Leaders Bring Vision
Circle of Hope has numerous leaders and staff members who work together to bring about our vision of sharing and being Jesus in our region. Read more about them below.
We are one church with 5 congregations and over 60 cell locations in the Philly region. Our cells join together in congregations led by pastors and served by site supervisors. Our congregations join together as one church that bridges what divides us: neighborhoods, rivers, backgrounds and ages.
Pastor, 2214 S. Broad St.
Rachel has been church planting with Circle of Hope for the past 13 years in many capacities, including serving as our Administrative Pastor for from 2012-2015. She is also an experienced counselor in the HIV/AIDS community in Philadelphia. Rachel earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Philosophy, her Masters in Social Work at Temple. She recently received her ministerial license with the Brethren in Christ. She loves leading cells and advocates for community redevelopment of vacant land in the city through our compassion team, Development without Displacement. She lives in South Philly with her husband Jeff and their children, Zach and Cori. Check out her blog.
Pastor, 2007 Frankford Ave.
Joshua was 18 when he first connected to us during the early days of Circle of Hope. He began serving as pastor in 2004 when we launched our first successful “hiving” of a congregation. After studying music at Drexel and African American Studies at Temple University, he earned his MA in Intercultural Studies through the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) and Portland Seminary. Joshua leads the Debt Annihilation Team and Circle of Hope Audio Art, is a member of Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter, and often leads us in justice actions and worship. Joshua loves baseball, gardening, and uses a lot of metaphor. He and Martha married in 2002. They live in Kensington with their two teenage daughters. You can find his blog.
Pastor, 3800 Marlton Pike
Ben grew up in Circle of Hope, taking part in the “family business” and soaking his roots in the fertile soil of our growing community. In 2015 he was called to lead as pastor of Circle of Hope 3800 Marlton Pike. Before that he served as Development Pastor for Circle of Hope 1125 S. Broad St. and as a hospital chaplain. Ben received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Eastern University in 2005 and a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2010. He also married his wife, Gwyneth, in 2005. They have two sons named Oliver and Theodore. He chronicles his adventures meeting new people in his efforts to find new partners in Jesus’ redemption project on his blog.
Pastor, 2309 N. Broad St.
Jonny began serving as pastor in September 2010 when we launched our first successful “hive” of a “hived” congregation. Before pastoring, Jonny was a social studies teacher for the School District of Philadelphia in Kensington. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Temple University. He is an MDiv student at Palmer Theological Seminary. Jonny leads the Development Without Displacement team, and North Broad’s Next Site team. He married Kristen in 2010. They have two daughters. The Rashids live in North Philadelphia. Find his blog here.
Some of our staff serve the church as a whole while being active participants in cells, teams and congregations.
Rod moved to Philadelphia in 1995 to plant Circle of Hope from scratch. Now he is now charged with developing individuals, especially our leaders and developing our overall strategies and systems for the next church, as well as teaching and counseling. He married Gwen in 1975; they have four married sons and nine grandchildren (all in Philadelphia). Rod earned a BA in History from UC Riverside, his MDiv from Fuller Seminary, and his PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. Rod serves with the Good Business Oversight Team, the Circle Kids Support Team, the Circle of Peacemakers team, and the Circle Counseling Support Team. He is the editor for Circle of Hope Daily Prayer and organizes Gifts for Growing. He offers spiritual direction and psychotherapy. The Whites live in West Philly. He wrote the book. He writes a blog. He bikes off copious amounts of cookies.
Gwen has been teaching and serving since the beginning of Circle of Hope, which she helped plant with her husband Rod. Since 2010 she has officially been deployed as our teaching pastor. Gwen earned a PsyD from Immaculata University and is a Professor Emerita of Eastern University. She serves on the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Board and Christian Association of Psychological Studies Board. She is the Director of Circle Counseling and lives in West Philly. She loves a lot of grandchildren with Rod.
Church Planting Pastor
Jerome moved to Philadelphia in 2014 for seminary and was immediately enveloped into Circle of Hope’s community. He served as a Cell Leader Coordinator before becoming an apprentice pastor in 2015. From that process, he was called to serve as Church Planting Pastor focusing on growth of congregations across the network. Jerome earned a BA in English Literature from Penn State and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern University. He married Darcy in March 2015. Their son, Ellison, was born May 2016. The Staffords reside in Southwest Philadelphia.
Affiliated Pastor – 5720 Ridge Ave.
