Elizabeth Grace Buckner
F. J. May Excellence in Preaching Award
Elizabeth G. Buckner is an ordained minister of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). She serves on the ministerial staff of the Beacon Avenue Church of God, in Providence, Rhode Island under the leadership of Bishop James E. Turnipseed. She also serves as a hospice chaplain and a chaplain for the Rhode Island Army National Guard.
She received her Bachelor’s degree from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi and her Master of Science from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. She currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband of 15 years, Minister Edward Buckner.
International Student Leadership Award Pentecostal Ministry Award
Wilmer Estrada-Carrasquillo is a native Puerto Rican who has been married for 8 years to Laura Pimentel-Figueroa. Wilmer and Laura have been blessed with three girls: Kalani, Mia and Valeria. Before coming to Pentecostal Theological Seminary he served as worship leader and associate pastor (2001-2006), National Director of Youth and Discipleship for the Church of God in Puerto Rico (2006-2008), and Senior Pastor (2008-2011).
In 2010 Wilmer felt the call to come to Seminary to pursue the Master of Divinity degree and was a recipient of the Church of God World Missions full scholarship. He felt that he needed to solidify his ministerial experience with sound theological understanding. During his journey at the Seminary, Wilmer served the Latino constituency in various capacities. He has been a faithful member at Church of God International Worship Center; he was appointed as North Georgia District Pastor for the Hispanic East Central Region; and he was elected as president of the Seminary’s Student Government Association for one-year tenure. Upon graduation he plans to continue post-graduate work at Asbury Theological Seminary and serve as an at-large educator for the Church of God World Mission department.
Derrick Allen Harmon
Pentecostal Ministry Award
Derrick Harmon, son of Lucy and Melvin Harmon, was born and raised in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Blount County, Tennessee. After graduating high school in 1999, he enrolled in Pellissippi State Community College where he earned an Associate’s of Science degree, with honors, in 2003. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Education from Maryville College in 2006, and taught high school for 3 years. While at Maryville College, Derrick met his beautiful wife, Lydia Edrington. They were married March 15, 2009.
Derrick has been a life-long member of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). When Derrick was 16 years old, he began his teaching ministry at Front Street Church of God in Maryville, TN. He has continued to teach, and has been active in Christian education and music ministry since that time. Derrick came to Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Fall 2009 seeking to further his depth of Bible study and ministry skills. His passion is to teach God’s word and disciple young adults in the Pentecostal tradition. His senior integration paper titled “Ministering to Young Adult Learners in a Pentecostal Context” identifies problems and offers solutions in educating the next generation of Pentecostal young adults.
Derrick and Lydia have been married for 4 years and are the parents of a beautiful little girl named Presley Elizabeth (age 2).Together they co-teach a thriving and active class for young adults at Alcoa-Maryville Church of God.
David Ray Johnson
American Bible Society Biblical Studies Award
David Johnson is a native Floridian. Immediately after graduating from high school, he enrolled in Southeastern University (2006-2010) where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Practical Theology. While attending the University, he felt the call to continue his theological education from a Pentecostal perspective. This call led David and his wife Autumn from Florida to the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (2010-2012). David is the first Master of Theological Studies graduate of the Seminary.
David’s academic pursuits have led him to a vocational calling to teach. He anticipates continuing his education to fulfill this calling and is currently exploring opportunities for doctoral work.
Christopher Thomas Kaskel
American Bible Society Biblical Teaching Award
Christopher Kaskel was born and raised in Maryland. After graduating from high school, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in business and film. During that time he worked on staff at Crosswind Church where he was the media director and volunteered as a youth ministry leader. During his junior year of college he began to struggle with what he would do after college. It was then that he received a call from God to use his gifts and talents in media and youth in full-time ministry. After praying and talking with his mentor Brian Zdrojowy, he decided to move to Cleveland to pursue a degree in Discipleship and Christian Formation focusing in youth ministry. After his first year at Seminary he married his best friend, Elyssa.
During his time at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Chris worked with the media and youth ministries at New Covenant Church of God where Dr. Cheryl and Dr. Jackie Johns are the pastors. While ministering at New Covenant, he was able to cultivate his gifts and put the knowledge he was receiving at the Seminary to good use. Following graduation, Chris and Elyssa will be moving back to Westminster, Maryland where they have taken positions at Crosswind Church. They will work as directors of the Children’s and Media ministries.
