Thursday, October 25th 2018—During the Opening Session
At a very young age, it was evident that God had anointed Vanessa to sing His praises. Born May 27, 1972, and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her mother is Columbian/Nicaraguan, her father is Costa Rican and they met and started a family in Panama before coming to the United States in 1968. Vanessa’s rich Central American heritage has encouraged her to embrace family, to appreciate every culture and race and to find a way to be of service to others. She began singing in the church choir at the age of seven. As Vanessa matured as a Christian, she participated in church services. Her anointing has blessed thousands as she has sung for many political ceremonies, funerals and special events all over the country. Vanessa strives to use her gifts to touch the hearts of many and hopes to make a difference in the lives of others through her life and music ministry. Read Vanessa’s full biography.
Samples of Vanessa’s songs:
At a very young age, it was evident that God had anointed Vanessa to sing His praises. Born May 27, 1972, and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her mother is Columbian/Nicaraguan, her father is Costa Rican and they met and started a family in Panama before coming to the United States in 1968. Vanessa’s rich Central American heritage has encouraged her to embrace family, to appreciate every culture and race and to find a way to be of service to others. She began singing in the church choir at the age of seven. As Vanessa matured as a Christian, she participated in church services. Her anointing has blessed thousands as she has sung for many political ceremonies, funerals and special events all over the country. Vanessa loves every genre of music, but she is an aficionado of classical music, traditional hymns and contemporary gospel music. Her faith in God is secure and she is dedicated to encouraging worship and fellowship with the people all over the world. Over the years, Vanessa has had many opportunities to develop her gift of singing through participation in local and national talent searches, as well as, mass choir auditions. To her credit, in her youth, Vanessa was crowned Hal Jackson’s Miss Massachusetts Talented Teen in 1988. She auditioned for and participated in The Western Mass District Chorus, she ranked 1st place soprano in All State Chorus 1989 and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Talent Search. She has also performed the National Anthem for many local college sporting events and for Springfield Police Academy Graduations.
Vanessa was featured in a live solo concert in 2000, where souls were blessed by her spirit filled renditions of traditional hymns of praise. She drove approximately 600 miles to attend the 2005 Hampton’s Ministers’ and Musicians’ Conference to further develop her gift. On a leap of faith, Vanessa auditioned and was chosen from more than 100 vocalists to open the conference recital. She was overwhelmed by God’s awesome anointing and confirming in her that her gift was for God’s glory and to be a blessing to people.
Vanessa attended Springfield Central High School, Springfield Technical Community College & Elms College. Until 2006, Vanessa was the Arts Director for 12 years at the Springfield Girls’ Club Family Center, Inc. She enjoys painting and exposing children to music and arts. Until 2012, in addition to being the Director of Praise & Worship, Vanessa worked as the Graphics Coordinator at St. John’s Congregational Church for 5 years. There, she also directed the children’s choir for over 10 years as they grew from 7 to over 50 members under her leadership. Since leaving St. John’s, Vanessa has developed her ministry throughout the country. For the Past 7 years, Vanessa has taught a “Music in Motion” Choral Class at St. Michael’s Academy through The Community Music School of Springfield. It features approx. 70 students who participate in a weekly choral class with Vanessa. As the founder and director of The Women of Faith Ensemble, Vanessa shares her mission of praise with 8 other women in the group as they minister all over the region. Among her many gifts, Vanessa has written and arranged many choral and praise and worship songs. Vanessa hopes to soon release a children’s worship cd project.
Vanessa has been honored to sing in Washington D.C. at the request of Bill Cosby for a Foster Parent Awards Ceremony. She has sung The National Anthem for Annual Spirit of Springfield events such as Annual 911 remembrance ceremonies, The World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, Bright Night’s Ball, 4th of July Star Spangled Springfield, Swearing-in ceremonies and retirement ceremonies for Public Officials and Commissioners, the Mayor’s Inaugurations, Governor Deval Patrick’s Inaugural Western MA Celebration, Worcester State University Annual MLK, Jr. Breakfast, The Western MA Police Commissioners, Several MA Democratic Conventions including the 2012 MA convention when Senator Elizabeth Warren was nominated and numerous ceremonies and events for the great city of Springfield that she calls home! She is a Committee member of The Brianna Fund for Children with Physical Disabilities and the Stone Soul Hall of Fame Awards Planning Team. Vanessa is the Music & Recruitment Chair for Springfield Unity Festival and she is a dedicated supporter of Dress for Success for women.
