“The George Zimmerman Verdict: A Faith-Based Response” – July 24 at 7pm

You are invited to a panel discussion sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Reconciliation this Wednesday, July 24 at 7pm at Brentwood Christian Church featuring faith and community leaders from the Springfield area, including Dr. David Knox, Rev. Vallory Williams, Wes Pratt (J.D.), Jim Harriger, and Chris Taylor. The Zimmerman verdict has led to a variety of responses and emotions, and during this time participants will reflect on the best ways to move forward in order to avoid the loss of more innocent and precious lives, no matter their age, race, or socioeconomic status. Phil Snider will moderate. This event is free and open to the public.

For a related video from the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, please click here.

David Knox

David Knox

Vallory Williams

Vallory Williams

About the panelists

David Knox, a native of Kansas City, currently resides in Springfield, MO and is a graduate of Hillcrest High School. He is a parent of five children. His background is founded by his parents Bishop David and Bobbie Knox of Deliverance Temple Ministries, Springfield, MO. David holds both doctorate and master’s degrees in Sacred Theology as well as a master’s degree in Religious Education from United Christian College, St. Albans, NY. He is currently studying for an additional Bachelors in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University, and he has been ordained by Deliverance Temple Ministries and Divine Faith Ministries International. In addition to writing an academic book entitled Effective Prayer: and it’s not what you think!, he operates his own business, DNK Studios where they offer Photography, Graphic Design, Video Editing, Web Development, Computer Consultation, and Marketing. He is the 2nd VP of the NAACP Springfield, Web Designer for Ozark Race & Faith Collaborative, and severed as the Writer/Editor for the Computer Technology section of the largest Christian newspaper, the NY Love Express. He leads seminars, workshops, educational seminars, and develops curricula in the subject of Eschatology and Prayer.

Pastor Vallory Williams says that her “dream was to become a preacher, but the pastor at my family church in Texas told me God did not call girls into the ministry.” He suggested she rethink her dream, so she did. For 30 years, she directed her energies toward helping people, working as a substance abuse counselor, a life skills trainer and counselor at a youth correction facility. But the dream never faded and she finally decided to pursue her ministerial calling. After completing an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and Consumer Services from Texas Southern University, she moved to Kansas City to pursue a Master’s of Divinity Degree from Saint Paul’s School of Theology. Pastor Vallory is currently the Senior Pastor at Pathways United Methodist Church in Springfield. She spent her last year of seminary as pastor of a reconciling congregation in Kansas City, MO. In addition to these experiences, she had the privilege of being able to work with one of the only Native American UMC congregations in Kansas City.

H. Wes Pratt received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1979. He is currently the Missouri State University Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance/Equal Opportunity Officer. He formerly served as the Coordinator, Diversity Outreach and Recruitment and is also an instructor in Introduction to African American Studies at the university. He and his wife Francine are also principal partners in Pratt Consultants based in Springfield, Missouri.

Wes worked at the state, county and local government levels before serving as a City Council member for the City of San Diego from 1987-1991.  During his term, he chaired the National League of Cities Housing and Economic Development Committee and the League of California Cities Administration Committee. He led the effort to establish the Housing Trust Fund, the Small Business Incubator Center, the Neighborhood Pride and Protection Program, the Human Relations Commission, the Urban Corps of San Diego and the Clean Water Minority/Women’s Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE) Program and also served on the California Coastal Commission from 1989 to 1991.
Following his service on the City Council, Mr. Pratt started his law practice as a partner in Kemp and Pratt, Attorneys at Law, with an emphasis in corporate, business and real estate law.  Pratt’s expertise included municipal and local government consulting, public law, and employment law. In July 1998, Mr. Pratt was appointed Chief Executive Officer of a local conservation corps, the Urban Corps of San Diego, an employment training, education, and community enhancement program for young adults, ages 18-23.  Previously, Pratt served as President of the Urban Corps Board of Directors for ten years. On November 10, 1999, Mr. Pratt was appointed as Director of the California Conservation Corps by Governor Gray Davis.  Mr. Pratt served as Director until September 2004.  Thereafter, Mr. Pratt served as Deputy Director for the Maryland Woodstock Job Corps Center and the Woodland Job Corps Center from December 2004 to March 2007.

Jim Harriger has worked in inner city rescue missions across the United States for over 40 years. He has ably served as Executive Director for Springfield Victory Mission from 1993 to present. He has also served as Director of Education, Asst. Executive Director, Program Director, Youth Director for other rescue missions as well as being a part of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Jim has been married 39 years to Mary with two daughters, Sarah 32 and Annah, 28. Additions to the family are grandchildren Elizabeth (10), Zane Thomas (7), Elissa (1) and Claire (2 weeks). Both Jim and Mary are highly involved in our community and share the bounty of abundance of their lives in our community. Jim quickly shares the abundance of Victory Mission with many other nonprofits in the community. He holds degrees from Messiah College and Seattle Pacific University.

Christopher Desmond Taylor, originally from St. Louis, MO, has been a resident of Springfield, MO for 7 years. As an experienced and accomplished athlete, coach, and mentor Chris has helped countless youth identify, outline, and achieve their goal of success. Chris is an efficacious entrepreneur and leader making waves here in our city. In addition, he is the owner of Apogee Wear LLC and Queen City Breeze Track Club. Most importantly Chris is a proud father, brother, son, uncle, and member of Brentwood Christian Church who is devoted to making Springfield a comfortable place for everyone.

Along with closing comments from Cheryl Clay

Cheryl Clay

Cheryl Clay

Cheryl Clay was raised in Springfield, Missouri and attended Boyd Elementary School, Pipkin Middle School and graduated from Central High School. She has lived in Chicago and Denver. Ms. Clay has been employed with City Utilities as a Department Administrator for Electric Transmission and Distribution for nine years with a focus on administrative support for substation engineers and the database administrator for the electric transmission and distribution areas.

Ms. Clay is an active member of Gibson Chapel Presbyterian Church. She serves on several community executive boards. She is the current President of the Springfield NAACP Chapter where she is the Executive Board’s Chairperson. As committee chair of the Women in the NAACP, Cheryl, chairs and organizes an annual Breast Cancer Awareness Tea in October. The tea focuses on minority women and breast cancer survivors to raise awareness and educate about preventive measures. This event will celebrate it’s 5th year in September.

Her hobbies include reading mysteries and crocheting in her spare time. She also enjoys traveling and visiting her grandchildren.