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 now serves as Lead Pastor at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, MO. He previously served as the Lead Pastor of Harvard Avenue Christian Church (DoC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma,  2009 -2019. 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.

  • Dara Cobb Lewis

    Rev. Dr. Dara Cobb Lewis is a Bethany Fellows Alum and ordained through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Dara received her Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary and her Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  Her doctoral work looked at the use of ancient spiritual practices for the treatment of anxiety and depression. 

    Dara is a pastoral counselor and spiritual director based in Belmont, NC.  Through her ministry, The Devoted Life, she finds great joy in helping others find shalom (the peace and wholeness that God has in store for each of us).  As a North Carolina Certified Practicing Pastoral Counselor, Dara serves clients by taking an integrative approach using the behavioral sciences combined with spirituality, theology and the person’s religious experience to work towards health and wholeness.  As a spiritual director, she participates in an ancient practice of accompanying another on his or her quest to a deeper relationship with God.  This involves holy listening, often quietness, sometimes laughter, other times tears and an opportunity to grow and deepen one’s spiritual life and attunement to God.  

  • Rob Crawford

    The Rev. Dr. Robert E. Crawford is the interim minister at Southern Hills Christian Church in Edmond, OK. Rob holds a B.A. from Phillips University, as well as an M.Div. and a D.Min. from Phillips Theological Seminary. Rob is a Bethany Fellow alum and said “yes” to being a Bethany leader because he believes the Bethany circle is a safe place for clergy to be loved, affirmed, and challenged.  Rob became an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Dec. 31st, 2000, serving several congregations in the Oklahoma region since.

    Rob’s ministry has focused on the importance of Disciples identity and inclusion.  Working to develop ecumenical partnerships, as well as advocating for peace and social justice issues are Rob’s passions. Rob was a Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern in 1998, later served on their board, and was privileged to serve as their moderator for part of that time. His Doctoral work has informed his belief that relationship is more important than ‘being right,’ and that when it comes to prayer, presence is more important than words. Rob tries to teach and practice the understanding that 'listening is prayer'.  He strongly believes that sabbath-keeping, which is part of the ethos developed with the Bethany Fellowship, is critical for the holistic health of any clergy person committed to a lifelong call in ministry. 

    Rob is married to Jason. For the past 15 years they raised their two children Olivia and Eli in Bartlesville, OK. Recently, the kids moved to college and Jason and Rob moved back towards their hometown of Oklahoma City. 

  • Nina Merkle Nestlerode

    Rev. Nina Merkle Nestlerode serves as Co-Senior Pastor with her clergy spouse, Glenn, most currently at First Christian Church Ponca City, Oklahoma since 2018. Prior to that they served again as Co-Senior Pastors at First Christian Church Canton, Illinois from 2010. She was also the Interim Senior Pastor at All Pilgrims Christian Church (DOC/UCC) in Seattle, Washington for two years, after serving in her first call as Associate Pastor at First Christian Church Orange, CA for four years. Nina delights in being the mother of an elementary school age son, Gabriel, and proud step-mom to her adult daughter, Elizabeth. She is also a second career pastor, having worked for Cheveron Corporation in San Francisco for 8 years as Senior Financial Analyst. She holds a degree in Business from University of Oregon and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion. She is a former board member and alum of both Disciples Seminary Foundation and Bethany Fellows. Nina strongly supports the prayerful community and modeling of Bethany Fellows and has continued to seek retreats with co-alums to nurture this sacred time in her own ministry.

  • 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. 

  • Melanie Harrell Delaney

    Melanie Harrell Delaney now serves as Co-Director/Pastor of Bethany Fellows after 10 years as 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 and enriched not only her ministry, but the entire congregation as they grew.

    Melanie holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master 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.

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

  • Kim Gage Ryan

    Kim Gage Ryan serves as Co-Director/Pastor 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.

  • 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.