Storytelling is a pivotal piece of Mixed Kids Ministry. What’s at the root of being mixed is equally as important as figuring out what’s in the middle. Leaning on each of our individual experiences, there’s a separation of self in being mixed; what you’re holding back and what you’re putting forward. Below is a collection of "stories" from the prodigious people we've had the opportunity of chatting with.
Rev. Kim Montenegro (she/her/hers)
For over a decade Kim has worked as an inspirational facilitator, trainer, and lecturer. She is also ordained in the United Methodist Church. Her work emerges from years of self-exploration and academic study. Group dialogue, self-inquiry, reflection, and whole body learning by participants are some of the strategies she employs. She invites people to grapple with both intellectual and emotional complexities of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kim identifies as a multi-racial African-American woman. Caring about diversity, equity, and inclusion isn't just an academic pursuit for her, but a reflection of who she is. She grew up in a multicultural family in Stockton, CA, studied cross-cultural sensitivity in seminary, and has led workshops across the United States. Kim is always looking for coconspirators to build a more inclusive society. Kim atteneded Saint Mary's College of California, as well a Pacific School of Religion where she received her Masters of Divinity. She and her amazing husband, Jamie, have three wonderfully willful children, Isabella, Jayme Grace, and Joaquin.
Nathan Samayo (he/him/his)
Nathan Samayo is a first year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School and is currently seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ. He was born in Guahan (known as Guam), and grew up in Tacoma, WA. His research interests include comparing the Hebrew Bible Israelite’s themes of culture, identity, and exile to the historic and modern experiences of Indigenous Pacific Islander religions and diasporic traditions, arguing that revisiting Pacific Islander Indigenous heritage, traditions, and creation narratives is the solution to combating environmental catastrophe and American imperialism.
Cassie Chee (she/her/hers)
Cassie Chee is a printmaker and community organizer. She holds a BA in Visual Communications Design and is currently a Master of Divinity student. While her roots run through Korea, China, and Okinawa, she has been a settler on the lands of the Duwamish, Chumash, and in the Hawaiian Kingdom. As a 4th generation displaced settler in Hawai’i, Cassie is committed to co-creating and building power with those most vulnerable in her neighborhood, Kalihi, for a more just world.
Ava Gaines (she/her/hers)
Ava is a Social Emotional Learning Specialist at a private school. Before she was a Family Therapist for families with children in the juvenile system. She has her Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling licenses. Ava lives in Seattle, WA, but grew up in the good ole Midwest. She went to Grand Valley State University for undergrad and Western Michigan University for grad school. Ava is passionate about helping people with their struggles and teaching kids how to cope with their ever changing world. In her spare time, Ava crochets, and also sometimes in the times that aren't so spare. It keeps her mental health in line and she tries to practice what she preaches.
Colton Bernasol (he/him/his)
Colton is from Plainfield Illinois, a Southwest suburb in the Chicagoland area. He is a graduate from Wheaton College with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Biblical and Theological studies. Currently, he is a student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he is pursuing a Masters in Theological Studies with a concentration in Theology and Ethics. He is interested in questions at the intersection of theology, race, and colonialism. Read more at his website.
Cillian Green (he/him/his)
Cillian Green is an MTS student at Garrett, making this his second tour of duty at that hallowed institution. He also holds an MDiv from North Park and an Masters in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Garett Theological Seminary. Cillian is writing on a thesis on the intersection between tabletop gaming and the study of theology, namely how we understand our humanity through play. Cillian is a horror movie aficionado, a gamer, and an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader. Basically all the things that make him attractive to all the boys out there.
Grace Okerson (she/her/hers)
A Florida native, Grace is a biracial queer woman with Haitian heritage. She is a second-year student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, pursuing a Master of Arts in Public Ministry with a concentration in racial justice. Her passions surround dismantling white supremacy and prison abolition. In her free time she enjoys going to the beach, journaling, and hanging out with friends.
Dr. Jordan Ryan (he/him/his)
Jordan Ryan is a half-Filipino New Testament scholar, hailing from the multicultural city of Toronto, Canada. His parents worked with the street youth population in the inner city, and he grew up in the heart of the city in community with some of its most marginalized people. He holds a PhD from McMaster University in Canada, and is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, IL, where he teaches courses in biblical studies and in archaeology.
Rev. Dr. Dong Hyeon Jeong (he/him/his/siya)
Reverend Dong Hyeon Jeong is the Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A son of Korean missionaries in the Philippines, Dr. Jeong is an ordained elder in the Philippine Central Conference. He was born in South Korea, grew up in the Philippines, and studied/works in the US. He is married to Rhian who is a mixed kid herself (English-Syrian descent). Dr. Jeong and Rhian have two lovely mixed kids, Jimin and Yuri.
Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon (she/her/hers)
Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon is United Methodist clergy who lives in Richmond, California with her husband and two teenage sons. Debbie is a candidate for a Doctor of Ministry in Public Engagement through Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Passionate about faith formation and social justice, Debbie serves on the national board of directors of JustFaith Ministries, whose programs engage us in the radical, Biblical sense of compassion and social responsibility. She also serves as the Faith Outreach lead for East Bay Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. After twenty years of pastoral ministry, serving congregations in Miami, San Jose, and Los Altos, Debbie is taking time away from pastoral ministry as she continues studies, public engagement, and being with her family.
Thomas Hankins (he/him/his)
Thomas, a Masters of Divinity student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, is a Southerner by trade, with roots in San Antonio, Texas and East Tennessee. He is interested in studying the intersections of constructive theology, mental health, and biblical wisdom.
Esperanza Izaguirre (she/her/hers)
Esperanza is a multi-racial Latina and Freshman at Whitehall Public High School. She plays basketball and and golf for her school. Her favorite subject is English, followed by History. Esperanza is the eldest of four and in her free time she enjoys skiing, visiting her family in Texas, and painting.
Lindsay Lulu Sapigao (she/they/siya)
Lindsay is a mixed Filipina from Palo Alto, CA. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University. Lindsay is a lifelong United Methodist and aspiring pastor. In her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, visiting local botanical gardens, and hopping on Zoom calls with her friends.