Lifting up stories from across the state is critical to building connections, forging a stronger congregational community, and helping others grow. Has Center for Congregations helped you navigate a challenge or opportunity? Please share your story with us.
Noemi Cifuentes hails from Guatemala City as the youngest of nine children. She became a resident of New York in early 2001, however, shortly after 9/11 Noemi relocated to Indianapolis, IN.
Since being in the great city of Indianapolis, Noemi has served the Christian community in multiple capacities both personally and professionally. For nine years, she served as the Director of Hispanic Ministry at Old Bethel UMC. She later became a Case Manager at Wheeler Mission Ministry as the Family Coordinator and the Office Manager for SENDCDC. After working with the Center for Congregations as a Contract Resource Consultant for several years, Noemi joined the team full-time as an Associate for Resource Consulting.
Noemi enjoys interacting with people and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Her passion for teaching the Bible to beginners is unparalleled. She is married to the love of her life, Temo, is the mother of three children and a proud Grandmother. In her free time, Noemi loves to drive and listen to music, paint, and sew and has been noted for having quite the sense of humor.
Director of Resource Grants and Resource Consulting
Kara Faris is the Center’s director of resource grants and resource consulting, as well as a resource consultant to congregations. She previously served for eight years as the Center’s education director.
Before working at the Center, Kara served First Friends Meeting of Indianapolis as associate pastor. With a degree in marketing from Butler University’s College of Business Administration and a master of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary, Kara brings a blend of pragmatism, intuition and passion for lifelong learning to the Center. Kara has authored Including Laity in Education Events Empowers Congregations and co-authored the book Divergent Church.
Karen Goley uses her resource knowledge and relational style to work closely with congregations as a resource consultant and behind the scenes with our robust database of resources and doing project work. Prior to joining the Center, Karen spent over fifteen years in the human resources field, serving nonprofit and financial services organizations in the Indianapolis area and the suburbs of Chicago.
With faith as her foundation, Karen enjoys spending quality time with her family and is a very proud Purdue University alum. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, Karen put her pride on full display by naming the family pup Mackey- after Purdue basketball’s Mackey Arena. Boiler Up!
Catharine Green develops and maintains the Center’s database system. This system is an essential tool in the Center’s mission of identifying the right resources for congregational needs, and learning how congregations make effective use of specific kinds of resources.
Ashley Ivy is the Director of Finance for the Center for Congregations. Ashley performs all financial and accounting processes, necessary for the efficient operations of the Center. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Ball State University and an MBA-Accounting Specialization from Indiana Wesleyan University. Ashley brings more than 12 years of accounting and management experience; specializing in not-for-profit accounting, strategic planning, and operations. She also has 5+ years of experience in human resources, managing compensation and benefits packages, as well as fostering positive work environments. Ashley also serves as an independent small business consultant and is experienced in teaching college level accounting courses and training others to utilize various Microsoft Office applications.
Ashley is a member of Repairing the Breach Ministries in Muncie, Indiana, where she serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors. She is very active in her community; serving on the Thrive Credit Union supervisory committee, the Whitely Community Council education committee, and is a member of other various service organizations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their children.
Christal Johnson is the Center’s Director of Marketing & Communications. While in this role, Christal will also serve as a resource consultant to congregations throughout Indiana. Before joining the Center, Christal garnered more than 25 years of experience in Advertising, Brand Strategy, Communications, Creative Design, Event Planning, Radio & TV Production and Marketing. She has worked in both the public & private sectors and is thrilled to be a part of the team at Center for Congregations.
She is a proud Ball State University and Leadership Academy Alum and is in a servant leadership role with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Christal is a woman of strong faith; grew up in the Methodist Church and later joined a small Baptist Church where she eagerly served in several capacities.
Ben McKibben is the senior web developer for the Center for Congregations. His primary responsibility is the development, enhancement and maintenance of the Congregational Resource Guide (CRG). The CRG is provided by the Center as a service for anyone seeking to find the right resources for their congregation. Ben has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MBA from Indiana University. He has more than 20 years of experience developing internet applications. Ben lived in Malaysia for ten years while serving as an associate director for a cooperative program between Indiana University and a Malaysian university.