In 2013, Vanessa’s rendition of “God Bless America” was featured as part of the Fireworks by Grucci synchronized Simulcast in Springfield, MA. In January 2014, Vanessa had the honor of singing for Springfield’s City Council Inauguration Ceremony. Vanessa is currently Co-Director of the Contemporary Gospel Choir at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, CT and of Anointed Voices of Praise at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Springfield, MA. Vanessa works full time as the District Office Manager for State Senator James T. Welch. She takes great pride in managing his schedule and helping those in need in the community. In December 2014, Vanessa launched the release of her original worship song on iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon entitled “Great Jehovah”. Last March, Vanessa had the great honor to sing the National Anthem for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Western MA rally. In June 2016, Vanessa was personally requested by Brigadier General Sean T. Collins and she was truly humbled to sing for his promotion & pinning ceremony. Most recently, Vanessa was inspired to write a song called “Stronger Together”. It was released in August 2016. Vanessa strives to use her gifts to touch the hearts of many and hopes to make a difference in the lives of others through her life and music ministry.
Saturday, October 27th 2018—During the Saturday Evening Banquet
Jacqueline Dyer Leading Worship
Jacqueline Dyer, M.S.W., LiC.S.W., Ph.D.
Director of In-Ministry Programs – Clinical, Health and Pastoral Care Studies at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary
Dr. Dyer oversees the Master of Arts in Counseling program license and non-license tracks. She also coordinates teaching and classroom support for Instructors, and provides outreach for community partnerships for CUME. She is an early career researcher whose interests are clergy compassion fatigue and domestic violence in faith communities. As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Dr. Dyer’s wealth of practice knowledge beyond her classroom experience includes private practice, having provided clinical supervision in the secular and Christian communities, and service as a volunteer facilitator for a Christian community domestic violence support-group. She provides Spiritual Direction at her home church.
Saturday, October 27th-Before the Morning Devotions Session and Before the Community Conversations Meeting
Patricia Baker Leading Worship
Tricia Baker, LCSW
Patricia grew up in the Promised Land (Vermont). She received her BSW from Taylor University and MSW from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has lived in CT with her husband and 2 exceedingly marvelous children, since 1999. Patricia has practiced in the fields of Developmental Disabilities, School Social Work, Hospital Social Work, Outpatient Co-Occurring Disorders in a Clinic-setting. Currently she has a private counseling practice. In 2006 she became certified as a radKIDS Instructor and brought this national children’s safety education program to CT. She has “trained” about 200 children and their families to take charge of their own personal safety. After graduating from college, she worked with deaf people in a vocational program and began to learn sign language, she also began to use it in worship as a way to express music visually. She started 2 sign language choirs that “sing” visually, much the way most music is arranged vocally.
Thursday, October 25th Before the Evening Keynote Presentation
Amy Mitchell Worship
Amy Mitchell, MSW
Amy is a 2nd year PhD in social work student at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. She received her MSW from the University of South Carolina in 2002. Amy is a therapist with Diamond Healthcare, provider of intensive outpatient behavioral health services for adults 18 and older with mental health diagnoses. Amy also has 22 years experience as a music ministry director in various church traditions, is a classically-trained vocalist and plays piano, guitar and flute. She has been married for 30 years to the Rev. Peter Mitchell, an Anglican priest, and they have two sets of twins: Sam & Fiona (14) and Bruce & Anna-Justine (11). They live in Woodstock, Virginia.
Saturday, October 27th Morning Devotions Session
Dave Marty “Job: Cry from a Broken Heart”
Dave Marty, a pastor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has a passion for bringing stories to life through drama, which he has done all his life through school, church, and community theater. A long-time resident of Indiana, Dave and his wife Mary have two grown and married daughters and two young grandchildren. In addition to acting, Dave’s interests include bicycling and flower gardening
Friday October 26th at 8 am Before the Morning Devotions Session and at 11:30 am before the Alan Keith-Lucas Lecture
Chris Russell Worship
Chris is a 3rd generation Salvationist. She is the daughter of Salvation Army Officers (Pastors). Since she was a young girl, she has enjoyed music and sports. She studied music at Asbury College (now Asbury University) and earned her BA in Music Education. Upon graduating in 1995, she was employed by the Northern New England Salvation Army Division as the Divisional Music Director. There, she met her to be husband, David. They married in 1997. They now have 4 children and reside in Tolland, CT. They attend the Manchester Salvation Army where they are active in the church and in the music activities with their 4 children. Chris is serving the Lord as the Praise and Worship Leader in Manchester and currently working for The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters in Hartford, CT as Administrative Assistant to Property & Program and Divisional Statistician.
Friday October 26th at 8am-8:30am Morning Devotions Session
Sonia Medina Pranger, LCSW, PPSC is an Assistant Professor and Program Director in the Social Work Department at Fresno Pacific University in California where she has taught for the last five years as well as coordinated field internships for BSW students. She has over twenty years of social work practice experience in a variety of settings such as child welfare, school social work, medical social work, congregational social work, private practice, and social work education. Mrs. Pranger received her BSW, MSW, and Pupil Personnel Services Credential from California State University, Fresno and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California. Mrs. Pranger lives in Fresno, California with her husband of 18 years and four children ages 14, 11, 9, & 6. Mrs. Pranger had a life-changing faith conversion at the age of 20 and has been attending her church, Family Worship Center in Sanger, California ever since. Her passion is in working with children and families and teaching courses that challenge students to ethically integrate faith in their practice.