MIND leadership

The MIND steering committee, elected annually at the September general meeting, meets five or six times a year to set strategic direction and plan programming for the organization.

Dr. Dorothee Benz, chair

Dorothee Benz is a lifelong United Methodist and a member of Park Slope UMC, a reconciling congregation in Brooklyn. As a young adult she had wanted to go into ministry, but the year she came out as a lesbian was the same year the UMC voted to bar gays and lesbians from ministry. She has more than two decades experience as an editor, journalist, web manager and communications strategist working for economic, social, democratic and constitutional rights.  By day, Benz is the communications director at the Center for Constitutional Rights; by night, she works for LGBT justice through MIND.  Benz has a Ph.D. in political science from the City University of New York, and a B.A. from Harvard University. Her writing and web design have won numerous awards, and she has published articles in TheNation.com, Politics and Society, Dissent, Working USA, New Labor Forum, In These Times and elsewhere. She is also the winner of the 2012 Gwen and C. Dale White Award from the NY Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. Benz is a bodybuilder, backpacker, Adirondack 46er and sandcastler.

Rev. Scott Summerville, treasurer

Rev. Scott SummervilleRev. Scott Summerville has been a clergy member of the New York Annual Conference since 1976.  He has served churches in Kingston, NY, Stamford,  CT, and Brooklyn and is serving currently as the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Yonkers, a reconciling congregation. Scott is married to Rev. Mary Ellen Summerville, who is also a NYAC clergy member and who works as a hospice chaplain. They have two adult children, Meredith and Thomas.  In addition to parish duties and his work for MIND Scott is a trainer and consultant in congregational conflict and mediation.  He is also a trainer in the New York Annual Conference in boundaries and sexual ethics for clergy.

Rev. Vicki Flippin, secretary

Rev. Vicki Flippin is the Pastor of Social Justice, Exploring Faith, and Inter-generational Ministries at The Church of the Village, a progressive, multi-racial, and Reconciling United Methodist Church in Manhattan. A graduate of Yale Divinity School ('08) and the University of Chicago ('05), Flippin has served previously as senior  pastor at Diamond Hill UMC in Connecticut, which joined the Reconciling movement during her tenure. She currently serves in leadership roles in the New York Annual Conference's Commission on Religion as well as MIND, working for both racial and LGBT equality with equal fervor. A proud signer and clergy recruiter for the Covenant of Conscience, she is committed to the practice of marriage equality in the UMC. Flippin has close family and church ties to both Taiwan and the American Midwest and currently enjoys life in New York City with her husband and two eccentric cats.

Michael Cobb

Michael CobbMichael Cobb is an Annual Conference Delegate and Lay Leader at Jesse Lee Memorial UMC in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He is a certified lay speaker, and regularly preaches and teaches in western Connecticut, including an ongoing adult education class that studies scripture through current events. Michael is co-founder of a congregational task force at Jesse Lee Memorial that creates opportunities to discuss how the congregation could better live out Christ's love towards LGBT people: SAFE (Sacred Access For Everyone). He is Director of Outreach and Communications for the Religious Institute, a multi-faith nonprofit working for sexual justice and education in faith communities and in society, including abuse prevention, sexuality education, and LGBT inclusion. Previously, he was with the National Black Justice Coalition, a national nonprofit advocating for African-American LGBT people, where he managed member services, donor relations and online content. He is passionate about justice, faith, comics, cooking, good tea, and his wife and two sons (not always in that order).

Jayson Dobney

Jayson Dobney has been active in reconciling work through Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) for many years. Originally from South Dakota, he moved to New York in 2007, where he is the associate curator and administrator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Musical Instruments. He joined the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, a reconciling congregation, and joined MIND as soon as he got to New York, and continued his reconciling activism without missing a beat. In 2010 he became the minister of music at Memorial UMC.

