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Our Staff

Jeremy R. Smith

Director of Ministry & Development

Since 2010, Jeremy R. Smith has been serving Faith Ascent as their Director of Ministry & Development. Faith Ascent is a para-church ministry on a mission to reduce the number of young Christians abandoning their beliefs in college and disengaging from the church. Jeremy’s life miraculously changed when Jesus rescued him in 1996. Since then, he’s been passionate about helping Christians and non-Christians to think through and seriously consider what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters.

Jeremy studied select topics related to Christian Apologetics, Evangelism, and Philosophy through Biola University in La Mirada, CA and Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO. Jeremy is a member of The Christian Apologetics Alliance, The Missouri Apologetics Network, St. Louis’ Reasonable Faith Chapter, and Midrash (Commentary on Culture) in St. Louis. Jeremy also serves as a Corporate Chaplain at Cordell & Cordell (A Domestic Litigation Firm).

Jeremy is happily married to Katie and is a grateful father to Elijah 9, Lucy 8, and Lorelei Rae (newborn).

Beverly Vaughan

Regional Coordinator (Phoenix, AZ)

Beverly was raised in Phoenix, AZ since she was five years old, and at age nine began serving in her local church as a substitute pianist accompanying her father while he sang solos during the services. Throughout the remainder of her childhood years and into her young adulthood, Beverly continued to take part in the music/worship ministry, assisting as well as leading worship.

Still active, you may find her on any given Sunday participating in the worship band at church on vocals, keyboards, and/or violin. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BS in Biology and Grand Canyon University with a BS in Nursing, Beverly worked briefly in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital before heeding the call to full-time ministry with CTI, a ministry focused on engaging young people using musical talents to share the Gospel both state-side as well as internationally.

Currently, Beverly is a full-time staff RN at an Ambulatory Eye Surgery Center in Phoenix, assisting with patient care during eye surgical procedures. Her love of the Gospel has been the impetus for her continuing pursuit of Biblical knowledge. At the urging of her sister, Beverly dove into Christian apologetics and is now an enthusiastic student attending local apologetics seminars and conferences while connecting others to the Good News through this new-found resource. Her most recent story involving Christian apologetics took a personal turn when her “friend” stepped into faith in Christ after having heard the Gospel through the context of apologetics. They went on to become Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Beverly Vaughan, Faith Ascent’s newest “family” members!

Joe Vaughan

Regional Coordinator (Phoenix, AZ)

From his roots in Dallas, Texas, Joe traveled to foreign countries, flew Apache Helicopters during Operation Desert Storm and served in many states across the U.S. before retiring from the Army in 2005.

Once moving to the Phoenix area in 2012, he worked as an instructor/videographer of a Paragliding company.
He is currently the Assistant Chief Pilot and and Senior Instructor of a helicopter training school in Scottsdale, AZ.

Using high tech media in the classroom, he has developed and refined his skills as a means of reaching and teaching students.

Joe’s journey to faith in Christ began with a family legacy of serving the needs of the community as Christ followers.

But it was Christian apologetics learned at seminars, in books, videos and discussions with his wife Beverly that convinced him to take the next steps into his personal decision for Christ in 2015. Joe is passionate about sharing with others who may have similar situations, the tools Christian apologetics offers to assist them in their faith walk.

Board of Directors

Thad Leach, J.D.

Board President


Thad is a seasoned and skilled negotiator, adviser, strategist, and lawyer. He has advised and advocated for clients as an attorney and corporate counsel, yet possesses substantial C-level business experience. Clients commend Thad for his discernment, analysis, and ability to develop and execute tactical plans that achieve desired outcomes.

Thad’s career in health care began at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regional office in San Francisco. He carried the benefits of this exposure with him when he started his law practice at Thompson Coburn in 1994. An attorney with a diverse practice for more than 20 years, Thad draws on his deep experience in business, having served as the chief executive for a private equity group with stewardship of a diverse investment and management portfolio, including interests in heavy manufacturing, retail automotive, media production and distribution, real estate development, and professional sports and entertainment.

Joseph E. Cordell, J.D., C.P.A., LL.M

Joseph Cordell is the Principal Partner and Co-Founder of Cordell & Cordell, a domestic litigation firm dedicated to helping men and fathers through sensitive and often painful family law matters. Since co-founding the firm with his wife, Yvonne, Mr. Cordell and his team of attorneys have advocated for thousands of men and fathers to ensure their lawful rights are not violated or compromised because of their gender.

