Asbury Seminary Announces New Board of Trustees Chair
At the Fall 2021 Board of Trustees meeting, Asbury Theological Seminary welcomed Karen Thomas as the new board chair. Karen succeeds outgoing board chair, Rev. Dr. Joseph Harris who has served since 2018. Karen has served on the Board of Trustees since 1995 and will lead the Board as they continue to shape and define the shared governance authority of the institution and help safeguard the mission and financial sustainability of the Seminary.
“We are delighted to continue to work with Karen and welcome her into this new role,” Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, President of Asbury Seminary, said. “We are grateful to Joe for his leadership and commitment to the Seminary’s mission and look forward to working with Karen as we celebrate the Seminary’s centennial and look forward to the next 100 years. We pray God’s wisdom for her as she assumes this new leadership role.”
As Asbury Seminary student body president, Karen sat on the board her senior year, 1994-1995, and was invited to join upon graduation in 1995. Karen has concentrated her efforts on community life at the Seminary, focusing on the spiritual, physical and emotional formation of students. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University, and after graduation directed Taylor’s travel recruitment as Assistant Dean of Admissions. During those years, she was selected as regional representative for the National Association of Christian College Admissions Personnel, which led to her being hired as the editor of their publication, the NACCAP Ambassador. She received her M.Div. from Asbury Seminary in 1995.
While her husband, David Thomas, served as senior pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky., Karen served as the Pastor of Evangelism and Newcomers at Centenary for three years until she had children. Today, her two sons, Luke and JP are students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and her daughter, Mary Esther, is a junior in high school. She also serves on the boards of Taylor University, Pine Cove Christian Camps, Hope India Mission and Burning Hearts. She continues to lead women’s retreats and teach the Word. She and her husband reside in Lexington, Ky.
“I believe that the Church is the hope of the world, and every facet of Asbury Seminary serves to build the Church,” Karen said. “Asbury Seminary, being true to her mission, transformed both my mind and heart and prepared me for a lifetime of ministry, and I trust thousands more will have a similar experience. I continue to find great passion and purpose in stewarding the historic mission of the Seminary and seeking fresh modes of education to equip as many students as possible. I am thrilled to serve as Chair of the Board during our Centennial, praising God for His past faithfulness and looking forward to the next century of ministry.”
During her term as board chair, Karen hopes to grow a spirit of prayer, an attitude of appreciation, and a commitment to authentic unity between the board and larger Seminary community.
New Board Members Elected April 2021
Steve Elliott, recently retired, served as senior pastor of First Alliance Church in Lexington, Ky., since 2001. Prior to that, he pastored for two decades in Alberta, Canada. His primary work has centered on leading hurting and declining churches to a new day of spiritual wholeness, renewal and health. He received his D.Min. from Asbury Seminary in 1998 and has written a variety of publications, including “Joseph, A Story about a Family” for Seedbed publications in 2016.
Elaine Friedrich currently serves as the Director of Digital Discipleship at Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, Ga. Her undergraduate degree is in secondary education from Texas Tech University; her masters is in religious education from Asbury Theological Seminary; and her Ph.D. is in higher education from the University of North Texas. Prior to coming to Mt. Bethel, Elaine served 17 years on staff at several churches across the country. Most recently, she worked the past 13 years at Strayer University as faculty, dean, vice president and senior vice provost. Elaine has a contagious enthusiasm and a love for lifelong learning. Her joy comes as she helps individuals utilize digital resources to grow in discipleship.
David Olshine has served as Director and Professor of Youth Ministry, Family and Culture at Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C., since 1993. His interests and expertise are in the areas of communicating for life change, evangelism and discipleship along with counseling youth and families. Before coming to Columbia, he served as a youth pastor, associate pastor and lead pastor of churches in Ohio and Oklahoma. David is a sought-after speaker around the country and author of 15 books. He graduated with a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary in 1980.
New Board Members Elected August 2021
Dr. Paul Lowell Haines served for more than 25 years as a higher education lawyer with the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels (now Faegre Drinker). There, Dr. Haines specialized in working with non-profit organizations and served as legal counsel to more than 45 colleges, universities and seminaries across the country and world. He even provided legal counsel to Asbury Seminary at times. Dr. Haines also provided legal services to many other tax-exempt organizations, including churches and faith-based organizations, church denominations, private foundations, museums, fraternities, veterans’ organizations, amateur athletic organizations, public charities of all types and other nonprofit organizations. Since graduating from Taylor University in 1975, he has maintained a long relationship with his alma mater, serving as residence hall director, director of student programs, dean of students, vice president for student development, board of trustee member for 15 years, and most recently as president of Taylor University. Dr. Haines holds degrees from Taylor University (B.A.), Ball State University (M.A.), Indiana University -Bloomington (J.D.), and University of Pennsylvania (Ed.D.).
Greg Spillyards is the CEO and Managing Director of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Advisors. In this role, Greg is responsible for the overall vision and culture of the company. He leads a team, totaling 65+ employees, and runs the management and leasing of office, industrial and retail properties. Commercial Advisors, LLC is a leading third-party provider of leasing, property management and project management services with a portfolio totaling over $1B in value. Greg is also responsible for the founding of Community Advisors service line of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Advisors where the primary purpose is to provide brokerage, management, redevelopment and financing expertise in underserved core city neighborhoods. This pursuit seeks to revitalize areas throughout the city with passion, thoughtfulness and entrepreneurship through creative real estate investment and development solutions. Greg holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a BBA in Marketing from the University of Memphis.
New Board Member Elected Fall 2021
Jill Brue has served as the Associate Professor of Graduate Counseling and Chair of the Graduate Counseling Department at Grace College in Indiana since 2018. She has also been serving as an Advisory Member to the Seminary’s Board of Academic Affairs Committee since 2020. She received an M.A. in Counseling from Asbury Seminary in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent in 2013. Her research and interests focus on the ethical management of value differences, character and spiritual development in online education, faith integration in counselor education, and effective pedagogy in online education. She has experience both as a professor and a licensed counselor.