Panel features diverse EU grads working on racial reconciliation
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Four prominent Evangel alumni will participate in the annual President’s Leadership Forum on the first day of the University’s Homecoming 2016 Celebration, Thursday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
“Each of these alumni are courageous leaders and are influencing racial reconciliation in their communities,” said Dr. Carol A. Taylor, president of Evangel and moderator of the forum.
The President’s Leadership Forum will take place in the recital hall of the Barnett Fine Arts Center, located just north of the Robert H. Spence Chapel, facing Glenstone Ave.
• Emma Asante is a 1997 graduate who serves as the vice president of special projects and community relations for WMAQ – NBC 5 Chicago. She is in charge of the station’s Making a Difference initiative, focused on providing viewers inspiring stories that highlight people and organizations ‘Making A Difference’ in the Chicagoland community.
She also oversees logistics and execution for large scale station projects, such as the international broadcast of the Chicago Marathon and Chicago’s New Year’s Eve celebration, viewed in more than 40 TV markets across the Midwest.
By planning projects like the recent free Gospel concert with recording artist Erica Campbell and NBC Chicago anchor Art Norman, she directs her efforts toward giving hope and relief to residents, many of them stricken with grief after recent outbreaks of violence in the city.
She joined the Chicago team in 2014 after serving as director of community projects for NBC’s Connecticut station for 10 years. Prior to joining NBCUniversal, she held roles as a creative producer in various markets including Fox in Boston, KY3-NBC in Springfield, Mo., and CBS in Providence, R.I.
As an Evangel student, Emma majored in broadcasting and marketing. She also holds a master’s degree in communication from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
• Chris Beard has attracted national attention for the work he is doing as lead pastor of Peoples Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, including stories on the front page of the L.A. Times in 2012, the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2014, and a WSJ feature video.*
Several years ago, Beard felt directed to make the church a “racially reconciling, generational rich, life-giving church, thriving in the heart of Cincinnati,” he said. “It is my desire to see historical wounds between African Americans and Anglo believers healed within the American church.”
Beard has been a staff member at Peoples Church since 1992. When he became senior pastor in 2001, the church was 98% white; today, the congregation is half-white and represents more than 35 nations. Peoples Church is not only a thriving, multi-cultural worship center, but has also assisted in the planting of more than 20 churches in 20 years, many of which have ethnic, cultural and generational inclusion similar to Peoples Church.
Chris earned his B.A. in Biblical Studies at Evangel in 1989, and has since earned his M.A. in Christian Doctrine and History from Regent University. He and his wife, Jan (Grage ’89), met as students at Evangel, and they have three children.
• Alex Bryant felt inspired on July 8, 2016, to produce a short video statement about race-relations in America in response to the Dallas shootings. It’s called, “I have no words. But I will not be silent.”
That insightful message, posted on his Facebook wall, went viral, with more than 10 million views and more than 68,000 shares in the first six days. He was featured on TV news in Springfield, Kansas City, and nationally on The 700 Club.
A few weeks later it jumped to 35 million views, in the wake of the Charlotte shootings. Needless to say, the video has opened doors for speaking opportunities for Bryant.
Alex attended Evangel on a football scholarship, where he was a four-year letterman, and graduated in 1995 with a double major in Business Management and Biblical Studies. He has put both degrees to use, spending nine years in corporate business with MCI and the last 12 years in ministry, including a stint at James River Church in Ozark, Mo., and another at the Dream Center in inner-city St. Louis.
Recently, Bryant has taken on the role of executive pastor at New Life Church in Oak Grove, Mo. He and his wife, Angie, have five children. She is a 1995 graduate of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where she earned a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
• Brian Schmidgall is the lead pastor of MiddleTree Church in St. Louis, Mo. He and wife, Mary, moved to a strategic neighborhood in 2009 with the goal of planting a multi-cultural church that would help heal the fracture of the city that occurs on Delmar Boulevard.
MiddleTree launched in 2012, and Schmidgall has served bi-vocationally since then as pastor and as a chaplain at St. Louis University Hospital.
In 2013, he was chosen by the National Church Planting Network as the “church planter of the year” in the Assemblies of God. That same year, he was elected to serve in national leadership with the AG, as an Executive Presbyter representing ordained ministers under the age of 40.
Brian graduated from Evangel University in 1996 with a degree in computer science. He also holds a master’s from Bethel Seminary in Transformational Leadership, and continues to keep himself up to date by taking classes at St. Louis University in Clinical Pastoral Education.
Click for more information on Evangel University’s Homecoming 2016 Celebration.
10.13.2016 – Bryce Wilks contributed to this article