay candidates from the slate being presented. From the slate of lay candidates, the two who receive the highest number of votes will each receive a six-year term on the Governing Board. The candidate with the third highest number of votes will receive a three-year term. Of the clergy candidates, the two who receive the most votes will each earn a six-year term on the Governing Board.

From now until July, we encourage you to prayerfully consider the candidates, ask God for clarity and purpose, and consult your congregation. Read the biographical information and listen to the candidates’ videos, which will be coming soon. Learn all you can about them so that as clergy or lay delegates representing your congregation, you can vote for those who best represent the spiritual values, required skills, and future vision of MCC.

The Process

The GBNC’s mandate was to refine and implement a process to recruit qualified candidates and establish specific criteria for evaluation and selection of potential Board members.  The GBNC also had the benefit of lessons learned from the existing Governing Board as to the gifts, skills, and time required to fulfill the demands of Board service.

Candidates were required to demonstrate the following:

(1) Essential Qualifications (Assessed through the candidates’ submissions to the GBNC)

These included active local church membership, multiple levels of MCC involvement and experiences, a record of service or leadership, and a record of accomplishment(s).

(2) Essential Competencies (Assessed through the interview process and personal references)

These included trustworthiness, interpersonal skills, communication skills, ability to use technology and operate in a virtual environment, flexibility, teamwork skills, conflict management skills, support for diversity, and a spirit of generosity.

(3) Important Attributes (Assessed through self-disclosure, interviews and resume)

These included diverse perspectives (candidate diversity) and complementary skill sets critical to the operational needs of the Board (for example, expertise or ability in the law, finance, human resources, strategy, governance, previous Board of Director experiences, and leadership).

The GBNC reviewed candidate submissions, screened them against the required qualifications, conducted interviews, reviewed personal references, and shortlisted the candidates to arrive at the recommended slate.

The Candidates

The GBNC was excited with the response of well-qualified candidates offering different skills, attributes, work, and vocational experiences. In all, 18 people applied from 4 countries. Each candidate had a unique story to tell in their relationship with MCC and brought a love for the people of MCC, a passion to serve God’s people, and an energetic hope for the future of MCC.

Your Slate of Candidates

The GBNC is pleased to announce the following candidates recommended for election to the Governing Board.

All candidate biographies are submitted here as received from the candidates, without editing on the part
of the GBNC or MCC staff.  Please address all questions to .



Adrian Buganey
Adrian Buganey

Adrian Buganey

I have been a member of MCC Brisbane Australia since 1976, along with my partner Rev Ivor Holmans (deceased).

It is necessary, for us who come from a small church, to fill  many roles, and I am currently serving my second term as Treasurer. I served a term as Assistant District Coordinator before Districts were disbanded  and have been on the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Judiciary Committee.

I worked for BHP Billiton for 30 years in accounting before retiring to spend more time with my partner;  God had other plans, and now  I work part time as CEO of Brisbane biggest and best Gay Spa & Sauna, a position I have held for over 10 years. Since the late 1980  I have been a volunteer with the Queensland AIDS Council and its many other names before it was  disbanded by our present State government.

I fought along side Ivor for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in this State of Queensland and continue to fight against homophobia.  I have protested and marched along side my sisters and brothers recently when the current Queensland government rescinded the Civil Partnership Bill. I have fought and continue to do so for marriage equality.

Adrian’s Video submission


Richard Henry
Richard Henry

Richard Henry

For most of his l career, Richard was a small business owner.  He ended his professional career at Walt Disney World, where he worked for 15 years as a Systems Administrator and Loss Prevention Manager in the Merchandise division.

He came to Metropolitan Community Churches at Joy MCC in Orlando, Florida in 2003.  As a member of Joy, he served in leadership positions including the Board of Directors and Pastoral Search team.   Richard also led ministries and facilitated classes.     He currently resides in Sarasota, Florida and is an active member of Church of the Trinity.  Richard serves on the Board of Directors, Stewardship team and Programming team.  He is certified to facilitate CLM and has completed the requirements for LEAD certification.   He volunteers at the Moderator’s office.   Richard is a member of the UFMCC Older Adult Advisory Council.

