The Front Porch National Conversation

African-American churches are gospel churches. One of the greatest miracles of Christianity is that those once cuffed in oppression found in the Good News a path to faith, hope and love in a dark world. Those who once suffered injustice at the hands of professing Christians saw beyond their injustice to a God who reigns in justice.

Yet to remedy injustice today, many folks say, “Just preach the gospel.” That’s the solution they give to African-American Christians calling for justice in the criminal system, education, and a host of other social problems. But does the biblical gospel have anything to say about biblical justice in the face of these continuing social problems? Should we “Just preach the gospel” or “Preach a just gospel”?

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Pull up a chair and join us on The Front Porch as we think about the Good News of Jesus Christ and how it applies to the mission of African-American churches today. On The Front Porch there’s bound to be loud talkin’, loud laughin’ and maybe a few loud colors! All are welcome!


Biblical Theology and Justice

Darryl Williamson gives a message on “A Biblical Theology of Justice” followed by a discussion with Mika Edmondson and Darryl Williamson

Why Both Justice and the Gospel are Essential

A panel discussion between Tony Carter, Vincent Bacote, Mike Leach, and Harold Melton.

What Role Does the Bible Have in Justice?

A panel discussion between Louis Love, Bobby Scott, Vincent Bacote, and Jarvis Williams. During the discussion, Jarvis Williams mentioned the necessity and benefit of reading works by or about “marginalized … Continue reading

Should Christians Be Involved in Secular Social Justice Movements

A panel discussion with Jemar Tisby, Michelle Higgins, Bobby Scott, Tyler Burns, and Steven Harris.

A Different Approach for Addressing Abortions

A discussion with Thabiti Anyabwile and Roland Warren.

Educating for Justice

A panel discussion with Thabiti Anyabwile, Jadine Johnson, Jemar Tisby, and Zayika jackson.

Persevering Presence

A message from Karen Ellis

Victor Sholar Morning Exposition

A message from Victor Sholar

Revisiting the Mission of the Church

A panel discussion with Louis Love, Bobby Scott, and Leonce Crump.

The Black Church and Prophetic Witness

A panel discussion with Kevin Smith, Eric Washington, Tony Carter, and Mika Edmondson.

The State of Gospel Reconciliation

A panel discussion with Isaac Adams, Kevin Smith, H.B. Charles, and Leonce Crump.  

Caring for Orphans

A panel discussion with Thabiti Anyabwile, Vermon Pierre and Dennae Pierre.

Saving Our Sons

A panel discussion with Louis Love, Eric Mason, and Bobby Manning.

What’s Going on in Chicago?

A panel discussion with Luis Love Arthur Jackson and Brian Dye.

Hip Hop and Justice

A panel discussion with Isaac Adams, Trip Lee, Shai Linne, and Williams Branch.

Women’s Voices on Issues of Justice

A panel discussion with Christina Edmondson, Zakiya Jackson, Jadine Johnson, Trillia Newbell, Dennae Pierre.

The Pastor’s Role in the Gospel and Justice

A panel discussion with Bobby Scott, Mika Edmondson, Arthur Jackson, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Tony Carter.

Morning Exposition

A message from Trip Lee

Visiting Those in Prison

A panel discussion with Louis Love, Nathan Brummel, and Clarence Simmons.

JUST Gospel Wrap Up

A final panel discussion with Tony Carter, Louis Love, and Thabiti Anyabwile

Serenity Steps by Leroy Lamar

& Campaign by Justin Giboney



Sponsored By:



The Front Porch brothers will sit in their rockers, run their mouths, and host this conversation.

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor at Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, D.C. A native of Lexington, North Carolina, he is also the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. He is the author of several books, most recently: Reviving the Black Church (2015). Holla at him on Twitter: @thabitianyabwil.

