Keynote Speakers



Rev. Byron R. Williams, Sr. - Host Pastor

Reverend Byron R. Williams, Sr. (Dallas, TX)

Host Pastor












Dr. Rodney Emilien Sr.

Pastor Rodney Emilien Sr. (Houston, TX)

Rev. Rodney J. Emilien Sr. is a 20 year veteran in education. He presently serves as the assistant principal of upper school, testing coordinator, 504 and RtI coordinator at KIPP Liberation College Preparatory Middle School, Houston, TX. He has been a member of the KIPP team and family for the past eight years. Prior to entering leadership for KIPP he served as senior pastor of Living Water Community Church, ELA teacher in Houston Independent School District, 5th grade teacher in Klein ISD, director of curriculum, curriculum implementation specialist and principal of Houston Gateway Academy Charter School, and pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Montgomery and Bethlehem Lutheran Prattville, Alabama.

Rev. Emilien earned his Associates of Arts Degree from Concordia College, Selma, Alabama, B.S. Ed from Concordia University, Seward, NE. He went on to earn a Masters of Sacred Theology and Doctorate of Ministry Degree from Logos University, Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO and was ordained in 1994. Outside of work Dr. Emilien loves to spend time with his wife of 15 years Jeanetta (Queen) and their very lively grandchildren.



Dr. Roosevelt Gray, Jr.

Rev. Roosevelt Gray, Jr. (St. Louis, MO)

Dr. Reverend Roosevelt Gray, Jr. presently serves as Director of Black Ministry in the Office National Mission of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as of November 1st 2013. Previously, Rev. Gray served 12 years as Assistant to the President Missions/Evangelism, Michigan District, LC-MS. His position included planting of new congregations, working with urban churches, RSOs, mission societies, ethnic, campus, deaf, blind, and cross cultural ministries; outreach and evangelism; world mission and international missionaries.

Rev. Gray is a 1988 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN. His pastoral ministry has been at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Houston, TX and Outer Drive Faith Lutheran Church, Detroit, MI. Rev. Gray has also served as Director of Admissions, Recruitment and Vicarage Assignment at Concordia Theological Seminary.

Rev. Gray’s District and Synodical services included: Board for Evangelism Services-Texas District, LWML Zone Counselor, LCMS Servant Event Committee - Board for Youth Services, LCMS Board of Directors, LCMS Board of Black Ministry Services, LCMS Specific Ministry Pastor Certification Program and Board of Directors for Projection Compassion Ministries, Inc.

Rev. Gray is married to Otelia V. Gray.



Rev. Greg Manning

Rev. Greg Manning (New Orleans, LA)

Rev. Manning serves as Mission Developer and Pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church located in the geographic center of New Orleans. Pastor Manning also serves as an international speaker in which he has communicated God’s plan for our lives even in our struggles as far north as Norway and as south as Australia. Pastor Manning has a heart for innercity ministry and ministry to at risk youth. He served for ten years at Grace Lutheran Church in Kansas City, KS before moving to New Orleans. He graduated from Wabash College in Indiana where he majored in Theater and Religion. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts Degree, Pastor Manning went on to attend Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, his hometown. Pastor Manning considers himself a living witness, that as written in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Pastor Manning believes that everyone’s life has a story that we are to use to glorify God, in spite of what we have gone through to come by those stories, as God’s children we must share them.






Rev. Dr. Yohannes A. Mengsteab

Rev. Dr. Yohannes A. Mengsteab (Dallas/Fort Worth, TX)

Reverend Dr. Yohannes A. Mengsteab has served as parish pastor in Holland , MI, missionary at-large in the Washington, DC area, counselor for African Immigrant Ministry, Director of Urban and Specialty Ministries, and finally as the director of New Mission Fields Development for North American Missions of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Recently, he worked with The Lutheran Foundation from June 2011-October 2015 as Director of Ministry Programs. He serves as the primary liaison between the Foundation and its 95 member congregations. Yohannes key responsibilities included working with the congregations to design ministry strategy for community engagement and congregational health.

He was called by the Texas District-LCMS to serve as the Mission and Ministry Facilitator for Area B in August 2015. He assumed his responsibility in October. His primary responsibilities are to work with the congregations and ministries of area B (Northeast Texas) to encourage ministry health and new church plants.

