Dr. Chris Backert
Working with church leaders to develop new expressions of Christian community and connecting those congregations together is the passion of Chris’s life. He has served as National Director of Ecclesia since it's beginning and has been part of several congregations within the network both in Virginia and Maryland. In addition to his role with Ecclesia, he also helps spearhead Fresh Expressions US and Missio Alliance. Chris holds a D.Min. in Missional Church Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary where his focus was on the importance of church networks for the future of mission in North America. He currently lives just north of Harrisburg, PA with his wife Rachel, daughter Elliana and son Jase.
Director of Leadership and Congregational Formation
J.R. Briggs served as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community (www.renewcommunity.org) a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, PA that he helped to plant. He recently created Kairos Partnerships, an initiative that partners with leaders, pastors and church planters during significant kairos moments in ministry. In addition, he is the creator of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference (www.epicfailevents.com) which helps pastors embrace failure and see it as an opportunity for grace and growth. J.R. is on the Board of Directors for Ecclesia. and loves connecting and networking with other new churches and serving as a church planting coach. J.R. is also a speaker, writer and blogger (www.jrbriggs.com). He received his Masters in Missional Theology from Biblical Theological Seminary. He enjoys skiing, reading compelling books, surfing, canoeing, following the Philadelphia Phillies, traveling and playing basketball and racquetball. J.R. and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett. The Briggs family lives in the heart of gritty Lansdale, PA.
Dr. Bob Hyatt
Director of Equipping and Spiritual Formation
Bob has felt drawn to pastoral ministry since the 5th grade- he’s always known: this is what he wanted to do- helping people find relationship with God. This has worked itself out most clearly in planting the Evergreen Community in Portland, OR in 2004. This has now expanded to also include coaching church planters and other pastors. He is a graduate of Western Seminary and earned a D.Min from Portland Seminary. He’s also the co-author of Eldership & the Mission of God and Ministry Mantras from InterVarsity Press.
Jane Linton is the Administrator for The Ecclesia Network, and also for Fresh Expressions US and Kairos Partnerships. She was an active part of a Richmond church plant called ‘Imago Dei’ for five years, and loves sharing her love of planning and organization to help churches and their staff fulfill their callings. Jane graduated from Virginia Tech with majors in History and Political Science. Before working with churches she taught school groups with the Valentine Richmond History Center. When Jane is not meticulously and joyfully color-coding tabbed binders and formatting trip itineraries, she can be found chasing her two small boys Alex and Luke around Richmond or working with her husband Brandon on a new Pinterest-inspired home project.
Coordinator of Operations
Morgan has been on staff at New Life Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech with her husband, Enrique, since January 2018. They are both part of the leadership team of a church plant, Storehouse, that will set roots on the campus of Penn State in the Summer of 2020. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech, with dual degrees in Psychology and Human Development, and is an administrative guru. Although she initially planned to pursue a Master’s in School Counseling, the Lord used her passion as an undergrad for helping and leading younger students to bring her to where she is now, working as a campus missionary. When she is not discipling young women, managing the connections team or running NLCF’s instagram - she loves buying new plants, enjoying anything Disney and spending time with her cat, Hurley. She is also a certified barista - so if you get the chance, ask her to make you some coffee.
The Board of Directors is currently comprised of ten individuals. The BOD is responsible for guarding Ecclesia’s mission, vision, values, and distinctives. The BOD is also responsible for approving and governing financial and legal matters, as well as the outworking of the various functions of Ecclesia. We are grateful for the help they provide us as we move along the journey of living the gospel together as churches.
Rev. Dr. Mia Chang, planted NextGen Church in 2008. Rev. Mia was ordained as a pastor by the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey upon completing her studies at the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. She obtained her doctorate in ministry studies at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in Pennsylvania.
Jeanette Staats has been on staff at Ecclesia church NLCF since 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Tech in 2000 after dabbling in Accounting and Interior Design – three majors that obviously have a lot of commonalities & overlap! Her role at NLCF is called Director of Community Life. She spends time co-overseeing the campus Engage Groups as part of the Spiritual Formations team, developing & leading New Life Kids! (kids ministry), and overseeing church-wide events as well as other various administrative tasks. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with family and friends, teaching piano, organizing & decorating her home, being crafty, and watching HOKIE sports! She is a foster parent when the need arises. She is also pursuing a Certificate of Theological Studies from a satellite seminary. Her desire is to love God, love the people He places in her life, and live. “The world is full of people who will go their whole lives and not actually live one day. She did not intend on being one of them.” (quote from curlygirl designs)
Cyd Holsclaw is a consecrated minister of the CMA and currently serves together with her husband, Geoff, on the leadership team at Life on the Vine in northwest Chicagoland. She serves as an equipper, coach, and board chair with the Ecclesia Network, facilitates Immanuel prayer, and is known to get carried away proclaiming good news. Her time is largely consumed with providing her two teens with a classical education while simultaneously reclaiming the education she missed as a kid. HIIT and rock climbing keep her calm enough to focus on daily life.
Jon comes to Ecclesia as a result of his friendship and support of both Ecclesia leaders and Ecclesia congregations. He has more than 30 years experience in leadership in the insurance industry. He has been recognized as an outstanding leader in his field and as a dedicated contributor to the non-profit sector.
Originally from Australia, Mandy Smith is lead pastor of University Christian Church, a campus and neighborhood congregation with its own fair-trade café in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a regular contributor to Leadership Journal and Missio Alliance and the author of Making a Mess and Meeting God and The Vulnerable Pastor. She is also the creator of The Collect, a citywide trash-to-art project. Mandy and her husband Jamie, a New Testament professor at Cincinnati Christian University, live with their two kids in a little house where the teapot is always warm.