Kelly Minas designs and directs evaluation processes for grants, resource consulting, and educational programs at the Center for Congregations. Kelly received an undergraduate degree in American culture from Vassar College, where she was active in interfaith work on campus, and a master’s degree in contemporary sociology from the University of Leicester in England.
Diana Poirier is the Center’s Executive Assistant to the President and Executive Board as well as the Grants Administrator for both Resource and Special Grants. Her undergraduate degree is in secondary education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the staff at the Center, Diana passionately worked in the food banking industry for nine years, while also volunteering at a food pantry in her free time. She has spent an extensive amount of time helping congregations establish food pantries making it a natural fit to continue supporting congregations at the Center.
Tim Shapiro is the Indianapolis Center’s president. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. For 14 years, Tim served Westminster Presbyterian Church in Xenia, Ohio. Prior to his pastorate at Westminster, he was pastor of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Logansport, Indiana. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Susan Weber coordinates the evaluation processes for Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Religion Division. She spent several years as the Indianapolis Center for Congregation’s director of evaluation and congregational learning, as well as a resource consultant to congregations.
Susan is a Roman Catholic lay woman. Prior to her work at the Center, she served the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as coordinator of boards of education, office of Catholic education from 1976-1985. For almost 20 years thereafter, she was an independent consultant and group facilitator for dioceses, churches, religious communities, and schools nationwide. Sue has degrees from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Indiana University, Bloomington and is professionally certificated as a group facilitator through Indiana University.
Eunita Booker has provided administrative support for the northeast Center since 2006. She enjoys welcoming, providing hospitality and interacting with all guests of the Center. She has been an active member at Dupree Memorial Church of God In Christ for more than 15 years. A published author, Eunita enjoys spending time with her family and writing children’s books in her spare time.
Matt Burke is the director of the Northeast Center for Congregations in Fort Wayne and serves as the Center’s Education Director statewide. Matt has a background in classroom, digital and experiential education and most recently served as the associate director of Learning Science at Kaplan Test Prep. He is passionate about using education to develop deeper faith in congregational participants.
Matt earned a B.A. in Religion from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a Masters of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Kelly, and his two sons, Silas and Levi. Matt also loves storytelling in films, books and music and finding the intersections of faith and popular culture.
Abby Miller consults with congregations in northeast Indiana. She has experience resource consulting with congregations from her year as a Center intern in 2018. Abby received her undergraduate degree in ministry leadership from International House of Prayer University in Kansas City and her master’s degree in ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University-Wesley Seminary. She enjoys design and creativity in her free time.
9801 Connecticut Drive
Crown Point, IN 46307
Terrance Bridges is the director of the Center’s Northwest office in Crown Point and serves congregations in the Northwest portion of the state. He is licensed with subsequent ordination from Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith. An ordained elder, Terrance combines his parish ministry with adjunct professor work for Grace College, New Horizons Christian University, and guest lecturing at colleges and universities. His consulting practice includes work in the areas of program development, evaluation, congregational strategic planning and intergenerational ministry.
Terrance has a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University in Upland, a master’s from Ball State University, Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies and Doctoral Studies from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is working on his culminating doctoral project in education at Northcentral University in Prescott, Arizona. He has served in ministry at Eastern Star Church, Indianapolis, and Union Baptist Church in Muncie. He continues his ministry service at Mt. Zion Apostolic Church, Indianapolis, through the ministerial alliance, leadership council, preaching and teaching ministries.
A Baptist minister, McKenzie Scott Lewis’ faith experience ranges from Methodist, Church of God in Christ, Charismatic to Baptist. He has taught at IUPUI, served as corporate diversity director at Wellpoint Inc, coordinated diversity and inclusion efforts at Clarian Health Partners and served as CEO and chief cultural strategist for The MSL Group. He brings energy and experience to engage listeners from all walks of life.
