Leadership Team

Mary Stewart Adams headshot

Mary Stewart Adams

Historian, Storyteller, and Author

Mary Stewart Adams is a star lore historian, storyteller, author, and global advocate for starry skies. She lectures using a humanities-based approach to understanding the celestial world around us and the cultural influence of astronomy through the ages. She has been immersed in the history of star knowledge for nearly 30 years, and in this capacity she writes and speaks extensively about our relationship to the night sky and why it matters that most of us are never outside in the dark.

Mary led the team that established the 9th international dark sky park in the world in 2011. As a result of her work, the State of Michigan is now protecting the night sky over an additional 23,000 acres. She has received numerous honors for her pioneering work, traveling extensively and teaching a humanities-based approach to understanding the night sky. Stewart has been honored twice as Dark Sky Advocate of the Year (2006 & 2012), Environmentalist of the Year (NMEAC 2012), and Dark Sky Defender (IDA2012). She serves on the International Dark Sky Places Committee of the International Dark Sky Association, and is a board member of Petoskey's Outdoor Lighting Forum. Stewarts work is found at www.storytellersnightsky.com, on social media platforms, and on Interlochen Public Radio, where every Monday morning you can learn about a story in the sky on her radio segment “The Storyteller’s Night Sky.”

Leslie Griffiths headshot

Rev. the Lord Leslie Griffiths of Pembrey and Burry Port, PhD

LORD, House of Lords and Ordained Clergy, Methodist Church in England

Leslie Griffiths is the former superintendent minister of Wesley’s Chapel, the “mother church” of World Methodism in London, England, and a life-member of the House of Lords, Labour Party, receiving a Life Peerage in 1994. As a regular columnist and BBC broadcaster, Griffiths has spoken extensively on various educational and social subjects, including euthanasia; the church and civic society; the relationship between Christianity and other faiths; and international affairs, including the complex world of international finance. “The foundation of my awareness of, and involvement in, international affairs was laid in the period I lived in Haiti, 1970-1980,” he notes. His story began in real poverty in South Wales and led him to Haiti to work with some of the poorest people on earth. He experienced liberation theology before it had been articulated and was the biographer of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Roman Catholic priest and liberation theologian who became Haiti’s president. Griffiths became a local preacher in the Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1963 and earned a Master of Arts in theology at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, in 1969. In 1987 Griffiths earned a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the University of Evansville in 2016. He has served as president of the Methodist Conference in Britain, and the chair of the College of Preachers. Griffiths has written numerous books on religious and historical themes including his riveting and intense autobiography, A View from the Edge.

Katherine Baxter headshot

Katherine Baxter

Illustrator and Local Preacher

Ever since she was a child of five, Baxter has been fascinated with the world from above. She loved model villages and model railways, and her favorite place in the world was Beckonscot, a model village created in 1929 near Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire, a magical miniature world. There is no doubt that this was her first and enduring inspiration behind map-making. After earning her degree from Bath Academy of Art, she went through a few avenues of illustration before focusing entirely on map illustration. She illustrates using traditional drawing methods; her trusty Rotring pens with their needle-like nibs and a magnifying glass are her constant companions. Although she now uses the computer for coloring and creating digital files, her passion still lies in the actual mark making of pen on paper, and she is determined to keep doing that without the computer.

“The challenge of creating maps still gives me a thrill and a joy, in some way it fulfills a deep psychological need of knowing where I’m going. I like a beginning and I like a destination. One little boy asked me whether I had ever drawn a map to Heaven. Maybe that will be my last map!” Katherine Baxter is also a lay preacher in the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom and uses her gifts as illustrator in churches across England.

Mitchell Gieselman headshot

Mitchell Gieselman

Special Faculty, Open Table
Conference Superintendent, Southwest District in the Indiana Conference, The United Methodist Church

The Rev. Mitchell C. Gieselman serves as the Conference Superintendent of Southwest District of the Indiana Conference. As Superintendent, Gieselman works with churches as a missional strategist to guide and cast visions for vibrant ministries, as well as encourage clergy and lay people to find new ways to engage in the Conference mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. He works with Bishop Julius Trimble and the Extended Cabinet to foster and supply new leaders for churches and communities across Indiana.

Gieselman has served churches across the Indiana Conference in various capacities as a pastor or staff person since 1974 including New Castle First, Plainfield UMC, Hanover UMC, Mt. Vernon First, and as Senior Pastor of Evansville Aldersgate UMC. Gieselman is a lover of golf, fishing, reading, crossword puzzles, baseball, and camping. He is also an avid follower of John and Charles Wesley’s footsteps all over the world. In his free time, he is also involved in campus life at the University of Evansville and has lectured, taught adult education courses, volunteered in numerous capacities, and served as Chapter Counselor for Sigma Phi Epsilon. Gieselman received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Evansville in 1978 and Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in 1981.

