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Board and Staff
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Board of Directors


David Thomas

David Thomas – President

From his earliest memories, Pastor David had a desire to serve the Lord and bring others to Christ. He held his own vacation Bible school in his back yard when he was nine years old and preached his first sermon in his home church when he was 14. After graduating from Oral Roberts University with a degree in Theological and Historical Studies, he did mission work in Florida, Haiti and Jamaica and did prison ministry through a contemporary Christian music group. Over the years, Pastor David has served in a pastoral role for nine different churches, and in 2004, he founded Abundant Grace Church, a thriving congregation in Granite Falls, NC. He lives with his husband and partner in ministry, Pastor Jack McConnell in Taylorsville, NC and together they work to help others know the love and peace that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.


Franklin Sampley

Franklin Sampley, Secretary

Franklin grew up in the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) as a youth and then his family for many years attended an independent Apostolic Pentecostal Church. He attended Christian High School at the Apostolic Church and studied theology all four years of high school. In 1980 and 1981, he attended Christian Life College (CLC) in Stockton California. CLC is a Bible School in the UPCI. He came out in 1981 and at that time left the United Church he was then attending. He began attending Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church (FIC) in San Francisco in 1998.


A few years after beginning to attend FIC he became involved in the Building Fund Committee and in the Outreach Committee. He served as the Minister of Outreach for several years. He was later appointed to the position of Elder and served in that position until 2011. Franklin conducted a Bible Study Cell Group from 2001 into 2011 as a part of ministry at FIC. Franklin has a B.S in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and a State of California teaching credential in Adult Education. Franklin believes in the great need in the LGBT community to reconcile their sexuality and Christianity. He resides in Terre Haute Indiana with his partner Filomeno Fiel. Franklin has served on the Council for TEN since 2004 and served as the Secretary since 2007. He has worked since 2006 on the pastors retreat and continues to oversee this element of the conference each year.  


John grew up in Terre Haute and the South Eastern area of Indiana . At the age of nine years old, John fell in love with the Lord while attending an Assembly of God church, but he struggled with what he was being taught there. Even as a child he felt that God loved him and others and could not believe that God would condemn him for feeling different than others. Eventually the time came when he had to choose between his church and God – John chose God! He chose to maintain his relationship with God and let his relationship with the church drift apart. John never felt that he needed to reconcile who he was and his relationship with God because he always felt that he ‘knew God loved me for who I was.’ After High School, John attended Purdue University and then joined the Army. After some time away from the church, he was called back to a closer relationship with God through a Full Gospel Church in Savannah, Georgia . It was in this church that he began to understand the true depths of God’s love and grace. He was baptized into the Body of Christ at age 33. John met his now husband, Jeffrey Smith, in Savannah Georgia . Shortly after becoming a couple they moved to Kentucky.  In Kentucky they became members of the MCC Elizabethtown – here John served on the Board of Directors. They joined Open Door Community Fellowship in Louisville Kentucky in May 2007.  During their time with Open Door Community Fellowship, John served on the Board of Directors as the Treasurer and Jeff served as the Assistant Pastor. John also was active in several community ministries, including Faith Leaders for Fairness, Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen, and Habitat for Humanity. John and Jeff both have retired from the Military and currently reside in Hinesville Georgia with their four legged children Terry and Bandit. 


Maria Caruana

Maria Caruana– Council Member

Maria Caruana: Maria was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She was an atheist until her relationship with Jesus began in 1986. At that time, God delivered her from a life of alcohol and drugs to live life in abundance in Him. Maria was called by God’s into pastoral service.  Feeling this call on her life, Maria started attending and eventually graduated from Christ Evangelical Bible Institute in 1994.  In 1996 Maria moved from Phoenix to San Francisco to become the pastor of Freedom In Christ Church and to share a life with your wife Terrie.  She continues to pastor FICC today.

It is Maria’s heart’s desire to tell everyone about God’s love and the relationship He wants to have with them through Jesus.  She prays to perform her ministry with compassion, mercy, and honesty as she reaches out to these individuals.  She also wants to encourage all to be the person God has created them to be as LGBTQS individuals.

Life Scripture:
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV), “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.”




Staff Members


Shawn Thomas

Shawn Thomas – Project Manager

Shawn Thomas is a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter and worship leader who currently serves as the Worship Ministry Coordinator at Church of the Holy SpiritSong in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
He has received critical recognition from OutMusic, The Stonewall Society, RightOutTV, and QNation. In addition, his service to the community has been acknowledged by The Reformed Catholic Church of the United States, The State of Arkansas Ambassador of Good Will Program, Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride in California, and various independent and denominational congregations. From 2009-2015 he participated as a voting "Grammy" member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.


Many of Shawn’s original works are included in the CCLI library, and his ministry is an affiliate of TEN.  He is the host of two Voice of Worship Radio (VOWRadio) programs: “FiveNFive” (featuring interviews with guest artists and faith community leaders) and "90 Second Review" (offering quick music reviews of CCM).  He is also the owner/operator of Shawn Thomas Studios in West Palm Beach, FL providing audio recording, production, and mastering services to independent artists and songwriters.



Ed Ness

Ed Ness – Director of Public Relations

Ed is a veteran broadcaster having worked as a radio news reporter, anchor, and news director. In television he was the assignment editor for an ABC affiliate in Illinois where he supervised a team of 12 reporters and photojournalists. He has worked as a corporate trainer conducting seminars on sales, problem solving, and hotel software. More recently Ed's writing has been published in the San Francisco Bay Times and the Bay Area Reporter newspapers. Currently Ed serves as the Director of Public Relations for The Evangelical Network. In 1993 Ed earned his B.A. in Radio & Television from Southern Illinois University.




Fil Fiel

Filomeno (Fil) Fiel - HIV/AIDS Ministry Coordinator

Filomeno (Fil) grew up at City of Sta. Rosa, Laguna Philippines in a Catholic home. As a young man he started serving his church as an altar boy and as he grew up he continued to be very involved in church activities. During high school he taught catechism in public elementary schools. He also joined Singles for Christ (a Catholic charismatic organization) during his time with Singles for Christ he received the Holy Ghost. After he moved to the United States, he was for a period without a church, but then joined Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church in San Francisco, California. During his time at Freedom In Christ Church he served for a year as a co-minister for Young Adult Ministry. Currently, Filomeno is attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and is in the Master's of Social Work Program.  He resides in Terre Haute, IN with his partner, Franklin Sampley. 

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