Mr. Cordell is a respected voice in conservative Christian circles and has appeared on or guest hosted radio programs including FM Talk with Jamie Allman and Phyllis Schlafly Live with Phyllis Schlafly. His columns have appeared in the American Conservative, the St. Louis Metrovoice, on, and on As a concerned Christian, Mr. Cordell advocates for the advancement of Christian apologetics to support a Biblically informed Christian worldview in the home and in the church.

As The Chairman of the Board for Faith Ascent Ministries, Mr. Cordell provides strategic leadership and guides the effective performance of the Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

Mr. Cordell and his wife Yvonne have two daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline.

John Scott, CPA, AEP/CGMA

John is a partner at Anders. Anders is a CPA and advisory firm serving privately held companies and high-net-worth individuals. John has extensive experience in helping businesses and individual clients to be more efficient, competitive, and profitable.



Ron Quick

Ron and his wife Shona have been married for almost 20 years. Their family includes their three children, Shelby (10), Ronald (10) and Ada (8) along with numerous animals (dogs, cats, birds, etc.). Ron has a Master Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Knox Theological Seminary, an MSW from St. Louis University and BA in Bible with a minor in counseling from Johnson Bible College.  Ron has worked in the counseling field for over 20 years. He has served as the director of the counseling program at Christian Family Services in St. Louis, Missouri and currently counsels adolescents who have unsuccessful in the public school environment due to with behavior and emotional problems. He is also an adjunct professor for Missouri Baptist University.  Ron is currently a board member and a seminar speaker for Faith Ascent Ministries and has been involved with the ministry since 2010. His personal interest and expertise in Christian apologetics focuses on the reliability and historicity of the Old and New Testaments.

Jared Stoner


Jared graduated from Central Bible College in 1996 with a B.A. in Bible and Pre-Seminary. He graduated from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 2001 with a M.A. in Theological Studies. Jared served as a staff pastor for 6 years in two different congregations while he was working on his education. He began teaching in overseas Bible Colleges in 1998, traveling for a month each summer. In 2003, the Stoners moved to Sofia, Bulgaria to teach full time at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute. They loved their time at the school, as well as the opportunities they had to participate in weekend ministry with the students. In the summer of 2004 the Stoners moved to St. Louis so that Jared could begin his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies. Jared has attended West County Assembly of God since the fall of 2004, and came on staff as the Young Adult Pastor in 2006. He became the Interim Pastor on April 2, 2007. Pastor Jared was elected Senior Pastor on May 28, 2008.

Patrick Turner

Mr. T (as we affectionately call him) is the former Superintendent and Current Chaplain at Living Word Christian High School in O’Fallon, Mo. He has been with LWCS since 2009. He is a Vietnam veteran, a former land surveyor, and he spent 20 years as a missionary, 18 of those years at the Alliance Academy, a missionary school in Quito, Ecuador. Mr. T received his B.S. degree from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. He has an Advanced Studies degree from Moody Bible Institute and earned his master’s degree from the University of Alabama.  He is currently working on his dissertation for his doctorate.

Advisory Board

Luke Bobo Ph.D.
Dr. Bobo (Dr. B) serves as Director of Resource and Curriculum Development for Made to Flourish ( He is the former associate professor and department chair for Lindenwood University of St. Charles, MO in the school’s Christian Ministry Studies Program. And prior to Lindenwood, Luke also served as Assistant Dean for both the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute and Youth In Ministry Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. He has spoken and/or preached in Cape Town, South Africa and Goiânia, Brazil. Dr. Bobo holds a PhD in Rabbinic Andragogy from the University of Missouri St. Louis. He holds a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO); a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia; and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Professionally, Dr. Bobo worked as an Electrical Engineer for fifteen years prior to his work with the Institute. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Institute ( He sits on several national boards including the University of Kansas Alumni Association, Consortium of Christian Study Centers (CCSC) and The Culture House. And he is the author of “Living Salty and Light-filled Lives in the Workplace” (Wipf and Stock, 2014) and “A Layperson’s Guide to Biblical Interpretation” (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

Michael McClymond, Ph.D

Michael McClymond is Professor of Modern Christianity at Saint Louis University and has completed a term as the Clarence Louis and Helen Irene Steber Professor. He was educated at Northwestern University (B. A. in Chemistry), Yale University (M.Div.), and the University of Chicago (M.A. in Religion, Ph.D. in Theology). In addition to his work at Saint Louis University, he held teaching or research appointments at Wheaton College – Illinois (1988-89), Westmont College (1989-96), University of California – San Diego (1996-98), and Emory University (2001-02).

