Workshop Leaders

Jill DeTemple

Dr. Jill DeTemple is Chair of Religious Studies, Professor of Religious Studies, and, by courtesy, Associate Professor of Anthropology. Her research focuses on religiously sponsored development in Latin America and on the uses of dialogue for teaching in higher education.  She is currently working on two projects.  The first is a book that examines the risks of social capital approaches to development, especially when they are based in religious and gendered identities, due to release with the University of Notre Dame Press in March, 2020.  The second is an edited volume that introduces Reflective Structured Dialogue and attendant approaches to dialogic classrooms in posts secondary contexts.


Lisa Hancock

Lisa is a conflict resolution specialist and sought-after guest speaker whose work promotes dispute resolution, problem solving, team building, and decision making. In 2007 she earned a Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution from SMU.  Today, as Director of Restorative Communications, Lisa performs mediations, workshops, and Peacekeeping Circles for a variety of clients.  She serves as an adjunct professor at SMU, El Centro College, and facilitates workshops at ACU’s Duncum Center for Dispute Resolution.  As a Certified Mediator under Sect 154.52(a) of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies she works with organizations, companies, women’s groups, churches, schools, and families.


Virzola Law

Rev. Law received her bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, and her master of divinity degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla.  She also studied at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a service sorority founded in 1913.

Throughout her 22 years in ministry, Rev. Law has been involved in interfaith groups and organizations that serve the homeless and disadvantaged, as well as camps and conferences for children and teenagers.  She acts as a mission specialist consultant for the National Benevolent Association and is actively involved at the national, regional and area levels of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).


Shanterra McBride

Author, coach, educator, speaker, and founder of Marvelous University, a social enterprise that specializes in leadership development, life coaching, and success planning for girls and young women. She received the Profiles in Leadership Award from SMU for her significant impact on the city of Dallas as well as on the quality of life for girls and women across the country. Shanterra earned her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and Bachelor’s degree from SMU in Public Affairs & Corporate Communications and in Sociology. She is a member of St. Paul's UMC in Dallas, where she serves on the governance team and prayer ministry, sings in the choir, and teaches women’s Sunday school; she also facilitates the StPaul@SMU Bible study, a partnership between St. Paul's and the Association of Black Students at SMU.


Denise Peckham

Denise Peckham has spent 20 years in lay and pastoral ministry in a variety of church settings, using strategic planning to launch new ministry and build existing ministries to better serve the communities to which she has been called.

Denise serves as senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Sherman, Texas. Previously she served as Executive Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Button Memorial UMC in Little Elm, Texas, and Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton, Texas. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York and a Master’s of Divinity from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

Denise and her husband John moved to Texas 23 years ago from New York. They have two adult children. She and John enjoy taking road trips on their Harley Davidson. Denise also enjoys reading, traveling, and cooking.


John Thornburg

John Thornburg is a fourth generation United Methodist pastor, song enlivener, poet and professional encourager. After 22 years in parish ministry in North Texas, John started an itinerant ministry of song leading and worship consultation called A Ministry of Congregational Singing. From 2005-2013, he was a volunteer in mission, helping the new Methodists of Cameroon, West Africa in the creation of Methodism's first hymnal and worship book for that nation.

In March of 2013, he joined the staff of TMF (Texas Methodist Foundation), and has spent the last seven years helping shape the work TMF does to help congregations discern God's purpose. He currently serves in the Leadership Ministry.

He and his wife, Beth, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, have a daughter, Kate, and a seven year old grandson, Tom.


Drew Smith

R. Drew Smith is a political scientist, serving as Professor of Urban Ministry and Director of the Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. For ten years he has been Co-Convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race, a transnational network of scholars, religious leaders, and activists concerned with intersections of religion, race, class, and social identity. He has published widely on religion and public life, including nine edited or co-edited books, four edited journal collections, and a forthcoming monograph on black clergy activism. He has also published more than 70 articles and essays in academic journals and mass media platforms. Ordained in the Baptist Church, he has ministered in numerous, parish and prison contexts.