Director of Operations
Nate began serving as pastor in October 2008 when 1125 S. Broad St. sent a core group to plant our first congregation in New Jersey. Before church planting, he worked for the Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA and before that spent nearly ten years in youth ministry. In 2015 he began to serve in his present role. He received a Bachelor’s Degrees in Christian Education and Biblical Literature from Taylor University (Upland, IN). He received an MBA from Eastern Mennonite University in April 2017. Nate married Jen in 2002 and they have one daughter and one son. The Hulfishes live in Gloucester City, NJ.
Bethany is working on renovating the house that she and her husband bought in the neighborhood in Summer 2014, and has come to loathe wallpaper in a whole new way. She has knack for organizing and planning that is put to good use both at work and at home. You are most likely to see her around the neighborhood either riding her bike, hanging out with a baby whom she is babysitting, or eating food with friends at one of her favorite bars. When she is feeling like being a homebody, she’ll most likely be baking something delicious or watching a TV show based on a comic book. You really want to try her chocolate chip cookies. The End.
Kristen has been a part of Circle of Hope since 2010, when she moved to Philadelphia to attend Tyler School of Art. She has since graduated with a degree in Sculpture, spent time dabbling in entrepreneurship and found a place at the Hub. She lives in Port Richmond with her husband Greg, a few dogs and a couple of friends. Learning is a driving force for Kristen, so these days you can find her attempting to: Identify local trees and plants in the Delaware River Watershed, playing an instrument, poking around on Spotify, tinkering with a house project, and using, then forgetting about, an app to learn a new language.
When Luke’s not working on websites and other design stuff, he is usually working on more websites and other design stuff, and also writing, camping, biking, reading, among many other things.
Circle Thrift proceeds go to our allies Mennonite Central Committee and relief disaster work. We have a store in Fishtown and one in South Philly.
Manager – Circle Thrift on Frankford
Jessica Shoffner moved from Kansas to Philadelphia in 2008, after studying Horticultural Therapy at Kansas State University. Her work in urban gardening began with The Simple Way, an organization that does community building work in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. She currently hosts a gardening club in the Hart Lane Neighborhood Garden (also in Kensington) through Pathways to Housing, teaching participants who were formerly homeless both practical gardening skills and providing opportunities for connection. As a Circle of Hope leader, Jess has served on the Leadership, Urban Farm, and The Watershed Discipleship Teams. She helps lead our cell movement and is the Manager at Circle Thrift. In her spare time, Jess loves sharing fresh food with neighbors, bicycling, and the experiments of simple living.
Manager – Circle Thrift on South Broad
Our goal at Circle Kids is to create a warm, nurturing environment where children from 3 to 4 years of age can grow to become well-rounded learners who will also cultivate a love for learning that will continue well beyond their stay at the Playschool.
We organized Circle Spaces as an expression of Circle of Hope to provide affordable rental space for a variety of occasions.
Rental Supervisor for 1125 S. Broad St.
When not booking and coordinating events for our 1125 S. Broad St space, Andy is probably at one of his other jobs working as a behavioral therapist and/or writing over on Patheos. Before all of this Andy attended both Eastern University and Princeton Theological studying both psychology and theology in pursuit of an eventual Masters in Theology. Currently, he sits on the Board of Directors for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality and, when free, could probably be found playing pick-up at any given basketball court here in the city.
Other Teams that Lead Us
Cell Leader Coordinators
This team oversees and nurtures our main leaders: the Cell Leaders. They also deploy and supervise our pastors.
Bryce Hewlett, Lead Cell Leader Coordinator
Contact: [email protected]
Church Planting Core Team
This team maintains and stokes our apostolic momentum. They work to ensure that we are making deep people who make disciples and increase our awareness of how best to connect with those we seek to influence.
Paul Kohl, Team Leader
Contact: [email protected]
Compassion Core Team
This team generates and serves the needs of our compassion teams. The call the church together for concerted acts of service and advocacy. They monitor the compassion fund, directed at needs among us.
Dani Vasquez, Team leader
Contact: [email protected]
Capacity Core Team
This team oversees the staff and team leaders who manage the systems that enable our mission to function: buildings, funding, technology, personnel and law.
Joel White, Team Leader
Contact: [email protected]
Children’s Team Core Team
This team maintains communication and mutual practices and support between our various children’s teams.
Kim Crognale, Team Leader
Contact: [email protected]