Who spoke at the 2017 UpperRoom Conference?



Baltimore Police Lt. Col. Melvin T. Russell

Melvin Russell joined the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) in 1979 as a police cadet and graduated from the BPD academy in 1981 as the first African American class valedictorian. He worked uniform patrol for a few years and, in 1986, got his first opportunity to work in an undercover drug capacity.  For the next 20 years Melvin was submerged into the dark world of undercover narcotics work that led to the arrests of drug kingpins throughout Baltimore City and as far away as Jamaica, Italy and South America.

In 2006 Melvin tried to retire, but GOD had another plan for him.  Reluctantly Melvin remained with the BPD and re-emerged as an Eastern District uniform patrol LT in January of 2007.  During this time Melvin came to see the devastating results of communities left in disarray with little to no trust between communities (especially African Americans) and the police.  In 8 Months Melvin turned the worse producing midnight patrol shift into one of the best shifts in the city.  Melvin was then promoted to the deputy major of the Northeastern District.  After engaging the community in a series of initiatives crime dropped dramatically in the Northeastern District and 11 months later Melvin was promoted to major of the Eastern District.

Melvin is married to the beautiful songstress Lolita and they have a beautiful blended family of 8 children.  Melvin desires to be an effective change agent in his city, the nation and throughout the world, leaving a legacy of peace and hope for people of all nations.


DR. michael catt

Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist

Michael has served as Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church since 1989. The church has 3,000 members and has averaged one hundred baptisms each year. Thousands have joined the church from Albany and 29 surrounding communities. The church has changed from a neighborhood church to a regional, multi-ethnic congregation with members from eleven nations. Sherwood has three campuses covering 130-plus acres—the main church campus, the lower school campus and the upper school campus. The 82-acre sports complex, Legacy Park, is currently being developed with tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, equestrian center, fishing pond, pavilion and other facilities to reach the community through sports and recreation. 

Michael served as the President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, representing over 42,000 churches, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, and as Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention. He is currently a Regent at the University of Mobile. He has served as a Life Coach for other ministers under John Maxwell’s ministry. He is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.

Michael and his wife Terri have been married since 1974. They are the proud parents of two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.

Dan Hyun

Lead Pastor of the Village Church

Pastor Dan was raised in the greater Philadelphia area, receiving a degree in speech communication from Penn State University and a Masters in Divinity from Biblical Seminary. Dan is passionate for God’s work in the city, and he has experience serving with urban churches in Philadelphia and Baltimore. In 2008, Dan led a team to start The Village Church with the hopes of expressing a multicultural expression of the kingdom of God. Some of his interests include urban ministry, church planting, sports, pop culture, and conversations on culture, race, and ethnicity. After God, his greatest desire in life is for his wife, Judie, and two daughters.

Karen angela ellis

PhD candidate in Church History at Oxford Center for Mission Studies

I’m currently a PhD candidate in Church History at Oxford Center for Mission Studies in Oxford, England. I hold a Master of Art in Religion (Theological) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Fine Art from the Yale School of Drama.

In my twenty year career, I’ve been seen in classrooms, conferences, on television, on film and onstage. For eight years, I hosted a morning radio program in the Pacific Northwest (KWPZ).

These days I teach, write and speak on Human Rights, Religious Freedom and the Persecuted Church. I’m currently an Ambassador for International Christian Response.

I love watching my passport fill up as I travel with my husband, theological anthropologist Dr. Carl F. Ellis, Jr. We have four amazing, God-given children, one delightful grand-baby, and a life of adventure.

Michael Crawford

Lead pastor of freedom church baltimore

Author of 100 Meditations, An Everyday Book for Everyday People, a native to the L.A. area, Michael was born in 1968, the youngest of 8 children. At 9 years old, his mother’s job moved him from the San Fernando Valley to the affluent Malibu hills. He graduated from crossroads High school in Santa Monica; class of 1986. He briefly attended UCLA before God reached into his heart and changed his life forever. He then transferred to The Master’s College where he earned a BA in Political Science, with an emphasis in philosophy in 1991. In 1997, he also earned a Master’s of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary.

Michael pastored Free Grace Church in the Antelope Valley, CA from 1997-2008. In 1999, Michael felt a tremendous burden for the sanctity of human life, and subsequently became the co-founder and president of Care Net Women’s Resource Center of North County from 1999-2008. He served on staff of Cornerstone Bible Church, Ridgecrest, CA as church planting and missions pastor 2008-2009.

In 2006, Michael also launched Innovative Consulting, a non-profit consulting business for the Antelope Valley’s underserved community. In 2009, Michael knew God was calling him to Baltimore, MD where he planted Freedom Church. This was fueled by his passion to pastor in an urban city with racial diversity, and to also pour especially into the lives of African American men.

Since landing in Baltimore, Michael continues to serve as Lead Pastor of Freedom Church. Recent accomplishments include Enneagram Certification, coaching numerous leaders though out the US, speaking at conferences, retreats, weddings, funerals, and also serving on the board of Sojourn Network. Michael has been married for 20 years to Dani and has 5 children; Claudia, Tabitha, Nehemiah, Keturah, and Ezra.