Our board of directors
In 1982 he was commissioned Pastor of Rhema Christian Center having begun that work with seven members. The church has grown profoundly and is making an impact in northeast Columbus, Ohio. The church has assisted in establishing six local congregations and developed Dayspring Christian Community Development Corporation providing affordable housing and economic opportunity for low-income families.
La Fayette has ministered to men across the United States and throughout the world. He is also a charter member of the Fellowship of Inner City Word of Faith Ministries (FICWFM).
Through the Network of Local Churches, La Fayette is recognized and set in the Church as an Apostle and functions in that capacity to many leaders, churches, and ministries locally, nationally, and internationally. La Fayette has ministered throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, Zimbabwe, Russia, South Africa, Australia, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Fiji, Peru, Ecuador, and Singapore and throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia and the Dominican Republic.
He has authored two books, What is the Church Coming To and It’s The Walk Not The Talk, as well as numerous manuals, articles and papers to strengthen the church and train leaders. In May, 2003 Pastor Scales received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia.
La Fayette resides in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, Theresa and their children, Jonathan & Nataria Scales, their two children Marques and Mia, Marshall & Yolonda Ziglar, and Christopher.
After forty years in pastoral ministry, he retired at the end of 2012, having served as pastor in North Carolina, campus pastor at Clemson University in South Carolina, and as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Lexington, Kentucky for twenty-five years.
He has been involved in community organizing in Lexington since 2001 with the founding of BUILD (Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct Action.) He has been a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Community Organizing Advisory Team and has co-chaired the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Community Organizing Team. In addition to his community organizing training through DART, he has received training through the Gamaliel Foundation and National People’s Action.
He is a certificated instructor in Kenpo karate and holds a fourth degree black belt. He and his wife, Pacita, a retired public school teacher, have four grown children and six grandchildren.
A native of Lebanon, Kentucky, he became licensed to preach in 1975 at First Baptist Church in Campbellsville, Ky., and became ordained in 1980 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Louisville. He graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1980 with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Religious Education. In 2000, he graduated from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio with a Doctor of Ministry.
Rev. Owens served as pastor at Second Baptist Church in Vincennes, Indiana for seven years, and Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Midway, Ky. for eleven years. He is serving in his eighteenth year at Shiloh Baptist Church.
He is a board member of the Black Church Coalition of the Bluegrass in Lexington where he previously served as chairman for ten years. Owens is also former moderator of the Consolidated Baptist District Association in Kentucky.
Owens has been married to his wife, Elizabeth for 43 years. The couple has two children, Charisa Jené and John Mark. They also have five granddaughters.
Pastor Dollison’s commitment to social justice, community engagement, and spiritual leadership is further demonstrated by his past and current service in numerous positions:
• Chairman, Pastoral Development Conference for the Progressive Missionary & Educational (PM&E) Baptist State Convention of Florida, Inc.
• Past President/current Vice President, NAACP-Winter Haven Branch
• Senior Chaplin, Winter Haven Police Department
• Past President, Interdenominational Ministerial Association of Polk County, Inc.
• President, Interfaith Ministerial Alliance of Winter Haven
• Past 2nd Vice Moderator, First South Florida (FSF) Missionary Baptist District Association
• FSF Congress Number Three — President/past Educational Dean
Pastor Dollison is a native Hoosier from Indiana, graduating from Indiana State University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He has shared the past 37 years of his life with his lovely wife, Valerie Bush Dollison, a native of Bartow, Florida and they have three adult children.
In the 2000 – 2004 quadrennial, he served as chair of the Lay Commission and as a member of the World Methodist Council. He has chaired the Health Commission and twice as chair of the Commission on Seminaries, Universities, Colleges and Schools. In 2002, Bishop Richardson served as President of the Council of Bishops and the Presiding Bishop of the 19th Episcopal District with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. Beginning in 2004, he served as the presiding bishop of the Second Episcopal District which includes North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. For eight years, the Second District saw phenomenal growth in membership, educational support, missions-related ministries, and ministry to men, health, prisons, the advancement of women in ministry, and a commitment to social and political action. Bishop and Mrs. Richardson took great pride in the District’s embrace of ministries to youths and young adults. At the 2012 General Conference, Bishop Richardson was elected president of the General Board and was assigned to the Electrifying, Empowering Eleventh Episcopal District which includes Florida and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Prior to his election as a Bishop, he was senior minister of the Bethel A. M. E. Church, Tallahassee, Florida. For eighteen years his leadership and teaching skills produced a major ministry of growth in membership, new and expanded facilities, outreach to the poor and dispossessed, with an active presence in the community.
Since retirement, Suzanne has served on several non-profit boards and has been heavily involved in all aspects of CAJM since its inception. She has a particular passion for alleviating racial injustices and all issues that address those inequities. For fun, Suzanne created a small millinery business where she designs and hand makes women’s hats and fascinators.
