Speakers

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Edem and Pam Dzunu
Co-Founders
Baobab People, St. Louis, MO
Edem Dzunu was born and raised in Ghana and has always been passionate about different people’s ways of life. He is fascinated by details about people, things and situations different from who he is and what he is accustomed to. His love and fascination for knowledge and understanding of different cultures has taken him to many different places in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America, both as an enquiring mind and a contributor to knowledge. As one who travels and enjoys traveling, what he cherishes most is the opportunity to meet people and know about them in an environment of mutual respect. It is this desire that led to the establishment of Baobab People. Edem has degrees in Music, English, TEFL, Theology and Ethics, and currently teaches in the English Language Program at Washington University in Saint Louis . Edem also serves as Associate Pastor at Third Baptist Church, leading their community engagement efforts.

Pamela Guntharp Dzunu grew up in rural northeast Mississippi and graduated with an English major from William Carey University (Hattiesburg, MS). She completed a Masters of Legal Studies at Washington University in 2018, an MA-TESOL degree at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2003, and an MA in Intercultural Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1998. Pamela has extensive travel experience, including living two years in Ethiopia (East Africa) and two years in Azerbaijan (Central Asia). In both countries, she taught English as a Foreign Language among high school or university students. Pamela’s wide-ranging travel experience has given her a broad worldview and appreciation for all cultures. She has been teaching in the English Language Program at Washington University since 2003 where she specializes in Legal English. Pamela also enjoys being a mother to her and Edem’s four-year-old son, Etornam.

Pamela and Edem are married and are also co-founders of Baobab People, a Saint Louis based nonprofit organization that works to connect cultures through dialogue and learning. With the support of many, we are able to create safe spaces where conversation around difficult topics occur in ways that preserve the dignity of those involved.
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Joe Phelps
Minister-at-Large
Louisville, KY
Joe Phelps, a Minister-At-Large in Louisville, Kentucky, is co-chair of EmpowerWest, a black-white clergy coalition committed to creating black power and wealth. His focus is helping white Americans recognize the systemic and ongoing advantages for whites that shut out black Americans historically and to this day.

Phelps was a Congregational minister for 42 years, most recently as Pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, a dynamic congregation committed to both evangelism and social justice.

Phelps writes regularly for area newspapers and has made frequent public witness, including challenging WalMart’s employment practices in a national TV ad, creating "No Murders Metro" prayer observances at area murder locations, and leading area clergy to bear Christian witness on immigration and LGBTQ matters. Rush Limbaugh called Phelps a “wacko preacher.” Louisville magazine’s feature article on Phelps was affectionately titled “The Heretic.” Contact him at JustJoePhelps@gmail.com.
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Pam Durso
Executive Director
Baptist Women in Ministry
Rev. Dr. Pam Durso is Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry, where she is as an advocate and a resource for women serving in all areas of
Christian ministry. She has a Ph.D. in Church History from Baylor and currently serves as adjunct faculty at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta. Pam also serves as co-chair of the CBF Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force. The Task Force is committed to helping Baptists create healthy churches and partner organizations and to ensure the presence of ethical, honest, trusted ministers and leaders. Pam has also written and edited numerous articles and books on women.
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Laura Ayala
Pastor
First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
The Rev. Laura Ayala is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. She had been associate executive minister of Christian Education and Leadership Development for Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. She was executive director of Caguas’ Coalition for the Homeless and Miracles of Love Corporation, an ABHMS Neighborhood Action Program Christian center. For more than 20 years, she served as a consultant for the development of social ministries. She holds an MBA, a master’s in Religion and Society, and a bachelor’s in Social Sciences with a major in Research. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology. She is married to Jose David Colon.
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Sam Harrell
Associate Coordinator of Global Missions
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, GA
Sam Harrell is the Associate Coordinator for Global Missions with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Sam was born to Baptist missionary parents in Nairobi, Kenya where he spent all of his childhood and most of his adult life.

A graduate of North Carolina State University and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Sam together with his wife Melody (born and raised in Uganda) founded Africa Exchange, a non-profit education and community development organization, through which they have operated over the last 20 years - 16 of those under the auspices of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as global field personnel.

A long-time advocate of environmental stewardship, Sam leads ‘Kutana Kenya,’ an immersion experience for graduate and seminary students that CBF hosts in partnership with Africa Exchange, a nonprofit founded by the Harrells and operating in Kenya. The experience explores the intersection between creation care, transformational development and mission and is conducted in Kenya each Spring.

Sam’s primary work has been in community development and appropriate technology with marginalized urban and rural communities in Kenya. He has conducted cross-cultural field education and development modules for a number of institutions including Mercer University, Baylor University and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

Melody and Sam have three grown sons. Sam is passionate about the environment and spends much of his free time as close to the land as possible – birdwatching, hiking, beekeeping – doing all that he can to conserve and protect the tremendous gift of creation.
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