PTSL 2016

Guest Speaker Bios

Larry M. James - Keynote Presentation

Since August 1994, Larry James has provided executive leadership for CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries), most recently as CEO. CitySquare, a faith-based, human and community development corporation, battles the causes and effects of poverty through service, advocacy and friendship.

Prior to his current position in urban community “reinvention,” he served for 14 years as senior minister at the Richardson East Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. 

A graduate of Harding University (B.A.'72), Harding School of Theology (M.A.'73), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.'77), and Tulane University (M.A. American History '86), James has been involved in developing and implementing holistic, justice-focused approaches to congregational and community service and outreach throughout his career. 

In 1998, he served as executive director for the Greater Dallas Community of Churches. He returned to CitySquare after eight months with a renewed clarity that his place was “close to the streets” of the inner city. 

CitySquare delivers compassion, education, medical care, legal services, technical training, youth and children’s ministry, affordable workforce housing, work force development and technology training initiatives, housing interventions for homeless persons and spiritual development to neighbors living in the tough inner city communities of East and South Dallas. In addition, the work of CitySquare has expanded into San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Waco, and Austin, Texas, and most recently into Denver, Colorado.

James, a Richardson native, is married to the former Brenda Erwin. The couple has two grown daughters, Jennifer Toombs and Joanna Frazer, and four grandchildren: Gracie Bea and Wyatt James Toombs and Owen James and Henry Folsom Frazer. 

Since 1999, the couple has lived in the inner city and have been active members of United Methodist churches in Dallas. James is an Elder in full connection with the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. He currently serves the church in a dual appointment to CitySquare and Highland Park United Methodist Church. 

Rev. Dr. Ella McDonald Worship Service 

Rev. Dr. Ella Mae McDonald was born in San Angelo, Texas, abandoned at birth - raised by her grandmother - nurtured by the hand of the Lord. 

A graduate of North Texas State University (B.S.'78) and Perkins School of Theology (M.Div.'08 with certification in pastoral care; D.Min.'14), Rev. Dr. McDonald received the following awards during her time at Perkins: the Robert Weatherford Prize for internship preaching, the Karis Stahl Fadely Scholarship Award, and the Division I Biblical Studies Award. 

Before becoming a full-time pastor, Rev. Dr. McDonald spent 19 years as a teacher in McKinney, Texas. She was nominated and given the Teacher of the Year Award in 1994 by the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. She was also selected to pioneer and lead the McKinney High Team Pride Program — a school within a school program for at risk students.

She was licensed to preach in 1980 at St. James African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church in Denton, under the pastorate of Rev. Robbie L. Slaughter. She was ordained as an itinerant deacon in October 1982, by Bishop Rambert E. Stokes, and was ordained an itinerant elder in 1984 by the same Bishop. Rev. McDonald served as the pastor of Bethel A.M.E Church in Gainesville from 1984 to 1988. She served as the pastor of Agape Temple A.M.E. Church in South East Dallas, formerly known as Jenkins Chapel A.M.E. Church, from 1988 to 2010. She served as the pastor of St. Luke A.M.E. Church in Garland from 2010 to 2014. Presently, she serves the presiding elder of the Greater Dallas District. She is a prolific preacher known for her storytelling. 

Rev. McDonald proudly serves in many capacities within the A.M.E. Church: as chairperson for the Minister’s Efficiency Committee of the North Texas Annual Conference; as a member of the North Texas Annual Conference Board of Trustees; and as Dean of the North Texas Annual Conference Board of Examiners. 

Rev. McDonald has received numerous awards, honors, and church achievements. She was given the Laura Dodson Spirit Award and Outstanding Service Award from the Greater Dallas District, Recognition for Dedicated Service Leadership in the A.M.E. Church, and a Certificate of Board Recognition from the Dallas Metropolitan Club. She is affiliated with several ministries outside the church as well: she served on the board of directors for the Dallas Emmaus Community as community spiritual director; she volunteers as spiritual director for the Dallas Chrysalis Community; she has worked with the Kairos of Texas women’s prison ministry; the Epiphany Youth Prison Ministry; participated in feeding the hungry through Cornerstone Baptist Church Homeless Ministry Outreach Program; and took part in reaching out to released prisoners through the Second Chance Ministry and several half way houses.