This year’s speakers

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Abide 2024 theme

Sally Burke

Sally Burke former engineer on the Space Shuttles, is currently the President of Moms in Prayer International, where we impact children and schools for Christ worldwide by gathering women together to pray. Sally is also an international speaker, teacher and author of Raise Them Up, Start with Praise, Unshaken and the Unshaken Study Guide.

Michelle Chitwood

Follower of Jesus and fostercare/adoption advocate. Retired public school teacher. Mom to four awesome kids. Wife of Paul Chitwood, who is pretty awesome too and is President of the International Mission Board.

Emily Dean

Emily Dean serves as Assistant Professor of Ministry to Women at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College. She and her husband, Dr. Jody Dean, along with their two children, live in the New Orleans area where Jody serves as Associate Professor of Discipleship and Ministry Leadership at NOBTS. Passionate about discipling women, Emily has served in various capacities in ministry to women through the local church.

Tara Dew

Tara has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. She grew up in a Christian home, and even met her husband in the church youth group. Tara & Jamie have now been married for 22 years and have been blessed with two sets of twins, lovingly called “The Dew Krewe.” She has the privilege of serving NOBTS as President’s Wife, teaching in the Ministry to Women academic programs, and directing Thrive: A Ministry Wife Certificate program. To learn more about Tara, visit nobts.edu/president/about-tara-dew/default.html.

Emily Jones

Emily is married to her college best friend, Ethan, and is mama to two boys. She loves serving in her local church and encouraging others. Emily enjoys leisurely gardening, baking, and chatting with friends. She is constantly planning her family’s next travel adventure.

Stephanie Lyon

Stephanie’s heart beats for Jesus, His Word, the Nations, and women. She has been serving in women’s ministry for over 20 year and is passionate about teaching and discipling women to love and live the Word of God. She is the Women’s Life Coordinator at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College where she is pursuing a Masters degree in Ministry to Women, and serves as the Director of Ministry to Women at First Baptist New Orleans. Stephanie has been married to her high school sweetheart, Dr. Larry Lyon, the VP of Business Administration and Professor of Ethics at NOBTS and Leavell College for over 22 years, and they are the proud parents of three daughters.

Katie McCoy

Katie McCoy serves as Director Women's Ministry at Texas Baptists. She holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Southwestern Seminary (TX). Katie's research includes the patterns of justice for women in Old Testament laws as well as the intersection of theology, gender, and women's studies. She is the author of To Be a Woman: The Confusion Over Female Identity and How Christians Can Respond.

Diane Nix

Diane is the director and founder of Contagious Joy 4 Him, a network of encouragement to ministry wives around the globe. Offering “Free Refresh Retreats” and a safe place for ministry wives to share their hearts with other like-minded women. Forty years ago, she married her husband, pastor/professor, Dr. Preston Nix.

Lisa Ray

Lisa married the super smart guy who sat in the back of her Old Testament class. They’ve been married for 20 years, and Lisa homeschools their three teenagers. She loves serving her church, hosting her tight-knit community group each week, and teaching in the Thrive ministry wives’ program.

Catherine Renfro

Catherine Renfro is a church planter’s wife, a mom, and serves as the Director of Evangelism at the North American Mission Board. She graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Masters degree in Christian Education and Biblical Counseling after being called to ministry at the age of 22, and has been serving in full time ministry ever since. She has a passion for seeing lost people come to know Jesus and for saved people to live out their purpose of making Jesus known.

Kathy Steele

Kathy and Ed have been married 49 years, and have 2 children and 3 grandchildren. After serving 20 years with the International Mission Board in Central America, Kathy and Ed came to NOBTS to complete some additional studies, and were then both hired as faculty members. They "semi-retired" in July 2022, but are still teaching and advising NOBTS students.

Jessie Wittman

Jessie Wittman is wife to Dr. Tyler Wittman at NOBTS and mother to their four children. Educating the kids requires the bulk of her days, but in the corners she teaches women’s bible studies, mentors in the local church, and enjoys reading, researching, and writing on all things theological and maternal. She has half of a masters degree that she needs to complete at some point.

Plenary Speakers

Kelly Minter

Kelly Minter is an author, Bible teacher, and podcaster. Her most recent Bible study from Lifeway publishers is called Encountering God: Cultivating Habits of Faith Through the Spiritual Disciplines. Kelly speaks around the country and also works closely with Justice & Mercy International in the Amazon jungles of Brazil as well as the Eastern European country of Moldova. Kelly is deeply passionate about teaching the Bible and believes it permeates all of life. When she’s not writing, traveling, or speaking she enjoys time in her garden, cooking, and being with her friends and family. A Southern transplant, she delights in long walks, her local church, meaningful conversation, and coffee in her Justice & Mercy International diner mug.

Tara Dew

Tara has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember.She grew up in a Christian home, and even met her husband in the church youth group. Tara & Jamie have now been married for 22 years and have been blessed with two sets of twins, lovingly called “The Dew Krewe.”
She has the privilege of serving NOBTS as President’s Wife, spends her days discipling her own kiddos, and directs/teaches in Thrive: A Ministry Wife certificate program.

What are three words that describe you?

Travel lover, DIY Designer & landscaper, Homeschool Mama

Stephanie Lyon

Stephanie has been serving in women’s ministry leadership for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Women’s Life Coordinator at NOBTS and Leavell College, and is the Director of Ministry to Women at First Baptist New Orleans. With a passion to disciple women and teach the Bible, Stephanie has a heart for the nations and raising up future leaders. Stephanie has also served as a church-planting pastor’s wife to her husband of 20+ years, Dr. Larry Lyon, the Vice President for Business Administration and Associate Professor of Ethics at NOBTS and Leavell College. They are the parents of three daughters, ages 17, 14, and 8, and are huge fans of the Georgia Bulldogs.

