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Advance 2024

2024 Speakers

Mark Croston

Mark Croston

National Director of Black Church Ministries at Lifeway Christian Resources

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; served as pastor to an urban congregation in Virginia for 26 years; earned a Doctor of Ministry concentrating in Christian Education; and traveled, been on mission or preached in almost 40 countries — Mark Croston now serves as National Director of Black Church Ministries at Lifeway Christian Resources. He is General Editor of the YOU Urban Bible Study Curriculum, Executive Editor of Deacon Magazine, and author of his latest book is Big Results Leadership.

Follow at @CrostonMin on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Tumblr, TikTok and Twitter and www.lifeway.com/BlackChurchLifewww.CrostonMinistries.org, and www.BigResultsLeadership.com.

Dr. David Wheeler

Professor of Evangelism, Liberty University

Dr. David Wheeler joined Liberty University after spending five years as the Evangelism Resource Group Leader for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. Previous to that he was an Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as serving as the Evangelism and Prayer Director for seven years for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. In addition, he has been the senior pastor of three growing churches in Tennessee and Texas.

He currently serves a dual role as professor of evangelism for the Rawlings School of Divinity and the senior executive director of the LU Shepherd through the Office of Spiritual Development.

Dr. Wheeler holds a Ph.D. and M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.S. from  Tennessee Tech University.

Calvary and Unity Churches worship

Worship

Members from State College’s Calvary Church and Unity Church of Jesus Christ will lead worship. For 18 years, the two churches, led by Pastors Dan Nold, Calvary, and Harold McKenzie, Unity, along with several other local churches, have met to pray for each other and their city. They have met to strategize ways they can work together to serve the community. They have led their congregations to live out Jesus’ prayer that we would be known by the love we have for each other.

Breakout Sessions

Session 1

Effective Children’s Evangelism

Josh Coldren
Josh Coldren, BRN Church Health Consultant (Northern Central)

JOSH COLDREN, BRN’s Church Health consultant in the North Central region, is currently senior pastor at Cross Creek Community Church in Trucksville, Pennsylvania. Prior to that he was the campus pastor of Crossroads Church in Roanoke, Virginia, a campus of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Josh has 20 years of ministry experience and has served in a variety of roles as student pastor, associate pastor, and senior pastor. He has experience in both urban and rural communities. Josh is an Assistant Professor in the School of Divinity at Liberty University. Josh holds a post-graduate degree in educational leadership, a master of divinity degree in missional studies, a master of religious education degree, and a master of arts degree in religion in evangelism and church planting from Liberty University. Josh and his wife, Nicole, reside in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania.

Reaching the Collegiate Age

Stan Williams
Stanley Williams, BRN Next Gen Director

STANLEY WILLIAMS, BRN’s Next Gen director, oversees BRN’s ministries to the next generation (youth and young adults) with a principle focus on the collegiate ministry. He has served as a collegiate missionary for the North American Mission Board since 2001. Stanley’s background in collegiate ministry dates back to his college years where, as an undergraduate at Howard University (class of 1987), he grew deeper and stronger in Christian faith and spiritual disciplines. “Had it not been for the pivotal role of Rev. Eugene Burrell and the Navigator’s Christian Fellowship of Howard University, I do not know where I would be or how I would have avoided a mediocre experience as a Christian and an undergraduate,” he said.

Stanley has an abiding visceral sense of calling to engage the next generation. For the course of over 35 years of vocational Christian ministry, he has served campus ministries and congregations in Alaska, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Stanley, who holds a master of divinity degree in Great Commission studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says his ministry passions are impacting lostness and multiplying apostolic leaders for the sake of Kingdom advancement. He and his wife Trina have four adult children, and a host of adopted grandchildren from the several years of being integrally involved in the lives of former students in an extended family capacity.

4 Amazing Ways to Share Your Faith

Buff McNickle
1. #LovePASJ GROW Kit
Buff McNickle, BRN Network Development & Compassion Ministries Director

BUFF MCNICKLE, who planted Grace Falls Church in the Atlantic County region of southern New Jersey, is BRN’s director of network development and compassion ministries. During the infancy of his new church plant, he and his core team interacted with those who suffer from substance abuse and homelessness, began a ministry of care and compassion to dancers in the local adult entertainment industry, provided afterschool homework help to school children at a local community center for low-income families, built relationships with the workers at a local soup kitchen, and for a small group of believers, encouraged them to break out of their traditions of being mere pew-fillers to be inspired and prepared to carry the gospel into their circle of influence.

