Skip to main content

Big Tent 2019

Big Tent 2019


 Big Tent Banner - Worship Bible Study Inspiration

Español | 한국어 

Big Tent 2019 offers a variety of discussions, worship, learning opportunities, and special events that lift up the conference's theme, Called to a Movement Beyond Institution. An brief overview is provided below; click on the conference leader's name to review their bios.  Download the Schedule of Events for the full schedule and descriptions of all events and learning opportunities.    

Plenary I - Thursday, 3:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Soon-Chan Rah, Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary and the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and Return to Justice: Six Movements That Reignited Our Contemporary Evangelical Conscience. He brings to Plenary I a wealth of energy and experience as a new church pastor, Biblical teacher and theologian.

Opening Worship - Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Amaury Tañón-SantosA pastor by vocation, a historian by training, and a networker by calling, Amaury serves as the Synod Networker for the Synod of the Northeast, the region of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that serves 1100 gospel communities, organized in 22 presbyteries in New England, New Jersey and New York.

Learning Opportunities - Friday

Three sessions of workshops are offered on Friday, with over 40 offerings. See the Schedule of Events (.PDF) for the full list.

Bible Study - Friday & Saturday Morning.

Dr. William BrownWilliam Marcellus McPheeteres Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Seminary. Beginning with the Big Tent text Romans 12:2, Dr. Brown will focus on what it means to be transformed according to Paul, and dig deeply into what Paul is saying between the lines.  The format will include both lectures and opportunities to engage one another in the Word.

Plenary II - Friday, 4:00 p.m.

Rev. Amantha BarbeeSenior Pastor, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, Decatur, GA. After standing with other ecumenical colleagues all wearing clergy collars between protestors and policemen, the night Keith Scott was killed in Charlotte Barbee was given Charlotte City Center Partners Special Achievement Award.  She became the chairperson of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice shortly after the city erupted in the wake of the shooting.

Closing Worship - Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems, Co-Pastor of Ray of Hope Community Church in Nashville, TN. This service will include communion and a remembrance of the life of Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon.

Plenary III - Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Sending Out: A Conversation with the Co-Moderators. 


Dividing Line Graphic

Plenary Leaders

Assoc. Professor of Church Growth & Evangelism
North Park THeological Seminary

Image of Rev Dr Soong-Chan RahRev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of The Next Evangelicalism (IVP Books, 2009); Many Colors (Moody, 2010); Prophetic Lament (IVP Books, 2015); co-author of Forgive Us (Zondervan, 2014); Return to Justice (Brazos, 2016); and Unsettling Truths (IVP Books, 2019).

Soong-Chan received his B.A. from Columbia University; his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his Th.M. from Harvard University; his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his Th.D. from Duke University.

Rah is formerly the founding Senior Pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic church living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context. He has previously served on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners and the Christian Community Development Association.

He has extensive experience in cross-cultural preaching as well as on numerous college campuses. Soong-Chan has been a main stage speaker at the Urbana Student Missions Conference, the Congress on Urban Ministry, the Urban Youth Workers Institute Conference, the CCDA National Conference, the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary National Preaching Conference, the Fuller Missiology Conference, the Justice Conference, and Verge, Catalyst, and Calvin Worship Conferences.

Rev. Amantha Barbee
Sr. Pastor
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church - Decatur, GA

image of Rev Amantha BarbeeReverend Barbee holds a Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA, where she earned the E.T. George Award for Excellence in Homiletics and Worship. Rev. Barbee worked in corporate sales before heeding the call to ministry, then served as a program director in an area women’s homeless center. She now serves as senior pastor at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA, and is currently working on her doctoral degree at Columbia Theological Seminary. Rev. Barbee previously served as pastor at Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC.  

A native of Charlotte, Rev. Barbee is a leader in the PC(USA) and in her city. She sits on the Board of Trustees for Montreat Conference Center, as well as the Strategy Team for NEXTChurch.

In 2018, Rev. Barbee received the PCUSA Women of Faith Award, recognizing clergywomen who challenge systemic racism and oppression, work for transformative change, and seek to end racism and injustice. The award was given in part for her work the night Keith Scott was killed in Charlotte, when she stood between protestors and policemen with several other ecumenical leaders.

Rev. Barbee led a movement to make anti-bias training mandatory for all teaching elders, now represented as a “Racism Task Force” for the Presbytery of Charlotte. She is also a supporter of the Women In Transition program at the YWCA and the NC School of the Arts in Charlotte.

Rev. Barbee is an advocate for those with no or limited voice and does not shy away from living into discipleship. She believes that ministry that happens inside and outside the building. Her ideal church is one that adamantly loves, is affirming and accepting, and is willing to stand on the front lines of social justice and change.

Rev. Cindy Kohlmann & Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly (2018)

Image of Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly

Cindy Kohlmann (left) has served two churches as a solo pastor, in Carlisle, Ohio and Clinton, MA. She has been serving the Presbytery of Northern New England as their Presbyter since 2010, and in 2015, she said goodbye to the church in Clinton and began serving Boston Presbytery. In addition to serving these two Presbyteries as the Resource Presbyter, Cindy was also elected in June 2018 as Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is married to the Rev. Eric Markman, pastor of the Hartford Street Presbyterian Church in Natick, MA, and has two adult step-daughters.

Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri (right) is an ESL teacher and a Presbyterian elder. A life-long Presbyterian, Vilmarie was ordained in San Juan, Puerto Rico 25 years ago.  She has served at the session, as a member and chair of several presbytery committees, vice moderator of Synod Boriquén and council member, a commissioner to the 212th General Assembly, a member of the General Assembly Committee on Theological Education and as Moderator of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. 

