Board of Directors
Brooks is currently the Principal of The Cushman Group, Inc., a market research/audience & lead generation/team-building company in Greenville, SC since 2002, where he has created Infragize™, a team-building module for energizing infrastructures for companies and congregations. Brooks also currently serves as Principal/COO for TimeOut Sports, which offers sports mentoring and social media marketing. He has also served as Principal for 2 market research companies (Carolina Market Research + Coastal Focus) and Principal/CMO for 2 internet companies (GoGroupgo.com + ASAPconnect.com), leading the latter to acquisition by a NASDAQ-traded company. Brooks started his marketing career as Senior Global Project Leader for Right Source Inc., leading global product launches/audience generation for IBM, CA Technologies, Lexmark, and Symbol. He also was responsible for all team-building/training in Right Source’s global offices and lived and worked in Europe.
Brooks now lives in Greenville, SC with his wife Stephanie and 2 children, Grant (17), and Anna Dyer (13). He is a past member of the Episcopal Diocesan Executive Standing Committee and has chaired the Diocesan Commission on Congregations for 3 years. He is currently a national facilitator for the Episcopal Gathering of Leaders Leadership program. His passion is helping teams reach their maximum potential and helping their message reach the right audience. He is also a massive cinephile and audiophile. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
BOARD DIRECTOR, Former Executive Director
Gary Eichelberger, who previously served as Mere Christianity Forum’s first Executive Director from 2005-2007, is now an Episcopal priest serving as the Rector at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Greenville SC.
Prior to his ordination to the priesthood in January 2014, Gary practiced law for over a decade primarily focused in civil litigation at law firms in Charleston, South Carolina and Raleigh, North Carolina. Gary also has experience in international missions having spent a year living and working in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he served as a theology lecturer at two seminaries, as well as three months in Lilongwe, Malawi, where he served as guest lecturer at the Anglican seminary there.
Gary graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994 and subsequently earned joint degrees from the Schools of Law and Divinity at Duke University (Juris Doctor/Master of Theological Studies) in 2009. In preparation for ordination to the priesthood, Gary spent a year in an Anglican Studies program at the School of the Theology at the University of the South and is currently completing thesis work toward a Master of Sacred Theology.
Gary grew up on a horse farm in the small town of Ninety Six, South Carolina, and now lives in Greenville with his wife and three children.
Bryan previously served as interim Assistant Director of Mere Christianity Forum for two different stints where he grew to love the mission and work of the organization. A native of East Tennessee, he now finds his home with his wife and daughter on the other side of the mountains in Asheville, NC. He graduated from Furman University in 2003.
Bryan most recently graduated from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. During his time there, he focused extensively on different residential intentional community models (including the Vista House!) and how to implement a series of them in Asheville. He works for Missional Wisdom Foundation as a prior of residential intentional communities and as a cultivator of community at Haw Creek Commons. His vocational history is as varied as they come – city planning, campus ministry, small business entrepreneurship, fundraising, church staffing, consulting. After a long, experimental, and revelatory journey, he can say that he has been led by the Spirit to where he is today.
Bryan is in the ordination process with the United Methodist Church. Along with MCF, spending time at his church, Haywood Street Congregation, allowed him to live into his calling more fully. He likes to spend time in community, hike, cook, read, and take on adventures.
Chris graduated from Furman University in 2003 with a degree in Religion and a concentration in the Classics. He connected early on with the Forum through its initial book study in 2000 – and even went on to lead a book discussion group on his favorite C.S. Lewis work, “Till We Have Faces” as the Forum grew through Shawn and James’ leadership.
Since graduation, he has worked with his family’s now fourth generation real estate development and investment firm where he was in charge of acquiring, entitling, developing, and selling more than $50MM in residential subdivisions, industrial parks, commercial REO and notes, retail centers, and single-family rental portfolios.
In 2015, Chris and his wife Kacy and two children Hays and Evie Mae returned to Greenville and are grateful to be back involved with the Forum and its work at Furman and the greater Greenville community.
As a Furman student, Mallory lived at the Vista House twice as a Servant Scholar and then as a resident for her Junior and Senior years. Being a part of MCF and living at the Vista House was filled with plenty of tomfoolery and created a community of friends that remain important parts of her life today.
Mallory graduated from Furman in 2013 with a degree in Sociology and Concentration in Poverty Studies. During her time at Furman and through the Servant Scholars program, she discovered her passion for cooking and serving others her various creations. Her time at the Vista House led her to Project Host, a local non-profit organization that uses food as a tool to nourish the hungry and train the unemployed. After Furman, Mallory attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where she specialized in Baking and Pastry Arts and graduated with high honors (and perfect attendance).
In pursuit of the ultimate baking experience, Mallory made her way to King Arthur Flour in Vermont and through several kitchens in New York before she ultimately deciding to move to California and learn about baking in a wood-fire oven. Although Big Sur was exceptional in many ways, her desire to prepare food for more than restaurant goers led her back to Greenville where she now serves as a Chef Instructor and Bakery Manager for the CC Pearce Community Culinary School at Project Host. Returning to Greenville in 2016 has been a joy for Mallory to reconnect with the organization and friends that largely shaped her life and career.