Born and raised in South Bend, IN, Louis Love serves as the pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Vernon Hills, IL, which he planted in 1997. Joyfully married, Louis and his wife, Jamie, have three adult children and ten grandchildren. He is a contributor to the book Glory Road: The Journeys of Ten African Americans into Reformed Christianity (2012).


Tony Carter serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church in Atlanta. Tony is married to his beloved, Adriane Carter, and their marriage has bore the fruit of five wonderful children. Tony is the author of Black and Reformed (2003; second edition, 2015) and has edited books like Experiencing the Truth (2008). Holla at him on Twitter: @eastpc.


A host of other brothers and sisters from across the country will be pulling up chairs to share and talk about the intersection of the gospel and justice. Look for news of a new speaker from time-to-time as we approach the conference!

Trip serves as the Teaching Pastor at Cornerstone Church Atlanta. Publicly known as Trip Lee, Pastor Trip has released five studio albums and two books, and has spoken and performed around the world. Despite his fruitful itinerant ministry, Trip has always had a deep passion for local church ministry. He has served as a staff member, leader, and elder while calling many cities home. His primary passion is to help build a healthy church where disciples are made and Jesus is exalted. Trip is married to Jessica and they have two kids: Q and Selah.

Dr. Eric Mason aka “Pastor E” is the founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is married to Yvette and has three sons, Immanuel, Nehemiah, Ephraim and one living daughter, Amalyah. After over 2 decades of gospel ministry, Dr. Mason has become known for his unquenchable passion to see the glory of Jesus Christ robustly and relevantly engaged in broken cities with the comprehensive gospel. Urban ministry is the heartbeat of his ministry and calling.

He is the founder and President of Thriving, an urban resource organization committed to developing leaders for ministry in the urban context. Dr. Mason has written three books; Manhood Restored, Beat God to the Punch, and Unleashed.

Dr. Mason has been graced by God to preach and teach at churches and conferences in the US and abroad. He is the recipient of multiple earned degrees, including a BS in Psychology from Bowie State University, a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Doctoral degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Mason has served as an adjunct professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston Texas and Biblical Theological Seminary outside of Philadelphia.

Dr. Mason serves through the local church in helping coach and train families to plant churches in cities locally, nationally, and internationally. Specifically, over the last 4-5 years through Epiphany Fellowship, they have and are planting in Camden, NJ, Germantown Philly, Brooklyn, NY, Los Angeles, CA, SW Philly, Wilmington, DE, and Baltimore, MD. Also through Epiphany Fellowship, they are helping to plant 11 churches in Africa as well.

Dr. Mason considers himself a foodie, coffee snob and enjoys reading, writing, art, and biking.


Pastor Charles is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, where he has served since the fall of 2008, and he is theCutting It Straight conference host.   He is primarily responsible for preaching-teaching, vision casting, and leadership development. Prior to joining the Shiloh Church, he led the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles for almost eighteen years succeeding his late father, at the age of seventeen.  Outside of his ministry to and with his congregation, he is a much sought after speaker at churches, conferences, and conventions around the country.  He has contributed to several books and journals, and is the author of three books, It Happens After PrayerOn Preaching, andThe Difference Jesus Makes. He also writes a blog about life, preaching, church, books, and worship. He and his wife, Crystal have three children: H.B. III, Natalie, and Hailey.


Educated at Tuskegee University and the University of North Texas, Amisho studied Television/Film, Anthropology and English. He has become a philosopher, academic, activist, artist, and deep thinker in contemporary culture. He has spent 7 years traveling as a recording artist and public speaker. He has done numerous activist works overseas ranging from Race relations in South Africa to establishing musical co-horts in Indonesia. He now desires to blend his artistic platform with his academic leanings to contribute a unique perspective in both arenas in hopes of raising the standard, thereby raising the culture.


Director of Worship and Outreach, South City Church. A native of St. Louis, Michelle Higgins is actively engaged in the #BlackLivesMatter movement through participation in civil disobedience, leadership development, logistics, and administrative support in both sacred and secular spaces. Michelle holds an MDiv at Covenant Theological Seminary.