McClymond’s book, Encounters With God: An Approach to the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, 1998), received the 1999 Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History as the best first book in the history of Christianity. He was editor of Embodying the Spirit: New Perspectives on North American Revivalism (Johns Hopkins University Press,2004), and author of Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth (Eerdmans,2004; winner of the Award of Merit in 2005 from Christianity Today magazine). He is the sole editor of a two-volume reference work that incorporates the contributions of one hundred and twenty scholars, Encyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America (Greenwood Press, 2007).

With Gerald McDermott of Roanoke College, McClymond is co-author of The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2012). Comprising forty-five chapters, this work is the most in-depth academic study yet published on Edwards’s thought, draws on the seventy-three-volume, online Yale University Press version of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (, and cites about eight hundred secondary sources.

Mark P. Ryan M.Div.
Mark Ryan is the Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, MO, where he also serves as adjunct professor of religion and culture. Mark has worked with L’Abri Fellowship in both Massachusetts and British Columbia and has pastored churches in Australia and the United States. Faith Ascent’s staff and board think very highly of Mark’s ministry experience, heart for evangelism, and interest in helping Christians and non-Christians alike navigate the cross-currents of religion and culture. Mark is a member at Crossroads Presbyterian Church (PCA).

Cordell Schulten, J.D.

Cordell Schulten is an adjunct professor at Missouri Baptist University and serves as pastor for the English Ministry congregation at the Korean Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood, Missouri. Previously, he was an associate professor of American Law at Handong Global University in Pohang, Korea. He also taught at Fontbonne University. Before teaching, he practiced law for ten years, specializing in commercial litigation and death penalty cases. Cordell earned his M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2004 and his J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1986. He has also done graduate studies in Theology and Culture at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Cordell and his wife Sandy have been married for 37 years. They have four children and four grand children.

S. Joshua Swamidass MD Ph.D.
Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass MD PhD is an assistant professor in the Division of Laboratory and Genomic Medicine at Washington University in St Louis, MO. His PhD is from the University of California, Irvine in Information and Computer Systems. Both a scientist and a physician, he uses computational methods to study information at the intersection of medicine, chemistry, and biology. Dr. Swamidass is a nationally recognized voice in the dialogue between science and the Christian faith, where he explains how mainstream science (including evolution) can be understood within the context of orthodox Christian faith. He worked as a science advisor for the AAAS Science for Seminaries Program with Concordia Seminary. Currently, he directs the Inquiry into Common Ground, a collaboration between St Louis ministries to seek peace in the creation wars. Dr. Swamidass also speaks nationally with The Veritas Forum, Intervarsity, and BioLogos on a wide range of topics, and was a featured seminar speaker at the last two Urbana Missions Conferences. He blogs at Peaceful Science, seeking peace in the creation wars. Joshua is a member at Outpour Evangelical Covenant Church.

Letitia Wong

Letitia is the Co-Director of Ratio Christ at Missouri Baptist University. She holds a BS in Health Sciences with a Minor in Religious Studies from Purdue University in 1997. She went on to complete her Medical Technology certification at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She has had over 15 years of ministry experience including serving as student Evangelism Coordinator for Purdue University’s undergraduate chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as ministry coordinator and teacher at Arizona State University’s chapter of Campus Ambassadors. In 2009, she attended CrossExamined Instructor Academy at Southern Evangelical Seminary in preparation for public speaking in apologetics. In addition, she co-hosts TruLife Fridays, an internet radio show examining the ethics of the santity of human life. Letitia is currently pursuing her master’s degree in theology at Concordia University Irvine.

Student Leader Liaisons

Phoebe Leach

Phoebe first attended Faith Ascent in 2015 as a student, and returned as a small group leader in 2017 and 2018. She is passionate about helping teenagers own their faith and find their identity in Christ. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance at The King’s College in New York City. Phoebe enjoys playing guitar, spending time with her family, reading, and studying the works of C.S. Lewis.

JJ Simon

JJ was a first year student in 2013 and returned to camp every year after until graduating in 2017. In the summer of 2018, he had the privilege of being 1 of 4 alumni invited to help at the first Base Camp West in Phoenix. AZ. Outside of Base Camp, JJ loves to reach out, learn from, and teach young men and women in their interests and beliefs. He is currently working full-time as a sales coordinator while studying for his Masters degree at Community College. JJ loves playing football, piano, and doing crazy things with his family and friends!

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