Richard also serves on the board of Trinity Charities, which serves folks living with HIV/AIDS in the Sarasota and Manatee County areas.

Richard’s Video submission


Kareem D. Murphy
Kareem D. Murphy

Kareem D. Murphy

Kareem Murphy is a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC, where he has served in numerous volunteer and leadership roles, including Lay Delegate and Member of the Board of Directors.  He has also been active in ecumenical and interfaith outreach and networking for both his church and the denomination.  On behalf of MCC, Kareem organized over 15 different faith groups for the interfaith contingent of the National Equality March (2009), including our own Council of Elders.  Kareem currently serves on MCC’s Public Policy Team, facilitating MCC’s public ministry on issues of national policy. In that role, he helps the MCC Moderator in her service on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Kareem also brings a passion to the fight for marriage equality, having collaborated with faith leaders across the City and other allies in the marriage equality efforts in Washington, DC and Maryland.  Following the victory in DC, Kareem and his husband and college sweetheart, Rev. DeWayne Davis, celebrated their 20th anniversary with a “dream” wedding in August 2011.  He served as faculty at four MCC Leadership Mentoring Retreats, including the two for Young Adults.  He also served as the Volunteer Coordinator for both the 2010 General Conference in Acapulco and the 2011 People of African Descent Conference.

Kareem has lived in the Washington, DC area for over 20 years.  In his professional life, he is a Partner with The Ferguson Group, a Washington, DC-based government affairs firm specializing in local governments.  He heads the firm’s health care and homeland security practice groups.  He helped recruit and select five of the firm’s sixteen partners.  He led development of the firm’s more than $10 million budget for three cycles and chaired the team managing the last two strategic plans.  Kareem received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Spanish from Howard University and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Maryland at College Park.  He is a graduate of MCC’s first Leadership Mentoring Retreat.  He makes his home in Washington, DC with his husband and their canine child Dmitri.  Kareem is passionate about American Musical Theater.

Kareem’s Video submission


Sarah Jane Ramage
Sarah-Jane Ramage

Sarah-Jane Ramage

S-J is an assistant director in Deloitte’s UK restructuring services division of corporate finance.  In this role she is responsible for assisting businesses which are in financial trouble and managing businesses which have entered insolvency proceedings.  These roles regularly challenge her to make a little go a long way, to identify and implement creative solutions to complex and unusual problems.  She holds an MA from the University of Cambridge and is a chartered accountant.

She lives just outside Brighton on the South Coast of England with her partner Andrew and his two adult children.  She has been a member of MCC Brighton (UK) for 10 years, having searched for MCC since graduating in 2000.  She has served in a variety of roles both administrative and worship focused and currently serves on the Worship team and board of directors.  Since attending general conference in Acapulco in 2010, her interest in the wider denomination has grown and she served on the International Task Force during 2011 and 2012.  S-J has always demonstrated her faith in her secular life and truly embodies the values of MCC both spiritually and in matters of social justice and diversity, participating in her employers diversity network specifically considering trans and bisexual issues.
Sarah-Jane’s Video submission


Gail Rissler
Gail Rissler

Gail Rissler

I have been an active member since 1996 when I found in MCC a church home that would truly honor my commitment to God and my relationships with others. My MCC experience includes facilitating the Denomination 2014 – 2018 Strategic Vision, Mission and Action Plan. I am working with several MCC churches facilitating their five-year strategic plan development and providing leadership guidance. As a local church member, I served as a Board member (Treasurer), facilitator, strategic planner, organizational development consultant, Spiritual Autobiography and Personal and Spiritual Strategic Planning teacher, Covenant Team member and silent retreat leader.  I co-authored and teach an advanced Servant Leadership program focused on ministry leader growth, development, planning and action. I completed the MCC Creating a Life That Matters course, attended MCC Church Size and Stewardship Summits, developed church policies and procedures and led stewardship and capital building initiatives. Currently, I am a member of King of Peace (KOP) MCC, a rapidly growing and enthusiastic congregation, where I serve as the Strategic Planning Ministry Leader and a Spiritual and Personal Development teacher.

