Rosario (Roz) is the founding and Lead Pastor of Embrace Church and husband of Callie. He happens to be “a very regular dude” that God has entrusted with a vision for ministering to the people of Lexington. Roz grew up in western New York as a first-generation Sicilian-American. In 2003, he earned his B.A. in Religion from Houghton College, and in 2007 he earned his Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is currently working on his Doctorate of Ministry at United Theological Seminary. Roz also spent 4 years in the Marine Reserves and 5 years in the Navy Reserves.
He first fell in love with urban ministry while attending The Rock/La Roca United Methodist Church and working there as the custodian. He eventually became the associate pastor before being called to church planting. Roz was appointed by the Kentucky Annual Conference as a church planter in 2008. He then launched Embrace Church at the Kentucky Theater, and he was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Since the launch of Embrace, Roz has had his car stolen and sold for 20 bucks, his tires slashed, his house vandalized and his life threatened because of his dedication to carrying out his call. In 2012 Roz started Picardo Coaching LLC, a consulting group that helps church leaders plant faith communities and revitalize existing congregations.
A new edition of Roz’s book Embrace: A Church Plant That Broke All the Rules will be available soon from Pickwick Publications.
“Rosario Picardo has been a great asset in helping to launch our new faith community. He has not only been a wealth of knowledge but through his experience, guidance, and friendship we have paved a much better approach at reaching new people for Jesus Christ.”
– Alan Mears, Church Planter, DNA Church, Asheville, NC
“Informative, candid, even confessional.”
– Rev. Peter Bellini Ph.D., Professor of Theology, United Theological Seminary
“Rosario Picardo is a bright light for helping build and shape new communities of faith. His insight, wisdom and deep reflection helped us to launch as best as we could. We are grateful for his investment in us.”
– Dr. Chuck Wilson, Long’s Chapel UMC, Lake Junaluska, NC
“Picardo demonstrates a keen awareness that the way forward is often found in faithfully remembering the earlier practices of the church.”
– Timothy C. Tennent, President, Asbury Theological Seminary
“Great coach meeting with Rosario Picardo. Really helped me clarify some direction, challenge me in other places, and gave me freedom to just “be” in others. He’s going to help take The High Ground to the next level.”
– Kevin Stamps, Church Planter of High Ground Church, Radcliff, KY
Dr. Charles (Chuck) Gutenson is a church consultant and former Chief Operating in both for profit and non-profit settings. He previously served 10 years at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, most recently as the professor of Theology and Philosophy. He received an M.Div. from Asbury in 1995 and a PhD in Philosophical Theology from Southern Methodist University in 2000. A member of the International Society of Theta Phi, an honor society for theological students, scholars in the field of religion and outstanding religious leaders. Chuck is the author of six books and numerous articles on a variety of theological and philosophical articles.
“Very few people – in fact, there may only be one – have a world-class theological education combined with top-level executive leadership in business, combined with senior executive leadership in the non-profit sector, combined with stellar communication skills as a published author and popular speaker, combined with seasoned interpersonal skills and consulting savvy. That’s why I can so enthusiastically endorse Chuck Gutenson as a wise guide in organizational and leadership consulting and mentoring. I have worked closely with him and seen him in action. I trust him and highly recommend him.”
– Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker (brianmclaren.net)
“I’ve known Chuck for several years now and have had the opportunity to see his work in a number of different contexts. He’s provided leadership at the executive level in both for profit and non-profit settings where his planning and financial management skills were critical. At the same time, he’s provided mentoring and training to both lay people and seminary students alike. Whether you need someone teach a class on some aspect of Christian faith or someone to help your church put together a sound plan for vital growth, Chuck’s your guy.”
– Mike Slaughter, Lead Pastor, Ginghamsburg Church
“I have worked with Chuck Gutenson in a variety of capacities and have always been impressed with his understanding of Christian doctrine and theology, particularly in their Wesleyan forms. He brings together two characteristics that are very helpful when combined, yet often work in isolation from one another. First, he understands the academic discipline of theology. He knows and understands the arguments of major theologians and can identify their strengths, weaknesses, contributions, and liabilities. Second, he understands how theology and doctrine should relate to the Christian life. The ways in which we talk about God and God’s saving work through Christ should make a real difference in the ways in which we lead our lives. The faith is not just about knowing, but about being transformed, and thereby transforming the world. Dr. Gutenson has taught for us many times at United Theological Seminary, and our students come away from his classes deeper in their faith, theologically grounded with a sense of what our God-talk means for our work in the world.”
– Dr. David Watson, Dean, United Theological Seminary
“Chuck Gutenson has an unusual background – just the sort we need: hand’s-on business experience in “the real world,” first-class theological training at the highest level, leadership in a high-profile nonprofit organization, and love and hope for the church. Don’t think that these are separate “parts” of his life. Read his books, listen to him speak, and envision church with him, and you’ll see how they all contribute to the integrated way he believes and thinks and engages people and organizations and the world.”
– Dr. Joel B. Green, Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies and Professor of New Testament Interpretation
Stefan Bean is a branding and design expert and former owner of Pulse Creative Partners, a branding and design firm in Indianapolis. For nearly 10 years, he has helped brand clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to churches and non-profits. He has worked with Roz on a number of branding and design projects including Embrace Church, DNA Church, New Church Development of Kentucky and First United Methodist Church in Lexington Kentucky. He received his bachelors in design from Asbury University and is currently a full-time branding and marketing consultant.
Check out his personal site here: www.stefanbean.com
“Stefan has a designer’s DNA. He discovers solutions that will not just startle you in their simplicity, but also scream at the cash register. Moreover, Stefan is easy to work with and a nice human being to be around.”
– Jonah Hughes, Chief Consumer Coach (CCC) at EXIT3A.com
“I have known Stefan for many years. CREATIVITY is in his genes and goes bone deep. I have hired Stefan and also referred him into other projects and his BRAND is defined by the CRISP, CLEAN SHARP creative work that his clients enjoy. In business you get what you pay for, if you want the best, you will hire Stefan.”
– Benjamin McCann
“Year after year Stefan continues to amaze me with his lush, experiential pieces that move people into the heart of the message. I’ve never seen such beauty and thoroughness in every detail from design to materials used to resulting presentation. If you believe your company is a cut above, it makes sense to work with a designer like Stefan to accurately reflect your value.”
– Tia Nielsen, Writer/Editor/Content Mentor that Turns Ideas into Action
“Stefan is a great designer but he’s also one that genuinely cares about his clients and helping them advance their cause.”
– Adam Vandoski, Partner at Vantage Cost