Shai Linne was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa. A self-proclaimed agnostic, Shai rejected the God of the Bible in the pursuit of a hedonistic lifestyle and empty, self-righteous moralism. In the midst of his rebellion against God, Shai was powerfully converted in 1999. The Lord graciously used the preaching ministries of James Boice and Phil Ryken at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to grow Shai in His understanding of Scripture and theology. As a Christian hip-hop artist with Lamp Mode Recordings, Shai has appeared on numerous independent and national releases. In 2010, he completed a pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after which he served for two years as an elder at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. Shai is deeply thankful to be married to Blair. They have 3 beautiful children, Sage, Maya and Ezra.

Jemar (B.A. Notre Dame; MDIV RTS Jackson) is the President and Co-Founder of the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) where he blogs about theology, race, and culture. His writing has been featured on Urban Faith, Christianity Today, and The Gospel Coalition. Jemar serves as the Director of the African American Leadership Initiative and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at RTS Jackson. He is a member of Redeemer Church, is married and has one child.


Trillia Newbell is the author of  Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-SentinelDesiring GodTrue WomanChristianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She has spoken at numerous conferences, churches, women’s retreats, colleges and seminaries, including True Woman, The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference, Southeastern Theological Seminary, and more. She currently is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Newbell was the Lead Editor of Karis, the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (2013-2015). In November 2011, she launched a Christian women’s blog-style e-zine, Women of God Magazine, where she was the managing editor.

Her greatest love besides God is her family. She is married to her best friend and love, Thern. They reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.

Jarvis Williams (@drjjwilliams) is the associate professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Christ Died for Our Sins.


In 1969, Carl Ellis began his ministry as a Senior Campus Minister with the Tom Skinner Associates in New York. From 1979 to 1989, Carl served as the Assistant Pastor of Forest Park Community Church in Baltimore, MD, served on faculty at Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as a seminar instructor for Prison Fellowship where he developed and taught “in-prison” and “in-community” seminars for inmates and community volunteers. Between 1986 and 2009, Carl served as an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Urban Theological Studies (C.U.T.S.), and as Dean of Intercultural Studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA where he continues to serve at C.U.T.S. Carl is currently the Associate Pastor for Cultural Apologetics at New City Fellowship. Dr. Ellis studied under Francis Schaeffer at LÁbri in Hermoz sur Olon’, Switzerland, completed his Masters in Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and holds a D.Phil. from Oxford Graduate School.

On July 1, 2005, Justice Harold Melton was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court by Governor Sonny Perdue. Prior to joining the Court, Justice Melton served as Executive Counsel to Governor Perdue, representing the Governor on legal issues covering the entire scope of state government. Justice Melton helped safeguard Georgia’s interests in water rights disputes with Alabama and Florida, and actively participated in administration efforts to advance the delivery of criminal justice services in the State.

Justice Melton received a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia in 1991. He previously served as a Volunteer Leader of Young Life Ministries for 11 years, is currently a Board Member of Atlanta Youth Academies and the Director of Teen Ministry at Southwest Christian Fellowship Church.

A native of Washington, D.C. He currently resides in Atlanta with his wife, Kimberly, and their three children.


Steven Harris serves as the Director of Advocacy for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In this role, he works with government leaders in the legislative and executive branches to advocate for the ERLC’s position on important issues, while also analyzing legislation and producing content for ERLC outlets. He holds a B.S. in Religion from Vanderbilt University, an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Religion from Yale University. Steven lives in the D.C. metro area with his bride, Sunni, and son, Jude.


Tyler is currently serving as a youth pastor in Pensacola, Florida as well as a television show host and contributor for and RAANetwork.

