Special Guests – Keynote & Worship


This year’s special guests


Rev. Traci deVon Blackmon

Rev. Blackmon will preach at Friday evening worship and deliver a keynote on Saturday morning.

Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero. ~ West African Proverb

Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo.

As a featured voice on many regional, national, and international platforms, Rev. Blackmon’s life work focuses on communal resistance to systemic injustice. Her response in Ferguson to the killing of Michael Brown resulted in national and international recognition, gaining her many audiences spanning the breadth of the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican. Her work is now featured in several Ferguson Uprising documentaries. Appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack Obama, Rev. Blackmon is a recipient of the NAACP Rosa Parks Award; The Urban League of St. Louis Woman in Leadership Award; and the National Planned Parenthood Faith Leader Award, to name a few.

Rev. Blackmon is listed as one of Ebony Magazine’s 2015 Power 100 and she is a featured writer in several Justice publications. Rev. Blackmon is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis and currently serves on the boards of The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary, and WomanPreach! She has been named 2017 Citizen of the Year by The St. Louis American and as one of St. Louis’ 100 most influential voices. She was also recently received the Spiritual Leadership award from The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability, which you can read more about here.

Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon; Harold II; and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.

“I speak for the lions. And we are many!” ~ Rev. Traci D. Blackmon


Bryan Sirchio

After experiencing a Christian “conversion of sorts” (I never quite know how to refer to that experience!) when I was 17, I started writing songs that were expressive of the insights and joy I was experiencing as a new follower of Jesus, and this music ministry of mine has been unfolding one way or another pretty much ever since. I write and share songs that somehow offer snapshots of thoughts or feelings or experiences I’ve had as a person who is trying to take the life and teachings of Christ to heart. I’ve also done my best to take some of the biblical content that pastors and parents often want children and teens to memorize and to write some fun (i.e. silly/crazy!) songs that make it easy and fun to learn Bible stories and themes. As far as credentials go, I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and served as pastor of two small UCC congregations in northern Wisconsin for almost four years.


Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson, Executive Director of Sacred Music at Trinity UCC in Chicago, researches, plans, consults, implements, and monitors the ministry of music for the church, supervises the performance of the music staff and contract musicians, and ensures the development of their musical skills and talents by providing coaching, training, and workshop opportunities. He directs the rehearsals and performance of all choirs, ensembles and praise teams, and supports the movement ministry partners.

Bryan joined the Music Department of Trinity United Church of Christ in 1996, and was initially assigned as Director of the Little Warriors for Christ Choir. Over the years, he has been the director of the Imani Ya Watume Choir, the Praise Team, and since 2011, the Sanctuary Choir.

Bryan received a Bachelor of Arts from Chicago State University, and a Masters of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. He has been married to his wonderful wife, Deacon Joi Buchanan-Johnson for 23 years. His family has roots in Jamaica, Barbados, and Brazil.


Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn

Rev. Kuhn will offer a Bible Study on Mark during the plenary on Friday afternoon.

Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn is Professor of Religion at Lakeland University where he has served since the Fall of 1999. He graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a B.A. in English in 1990, and later earned an M. Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in 1994, followed by a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Marquette University in 1999. An ordained United Church of Christ clergy, he has served several congregations as an associate and interim minister. His special interests are in the fields of biblical interpretation and biblical theology, and he has widely published and lectured in both fields. He has authored numerous articles and four books, Having Words with God: The Bible as Conversation (Fortress Press, 2008), The Heart of Biblical Narrative: Rediscovering Biblical Appeal to the Emotions (Fortress Press, 2009), Luke: The Elite Evangelist (Paul’s Social Network Series; Collegeville, Liturgical, 2010), and The Kingdom According to Luke and Acts (Baker Academic, 2015), and co-authored New Proclamation: The Essential Pastoral Companion for Preaching, Year C 2010 (Fortress Press, 2009). His fifth book, Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Fortress Press, 2018) is due out this year. He is also currently serving as an Associate Editor for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, one of the leading journals in his field. In addition to his work in biblical studies, Karl also speaks frequently in the community to promote interfaith understanding, and is a presenter at the Wisconsin Conference Lay Academy. He is a member of Grace Congregational UCC in Two Rivers.

Karl is married to Kathryn O’Connor Kuhn, also an ordained UCC Clergy who serves as Pastor of Congregational Care and Mission at First Congregational UCC in Appleton. They reside in rural Kiel.


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