Preacher, teacher, visionary, the Rev. Vanessa Monroe, Pastor, is a recent transplant to Houston. She comes to Bethel by way of Chicago, Il where she was Assistant Conference Minster of the Fox Valley Association, Illinois Conference, UCC and Youth Pastor of Covenant United Church of Christ. Her love for God’s children flourished as she pastored a congregation of over 500 youth by transforming her academic preparations and work experience into innovative ministries for youth. Demanding that faith and justice be constantly held in tension, Rev. Monroe has co-authored curricula for youth, The Young Prophet Series, designed to transition tweens and teens from conscious decision-makers to social justice advocates. She also established a Young Prophets© Ministry at Covenant UCC, now in its seventh year. Focused on faith and justice, The Young Prophet’s© model of marrying awareness and advocacy, have allowed them to confront food justice and insecurity, common-sense gun legislation, hunger, and inequality. Rev. Monroe appeared with the Young prophets as a guest of Chicago Broadcast Ministries 2014 production of A Different Drummers. She planted an additional Chapter of the Young Prophets and has shared from these works at conferences including, the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, and the United Church of Christ both locally and nationally.
Rev. Monroe currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Huston Tillotson University, in Austin, Texas. HT, one of the historically black colleges and universities is also a UCC and United Methodist University.
Rev. Monroe holds a Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, a Jurist Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Northwestern University. Rev. Monroe has practiced law for the past 23 years, the first 6 at Cassiday, Schade & Gloor specializing in Medical Malpractice and the last 17 in private practice. Yet it was an internship with the ACLU while still in law school that birthed the complexities of faith and justice in her spirit that have found fertile soil in the United Church of Christ. Rev. Monroe has developed and presented for women’s retreats and conferences and is the co-author of Exodus Women Volume 1: Securing the Sacred. She is currently working on Volume 2, as well as a book of letters to her son recounting God’s miracles in his life. Rev. Monroe is married to Kevin Monroe and is the proud mother of Paige, Kaleb, and Maya.
Kelli King-Jackson is coach and strategic advisor committed to freedom for Black folx. As a coach, Kelli prioritizes working with Black women and other women of color leading in white spaces. In her consulting work, Kelli works to make the nonprofit, philanthropic, government, and corporate sectors safer for Black women.
Kelli’s work centers on liberating material, spiritual and other resources needed for leaders of color to dream, strategize, and create a just world. She does this by asking expansive and incisive questions to understand and shake what holds us back. By connecting to the wisdom and talent embodied within us, Kelli helps individuals and organizations to navigate complex systems and structures in ways that are rooted in wholeness, healing, and possibility.
Kelli is an ACC level coach with the International Coaching Federation and a 21/64 certified philanthropy advisor. She has worked in the social change sector for over twenty years. Kelli currently serves on the boards of directors of Funders Together to End Homelessness and Funders for LGBTQ Issues. Most recently she served as Vice President of Programs and Community Engagement at The Simmons Foundation (Houston, TX).
Kelli is actively engaged in her local community often hosting discussions on upcoming elections, leadership, and ways to support local, Black-led organizations. She is also a sought-after speaker, an avid writer, and an occasional crafter.
Diane Matthews was born in Michigan, graduating from high school in Battle Creek and college in Kalamazoo. She moved to Houston in 1983, taught middle school technology for the Houston Independent School District for 27 years and now works as Bethel's Office Administrator while substitute teaching part time. Diane and her husband Lloyd have two dogs, Daisy and Junebug. They enjoy water exercise and traveling. Diane joined Bethel in 2011.
Lloyd Matthews was born in Abilene, Texas. He graduated from high school and college in Alberquerque, New Mexico, settling in Houston in 1981. He was an elementary school technologist in HISD in Houston's fifth ward for 20 years. He enjoys songwriting and water exercise. Lloyd and his wife Diane, have two dogs, Daisy and Junebug. Lloyd joined Bethel in 2011.
Kathryn Smith was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Her formal music education began at an early age when she was accepted into the Charleston County School of the Arts as a piano major. Her studies there led her to audition for the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, an exclusive residential program. Upon graduating from Governor’s School, Kathryn proceeded to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston and has lived in Houston ever since. Through her experiences, she developed a passion for teaching piano and has maintained a thriving studio for over a decade. She is proud to play weekly as the service musician at Bethel, United Church of Christ, and performs frequently, both as a freelance pianist, and as a keyboardist in local Houston bands. In addition to musical pursuits, Kathryn is very active in the Houston fitness community. Her hobbies include biking, running, and practicing yoga, and she enjoys teaching barre, cycling, rebounding, and aerial arts at DEFINE body and mind.