Suzanne is married 45 years to Frank, has two sons and five grandchildren who bring enormous joy. She was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering with highest honors.
Mrs. Young has focused her life’s work on the indigent population in need of health services. She has also served as the Vice President of the Black Nurses Chapter in St. Petersburg, an active member in the Urban League, and a leader with her congregation’s mission ministry and health ministry. She is the proud mother of two children and grandmother of two grandchildren.
Rev. Rivers is married to the former Carolyn Smalls of Charleston and has four children and seven grandchildren. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was ordained at the Olivet Baptist Church of Christ in Fayetteville, GA by the late Dr. Howard W. Creecy, Sr. He is pursuing his Master of Divinity at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, SC.
For over 38 years Rev. Rivers worked at every level of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) including President, North Charleston, SC Branch; Executive Director, South Carolina State Conference; Director, Southeast Region; Chief Operating Officer, twice as Chief of Field Operations, and Vice President of Stakeholder Relations from 2008 until May 2014.
His civil rights work led to the election of more than 300 new black elected officials in South Carolina between 1986 and 1994. He was a leading organizer of the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of South Carolina when over 50,000 marched on the state capitol in January 2000 to demand the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag. After fifteen years of persistent protest, Rev. Rivers was present when on July 10, 2015 the Confederate Battle Flag was removed from the front of the South Carolina State Capitol Building.
Rev. Rivers is co-president of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) and was a founding member of the organization in 2011. CAJM is an inter-faith, inter-religious group of 28 congregations in the Charleston, SC.
In 2000, while pastor of St. Clare, he worked with 15 other clergy to found the FAITH (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony) organization, a DART affiliated group, and became its first co-chair.
After a move to Haines City, FL in 2003, he again worked with his parish to covenant with PEACE in Polk County, another DART affiliate organization.
Fr. Chris is currently pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Port Orange, FL, which is a member of FAITH in Volusia County. FAITH and nine other DART organizations in Florida are currently working to reduce youth arrests by having law enforcement issue civil citations (an alternative to arrests).
As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in 1968, John was recruited to participate in a march led by Father James Groppi from Milwaukee to Madison to prevent cuts in basic welfare programs. John and his wife, Betsy – a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – would drive out to meet participants walking in the march every day, march alongside with them, and then return back to school every night. John became the Head Organizer for the Wisconsin Welfare Rights Organization.
In 1974, John, his wife and two kids left for Cleveland where he been hired at the modest sum of $600 a month for six months to pull together a community organization. John met Herb White, a United Church of Christ Minister, during his time in Cleveland. Herb ultimately became John’s mentor and has played an instrumental role in developing and challenging John during the early stages of his career. Herb’s experiences with organizing and ministering to local congregations helped to crystallize much of the approach used in the formative years of DART. It was Herb White and a local sponsoring committee who originally invited John to Miami, Florida in 1977 to begin a local community organization, Concerned Seniors of Dade. John and the Concerned Seniors group quickly became known for routinely producing hundreds of people to city meetings to voice their opinions. Given the success of Concerned Citizens, Herb, along with Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh, Joe Mazanek, and Rev. J.W. Stepherson, further encouraged John and a colleague, Holly Holcombe, to form the DART Center and accept invitations to build new organizations throughout the state of Florida and beyond.
A three-day race riot that lit up the city of Miami in 1980 turned out to be another turning point in the history of DART. The riot broke out after an all-white jury acquitted four white Miami police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance salesman, whom they had mortally beaten with flashlights and nightsticks. Eighteen people died during the ensuing rioting and more than $100 million was lost in property damage. The officers’ acquittal and the devastation left behind by the riots angered and shocked all those involved with Concerned Seniors. It seemed everyone was looking for a way to do something. John along with others led an organizing drive among African American congregations throughout Miami-Dade County, eventually forming People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE). After winning several local issues related to minority hiring and job creation, a leader from PULSE challenged the organization to deal with the continued lack of accountability for police officers involved in several killings of African Americans in the 1980s in Miami. When formal charges were made against the officers in question, they were acquitted of wrongdoing in court. After a series of cases, it became apparent that the attorneys for the police were able to create an unlevel playing field by striking African Americans from the jury pools using peremptory challenges. Ultimately, PULSE prevailed at the state level making it illegal to use peremptory challenges based on race.
After PULSE, John began organizing Justice for All in Broward (JAB), and ultimately those involved began to see the state of Florida as fertile grounds for a network of local community organizations. In 1982, the DART Center was founded to answer invitations to build community organizations. Originally, the notion was to build a statewide network of local organizations in Florida, but when people from outside the state attended DART trainings, invitations to work elsewhere came into DART’s office and were accepted.
John served as DART’s Executive Director from 1982 until 2013 when he retired.