Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has named 10 young professionals to its 2022 class of BJC Fellows, the seventh class since the program began in 2015, bringing the total number of BJC Fellows to 68.
BJC Fellows are selected through an application process and represent diverse theological, educational and geographic backgrounds. They are united in their passion to defend religious liberty as a foundational American ideal.
This year’s fellows recently completed a five-day training seminar in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., hearing from BJC staff and other legal and theological experts, plus Colonial Williamsburg’s own historic interpreters.
“As the Supreme Court continues to erode the institutional separation of church and state, it’s a critical time to continue BJC’s educational efforts equipping leaders to be ready to stand for faith freedom for all in our communities,” said Charles Watson Jr., director of education at BJC. “We’re proud to work with an inspiring group of young professionals to create a firm foundation as we study and explore the foundations for faith freedom for all. These leaders are developing new tools for future advocacy to make a difference in their local communities and across the country.”
This year’s fellows are:
Grace Agbadou of Newark, N.J., a law student who earned a bachelor of arts in justice studies from Montclair State University and a master of arts degree in restorative justice from Vermont Law and Graduate School.
Caitlin Childers Brown, who is associate pastor at Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va. She earned a master of divinity degree from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Mercer University.
Amy Hayes of Atlanta, who is a former BNG Clemons Fellow. She is a graduate of Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, where she earned the master of divinity degree with a certificate in Christian social ethics. At McAfee, she was named a Glen Harold Stassen Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from the University of Georgia.
Summer Hyche of Birmingham, Ala., who earned a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School and was named a 2019 Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholar by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She is currently pursuing a master of arts degree in mental health counseling at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also earned a bachelor of arts degree in English at UAB.
Cassandra Lawrence of Washington, D.C., who currently serves as communications and community engagement manager at the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, a national multifaith coalition that addresses anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. She is in the process of ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church and earned the master of divinity degree with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary, where she also received the Excellence in Public Theology Award. She also earned a master of arts degree in comparative ethnic conflict from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies from the University of British Columbia.
Dane Martin, who serves as minister with students at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. He earned a master of divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and a bachelor of arts degree from Seton Hall University with a major in religious studies and minors in Latin and Classics.
Isaac Barnes May, who currently is a student at Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn. May previously worked as a professor at the University of Virginia, specializing in American religious history. While at the University of Virginia, he was named research fellow at UVA’s Project on Lived Theology. He earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia, a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor of arts degree in history from Earlham College.
Kelvin Mbi of Laurel, Md., who is a graduate student at Howard University’s School of Divinity and president of the School of Divinity’s Student Government Association. He is also enrolled in Howard’s Graduate Certificate program of International Studies. He’s a 2022 John Robert Lewis Fellow, and an intern with the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation. Originally from Cameroon, Mbi earned a bachelor of education degree in educational psychology from the University of Buea.
Kelsey Stillwell, who serves as associate pastor for youth and missions at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Ga. She earned a master of divinity degree at McAfee School of Theology and spent a semester doing field work in Bali, Indonesia. She earned an undergraduate degree in interior design from Eastern Kentucky University.
Chris West of Raleigh, N.C., who is an organizer with America’s Future and a student at Duke Divinity School, where he is pursuing a certificate in faith-based organizing, advocacy and social transformation. He plans to serve as a congregational leader in a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church after graduation. Chris earned a graduate certificate in faith-based nonprofit leadership from Wake Forest University and a bachelor of arts in Christian studies from Campbell University.