Rev. R. Wayne Perkins, PhD

Rev. R. Wayne Perkins, PhD

Special Faculty, Open Table
Professor Emeritus of Religion

Wayne Perkins, Professor Emeritus of Religion and retired elder in the United Methodist Church, earned his undergraduate degree at Asbury College, magna cum laude, and an S.T.B, summa cum laude, and PhD at Boston University. He came to the University of Evansville in 1966 as a faculty member in the department of philosophy and religion. During his tenure at UE, Wayne served as Director of Religious Life, University Chaplain, and Chair of the department. He also taught World Religions and Religious Perspectives for many years in the Adult Education program at UE.

Rev. Tamara K. Gieselman, Dmin

Rev. Tamara K. Gieselman, Dmin

Director and Special Faculty, Open Table

Tamara K. Gieselman earned a Doctor of Ministry in preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago. Her research focused on prophetic preaching and biblical authority, which fashioned her doctoral thesis entitled With Compassion and Gospel for All: Toward a Homiletical Hermeneutic of Inclusion. She earned a Master of Divinity with honors from Vanderbilt Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from the University of Evansville. Gieselman is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and spent 17 years in parish ministry before coming to UE. She has served as preaching coach and mentor for the Academy of Preachers and in 2015 co-edited, with her husband, Rev. Mitchell Gieselman, Pentecost on Mockingbird Lane, Volume 6 in the Academy of Preachers’ series published by Chalice Press. She has preached in notable pulpits in the United States and in England. In 2016, the Rev. Dr. the Lord Leslie Griffiths, Superintendent Minister at Wesley’s Chapel in London, England and member of the House of Lords, invited Gieselman to preach in John Wesley’s historic pulpit. Gieselman preached, Prophetic Eyes, at the City Road chapel on June 5, 2016. She has led and participated in a variety of international study tours and education abroad experiences with UE students and adult learners including England, Israel, Rome, and Russia. Her interests focus on preaching, worship, practical theology and interfaith engagement for understanding.

Mr. Keith Turner

Mr. Keith Turner

Assistant Director and Vocational Mentor

Keith Turner serves as the John Wesley Minister and assistant chaplain, and assistant program director for the Lilly funded summer youth theology institute, Open Table.

Turner brings to the Office of Religious Life a breadth and depth of experience in preaching and ministry. As a student, he has served churches in the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopal traditions, and he is currently working toward ordination in The United Methodist Church. Turner also brings with him a wealth of experience as a pianist, organist, and church musician.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology from Asbury University and has completed all the necessary requirements for his Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary. While at Asbury Theological Seminary, Turner was inducted into the International Society of Theta Phi, an academic honors society for exemplary scholarship and academic achievement. He is also a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

Marsha Bishop

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Local Pastor, Owensville, Indiana

Nick Joyner

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Recovery Counselor, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Chicago, Illinois

Jill Ann Knonenborg

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Associate Pastor, Methodist Temple, Evansville, Indiana

Lance Newton

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Sullivan United Methodist Church, Sullivan, Indiana

Greg O’Connor

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Residential Coordinator, Assistant Director for Community Development, University of Evansville

Kurt Stone

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Associate Pastor, Troy United Methodist Church, Troy, Illinois

Mark Dicken

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Interim University Chaplain/UM Clergy, Newburgh, Indiana

Matt Knonenborg

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Christian Education Professional, Evansville, Indiana

Craig Duke

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Lead Pastor, Newburgh UMC, Newburgh, Indiana

Hannah Scheib

College Mentor

Kathryn Stamm

College Mentor

Bailey Geng

College Mentor

Taylor Thomas

College Mentor

Aleesia Futch

College Mentor

Jordan McQuiston

College Mentor

Rev. Michael E. Williams, PhD

Rev. Michael E. Williams, PhD (In memoriam)

Faculty in Residence, Open Table
Nashville, TN

Michael Williams earned degrees at Vanderbilt University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; he earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Michael is a retired elder in The United Methodist Church and has served churches in the Tennessee Conference since his ordination. He has taught courses for Garrett Seminary, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Candler School of Theology, and the Doctor of Ministry programs of Drew and Wesley Theological Seminaries. He is the author of numerous articles, stories, poems, plays and books and serves as General Editor of The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible series from Abingdon Press.

Michael is a frequent guest speaker and workshop leader at regional, national, and international events. He has been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival and has taught at the National Institutes of Storytelling. While a student at Northwestern a collection of his poems won an American Academy of Poets prize. Michael is married to Margaret, and they are parents of two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth.

Michael unexpectedly passed away on March 19, 2018. You may read his obituary.

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