Paula Ann Lett
Born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Paula Lett spent most of her young adult life in Verbena, Alabama. Paula furthered her education at the University of Alabama. After graduating in May, 1991 with a degree in Secondary Education-Comprehensive Language Arts, Paula married the Reverend Paul A. Lett of Clanton, Alabama in November of that same year and began travelling extensively with him in itinerate evangelism. They assumed their first pastorate in Northwest Alabama May, 1994. In October of 1996, they assumed the pastorate at Harvest Center Church of God in Pell City. Once a traditional small congregation, Harvest Center has grown into a Pentecostal, multicultural community of faith with active ministries for church, community, and missions. Paula and Paul have three children: a daughter, Ashlyn (17) and two sons, Addison (14) and Austen (6). Ashlyn and Addison are currently active on staff in children’s ministry.
Paula is a credentialed minister in the Church of God, and serves Harvest Center full time as its Music and Performing Arts Pastor. In addition to her duties at the church, she travels frequently throughout the country as a worship leader and conference speaker. Currently she is a contributing facilitator and board member at Grace Harbor Recovery House, a private in-house addiction treatment program for women. After graduation, Paula will begin the process for professional counseling licensure in Alabama.
Catherine H. Payne
Care Ministries Award Pentecostal Ministry Award
Cathy has been involved in evangelistic and support ministry for nearly 40 years. Working first at her local church in Virginia as youth and children’s ministries director, Cathy developed a deep love for God and His people that is evident in her ministry manner.
After evangelizing throughout the United States for eight years, she and her husband John moved to Bakersfield, California where they served eight years as co-pastors of The Church of God of Prophecy. During that time Cathy also served as the State Youth and Children’s Ministries Director.
Serving for nineteen years as International Director of Women’s Ministries for the Church of God of Prophecy, Cathy is currently serving in coordinating the Global Missions Ministries for the Church of God of Prophecy Internationally. These ministries both encompass mission work and have taken her to more than 90 nations of the world. Cathy and John have one son, Christopher, a daughter-in-law Amber, and three grandsons, Alexander, Caden, and Jonathan.
Trina Kathleen Sills
American Bible Society Biblical Studies Award
Trina Sills was born in Wiesbaden, Germany to Joyce and Bill Schiltz. An only child, she was raised by her father in San Antonio, TX until the age of twelve when the Air Force required her father to serve a year in Korea. During that year she lived with her aunt and uncle in Maryland and was first introduced to the Pentecostal faith by attending Odenton Church of God with her aunt. Upon completion of high school, Trina enrolled at Lee University where she earned a B. A. in English Education. She married Christopher Sills and settled in Atlanta, GA.
In 2005, Trina enrolled at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary to learn more about her faith through the study of God’s word, and with the desire to pass this faith and knowledge on to her children. Driving from Atlanta to Cleveland once a week for classes, she began her 8-year Seminary journey (the ‘Mommy track’) to earning her MTS. During this time Trina encouraged her husband to take classes and she is now honored to graduate beside him. Chris and Trina are the proud parents of Noah (15), Aaron (11), and Grace (3). They live in Cleveland, TN and attend the Woodward Avenue Church of God.
Rev. Gerald E. McGinnis
Alumnus of the Year
Pastor Gerald McGinnis, a Knoxville native, entered the ministry at age 24. He is an ordained bishop with the Church of God in Cleveland, TN, and has served on various committees and state and national boards within the denomination. He currently serves on the International Executive Council of Eighteen and as Chairman on the Tennessee State Executive Council. His educational background consists of a Master of Arts degree in Church Ministries with a concentration in Church Leadership from the Church of God Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. Pastor McGinnis previously served on the board of directors for the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and now chairs the Board of Directors of Benevolence and Care. In addition, he was a trainer with the Church of God Chaplain’s Commission, traveling internationally to train other chaplains for ministry.
Pastor McGinnis received his accreditation as a Certified Traumatologist (in the field and clinical setting) from Florida State University, and is also a member of the American Psychotherapy Association with Diplomat and Fellow Status, and of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Additionally, he is a member and holds the highest ranking with the International Conference of Police Chaplains with Master Status.
Pastor McGinnis served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era and after 43 years was recently awarded the Bronze Star of Valor for his service during that time. He currently serves as a chaplain to the FBI, ATF, and as co-coordinator for the Knox County Sheriff’s Department Chaplains Corp. since 1998.
He has served as founding pastor at Park West Church of God, Knoxville, Tennessee, since 1980, where 7 of its 10 full-time pastors have earned degrees from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. He and his wife Dawn have two children, Jeremy and Charity, and four granddaughters and three grandsons.