The Berkeley School of Theology is saddened by the loss of two alumni Rev. Dorothy Spann-Agee and Naomi Willis.

The Berkeley School of Theology is saddened by the loss of two alumni Rev. Dorothy Spann-Agee and Naomi Willis.

Naomi Willis is an alumni of the Master of Divinity program. Services were held on Wednesday, October 14 at New Beginnings Church with Bishop Williams officiating.

With sadness, we say goodbye to Rev. Dr. Dorothy Spann-Agee, BST Board of Trustee member (2017-20), who passed away on Sunday, October 11, 2020 due to complications of heart surgery. She was 80 years old. Dr. Spann-Agee was also a BST alum, MDiv ’05, graduating with her DMin degree in 2019 at the age of 79. Few people embody the value of being a perpetual learner like Dr. Spann-Agee. She was a lifelong educator, having taught and served as an administrator in public school systems all her life. She held a BA, MA, PhD, studying for pastoral ministry only after her retirement from public service. She was an ordained minister, serving as pastor for senior adults at Beth Eden Baptist Church (Oakland, CA), where she has been a member for more than forty years. Her husband, Franklin Agee, preceded her in death. Rev. Dr. Spann-Agee, you have not wholly died; a great part of you still lives on in our hearts and souls, even as you now enter that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Godspeed!



Debra Mumford (1997, 2003), the Frank H. Caldwell Professor of Homiletics at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, co-edited a special edition of the journal Homiletic entitled , “Black Homiletics and Economics.” Her article in the journal is, “Slave Prosperity Gospel.” The article can be found online at:


Tom Arbogast (’63) and wife Wilma celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Prairie Homestead in Wichita, KS, June 11, 2016. Tom & Wilma were married in Center, CO, June 26, 1966. Their children, Stephanie Arbogast, Wichita, KS, Kim & Bryant Davis & children, Brendon & Kendall of Goreville, Il, & David & Dana Arbogast & son Ansel of Monte Rio, CA, gave a wonderful party. Besides the immediate family, they were surrounded by extended family & friends from Colorado, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, California, Oregon, Missouri, and Kansas City, plus their family of the Prairie Homestead Retirement Community.


George Gillespie (‘59) has an entry in volume two of the book, Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep, R. Hurd and K. Bulkeley, editors. The title of his article is, “A Pilgrimage into Dreamless Sleep.” He invites interested parties to contact him if they would like to see the article.


Joan Thatcher (‘75) recently celebrated her fortieth year as an ordained clergy in the ABC USA. She is very active in the life of the church and community. She is a member of the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, Dr. Jim Hopkins pastor. She also serves and the co-chair of the Program Committee of the Pacific Coast Baptist Association (PCBA) as well as a member of the Board of Directors of PCBA.


Marie Onwubuariri (‘04) has served as pastor of MacArthur Community Church and the Director of Admissions and Recruitment at BST . In July, Marie begins her next ministry assignment as Executive Director of American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin. She takes over the position from Arlo Reichter (1971) who has retired.


Nancy Lynne Svensson (‘11) welcomed a second son into her home. Benjamin Eric joins his dad, Elliot, and older brother Danny.


Woun Kim (‘08) serves as English pastor at Hanwort Presbyterian Church (Korean) near Los Angeles. He began in January of this year.


Curtis Price (2000), currently pastor of the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, has been awarded the 2013 Ralph Garfield Schell Excellence in Ministry Award.


The Reverend Heidi Lynn Fuller (May 1, 1951—July 17, 1996) was a preacher, teacher, pastor, untiring disciple of Jesus Christ, and witness to God’s love for humankind. In the midst of her vital ministry, Heidi died from ovarian cancer. Family and friends have established this endowed fund in her honor. Investments are managed by the American Baptist Foundation.


Rev. Dr. Marilyn (Broome) Bennett who received her MDiv from BST in 2003 and her DMin from BST and Bakke Graduate University in Seattle in 2010 received a grant from The Heidi Lynn Fuller Ministry Support Fund to continue her research in Transformational Leadership by interviewing over 100 ABC pastors of urban congregations. She also hopes her face to face interview will be an encouragement to pastors who daily confront unique challenges in an ethnically diverse urban environment.


Belinda Thomas (2006), is co-founder of Reach Fellowship International Church, located in Richmond, CA. The church was one of the non-profits featured on the August 18 broadcast of “Secret Millionaire.” The mission of Reach International is to provide women with counseling, job training, health education, and health care access assistance. Belinda is a registered nurse as well as an ordained senior pastor of a community church in Berkeley, CA. Reach received a substantial gift from Debbie Johnston, founder of Care Advantage, Inc., who was the secret millionaire impressed by the mission of Reach.


The Reverend Florence Li 2013 Rev. Florence Li was named the Alumna of the Year for 2013. Florence graduated from the Berkeley School of Theology in 1985 and was ordained into Christian ministry in 1987. Since accepting her call to ministry, Florence has served as youth leader, pastor, public mission advocate, author, and speaker. She was the commencement speaker for BST in 2004. She joined the American Baptist Home Mission Societies in 2004 as the National Coordinator for Intercultural Ministries, Asian Churches Strategist. In this role, Florence works with the Intercultural Ministries Team to strengthen Asian church ministries, empower leadership and build relationships with the larger American Baptist family. She also serves on the Discipleship / Transformation Team to identify and encourage emerging leaders for ministry. Florence is a strong proponent for providing the necessary education to meet the demands of diverse ministries. As a member of the national staff of the American Baptist Churches, USA, Florence has demonstrated her desire to serve people of diverse cultures and does so with compassion, grace, and integrity. In her words, “As national staff, I want to listen to concerns and lend support to pastors of churches. All of our conferences and activities come back to looking at the vision: serving Christ.”