Carolyn Hardin Engelhardt

Carolyn Hardin EngelhardtCarolyn Hardin Engelhardt is called to be a lay person.  She has an MDiv from Perkins School of Theology, SMU, and is Director of the Ministry Resource Center, Yale Divinity School.  She has been a delegate to several General and Jurisdictional Conferences of the UMC, member of the NY Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and District Committee on Ordained Ministry.  Carolyn has long been a member of MFSA and MIND, was an 18 year politically elected member of the Board of Education in Cheshire, CT.  Carolyn is a co-leader of an adult learning group every Sunday at Cheshire UMC, is on the Missions/Social Concerns Committee.  For fun she enjoys learning through world travel and exploring the outdoors.  Carolyn is married to George Engelhardt as has two children, Hardin and Jeffers.

Rafael Garcia

Rafael GarciaOriginally from Colombia, Rev. Rafael Garcia graduated from the DeVry Institute of Technology in 1986. He began ordination process in the San Pablo church in Astoria, Queens, in 1987 and earned an M. Div. at New York Theological Seminary in 1990. He became an ordained elder in 1992. Rafael has also earned an M.A. in International Relations and an M.S. in Education with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language, both from City College. He is currently pastor of the Hempstead English and Hispanic churches. He is also an instructor of English as a Second Language with the Hempstead Board of Education. As the chairperson of the NYAC Hispanic Council from 2001 to 2003, he led the council in the first dialogue on homosexuality and the role of the church in the history of Hispanic ministry in our conference. In 2003 the Hispanic Council adopted a resolution affirming the dignity and rights of the gay and lesbian community, as well as the promotion of a ministry of care and service in solidarity with this community in and through our congregations. Rafael lives with his wife Madeline Corredor, a social worker at Rutgers University, and their five entertaining children: Keven, Camille, Camilo, Oscar and Malcolm.

Rev. Wongee Joh

Rev. Wongee JohRev. Wongee Joh received her M.Div. degree from Drew Theological School in 2008 and serves as the pastor at FUMC Brewster and Holmes UMC. She served as an associate chaplain at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie for six years. As a Korean-American woman pastor, she encounters challenges in ministerial contexts that require critical reflection on how biblical authority is abused and misused to legitimate injustices as well as active engagement in order to transform them. She is active in Coloring Beyond the Lines, a network of clergy working on intercultural communications/competency through a grant from the General Commission on Race and Religion. Joh is Vice Chair of the New York-Connecticut District Council on Ministry, and a member of the Conference Board of Church and Society. She is also a board member of non-profits in her local communities serving to meet the needs of those marginalized by poverty as well as fighting economic injustices that maintain such unjust conditions. She enjoys running with her husband and the blessings of raising two daughters.

Rev. Lucy Jones

Rev. Lucy JonesLucy Jones is a clergy member of the New York Annual Conference serving in appointment at the Grail Center in Cornwall on Hudson, a spiritual retreat center operated by a women's international peace and justice movement.  She pastored rural churches in Columbia and Ulster countries for 12 years. Lucy is a member of the Methodist Federation for Social Action-New York Chapter steering committee and joined the MIND steering committee in 2010.  Lucy came to Methodism and church involvement after visiting Park Slope UMC in 1989 while working at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The hypocrisy of the institutional church had been very disturbing to her throughout her adolescent and early adult life.  The welcoming sign at PSUMC and its radical hospitality spelled out in its stance on the UMC’s struggle with homosexuality made a huge difference in her search to find a meaningful, honest and justice-oriented spiritual home.  Eventually, she went to Union Theological Seminary and graduated with an M.Div. in 1998.  The bottom line for her is that the world needs all the love it can get.  The church should be about fostering that love rather than denying it and excluding anyone.  It’s a great disappointment that the church is not leading but lagging behind on correcting the social injustice of heterosexism.