Janna Pennington is a 2004 graduate of Furman University, where she majored in history and participated in some of Mere Christianity Forum’s first book discussions and programs. She recently moved back to Greenville and is excited to get involved (again) with MCF.
Janna has worked in higher education for the past thirteen years and is passionate about developing student leaders and connecting colleges with their communities through service-learning and civic engagement programming. She served as Georgia Southern University’s first Service-Learning Coordinator from 2008-2010 and then directed the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement at Samford University from 2010-2015. Janna currently teaches courses at Greenville Technical College that promote student development through the use of various personality assessments, service-learning projects, and critical thinking activities.
When she’s not teaching, Janna enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, gardening, and hiking. She and her husband Buck (also a Furman graduate) have two adventurous sons, Bo and Harry.
Peyton Roth is a Junior at Furman University where he is pursuing a double major in Chemistry and Political Science. Peyton has been involved with Mere Christianity Forum since the very beginning of his Freshman year. The thoughtful and challenging conversations MCF’s community has inspired are some of Peyton’s most formative experiences in college. Peyton currently works to bring more students in touch with MCF’s stimulating environment through his role as Programming co-Chair.
In addition to his involvement in Mere Christianity Forum, Peyton serves on AEI's Executive Council program and The Riley Institute’s Advanced Team. Additionally, Peyton works as a medical coordinator for the Heller Service Corps, and as the President of Furman Creative Collaborative—the host organization of Furman’s annual TEDxFurmanU conference.
At Furman, Peyton leverages his experience in scientific, medical, and political communities to explore issues pertaining to health care policy. Peyton’s career goal is to earn an M.D. and practice medicine while also contributing to the development of modernizing health care reforms.
Peyton is from Woodstock, GA where he grew up with his three sisters. He is an avid mountain biker, and he also enjoys running, cooking, and playing guitar.
Dr. David fink
faculty Advisor, board Director
David C. Fink is Assistant Professor of Religion at Furman University, where he teaches courses on the history of Christianity and Christian theology in the pre-modern world. He earned his BA in English from the University of Minnesota (2001), MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (2004), and PhD from Duke University (2010).
Prior to joining the faculty at Furman in 2013, he taught at Duke, Wake Forest, and Aurora Universities. In addition to his academic vocation, he also serves as a chaplain in the US Air Force Reserve, assigned to Joint Base Charleston, SC.
His wife Sarah is a fourth grade teacher and curriculum coordinator at Veritas Preparatory School in Greenville, SC, where their four children attend. When not taken up with the duties of fatherhood, academia, and chaplaincy, Dr. Fink enjoys hiking the foothills of the upstate and reading science fiction.
Mike Winiski is the Executive Director of Community-Engaged Learning at Furman University, where he facilitates the development of campus-community partnerships to promote transformative educational experiences that contribute to the public good. Mike specializes in spatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and teaches courses in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department. Prior to joining Furman in 2006, Mike taught high school chemistry and physics, worked for a tech startup company, and was a software developer at Wake Forest University.
Mike has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Furman University and graduate degrees in science education and GIS from Wake Forest and Penn State University.
Mike’s wife Susannah is an Early Interventionist and works with children with developmental delays, and their families. Mike is the proud father of two daughters, Emma and Jordan. Both attend Furman. Emma lived at the VISTA house her senior year. Mike enjoys trail running, playing bass guitar, podcasts, and listening to every Guided by Voices album.
Bonnie Williams is a senior religion and philosophy major and a One on the Enneagram scale. In her junior year, she lived at the Vista House and served as the Treasurer and Religious Council Rep on the MCF Student Exec Committee. This coming year, she will serve as MCF's President and she is excited for the challenges and fun to come.
Bonnie has long been interested in the deeper questions of life such as "what does it mean to live a meaningful life" and "what is the source of true happiness" which led her to MCF. Bonnie has held several internships in the area of religious life and spirituality such as a chaplain intern at GHS as well as a research intern at the Institute of Spirituality in Asia located in Manila, Philippines. She has plans to pursue a career in personal development and leadership training and hopes to someday work for a place like School of Life or one of Brene Brown's many institutes.
Bonnie is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina and has three sisters. She loves to bake, hike, play tennis, and is attempting to learn Korean.
Founder & Former Board Chair
Along with James Granberry, Shawn Plunkett created Mere Christianity Forum in the fall of 2000. Leveraging mediocre Photoshop skills and a willingness to talk to anyone, Shawn grew a weekly book discussion into an thriving community thoughtfully exploring Christian faith at Furman University. Recognizing the need of a dedicated space to explore faith in lived community, Shawn founded Vista House, MCF's intentional Christian community on an eight acre property just outside of Furman's campus in 2003.
Shawn served the first Executive Director of Mere Christianity Forum from 2003 until 2005 and served as Board Chair from 2003-2015. At some point during his time at Furman University, Shawn found time to major in Philosophy with a concentration in Classics. He then studied ethics and comedy (!) graduating with honors from Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina in 2008. After a few years in non-profit consulting, Shawn dove head first into leadership coaching after completing a program at Georgetown University in 2011.
Shawn now lives in San Francisco where he coaches seed-stage startup founders.