Pastor Buff was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. Since 1992, he has served in full-time ministry as a student pastor, family pastor, and minister to singles and young adults. He also served at the University of Mobile as director of student leadership and Involvement where he helped build and develop leadership among the students throughout various organizations on campus. Buff and his wife Cissy are blessed to be the parents of three beautiful adopted children, twin boys, Jedidiah and Judah, and Arabella. They live in Absecon, New Jersey.

Robert Fontell
2. NAMB Evangelism Kit
Robert Fontell, BRN Church Health Consultant (Philadelphia)

DR. ROBERT FONTELL is the BRN church health consultant for Philadelphia and pastor of Calvary Christian Church (formerly Calvary Baptist Church) in Philadelphia, where he has served since June 2008. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and holds a master of science in Bible degree from Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). He also earned his doctor of ministry degree from Missio Seminary (formerly Biblical Theological Seminary).

Pastor Fontell serves or has served in numerous community and denominational positions: Baptist Resource Network, church health consultant (current); Greater Philadelphia Baptist Association, moderator; Southern Baptist Convention, Committee on Committees, PA Representative (past); Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association, Finance (past); Catholic Community Services, Executive Board (current). Pastor Fontell is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated.

Tom Toone
3. EvangeCube
Tom Toone, Elder, Lay Pastor, East Shore Baptist Church, Harrisburg, Pa.

TOM TOONE is married to Debbie (1982), and the father of John (wife Christine and daughter, Maria), Tommy (wife Rita), Jackson, and Diann. A retired public-school principal, Tom and his family joined the church in 1991. He has served the church in many roles: elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, biblical counselor, and evangelism leader, to name a few.

In the community Tom volunteers as a chaplain at a local hospital and is a volunteer driver for the township’s Senior Citizen Van Service. His hobbies include hiking, biking, and cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles and Sixers.

Larry Baker
4. Door-to-Door Evangelism
Larry Baker, pastor, Anastasis Fellowship Church, Reading, Pa.

LARRY BAKER, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has served in ministry since 1996 as pastor of churches in Louisiana, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Previously serving as a North American Mission Board church-planting missionary and in youth ministry, he now is pastor of Anastasis Fellowship Church in Reading, Pennsylvania. His passion is small group ministry, where he delights in seeing Christians grab a hold of God’s Word and apply it directly to their lives. He also loves preaching God’s Word and finds it hard to contain the fire within him as he teaches truth from deep within his soul. Larry holds a bachelor of arts degree in pastoral ministry and a master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctor of ministry degree from Gateway Seminary. He and his wife, Shannon, have two daughters, Lauren and Hannah.

Session 2

Partnering Churches: The Beauty of Collaboration

Larry Anderson
Dr. Larry Anderson, BRN Church Health Director

DR. LARRY ANDERSON, BRN director of church health and evangelism, graduated from Philadelphia Biblical University (Cairn Univ.) with a bachelor of science degree in Bible with an emphasis in Christian leadership. He has received his master of divinity and his doctor in ministry degrees from Biblical Theological Seminary (Missio Seminary). Dr. Anderson became the senior pastor of Great Commission Church in September 2004. In his time as pastor, he has been blessed to see the congregation grow spiritually and numerically. One of his noted achievements, to date, has been his ability to follow the voice of God in 2008 by leading GCC from the suburbs of Montgomery County into the city of Philadelphia to impact their new community with a holistic gospel.

Dr. Anderson, who joined the staff of the Baptist Resource Network in April 2013, is the co-author of the book, “Ask Me Why I’m Not In Church,” released in June 2019 on Westbow Press, and “The Pastors’ Diaries,” released in July 2022. Dr. L.A. is the founder and host of “Athens Avenue the Podcast” birthed in spring 2023.

Ezra Strickhouser
Ezra Strickhouser, Lead Pastor, Riverside Community Church, Horsham, Pa.

EZRA STRICKHOUSER is the lead pastor at Riverside Community Church in Horsham, Pa. He is a graduate of Messiah College. He came on staff in 2007 as an associate pastor and was called as the lead pastor in 2013. Ezra shares the privilege of preaching and teaching with a team of other pastors/leaders in the church and he is also a part of Riverside Worship. Ezra and his wife Katrina live in the Montgomeryville area with their three daughters Emma, Eloise and Evelyn and their sons Edwynn & Everson.

