DSF Staff

Rev. Belva Brown Jordan

Interim President

is Interim President of Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont and serves as Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry at Claremont School of Theology. Rev. Jordan began her ministerial career as a denominational executive for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with the Division of Homeland Ministry (Indianapolis, IN) as the director of racial/ethnic ministry. Jordan’s first faculty appointment was with Lancaster Theological Seminary (Lancaster, PA). After eight years at Lancaster, having earned tenure and served as dean of the faculty for one year, she moved on to Harvard University Divinity School (Cambridge, MA). For seven years Rev. Jordan served as the assistant dean for student life at Harvard Divinity. When the opportunity presented itself to serve in a Disciples of Christ affiliated seminary, Rev. Jordan became the associate dean for admissions and student services at Phillips Theological Seminary (Tulsa, OK). bbrownjordan@dsf.edu

Jess Kim

Managing Director

is the Managing Director at DSF, Claremont. She graduated from Chapman University in 2007 with a degree in English/journalism and is currently pursing an M.Div. degree at Claremont School of Theology. jkim@dsf.edu

Leah Laird

Director of Strategic Initiatives

is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at DSF. Her work includes discovering ways for DSF to expand as an agent of change. She has led several Effective Citizenship workshops, acted as support for marches in Washington DC and Los Angeles, and spoken at the National Organization for Women's 2017 Conference on storytelling as protest. Leah is a Ph.D. student of Hebrew Bible under Rev. Dr. Jon Berquist. Her research interests include Pilegeshim in the Deuteronomistic History. She received an M.A.T. in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature from Fuller Theological Seminary, and holds a B.A. in Bible and a B.S. in Psychology from Howard Payne University.


Rev. Xosé G. Escamilla

Director of CMS Program

is Director of DSF's Certificate in Ministry Studies (CMS) program. He is the Senior Pastor of Casa de Oracion (Disciples of Christ) Church in San Diego.  Under Xosé's leadership, this congregation has become the largest Disciples of Christ congregation west of the Rocky Mountains. It is a multi-cultural, fully bi-lingual congregation and has birthed three other growing Disciples Congregations in the Pacific Southwest Region and one in Tijuana Mexico. He holds an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary and is passionate about New Church Starts, Church Growth and forming and mentoring Pastors who are committed to doing effective and flourishing ministries. Xosé is married to Ofelia Escamilla with whom they have a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. The Certificate of Ministries Studies Program is offered in San Diego and Claremont in Spanish for the training of lay Pastors and leaders. xescamilla@dsf.edu

Nancy Córdova-Molina

Director of Development & Marketing

Nancy is DSF's Director of Development and Marketing. She is a strong leader at Casa de Oración Christian Church in San Diego, a participant in Obra Hispana, Disciples Women, and a recipient of the PSWR's MLK scholarship. She holds an MA in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego. She spent 6 years working as Development Associate for BorderLinks in Arizona before she moved to San Diego.  Nancy is also a recording artist who tries to combine artivism (activism+art) with worship music, as she feels God’s love is the foundation for any social justice movement.  Her husband is Jorge Molina, a CMS graduate on staff at Casa de Oración. nancy@dsf.edu

Rev. Jenny Crosswhite

Creative Director

is the Creative Director for Disciples Seminary Foundation. She also serves as pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Santa Paula and is on the City Council for the city of Santa Paula. She holds an M.Div. from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary where she received the “George and Jean Edwards Award in the Interpretation of Scripture to Christian Life” and the “Melanie Lane Preaching Award.” She also received a dual Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Oregon University in Graphic Design and Spanish. jcrosswhite@dsf.edu

Rev. Siobhan Lopez

Program Coordinator

works as the Program Coordinator at Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont. She completed her Master of Divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology in 2016. She serves Iglesia Cristina Del Este De Whittier (DOC)/East Whittier Christian Church (DOC) as Co-Pastor for their English Ministry along with her husband, Gabriel Lopez. She is also an active member of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ Pacific Southwest Region in such ministries as  Disciples Women, and the Youth Immersion Ministry as well as the General church such as with La Obra Hispana and the General Youth Ministry. Siobhan also holds a deep passion for those individuals and groups who are “in the shadows of the open table. People who are often overlooked or forgotten,” and works in partnerships to extend the table. slopez@dsf.edu

Rev. Dr. Jo Ann Bynum

Director of Student Life

is the Director of Student Life at Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont, CA. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she also serves as Director of African American Ministries in the Pacific Southwest Region. For several years, she served as Executive Pastor of Abundant Life Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Los Angeles, CA.Subsequently, Jo Ann served as founding pastor of Sierra Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Las Vegas, NV for a period of eight years.She earned a Master of Public Health degree from UCLA (with a concentration in Hospital Administration) and a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.She was conferred an honorary Doctorate degree from the Southern California School of Ministry (Inglewood, CA) wherein she served as Assistant Professor and founding Dean of the school’s Doctor of Ministry Program. jbynum@dsf.edu

Rev. Dr. José Morales Jr.