As the owner of Rissler Consulting, LLC, I design, facilitate and teach strategic planning for profit-based businesses, government, non-profit organizations and individuals across the nation. Previously, I was the Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of McDonald Bradley, Inc., an information technology firm specializing in high-end data solutions for the Intelligence Community. I hold a B.S.P.A. and M.P.A. in Public Financial Management from Indiana University and am an active member of the Association for Strategic Planning. I am an internationally certified Strategic Management Professional and hold a Gold Mastery Certification in Reinventing Strategic Planning. I believe I would bring key core competencies to the MCC Governing board including leadership and vision, strategic planning, business operations, budget and forecasting, contracts management, personnel management, corporate management and communications, organizational development and growth, and teaching and facilitation skills. I would be honored to serve our churches and our denomination.

Gail’s Video submission


Toni L. Smith
Toni L. Smith

Toni L. Smith
Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis
Saint Louis, MO

Toni’s Spiritual Gift Assessment consistently shows her gifts are in generosity, faith and administration. Toni is extremely grateful for the foundation of faith laid by her family, in particular her Mother, and credits her for instilling the spiritual practice and joy of tithing. Toni is also extremely grateful for MCC – where she found we can have full spiritual freedom. In light of the legacy that she has received, her passion is to share that with others. In her 15 years at MCC of Greater Saint Louis, Toni L. Smith has served as a leader in many capacities:  Board Member (twice) and Vice Moderator during a time of a pastoral search, Lay Delegate, and Executive Director of the three-year Building Together Capital Campaign that secured the pledges necessary to buy and renovate the congregation’s current “home.”  She has also served as Stewardship Team Leader, L.E.A.D. Team Facilitator, MCCGSL liaison with Metropolitan Churches United (a coalition of churches in St. Louis), as well as having served on various worship teams and committees throughout the years.  Toni is recognized for her deep and abiding faith and spirituality and has served as a guest preacher.  She is highly principled, trustworthy and value centered with a deep commitment to diversity and equality.  Toni has a proven ability to build relationships and coalitions with both individuals and groups.  She has experience in financial management in both business and the church.  Additionally, Toni served on the board of Neighborhood Housing Services.

Toni is currently a State Farm Agent in St. Louis with 29 years’ experience in management and as an agent with her own business.  Prior to working for State Farm, she taught physical education and coached athletics in high school and junior high.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude with both a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s of Science in Education from Southern Illinois University where she was inducted into the SIU-C Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.




Rev. Dr. Robert L. Griffin
Rev. Dr. Robert L. Griffin

Rev. Dr. Robert L. Griffin
Master of Divinity, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA
Doctor of Ministry, Florida Center for Theological Studies, Miami, FL

Dr. Griffin is a current member and former Vice-Chair of the MCC Governing Board and is standing for re-election. His various leadership roles have included being a Religious Programming Specialist in the US Navy, a church planter and senior pastor in MCC, an MCC Intensive and REVM faculty member, a denominational staff member assisting three different elders (including the Moderator), a volunteer police chaplain, a board member of various non-profit organizations, and a Large Church staff minister.

He says: “It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve MCC on the Governing Board. It has been a joy to be part of this dedicated team that has led our denomination into our current structure. As we prepare for the next triennium, I am very excited about our future as a movement and I believe strongly in the work of the Governing Board in partnership with the Senior Leadership Team and with clergy and lay leaders in the field to strengthen our denomination and help it move forward. If re-elected, I will continue to offer my services and skills to the best of my availability to help MCC be as healthy and vibrant as possible. In the style of servant leadership I will offer my experience of working in one of our corporate size churches, the Sunshine Cathedral MCC, where I serve as the Chief Programming Minister. In addition, I will also continue to find ways to utilize the skills I’ve developed from other work that I do and have done, such as church planting and serving as a Trustee for the Episcopal Divinity School, as a Board Member for V.I.S.I.O.N.S., Inc., and as a Fellow of the Rockwood Leadership Institute.”

