Annual Confeference guest speakers


Steve Sjogren — Will lead seminars June 11. Sjogren launched the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1985 with 37 people. Under his leadership, the dynamic congregation grew to more than 6000 in average attendance. From the onset VCC had a strong emphasis on servant evangelism, small groups, church planting and caring for the needy. Following a medical accident in 1997 and during his recovery, Sjogren became the launching pastor. Through the years the church planting internship program and Sjogren’s coaching efforts have produced several dozen successful church plants. Sjogren is currently focused on writing, speaking and mentoring church planters. Sjogren’s passion for evangelism, church planting and leadership development is reflected in his writing.

In 2007 Sjogren and his wife, Janie, began the launch of their fifth church planting adventure in the greater Tampa, Fla., area. Sjogren’s first book, Conspiracy of Kindness (Vine Books, 1993), has gained attention across a broad base of church leaders as an effective and creative approach to sharing the love of Christ. 101 Ways to Reach Your Community is a “cookbook” of projects and practical guide to getting started with servant evangelism.

Rev. Rudy Rasmus — Rasmus will lead sessions on June 11 and deliver the evening messages on June 11 and June 12.Rasmus, a local pastor, is co-pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church with his wife Juanita in downtown Houston, Texas. He began his ministry with nine existing members in 1992. St. John's has grown to more than 9,000 members. Some 3,000 of these are either currently or formerly homeless. He is also the co-founder of St. John's Academy and Bread of Life, providing a wide range of services to disadvantaged community members. Before God touched his heart and transformed his life, Rasmus was a businessman running a "borderline bordello" in Houston. But thousands now know him simply as "Pastor Rudy."

Chris Lahr — Lahr (right) will lead sessions June 11 and lead worship June 12. Chris Lahr works as a recruiter and academic director for Mission Year, which is a program that provides people ages 18 and older the opportunity to live in intentional community and serve in an urban center. Lahrs graduated from Eastern University and Asbury Theological Seminary. Lahr and his family have lived in Philadelphia since 2000. They moved to Philly to join an intentional community called “the simple way.” 

He attends church at Iglesia del Barrio (Church of the Neighborhood) in Kensington (neighborhood in Philly). He preaches frequently there and is involved in their youth program. 

Lahr speaks on topics ranging from God’s heart for the poor, Jesus, the kingdom of God, community, hospitality, racism and white identity and embracing the “least of these.” He often shares his faith journey as well as nuggets of wisdom that he has gleaned from MotherTeresa and Tony Campolo, among others.