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Our Leadership


Dave Kiehn, PhD


Dave serves as the lead pastor for Park Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC. He holds a BA in Intellectual History from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MDiv and PhD (North American Missiology) from SEBTS. Dave is the author of over ten books and serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Pillar Network.

Michael White, PhD


Michael serves as the lead pastor for Freedom Church in Lincolnton, NC. He holds a BS in Biology from the University of South Carolina, an MDiv and ThM from SEBTS, and a PhD (Systematic Theology) from Wheaton College. Michael has taught adjunctively at Charleston Southern University and North Greenville University and serves on the board for Gospel Systems. He has published articles with the Journal of Theological Interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary Journal, and Trinity Journal.

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Eric Mullis, PhD


Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the UNC at Charlotte, a master of divinity from SWBTS, a master’s degree in intercultural studies from SEBTS, and a PhD in applied theology (missiology) from SEBTS. Eric served for 14 years overseas with the IMB in Thailand. His roles included team leader/strategy for the southern Thailand region as well as team leader for the Bangkok City Team under the Global Cities initiative. He also served on the board of the Thailand Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric currently serves in a strategy/ catalyst role for NC Baptist. Prior to vocational ministry, Eric lived in Charlotte, where he worked in real estate. He and his wife, Tricia, have three children. In his free time, Eric enjoys reading, spending time with family, traveling, watching Carolina Panthers and hiking in the North Carolina mountains.


Jenn Heckman


Jenn holds BEd from St. Thomas University, and a MBA from the University of Fredericton. She has over a decade of work experience both in a franchised educational industry and in ministry organizations. Jenn is one of the founders of Local Lingo (gospel-centered ESL curriculum for churches) and Theolingo (a platform providing online theological ESL courses). She is a member of Pineland Baptist Church, where she is actively involved in women’s ministry.


John Morrison, PhD


John is planting and pastoring Christ the King Church in Hickory, NC. He earned a BA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his MDiv and PhD
from Southern Seminary. Prior to planting Christ the King, John served as the Pastor of Theological Training at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, GA where he also oversaw Lakewood’s COR3:6 Church Planting Network. He has presented papers to the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Missiological Society and has written extensively for the local church. 

Teaching Fellows

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Steve Benson, DEdMin, MDiv, MAC, LCMHC-S, LCAS

Steve started Grace Roads Counseling Center in 2012 to journey with others on the road toward healing, hope, and grace. He earned a BA in Bible from Covenant College, an MDiv from RTS, a MAC from Covenant Seminary, and the DEdMin from Southern Seminary. He is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Coun­selor Supervisor and a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) in North Carolina. Steve has taught adjunctively at Charlotte Christian College and Seminary and Erskine Theological Seminary, and previously served as a missionary in Honduras with Mission to the World. He is the author of Embracing Love: Living on the Other Side of Disconnected Relationships.

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Justin Buchanan, PhD

Dr. Buchanan: is a pastor, mentor, and author who has served in Christian ministry for more than twenty years. He has been honored to fill a variety of roles including student pastor, seminary professor, church planter, and lead pastor. Dr. Buchanan is the author of two books: Parenting in the Mission of God and Guys and Lies. He earned a BSc in psychology, a MDiv in Christian ministry, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Applied Theology. 

For 20+ years, he's walked alongside his wife, Sarah, raising five sons. When not on an adventure exploring new places, braving roller-coasters, or hiking, you might find him bonding with his dad over classic car restorations.

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Scott Hand, DMin

Dr. Hand is a Gastonia native who served with the IMB in East Asia for ten years before returning home to serve as Local Disciple-Making Pastor at Parkwood Baptist Church—the same church where he came to faith as a teenager. He holds degrees from Appalachian State University and Southeastern Seminary, and his passions are disciple-making and evangelism. Dr. Hand lives and breathes the material in this course. Beyond that, he and his wife Christine have four children, and he loves all sports (except for soccer!).

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Blake Maxwell, DEdMin

Dr. Maxwell serves as a Discipleship Pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, where he has served for the last five years.  He earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Liberty University, an M.A in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as a DEdMin from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Maxwell is married to Holly, whom he met in high school. Together they have six children: Piper, Salem, Jude, Ruby, Hazel, and Beau. 

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Kyler Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith is an Oklahoma native who has previously served churches in his home state and in Arkansas. For the past ten years he has served as Hickory Grove Baptist Church, where he is the Senior Associate Pastor. With degrees from John Brown University, Southern Seminary, and Midwestern Seminary, Dr. Smith’s passion is preaching and teaching God’s Word. Beyond that, he and his wife Lauren—whom he met his first day at Hickory Grove!


Jordon Willard, DMin

Jordon has pastored churches in Virginia and North Carolina since 2010, and currently serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Weddington, NC. He holds a BA in Christian Studies from the College at Southeastern, and an MDiv and DMin from SEBTS. Jordon serves on the Board of Directors for the Baptist State Convention of NC and he is the president of the 2023 NC Pastors’ Conference. Jordon has been involved with The Pastors’ Network of North Carolina and the Tarheel Leadership Network, and he has passion for revitalizing and strengthening churches. 

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