Rev. Dr. Robert’s Video submission

Rev. Dr. Danny A. Spears
Rev. Dr. Danny A. Spears

Rev. Dr. Danny A. Spears 

Danny was involved in various capacities as a lay person in MCC since 1981, before receiving his ordination as MCC clergy in 2001. He served as pastor at MCC of Corpus Christi, Texas from 2001 until 2007, and has served as pastor of Holy Covenant MCC in Brookfield, Illinois since 2007. Danny is a member of MCC’s Judiciary Pool and MCC’s Advisory Council for Older Adults. He holds both the Master’s and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. Danny’s primary gifts are administration, leadership, preaching and teaching.

Danny has specific interests in hunger issues and interreligious dialogue and cooperation both within and outside of MCC congregations; and he believes such cooperation and dialogue is crucial for promoting and implementing the various justice issues of our time—what may be interpreted by some as making the kindom of God visible in the here and now.

Danny and Richard Lofstrand, his spouse of almost 17 years, share their home with their three cats, Powder, Anthony and Cleopatra (Tony and Cleo). He is blessed to share in the family lives of Richard’s three children and three grandchildren. Danny enjoys cooking, reading, exercise, and is currently training for his first Sprint triathlon in August.


Rev. Danny’s Video submission


Rev. Peter Trabaris
Rev. Peter Trabaris

Rev. Peter Trabaris

Rev. Peter Trabaris is honored to be nominated to serve on the Governing Board of MCC.  Pastor Peter as most call him, brings more than twenty-years of active Lay and Clergy ministry to the Governing Board.  Peter has served as the pastor in four MCC congregations.  He also previously served the denomination as a member of the former Great Lakes District Committee, serving variously as West Area Coordinator, Member-at-Large, and for more than six years as the Clergy Representative.  Peter was also blessed to serve MCC as a representative to the National Council of Churches of Christ USA, during the days when MCC was seeking to join that body, and working with GLBTIQ members of mainline churches helping them to organize and expand their own presence within the NCCC, and in their host denominations.  While a lay person, Peter served Good Shepherd Parish MCC, Chicago, as Lay Delegate, Board Member, and Treasurer.  Finally, in the religious sphere, Peter has also served on the Executive Boards of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Interfaith Council, the Chicago Church Federation, and the Lakeview Overnight Shelter Board, as well as co-founding the North East Lake County Clergy Network.

In the secular realm, Peter has worked for such notable firms as Baxter Healthcare Corporation, where he was hired to create the position of Customer Master Coordinator, and Grubb & Ellis Company where he rose through the ranks to become the assistant to the Senior Vice-President of Human Resources, and as such, a member of the HR Senior Leadership Team.  Peter holds a BA Degree in Organizational Management from North Park University, Chicago, IL.  Peter was trained for Pastoral Ministry by Samaritan College of MCC.  He is currently working on a Master of Arts in Theology degree from the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA.



Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell
Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell

Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell

Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell joined Metropolitan Community Churches at Joy MCC in Orlando, Florida, in May 1995.  She became a member of the staff as the Assistant to the Pastor, the late Rev. Jimmy Brock, in August of that same year.  After being ordained, Carol served as Assistant Pastor, Interim Pastor, and was elected Senior Pastor in July 1998.  In November 2003, Carol accepted the call to serve as Senior Pastor of MCC of Greater Saint Louis and ministered there through April 2012.  Appointed to serve as Intentional Interim Pastor at MCC of Topeka in May 2012, Carol resides there with her pet family and co-parents her 14 year old son, Nathaniel.

Before joining Joy MCC, Carol served as a bookstore manager, Vice-President of Accounting at an insurance underwriting firm, Site & Unit Director with YMCA, and as manager of a small CPA firm.  Her professional degrees include a BS degree in Accounting (1980), a Masters of Divinity degree (1988), and she was conferred the degree Doctor of Ministry (2004).  Carol’s ministry project was entitled “Who is God?  Discovering Models of God in the Gay & Lesbian Faith Community”.  Professional certifications are Certified Public Accountant (1984 to 2005), MCC ordination (1997), MCC Supervising Clergy, and MCC Intentional Interim Specialist.  Carol has served as a non-profit board member with Baptist AIDS Partnership of North Carolina, Mental Health Association of Central Florida, and One St. Louis.  Her spiritual gifts are faith, leadership, and wisdom.

Rev. Carol’s Video submission