Brian is an Elder at Legacy Christian Fellowship. Brian’s passion is “to train leaders in ministry to urban America.” In 2006 he founded The Legacy Conference to equip those that are serious about being disciples of Christ to make disciples for Christ. Brian joined the staff of GRIP Outreach For Youth in September 2011 as Mentorship Director and is currently responsible for the training of close to 100 mentors that walk life with fatherless teens. He has been married to his best friend and ministry partner, Heidi, since July 2000.

William “Duce” Branch a.k.a. The Ambassador is a Christian hip-hop artist who has recorded both independently and as a founding member of the group The Cross Movement. Branch is the former president of Cross Movement Ministries. He is an alumnus of Dallas Theological Seminary and has a Master in Theology degree graduating with honors.


Dr. Bobby Manning proudly serves as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of District Heights. Under his leadership, the church has grown significantly in number as well as local and global impact. Dr. Manning is widely considered a “pastor of the community” as he leads FBCDH to continued service to the physical and spiritual needs of the residents of the Metropolitan DC area.

Darryl serves as Lead Pastor at Living Faith Bible Fellowship and is working on an M.Div at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Bobby is Pastor of Discipleship at Community of Faith Bible Church in Los Angeles California. He has his M.Div and Th.M. from The Master’s Seminary. Pastor Scott is married to Naomi and has six children.


Dr. Vincent Bacote is an Associate Professor of Theology and the Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. He is the author of the The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (2005), and has contributed to books including On Kuyper (2013), Aliens in the Promised Land (2013), Keep Your Head Up (2012) and Prophetic Evangelicals (2012). He is a regular columnist for Comment ( and has also had articles appear in magazines such as Books and CultureChristianity TodayThink Christian and re:generation quarterly and journals such as Christian Scholars ReviewUrban Mission and the Journal for Christian Theological Research. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Christian Ethics. He resides in the Chicago area with his family.

Dr. Smith has served as assistant professor of church history and Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, and president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and chairman of its Mission Board. Recently, Dr. Smith was elected Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.

Vermon is the lead pastor for preaching and mission at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of Gospel Shaped Living, which is part of the Gospel Shaped Church curriculum published by The Good Book Company and The Gospel Coalition.


Dennae is the Executive Director of The Surge Network, a network of local churches in Arizona. Dennae helped establish and currently serves at Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix where her husband, Vermon, is the lead pastor.


Rev. Nathan Brummel is professor of Theology at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary. He has a Th.M. in Missiology from Calvin Seminary.

Arthur Jackson joined the pastoral staff of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago in 2007. Before that, he served as Senior Pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Oak Park. He received a Th.M from Dallas Theological Seminary after his Bachelor Degree in management from Park University in Missouri. He brings a variety of experiences to the HTC family, including four years in Christian publishing and five years as assistant pastor at Rock of Our Salvation Church in Chicago.

Clarence Simmons is one of the elders of Mount Zion Bible Church located in Pensacola, Florida. He also labors at Chapel Library, which is a ministry of Mt. Zion that distributes God-centered literature (tracts, small/large booklets, and paperback books) around the world. He is married to his sweet-love for life, Candace, and they have seven children.

Pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington, KY, Victor graduated from the Master’s Seminary in 2004 and received a Master’s of Divinity Degree. Shortly thereafter, the Lord blessed him to become Associate Pastor at the Los Angeles Community Bible Church (LACBC) while also serving as a Bible instructor at the Los Angeles Bible Training School (LABTS). He served in these two positions for 6 years. He was ordained during this tenure.

DJ Wade-O is a committed husband, father, DJ, radio personality, producer, business owner, and ministry leader. Upon graduating Cum Laude from Howard University, he, worked for Alcatel-Lucent for 5 years and earned a master’s degree in finance from Babson College.
In 2006, I began the Wade-O Radio Show Podcast and left Alcatel-Lucent during the summer of 2007 to focus on it full-time. The Wade-O Radio Show has since been downloaded over 2 Million times and is currently syndicated on 25 radio stations world-wide. Through this platform, he have had the opportunity to interview people such as Al Sharpton, Kirk Franklin, Lecrae, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Allan Houston and ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

lovingly caputred by Sarah Danaher (Ampersand Photography, © 2012)

Karen Ellis explores the zones where identity, human rights and theology intersect. She has performed, spoken and lectured internationally; in her twenty year career, she has been seen in classrooms, conferences, on radio, television, film and onstage. Karen holds a Master of Arts in Religion (Theological) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. Karen travels and teaches alongside her husband, theological anthropologist Dr. Carl F. Ellis, Jr.

