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.”

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
University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life

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.

Gary Mazo

Lecturer, Open Table
Rabbi, Temple Adath B’nai Israel, Evansville, Indiana

Mitchell Gieselman

Vocational Mentor and Lecturer, Open Table
Conference Superintendent, Southwest District in the Indiana Conference
The United Methodist Church

Laura Helm

Vocational Mentor and Lecturer, Open Table
Access Youth Center, Wabash, Indiana

Marsha Bishop

Vocational Mentor and Lecturer, Open Table
Local Pastor, Owensville, Indiana

Nick Joyner

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

JC Campbell

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Assistant Pastor, First Gethsemane Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Jill Ann Knonenborg

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

Lance Newton

Vocational Mentor, Open Table
Jamestown United Methodist Church, Jamestown, 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

Hannah Scheib

College Mentor

Maegan Scheib

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.