Reverend Adam Hamilton is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan. A Kansas City native, he graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Methodist University. He also holds two honorary doctorates.Rev. Hamilton launched The Church of the Resurrection with his wife and two daughters in 1990. Under his leadership, it has become the largest United Methodist Church in the country with more than 20,000 members. The congregation has a three-fold focus: connecting with thinking people and inviting them to become followers of Jesus Christ, engaging in acts of justice and mercy in the community, and working to renew the United Methodist Church.
He has written 22 books and received numerous honors, including the Denman Award in Evangelism, the United Methodist Reporter’s 2012 United Methodist Person of the Year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award, and one of the “Ten people to watch in America’s spiritual landscape” by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. In 2013, he was invited to speak at the National Prayer Service as part of the Presidential inauguration festivities. He is a trustee at St. Paul School of Theology and is a member of the Kansas East Board of Professional Ministry.
Reverend Jessica Henks serves as interim pastor at the First Baptist Church in Garnett, Kan. She returns to the Kansas City area after serving for eight years as the solo pastor of the First Baptist Church in Kankakee, Ill.
Rev. Henks is a 2005 graduate of William Jewell College, receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in religion and history, graduating with honors in religion, and earning certificates in both the Christian-Related Vocation Program and the Pryor Leadership Program. While at Jewell, she studied at Oxford University’s Keble College. In 2008, she graduated with a Master of Divinity from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Ill., where she was a Kerns Scholar.
Honorary Doctor of Humanities
Dr. Cecelia McBride Robinson, professor emerita of William Jewell College, served as an English professor for 34 years. Both in the classroom and in the community, she has championed cultural awareness and racial diversity and understanding.
Chair of the Liberty Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration for more than 30 years, she also serves as historian and gallery curator for the Clay County African American Legacy Inc. for Garrison School Cultural Center. In her role as volunteer historian for the black community, she researched Clay County’s African American pioneers, businesses, churches, and schools.
Dr. Robinson has received numerous local and state honors for social justice, citizenship, leadership, and service. She holds an Ed.D. from the University of Kansas and completed post-graduate study at Oxford University.
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Maurice Watson has served as chair of Husch Blackwell since 2012 and is responsible for developing and communicating the firm’s strategic direction.
He focuses his legal practice on representing educational institutions and education boards. As a member of the firm’s Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Education industry team, Watson holds leadership positions on several foundations and children’s hospital boards, also advocating for children’s health.
In addition to his role as chair, Watson is a member of the firm’s Executive and Partner Boards, and he serves on the firm’s Diversity Council. Before joining Husch Blackwell, he was a senior aide to U.S. Sen. John Danforth in Washington, D.C.
He holds both a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate from Harvard University.