disciples Leadership

  • Elizabeth Myer Boulton

    Rev. Elizabeth Myer Boulton is the President and Creative Director over at the SALT Project, a not-for-profit Emmy winning production company dedicated to reclaiming and sharing the beauty of Christian life through film, photography, music, poetry, and ideas. Elizabeth is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served as the Minister of Discipleship at Old South Church in Boston and senior pastor of Hope Church. She holds degrees from Trent University and the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is a Bethany Fellow alum.

  • Mark Briley

    Mark Briley has served as the Lead Pastor of Harvard Avenue Christian Church (DoC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 2009. Ordained by the movement in 2006, Mark became a third generation Disciples minister. He is passionate about church health, fostering authentic environments for people to find acceptance, a growing faith, and room to discern their life purpose. Married fifteen years to his wife, Carrie, they enjoy life and ministry in Tulsa with three young children: Morgan, Dane and Hayes. Mark is a Bethany Fellow alum and believes fully in the “Bethany rhythm” that cultivates health and strength among newly ordained pastors. He holds a degree in Psychology from Purdue University and a Master of Divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary.

  • Susan Gonzales Dewey

    Born in Spokane, Washington, Susan, being a part of a military family, spent early years moving around. She primarily grew up in Garden Grove, CA. She graduated from Garden Grove High School and has lived in Berkeley, El Sobrante, La Mesa/San Diego, and Ventura, CA. Susan currently calls Orange, CA home.


    Susan received her BA in Religious Studies from Cal State Fullerton and her Masters of Divinity Degree from Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA. Susan was ordained into the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, 1989 in La Mesa, CA.


    Susan has pastored United Methodist Churches in Castro Valley and El Sobrante, Ca, and Disciples churches in La Mesa, CA (85-97), and Ventura, CA (97-07). Susan has also served as Deployed Staff for Women’s Ministry in the PSWR since 1995. Susan currently serves as Co-Regional Minister of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) along with her husband Don Dewey (07-present). This region is partnering with Bethany Fellowships in the Bethany West pilot project

  • Kim Gage Ryan

    Kim Gage Ryan serves as Director of Bethany Fellows— a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministry supporting young clergy in their first five years of ministry. Building on 25 years of congregational experience in Indiana and Missouri, she also consults with congregations to help expand their ministries to reach their goals and visions— specifically in the areas of Christian Education, Evangelism, Welcome and Hospitality and Spiritual Gifts Empowerment.


    She is an active member at Olivet Christian Church in Columbia, MO.


    Born and raised in Amarillo, TX, Kim graduated from Texas Tech University in 1980 and Brite Divinity School in 1984. She has two sons—Gage and Keller and one sweet grandson—Oliver.

  • David Shirey

    David Shirey is Senior Minister of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington, KY. He also served congregations in Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina, and Indiana. From 2002-2014 he served as founding pastor of Coolwater Christian Church in Scottsdale, AZ. David and Jennie have three children: Will, Betsy, and Laura, a daughter-in-law, Kassie, and two grandchildren, Hayden and Blair. His hobbies include running, hiking, and writing.  


    Born and raised in Warren, Ohio, David received his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from Indiana University and his Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. 

  • Gary Straub

    Gary Straub brings vast congregational experience to Bethany Fellows. He has pastored 3 large congregations over 35 years and 9 interims since. He currently serves as a Bethany mentor and helps coordinate development efforts. 


    Straub authored “Your Calling as an Elder” and conducts workshops, strategic ministry consultations, retreats, as well as offers coaching, spiritual direction, prayer days and spirituality seminars for Disciples leaders.


    Educated with a BA from Ozark Bible College, a Masters and Doctorate in Pastoral Psychology from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and a Master of Theology from Princeton Seminary, Straub is also a certified Spiritual Director from Shalem Institute and credentialed as a Valwood Leadership Coach.


    Married to Geneva, a Psychiatric Nurse; they recently celebrated their 45th anniversary and enjoy living in Louisville, KY with two daughters and three grandchildren. They are active members of Middletown Christian Church on the east end of Louisville.

  • Ayanna Watkins

    Ayanna Johnson Watkins is a speaker, writer, and facilitator focused on building transformative community and nurturing the God-given purpose of each individual. 


    She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Yale University before going on to complete both the Master of Divinity and the Master of Arts in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She has been an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since 2004. After graduation, she served as youth pastor at the long-established Park Manor Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on the south side of Chicago, IL, and later Lead Pastor of the Family of Hope Christian Church (DoC) in Blue Island, IL--a multicultural congregation she founded together with a team. 


    Ayanna has also been an active social worker--serving as a community organizer in southwest Chicago, a counselor for at-risk youth and mentally-ill adults, and an advocate for public aid clients. Most recently, she was the Director of Community Life at Chicago Theological Seminary where she worked to foster leadership, to nurture healthy community, and assist students in their spiritual and professional formation. This education and experience have equipped Ayanna to speak, teach, and write on topics including leadership, faith practice, community organizing, and domestic violence. 


    Ayanna Johnson Watkins recently moved to Memphis, TN, with her husband and is excited to contribute to her new community! She currently serves as Director of the Incubate Initiative for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where she supports and fosters the creation of new health and social service ministry nonprofits. 

  • Melanie Harrell Delaney

    Melanie Harrell Delaney is the Communications Coordinator of Bethany Fellows and the Lead Pastor of Good Shepherd Christian Church in Macedonia, Ohio. Melanie is a Bethany Fellows alum, and is grateful to be able to serve the Bethany Fellows which sustained her well beyond her first few years in congregational ministry. 


    Melanie received her BA in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Masters of Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN (where she is also a proud alum of the Disciples Divinity House.) She was ordained into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 2009 at Bethany Christian Church in Lincoln, NE.


    Melanie is married to Rev. Tyler Delaney (a chaplain for the Cleveland Clinic Hospice.) They have three young children, Olivia, Owen and Clayton, who keep them grounded and joyful.