What are three words that describe you?

Foodie, Travel-Lover, Girl-Mom

Breakout Speakers

Kay Bennett

Kay Bennett serves as a Send Relief Missionary and Executive Director of Baptist Friendship House, in New Orleans, LA. Kay grew up in Kokomo, MS and received a B.S. from the University of Southern Miss. She received a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from NOBTS. In January 1990, she was appointed as a missionary serving in New Orleans, LA. Kay’s training is in the areas of counseling, life skills counseling, human trafficking, domestic violence, addictions, vocational evaluation, and literacy.

What are three words that describe you?

Loves animals, coffee lover, sports fan

Missie Branch

Missie Branch serves as Asst. Dean of Students to Women and Director of Graduate Life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in NC. She is also currently a student there completing her graduate degree in Ethics, Theology, and Culture. Missie is married to Duce Branch and together they have four children. She is passionate about women seeing themselves as theologians and disciples first. Missie is a contributing author to The Whole Woman: Ministering to Her Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength and the co-host of the Women & Work Podcast. Currently, Missie is serving as the Chair of the Board Trustees at Lifeway Christian Resources.

What are three words that describe you?

Forensics Junkie, Night Owl, Creative

Emily Dean

“Emily Dean serves as Assistant Professor of Ministry to Women at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Dr. Jody Dean, along with their two precious children Lydia and James, live in the New Orleans area where Jody serves as Associate Professor of Discipleship and Ministry Leadership at NOBTS. Passionate about preparing women for ministry leadership, Emily enjoys training women on how to live out God’s call to disciple making.”.

What are three words that describe you?

NOLA foodie, history enthusiast, aspiring globetrotter

Sarah Farley-Beall

Sarah is an alumna of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Third Culture Kid with the International Mission Board and NAMB. Sarah has served with several inner-city non-profits, State Conventions, and as a campus minister at LSU and UGA. She now serves as the Southeast/Gulf Coast Regional Mobilizer Next Gen Strategist on the Student Team for the IMB. Sarah has a passion for working with and mobilizing Generation Z and Alpha, educating on culture and identity, and helping females that struggle with addictions. She loves volunteering with Middle School and High School kids and teaching them that coffee and Jesus are both good for you.

What are three words that describe you?

Fun, coffee addict, dancer

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is an educator and Bible teacher. She serves as the Assistant Director for Thrive: A Ministry Wives Certificate, at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College and teaches high school. Heather is a conference speaker and a national trainer with Lifeway Women. She leads small groups, provides discipleship and mentoring for women, and writes Bible study curriculum. She and her husband have served together in church ministry over 25 years and enjoy life parenting their four children in New Orleans, LA.

What are three words that describe you?

loves people, a nice walk, and beaches

Courtney Moore

Courtney Moore is the founder and president of Women & Work, as well as co-host of the Women & Work Podcast. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Mobile and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Courtney is passionate about seeing Jesus Christ honored by women as they steward their gifts and leverage their unique potential for His glory. She and her husband Brent have 3 great kids and live in El Paso, TX where Brent pastors LIFEchurch.

What are three words that describe you?

birthday girl, coffee lover, your new friend

Diane Nix

Diane is the director and founder of Contagious Joy 4 Him, a network of encouragement to ministry wives around the globe. Offering “Free Refresh Retreats” and a safe place for ministry wives to share their hearts with other like-minded women. Thirty-eight years ago, she married her husband, pastor/professor, Dr. Preston Nix. He is professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at NOBTS. They have two biological daughters (ages 25 & 27), two spiritual daughters (38 & 41), two special grands, and two son’s in-laws.

What are three words that describe you?

Coffee Connoisseur, Tex Mex lover, Sea Shell Scavenger

Kathy Steele

Kathy Steele, a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, serves as a Professor of Counseling at NOBTS. Before coming to NOBTS, she and her family served as IMB Missionaries in Central America for 20 years. She has 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren.

What are three words that describe you?

reader, painter, and loves to cook

Cindy Townsend

Dr. Cindy Townsend is currently the Minister to Women at FBC, Jackson, MS and a Lifeway Women’s Trainer. Cindy has served as Director of Women’s Missions and Ministry for the Baptist Conventions of both Louisiana and Mississippi and was founder of the Student Global Leadership Institute in MS. Cindy is a child of God, wife, mother, meme, freelance writer, educator, minister, and speaker for women’s events. Her passion is to equip women to discover their full potential in Christ Jesus.

What are three words that describe you?

Party planner, travel fan. Beach lover

Amy Williams

Amy is a mom of 4 children and wife to Tim Williams, who pastors Williams Boulevard Baptist Church. She and her family have served in ministry to South Africa, Canada and Louisiana for over 25 years. Currently, Amy is the Director of the Museum of the Bible and Archaeology on NOBTS campus. One of her favorite places to be is on an archaeological dig in Israel.

What are three words that describe you?

Thrill-seeker, creative, global foodie

Michelle Woodward

Michelle and her husband Greg moved their 6 children to New Orleans 13 years ago for Greg to serve at NOBTS. Michelle is a homeschool mom of 16 years who serves as children’s minister at Faith New Orleans. MJ (aka grandma) to Paul, Amedee, & Jones is her new favorite title.

What are three words that describe you?

Music teacher, moderately funny, soccer/non creepy dance mom

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