Reverend Mengsteab is a native of Eritrea, a country on the Red Sea that borders Ethiopia and Sudan. He’s the founder of the Eritrean Mission Society and of the African Immigrant Lutheran Mission Society International. His journey includes the refugee camps in Sudan and resettlement in the US in 1983. From 2001-2010, Reverend Mengsteab served as National Director of the New Mission Fields Development for the LCMS World Mission. He also served as Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Holland, Michigan and as a Missionary-at-Large to African Immigrants in the Washington, D.C. area.

Yohannes has an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Bronxville, NY, and holds graduate degrees from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and PhD in Missiology from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and MBA from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

In addition, Yohannes has supported the formation of care program for the called workers of foundation member congregations in Idiana. His interest includes community development, ministerial health and urban church planting movement. He is also working to establish an urban and rural urban development, leadership training and ministry multiplication.

Yohannes is married to Alemash and they have three sons.



Rev. Dwight E. Dickinson, Sr.

Rev. Dwight E. Dickinson, Sr. (St. Louis, MO)

Born the son of Rev. Dr. Richard C. Dickinson Sr., Rev. Dwight Dickinson, Sr. has always had a strong religious background. After dedicating over 25 years of managerial service to AT&T (Retired), and after spending over 25 years as an Elder at Transfiguration Lutheran Church (St. Louis), Rev. Dickinson was called to ministry in 2005. God called Rev. Dickinson to ministry as an opportunity to take his faith walk to a higher level.

Rev. Dickinson is the co-Founder of Great Commission Lutheran Church in St. Louis Missouri. It is the Mission of Great Commission to Save Souls, one Soul at a time; as well as to “go and make disciples of all nations” (matt 28:19).” Rev. Dickinson is a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University and is an alumnus of Lutheran High School South, Chicago (1976).

In his spare time, Rev. Dickinson serves in an advisory role at Lutheran Geriatric Care where he is also employed as Director of Operations. LGC has a Senior Citizen Day Care as well as a Consumer Directed Services department. Combined these two businesses are responsible for over 120 employees. Working in conjunction with LGC, it is the Vision of GCLC to resurrect Turner Middle School to include Senior Citizen living, Day Care, CDS services, a full service health facility and much more.

Rev. Dickinson is the current Senior Pastor of Great Commission Lutheran Church; he serves on several boards and is very active in Community Development. He is married to First Lady Valerie Dickinson of 33 years, he has a daughter Tia (33), two sons Dwight Jr.(31) and Kerry Devon (28), and he also is blessed to have 3 grandchildren Makia (14), Malachi (11) and Matthias (9).



Rev. Byron R. Williams Jr. (Houston,TX)

Rev. Byron R. Williams Jr. (Houston, TX)

Rev. Byron Williams Jr. is a preacher, teacher, and spoken word poet who loves to challenge and encourage people of all ages. He earned his Master of Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Houston Campus in May 2011. He is currently serving as a youth minister at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church.

During a semester studying in the rainforests, villages, savannahs, and cities of Tanzania, East Africa, Byron made up his mind to return to Xavier University in New Orleans to tackle a new major and a new commitment to educating kids and encouraging young people in their faith.

While pursuing a history degree at Xavier, Byron not only met his wife to be, but he also began teaching a weekly Bible study at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Hurricane Katrina changed everything in a hurry, destroying the church and surrounding neighborhood under many feet of floodwaters.

During his final year at Xavier, Byron remembers reading and falling in love with the line: "One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education," the vision of Teach for America—a non-profit organization that recruits top college graduates to teach for two years in low income schools. In 2003, Byron was accepted into the highly competitive program and assigned to Burbank Middle School in Houston, Texas. Determined to stay beyond his two year commitment, Byron served there for five years as a history teacher and Social Studies Department Chair.

Byron was emcee at two LCMS National Youth Gatherings before audiences of over 30,000 each and has spoken at several LCMS Black Ministry Convocations. Byron and his wife Christy are Christian communicators who motivate believers to grow in their faith. Together they facilitate workshops, lead Bible studies, and speak at a variety of Christ-centered events. Byron and Christy are the proud parents of Gabrielle and Olivia Williams.