Director of Pastoral Formation

is the Director of Pastoral Formation at Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont, CA. Rev. Dr. Morales completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Theology at Claremont School of Theology (CST) and is Assistant Professor of Historical and Comparative Theology at CST. He served for four and half years as the Executive Regional Minister of the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Prior to this, he served as the Associate Pastor at Iglesia del Pueblo-Hope Center (now named Hope Christian Church), a multicultural Disciples congregation in Hammond, Indiana. He was an adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary (Chicago) and the Clergy Caucus Chair of the Northwest Indiana Federation. José holds degrees from Judson University (B.A.) in Elgin, Illinois, and McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div.) in Chicago. He is married to Rev. Daphne Marie Gascot Arias, an ordained Disciple minister, currently serving as the Senior Minister of Downey Memorial Christian Church in Downey, CA. In October 2015, they welcomed their first child, Daphne Magnolia, into this world. jmorales@dsf.edu

Rev. Dr. Kara Markell

Director of Pastoral Formation

is the Director for Pastoral Formation at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in Seattle, WA.  Rev. Markell is a graduate of Brite Divinity School (MDiv) and serves as the pastor of Lake Washington Christian Church in Kirkland, WA.  She also serves on the Northwest Regional Christian Church’s Commission on Ministry.  Rev. Markell also holds a BS in Music Education and a Master of Music degree which she put to use as a Music educator and Minister of Music for 15 years.  She is also pursuing her Doctor of Ministry Degree from STM focusing on leadership for change in the small congregation.   Kara, her husband Matt, and their two children live in Kirkland and enjoy the Pacific Northwest’s amazing culture and natural beauty. kmarkell@dsf.edu

Rev. Laura Jean Torgerson

Director of Education and Mission

is the Director of Education and Mission of DSF, Northern California. She is a DSF student, pursuing a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Graduate Theological Union. Her research interests, in Biblical interpretation among Nicaraguan Pentecostals, grew out of nearly four years of serving as a missionary in Nicaragua with Global Ministries. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and has served in congregational ministry in Chicago and Washington, DC. She holds an M.Div. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Classics from Stanford University. ljtorgerson@dsf.edu

Rev. Dr. Eric C. Smith

Director of Pastoral Formation

is Director of Pastoral Formation at the Iliff School of Theology, where he serves as Term Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and New Testament Studies. He earned a B.A. in English from Mars Hill College near Asheville, NC, a M.T.S. from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from the Joint Doctoral Program at the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. He is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and has served churches in the United Methodist and United Church of Christ traditions. Smith is the author of Jewish Glass and Christian Stone: A Materialist Mapping of the 'Parting of the Ways' (Routledge 2018), Foucault's Heterotopia in Christian Catacombs: Constructing Spaces and Symbols in Ancient Rome (Palgrave MacMillan 2014), and a forthcoming book from Chalice Press tentatively titled Paul the Progressive: Learning to Love the Apostle You Love to Hate. He lives in Denver with his wife Jessa and their three children.  esmith@dsf.edu

Rev. Clarence Johnson

Director of Pastoral Formation

is Disciples Seminary Foundation's Director of Pastoral Formation in Northern California. He earned the Master of Divinity Degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He was admitted into the Doctor of Ministry Program at the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California in February 2015 as one of only three DSF Presidential Scholars. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Christian Church Homes of Northern California; as Moderator of the Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada (CCNC-N) and most recently as Chair of the Regional Minister Search Committee. In 2007 he was called as Senior Minister-Pastor of Mills Grove Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oakland, California where he has served continuously until the present. cjohnson@dsf.edu

Rev. Yolanda Norton

Director of Student Formation

is Director of Student Formation in Northern California. She is a Disciples minister who has served as Assistant Professor of Old Testament at SFTS since 2016 and now also serves as Eugene Farlough Chair for African American Christianity.  She has a B.A. in Political Science from Syracuse University; a M.Div. and M.T.S. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.; and is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel from Vanderbilt University. Her research and teaching focuses on womanist biblical interpretation, and she has most recently received attention for The Beyoncé Mass. ynorton@dsf.edu

DSF's Deans Emeriti

Mark David Parsons

Mark David Parsons was DSF's Dean Emeritus in Claremont until his death on June 3, 2015. He had been Vice Dean for Academic Programs at Claremont School of Theology where he also served as Assistant Professor of Religion and Music. He taught in the areas of music and worship, theology and the arts, and religion and popular culture. He held a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and brought a strong background in music ministries, with 10 years of experience as a church music director and numerous publications in the field.

Joseph Driskill

Joseph Driskill is Dean Emeritus for DSF Berkeley and is also Professor Emeritus of Christian Spirituality at PSR. He served as DSF's dean in Berkeley from 1993 to his retirement in 2011. He holds a Ph.D. from Graduate Theological Union as well as degrees from Culver-Stockton College and the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University. He has been a pastor and college chaplain. His books include Protestant Spirituality Exercises: Theology, History and Practice published in 1999, and in 2002 he published the well received Spiritually Informed Pastoral Care: The Elder's Ministry of Care-giving in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). More recently he co-authored and published with Karen Lebacqz Ethics and Spiritual Care: A Guide for Pastors, Chaplains and Spiritual Directors. Joe's wife is Dr. Leslie Bryant, a staff psychologist and administrator for Kaiser Permanente.

Disciples Seminary Foundation works with five partner seminaries on the West Coast to provide excellent education, mentoring, networking, and financial support for people preparing to lead in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ.

© 2016 by Disciples Seminary Foundation. All rights reserved.

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Claremont, CA 91711-2709

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Disciples Seminary Foundation - Celebrating 60 Years of Education, Ministry, and Service!