Bruce Lamb

Bruce LambBruce Lamb is a lifelong United Methodist and a member of Christ Church United Methodist, a progressive and reconciling church in Manhattan.  Bruce received a Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and minored in political science at Texas Tech University. Originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Bruce moved to New York in 2009 to pursue his love of broadcasting and worked at NBC's Today Show and CNN. In New York, Bruce realized that God does have a place for him in ministry. He left CNN in 2013 and is pursuing an M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary. He serves on the Queer Caucus at Union and is a member of the LGBT group at Christ Church. Bruce has a strong passion for working towards justice for all God's children and strongly believes that loving God means loving people. When not buried in a book for seminary, Bruce is involved with cooking for the homeless at Christ Church's soup kitchen or running along the Hudson.

Nehemiah Luckett

Nehemiah LuckettNehemiah Luckett is the associate minister of music at Asbury United Methodist Church, a reconciling congregation, where he is also the co-chair of the church’s Reconciling Committee. He has his family roots in Alabama, where his father is a United Methodist pastor. From an early age Nehemiah was playing the piano, performing and directing choirs for his father’s church. But as a teenager, when he came out to himself and his friends, his father’s advocacy of “traditional family values” and vocal opposition to gay rights was a source of profound agony, and he faced the choice of leaving the church and father he loved or living a life of lies. He came north to attend college at Sarah Lawrence, and found welcome and reconnection to the church at Asbury. At Asbury, Nehemiah works with both the Junior and Senior Choirs, composes music for liturgies, and even wrote and directed a contemporary mass, which premiered at Asbury Church. He also composed the music for “Brick by Brick,” a musical based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which premiered at Sarah Lawrence College in April 2007.  

Charlotte Patton

Charlotte PattonCharlotte Patton is an actor and member of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, a reconciling congregation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She grew up United Methodist and left the church for a few years to explore other spiritual paths.  When she returned to the church she was reluctant to join because of the UMC’s prejudice against lesbian and gay people; she was and remains especially offended by the clause in the in the Book of Discipline that states “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” She decided that the only way she could re-join the UMC was to do everything in her power to change that clause. MIND is the most effective way she has found to carry out that pledge to herself. She has appeared in a number of theatres in New York, L.A. and regional theatres where she has become quite adept at playing alcoholics and drug addicts.  She has appeared in soaps, commercials, network television and in her critically acclaimed one-woman cabaret show, “Looking for Love in the 21st Century,” for which she received a nomination for Best Female Vocalist for Broadway World Cabaret Awards.

Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller

Althea Spencer MillerDr. Althea Spencer Miller, a Jamaican, was ordained elder in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. She is Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at Drew Theological School, a provisional elder in the NYAC, and a Minister in Residence at Church of the Village, Manhattan. Her commitment to justice for social transformation integrates her life. She understands Christian commitment as grounded within a community of faith that is always restless for expressions of God’s “kin-dom” as an ever branching tree that can nest every seeking bird. This is a summation of all that she learned through Sunday school at Lyndhurst in Kingston, the United Theological College of the West Indies (B.A. Th.), Candler School of Theology (Th.M.) and Claremont Graduate University (Ph.D).

Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy

Rev. Sara Thompson TweedyRev. Sara Thompson Tweedy shares life with her spouse, Kristin Marcell, in Kerhonkson, NY, where they are raising their two boys, Maximillian Frederic and Rowan Crawford. Among their family members are the dog, Mister Jones, and two cats, Etta and Thelonious. After graduating from Yale Divinity School, where she won the Henry Hallam Tweedy Prize [no relation] for "exceptional promise for pastoral leadership,"  Sara followed in her mother's and uncle’s footsteps as a United Methodist minister. She served as the pastor of The Federated Church of Kerhonkson for seven years before moving on to SUNY Sullivan, where she currently serves as the Dean of Student Development Services. She previously held the positions of Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Counselor/Academic Advisor. She also is part of the larger inclusive ministry of Memorial UMC, a Reconciling congregation in White Plains, where she preaches on the second Sunday of each month. Thompson Tweedy currently faces church prosecution solely because of her family composition.