Alonzo Johnson
Alonzo Johnson, Lead Pastor, Believers Bible Fellowship, Philadelphia

ALONZO JOHNSON is a North Philadelphia native who now resides in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The Lord has blessed him with an amazing wife, Rhonda, and five beautiful children, Alonzo Jr, Isaac, Daniel, Caleb and Abigail. Alonzo graduated from Word of Life Bible Institute with honors before attending Philadelphia Biblical University and graduating with a B.S. in Bible with an emphasis in Christian leadership. He also received his master of divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. As a bi-vocational, Pastor Alonzo is an assistant principal at Franklin S. Edmonds School while serving as the lead pastor of Believers Bible Fellowship. Alonzo desires to be an effective communicator of God’s Word through practical and dynamic Bible teaching intended to help people apply the timeless truths of scripture to their everyday lives. Alonzo’s life verse is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Everyone A Missionary Right Where You Live!

David Ludwig
David Ludwig, BRN Associate Director of Church Health and Discipleship

DAVID LUDWIG is the associate director of church health and discipleship. He has served on the staff of small, medium, and large churches in Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and has served as an intentional interim pastor (transitional pastor) and now trains other men to serve in this role.

He holds a master of arts degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a bachelor of science degree in religion from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia. David has been providing training and has been consulting churches for nearly twenty years.

He is also a coach and has received coach training from the North American Mission Board, certified as a Leadership Development Coach by Leader Breakthru, and certified as a Spiritual Leadership Coach by Blackaby Ministries International. He is recognized and credentialed as a Certified Professional Christian Life Coach by the International Christian Coaching Institute (ICCI). David is a member of the leadership team for the SBC National Revitalization Network and locally assists pastors and churches in taking their next steps toward revitalization by walking them through the steps of BRN’s Transformation Pathway. David is passionate about disciple-making and leadership development and intentionally seeks opportunities to equip pastors and leaders to develop healthy, disciple-making churches.

Rise Up: Connecting our Neighbors with the Good News

Kimberly Houston
Kimberly Houston, Woven Women regional volunteer (Greater Philadelphia region); Worship leader, Macedonia Baptist Church, Norristown, Pa.

KIMBERLY HOUSTON is committed to God and His Kingdom agenda on earth. She is blessed to be a mother of daughter, Ciani Houston-Shockley. In addition to her service with the BRN’s Woven Women’s Ministry, Kimberly serves as a worship leader, teaches spiritual gifts, leads evangelism training, conducts outreaches, aids in the audio and visual department and is a project manager of the marketing department at Macedonia Baptist Church in Norristown, Pa. Kimberly enjoys spending time with her family, vacations to tropical islands, and encouraging the church body to go forth and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ with boldness! One of her favorite scriptures is Matthew 28:19-20.

Conference Schedule

(8:30-9:30 a.m.) Registration and Meet and Greet

(9:30 a.m.) Opening & Worship

Prayer & Welcome: Pastor Dan Nold
Worship: Led by Calvary Church and Unity Church of Jesus Christ

(10:00-10:50 a.m.) Main Session 1 Speaker: Mark Croston

(11:00-11:50 a.m.) Breakout Sessions 1

  • Effective Children’s Evangelism: Josh Coldren
  • Reaching the Collegiate Age: Stanley Williams
  • 4 Amazing Ways to Share Your Faith:
    • #LovePASJ GROW Kit: Buff McNickle
    • NAMB Evangelism Kit: Robert Fontell
    • Evangecubes: Tom Toone
    • Door-to-Door Evangelism: Larry Baker

(11:50 a.m.-12:50 p.m.) Lunch

(1:00-1:50 p.m.) Breakout Sessions 2

  • Partnering Churches: The Beauty of Collaboration: Larry Anderson, Ezra Strickhouser, Alonzo Johnson
  • Everyone A Missionary Right Where You Live!: David Ludwig
  • Women’s Breakout-Rise Up: Connecting our Neighbors with the Good News, Kimberly Houston

(2:00-2:50 p.m.) Main Session 2 Speaker: Dr. David Wheeler

(2:50-3:00 p.m.) Wrap Up

Location:

Calvary Church-State College
201 Harvest Fields Drive
Boalsburg, PA 16827 (map)

Hotel Accommodations:

Closest Hotel:

Wyndham Garden State College
310 Elks Club Road
Boalsburg, Pennsylvania 16827
(814) 466-2255 | website

Prefer another hotel? Here is a list.

Cost:

Conference costs $10 per person.

Registration:

A Conference for the Whole Church!

People praying at altar
Team BRN serves
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