Vilmarie holds a B.A. in Education (English as a Second Language) from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master’s in Education (Curriculum and Teaching) from Turabo University. Dedicating most of her adult life to education, teaching high schoolers and adults from all over the world, her first classroom was in Sunday School.  She currently serves as part of a CREDO faculty team. 

Vilmarie lives in Miami, FL, with her husband, the Rev. José Manuel Capella-Pratts, pastor of La Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana en Miami.  An organizer at heart, she loves arts & crafts and decorating as well as relaxing over a good cup of Puerto Rican coffee.   Along with the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, Resource Presbyter of the Presbyteries of Boston and Northern New England, Vilmarie serves as Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018). 


Dividing Line Graphic

Worship Leaders

Rev. Dr. Amaury Tañón-Santos
Synod Networker
Synod of the Northeast 

Image of Amaury Tañón-Santos A pastor by vocation, a historian by training, and a networker by calling, Amaury Tañón-Santos serves as the Synod Networker for the Synod of the Northeast, the region of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that serves 1100 gospel communities, organized in 22 presbyteries in New England, New Jersey and New York. As networker, Amaury brings together leaders and congregations who share a common passion in mission and ministry throughout the region. His connecting folks with partners and resources in and out of the church seeks to encourage a missional engagement and a social justice witness that is relevant and innovative. Amaury also serves the church as member of the Committee on Theological Education, and is a minister-member of Albany Presbytery.

Before his call to mid council leadership, Amaury served as pastor of congregations in urban contexts of New York and New Jersey. He also served as director of programs on multicultural ministry, faith and public life, and Latina/o leadership formation at Princeton Seminary’s continuing education.

Amaury pursued studies in history at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, trained for pastoral ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, and deepend his passion in urban ministry and intercultural engagement at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He lives in the Capital District of New York State with his wife, Jeannette, his stepson, Aiden, and his baby boy, Sebastián Mikel.

Rev. Dr. Renita Weems
Co-Pastor of Ray of Hope Community CHurch 
Nashville, TN

Image of Rev Dr Renita WeemsReverend Dr. Renita J. Weems is a biblical scholar, a writer, an ordained minister, and a public intellectual whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives make her a highly sought-after writer and speaker.  She has numerous books, commentaries and articles to her credit.  Among these are “Just A Sister Away” (1987 & 2005); “I Asked for Intimacy” (1993); “Song of Songs: A Commentary”, Interpreter’s Bible Series, Vol. 5 (1997).  Her 1999 book, “Listening for God: A Minister's Journey Through Silence and Doubt” won the Religious Communicators' Council's prestigious 1999 Wilbur Award.

Dr. Weems received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon receiving her Ph.D. in 1989 from Princeton, she became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies.  Invited by Yale University to deliver the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures in 2008, she became the first African American woman to give the Beecher lectures. She taught in the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University for many years; she has served as the William and Camille Cosby Visiting Professor of Humanities at Spelman College and, more recently, as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at American Baptist College in Nashville. When she isn’t writing she co-pastors with her husband, Rev. Martin L. Espinosa, the Ray Of Hope Community Church in Nashville.

Dr. Weems is featured in “Black Stars: African American Religious Leaders” (2008), a collection of biographies of some of the most important Black Religious Leaders over the last 200 hundred years.

Dr. Tony McNeill - Big Tent Worship Music Leader
Worship Leadership Certificate Program Coordinator
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary 
Atlanta, GA

Image of Dr. Tony McNeill

Dr. Tony McNeill affectionately known at "Dr. T.," is a sought-after workshop clinician, lecturer, consultant, mentor, and guest choral conductor throughout the country. Currently, Dr. McNeill serves on the staff of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, where he coordinates the Worship Leadership Certificate Program.  He is also the choir director/accompanist (part-time) for the Sanctuary Mass Choir at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA. He has presented lectures and workshops at the Hampton Ministers Conference, Duke Divinity School, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, The American Baptist College (Nashville, TN), The National Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators Conference, Shaw University, and served as Artist-in-Residence for the past five (5) years at Princeton Theological Seminary (Princeton, NJ) for The Black Theology and Leadership Institute (BTLI). 

Dr. McNeill earned his bachelor of music education degree from Appalachian State University, with an emphasis in piano and choral music, a masters degree in choral conducting from Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), and a doctorate of worship studies from The Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies (Jacksonville, FL). 

Dr. McNeill is the first African American to serve on the Deans Advisory Board for the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University and is also a member of the Sisters Chapel Dean’s Advisory Council at Spelman College (Atlanta, GA). He is a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, American Choral Directors Association, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Born and raised in Erwin, NC, he is the youngest child born to Bessie Campbell McNeill (The Late Charles Winston McNeill, Sr.) and Wallace Vinston, Sr. (Hazeline).  


Dividing Line Graphic

Bible Study Leader

Dr. William Brown
William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament
Columbia Theological Seminary

Image of William BrownWilliam P. Brown is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.  Bill has also taught at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond and at Emory University.  His teaching and writing continue explore the intersecting issues of justice, creation care, and hope from biblical and theological perspectives.  Bill is the author of several books and numerous essays, including A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis (WJK), Sacred Sense (Eerdmans), Wisdom’s Wonder (Eerdmans), The Seven Pillars of Creation (Oxford University), Seeing the Psalms (WJK), as well as editor of Engaging Biblical Authority (WJK).  

Most recently, Bill was a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton (, where he worked collaboratively with scientists, philosophers, and ethicists exploring the “societal implications of astrobiology.”  He is currently working on a major commentary on the Psalms.  Bill is an avid Sunday School teacher and was a founding member of Earth Covenant Ministry, an organization of Presbyterian churches in the Atlanta area dedicated to creation care now part of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL).  Gail and Bill are active at North Decatur Presbyterian Church and have two grown daughters, Ella and Hannah.  


Dividing Line Graphic

Start the Discussion