A graduate of DePauw University, McKenzie has written extensively in his area of expertise, including the articles “Building Boardroom Trust” from the July 2009 Leadership Ventures Newsletter; “Editorial on Diversity” in the November 2008 Indiana Business Journal (IBJ); “Clarian Health Partners: United We Thrive” in the April 2007 issue of DiversityInc, Magazine; and “Helping Diversity to Grow Up” in New York Voice/Harlem USA October 1997 edition.
Formerly the director of the Center’s Northwest office in Crown Point, McKenzie Scott Lewis is the director of a new Center for Congregations project: Congregations with Communities.
Rose Villarruel is the administrative assistant for the Northwest Center for Congregations. Her administrative background is in tax sales and includes work with the Office of the Lake County Auditor. For more than 10 years, Rose has volunteered to coach grade school volleyball for the Northwest Indiana Catholic Youth Organization. Rose attends St. Mary Catholic Church in Crown Point, where she is actively involved in the distribution process for Gods Groceries Food Pantry.
Regina Heagle is the administrative assistant for the Southeast office in Seymour. Her background includes serving for more than 13 years as the Director of the Daycare and Preschool for Kidz First Daycare Ministry in Columbus, Indiana. While serving in those roles, she concurrently served many of those years, as the Director of Children’s Ministry for her church, where she is still an active member of the Media Ministry at Columbus First Church of the Nazarene. Regina loves the beach and planning fun adventures with her grandchildren.
Shellie Riggs Jordan is the director of the southeast office in Seymour. She is an American Baptist pastor who served 14 years at First Baptist Church in Seymour as the minister of youth. Prior to her time at FBC, Shellie was the director of youth and children’s ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Seymour. To her work with the Center, Shellie brings more than 24 years of experience working with youth and young adults, as well as a strong background in ecumenical ministry.
Shellie holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University and a Master of Divinity from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. She loves to travel and explore new cultures. She also loves spending time with her husband, Brent, and their kids, Gabe and Casey. Shellie lives in Seymour.
7516 Eagle Crest Boulevard
Evansville, IN 47715
Sofia Cook is the administrative assistant for the Southwest Center. She has worked in service and support positions in different industries, building a variety of skills that she is happy to put to good use at the Center for Congregations. Sofia earned a B.A. in Arts Studio from Berea College and enjoys quilting and sewing in her free time.
Board Staff & Consultants
Richard L. Hamm
Rev. Dr. Richard L. “Dick” Hamm served as a minister of congregations for 23 years, as regional minister of the Disciples of Christ in Tennessee, and as general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada from 1993-2003. He was the first executive director of Christian Churches Together in the USA, and has served as a vice president of the National Council of Churches and a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. Dick is an author and affiliate faculty member at Christian Theological Seminary. As a member of Central Christian Church, Indianapolis, he is active locally in Bread For The World.
Colleen Kenney is an active leader and volunteer in Indianapolis area organizations. She is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, where she serves on the parish council and is a representative on the Eastside Catholic Community. She is also on the board of directors at Hope Academy Recovery High School.
Elizabeth Clay is a graduate of Louisville Seminary (1987) and serves as the parish associate for Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY. She has been a volunteer tutor at the Down Syndrome of Louisville for over 10 years and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.
Rev. Michael Jefferson
New Board Member 2023
Rev. Annettra R. Jones
New Board Member 2023
Rev. Lynn Martin
New Board Member 2023
Dr. David M. Mellott
Dr. David M. Mellott is the president of Christian Theological Seminary. He has served as vice president for academic affairs, dean, and professor of theological formation at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. An ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, Dr. Mellott provides an especially unique perspective for the ecumenical Indianapolis campus; he grew up with roots in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Roman Catholic Church. He was originally ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1982.
Rev. Dr. Alton Pollard III
The Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III is Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s tenth president. A scholar, author, consultant and speaker on the subject of African American and U.S. religion and culture, Alton was previously dean of the School of Divinity and professor of religion and culture at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He serves on the board of directors for the In Trust Center for Theological Schools and the advisory committee for the Luce Fund for Theological Education. Alton is an author, an editor and a graduate of Duke University, Howard Divinity School, and Fisk University.
New Board Member 2023
The Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. and is a supporting organization of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.