Jadine was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She currently lives in Washington, DC where she works as an education justice attorney at a national civil rights organization.

Eric Washington serves as Assistant Professor and History Director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Minor at Calvin College. Dr. Washington is primarily interested in studying the African-American church from its development in the late 18th century through the 19th century.

lovingly caputred by Sarah Danaher (Ampersand Photography, © 2012)

Isaac Adams is an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and has worked to serve the efforts of The Front PorchTogether for the Gospel (T4G), and CROSS. He is currently a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is happily married to Megan.

Léonce Crump Jr., is an author, international speaker, and the founder and lead pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta. In 2006, Crump answered God’s call to relocate from Tennessee to Atlanta and begin the process of planting Renovation Church. He details the obstacles he and his family faced and the revelations he uncovered during this process in Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are(Multnomah Books, Feb. 16, 2016). A champion for the Church’s participation in focused and intentional cultural renewal, Crump is the leading voice of a generation committed to operating as God’s redemptive agents in the earth.

“I hope to inspire you,” Crump says. “I hope you leave these few pages with a renewed sense of your ability to influence and shape culture, your ability and calling to renew this world and promote human flourishing for God’s glory and the common good. I hope you walk away from this book believing that cultural renewal is not only the responsibility of the Christian but also the most freeing way you can turn your quiet longing into discernible action.”

His unique background includes contacts from the world of professional sports and the music industry. At the University of Oklahoma, Crump was an All-American wrestler and defensive end for the Sooner football team; he went on to play professional football for the New Orleans Saints. He has been in ordained ministry for nine years and holds graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee and Resurgence Theological Training Center. He is currently a Master of Divinity student at Reformed Theological Seminary and a member of the church planting network. He and his wife, Breanna, reside in the heart of downtown Atlanta with their two daughters and son.

is the pastor of New City Fellowship OPC, a church plant in Southeast Grand Rapids. He recently earned a PhD in systematic theology from Calvin Seminary, where he wrote a dissertation on Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology of suffering.

A graduate of Princeton University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Roland is an inspirational servant leader with a heart for Christ and a mind for business. After 20 years in the corporate world (with IBM, Pepsi, and Goldman Sachs), Roland spent 11 years as president of National Fatherhood Initiative before joining Care Net in 2012 as president and CEO.

Kristie Anyabwile is the wife of Thabiti, who serves as a Church Planting Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church; he hopes to plant in Anacostia (Washington DC). She is the joyful mother of two daughters and one son.

Jamie Love is the wife of Louis Love, who serves as the pastor of New Life Fellowship Church, which he planted in 1997. Joyfully married, Jamie and Louis have three adult children and nine grandchildren.

Involved in community development and education for 15 years, Zakiya has worked in public schools, non-profits and corporations. Currently the Director of Partnerships for The Expectations Project, Zakiya helps faith rooted organizations strategically address education equity. Zakiya also writes, speaks and consults in the intersections of spiritual formation, racial justice and Black culture. Her most recent essay “Responding to the War on Black Bodies” was published in Leaven, a journal of Christian ministry out of Pepperdine University. Named one of the 33 Millennials leading the next generation of the Christian faith by Christianity Today, Zakiya has been engaged in church leadership since she was in college. Zakiya currently loves hosting watch parties, making excessively healthy smoothies, living in Washington DC and reading the words of activist bae Bryan Stevenson

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue