Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation



One marvelous feature of our Christian faith is that God is writing a story of family life. The Bible is a familial book. God tells an honest story. It’s a mix of joy and pain, of loyalty and betrayal, of intimacy and estrangement. And in the end it is a story of deep reconciliation and rich renewal. At many levels, Scripture tells stories of birth, and growing up, and struggling, and fruitfulness, and loss—and about a great wedding feast and reunion when all is joy and tears are past.

Scripture intends to create new family members in the power of the Spirit. God adopts orphans and strays, making sons and daughters of the Most High. We become brothers and sisters to each other, fathers and mothers, children and friends.

You have a family story. It’s unique. It’s personal. It includes your experience of the family you were raised in. It includes your present experience: the family you are now building, or the one you long for, or the family that never was, or the one that was lost.

God enters every story. The Bible was written to others—but is also speaking to you. The Bible is about God—but he draws you in. Your challenge is always to hear Scripture afresh, to bring truth to life and put truth to work. God’s purpose is always to rescript your life.

In each of our family stories, there’s blessing to be embraced and brokenness to be faced. That’s the theme of our conference. His story and his Spirit have the power to rewrite the story of our lives.

This collection of short personal stories from some of our speakers is at the heart of this year’s conference. It meets at the intersection of the practical and the personal. The talks these women and men will present arise out of their own experience of family. It is in lives lived that we see firsthand how God speaks to us. And it is here in our own stories that God grows us in wisdom and encouragement, equipping us in these very places to encourage others.

These stories give you a glimpse of the purpose behind this year’s event. We hope they encourage you to consider joining us in Texas this October. But more than that, we hope it inspires you to see the script of your family story through the eyes of Christ.


David Powlison serves as CCEF’s executive director, as a faculty member, and as senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He has served at CCEF for more than 35 years. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary. David has written extensively on biblical counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love probe the implications of Scripture for how to understand people and how to counsel. The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context explores the background and development of CCEF’s mission. David’s new book titled: Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness (New Growth Press), will launch in September 2016. David and Nan dearly love their three children, and the three spouses and five grandchildren who have joined the family.

David and his younger brother Danny

Ed Welch is a faculty member at CCEF where he has served for more than 35 years. He holds a PhD in counseling psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah and an MDiv degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written many books and articles on biblical counseling, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression; Running Scared; Shame, Interrupted; and Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love. He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and eight grandchildren. In his spare time, Ed enjoys spending time with his wife and extended family and playing his guitar.

Ed’s father

Mike Emlet is a faculty member at CCEF where he has served for more than fifteen years. He holds an MD from the University of Pennsylvania and an MDiv degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He worked as a family physician for twelve years before joining CCEF. Mike has counseled for many years and is the author of CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet, which explores the use of Scripture in counseling. Mike is married to Jody, and they have two children. He is active in his urban church and enjoys gardening, camping, and creating wheel-thrown pottery.

Mike and Jody Emlet

Julie Lowe is a faculty member at CCEF where she has served for more than fifteen years. She holds an MA in counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. She is a licensed professional counselor with over fifteen years of counseling experience. She has extensive experience with women’s issues, sexual abuse, body image issues, parenting, and child maltreatment issues, and regularly speaks at events on these topics. Julie is also a registered play therapist and has developed a play therapy office at CCEF to better serve families, teens and children. She is a trained facilitator forStewards of Children, a non-profit organization that provides trainings on child sexual abuse. Julie has trained a therapy dog that she works with both professionally and on a volunteer basis. Julie and her husband, Greg, have five children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.

Julie’s family

Jayne V. Clark

Jayne is the Chief of Staff at CCEF. Click to read more.

Jayne Clark is currently serving as Chief of Staff at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. She has also served as a faculty member and counselor as well. Jayne has been counseling for over twenty-five years and is the author of Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire and Healing Broken Relationships: What to Do When You’ve Been Hurt, as well as several articles published in the Journal of Biblical Counseling. When she’s not working, you can usually find her watching British dramas, playing on her iPad, getting together with friends, or puttering around the house.

Alasdair Groves

Alasdair is a faculty member at CCEF. Click to read more.

Alasdair Groves directs CCEF New England and is a faculty member at CCEF where he has served for more than five years. He received his Master of Divinity in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. In addition to counseling for CCEF New England, Alasdair has served on the staff of several churches and has a background in campus ministry. He has written articles for the Journal of Biblical Counseling, and regularly teaches a variety of seminars around the New England region. Alasdair and his wife, Lauren, have three young children. Alasdair is a fiction enthusiast, plays ultimate frisbee, and loves to produce and enjoy both good food and good music.

Todd Stryd

Todd is a faculty member at CCEF. Click to read more.

Todd Stryd serves as the Counseling Coordinator at CCEF. He holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Immaculata University, as well as an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education. His dissertation work explored the relationship between a reformed Christian narrative and the experience of schizophrenia. He has experience as a hospital chaplain, crisis worker, and university counselor. He is married with three children. He considers himself a coffee connoisseur, and fills his off days with reading Winnie the Pooh and making Lego creations.

Steve Midgley

Steve is the Executive Director at BCUK. Click to read more.

Steve is the senior pastor of Christ Church, Cambridge and the Executive Director of Biblical Counselling UK, a new initiative to help promote biblical counselling in UK churches. He worked as a psychiatrist in London before leaving to serve full time in church ministry. He and his wife Beth have three children who, in different ways, are all at the ‘leaving home’ stage. Steve teaches biblical counselling at Oak Hill Theological College and leads a two year certificate course in Biblical Counselling offered jointly with CCEF. To relax, Steve enjoys a good row (that’s row as in river, not row as in argue).

Aaron Sironi

Aaron is a faculty member at CCEF. Click to read more.

Aaron Sironi directs CCEF Montana and is a faculty member at CCEF where he has served for more than five years. and the He holds an MS in marital and family therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary. Aaron is a licensed clinical professional counselor and has counseled in community mental health, psychiatric hospital, and outpatient settings. He has a passion for building strong relationships with local churches and loves to come along side pastoral ministers through consultation, training, and counseling services. He lives in Big Sky Country and enjoys all of its outdoor activities with his wife, Kellie, and their three energetic sons.

Darby Strickland

Darby is a counselor at CCEF. Click to read more.

Darby is a counselor at CCEF where she teaches Counseling Abusive Marriages. She has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Divinity degree, Counseling Emphasis, from Westminster Theological Seminary. Darby has been counseling at CCEF for over 12 years. In addition to her work at CCEF, she also counsels at her local church, where she runs a support group for women in abusive marriages. Darby has over 17 years of ministry, teaching, and counseling experience. She is married to John, and they have three children, one of whom has a neuromuscular disease. Areas of specialization include marriage, abuse, anxiety, family issues (including children with developmental delays and disabilities), and depression.

Michael Gembola

Michael is a Counselor at CCEF Click to read more.

Michael Gembola is licensed to preach (PCA) and is licensed as a professional counselor (in PA). He counsels at CCEF and John Applegate & Associates. He has also served as an adjunct lecturer at Westminster Seminary Glenside, PA) and Biblical Seminary (Hatfield, PA). He is currently writing a book of readings for spiritual and marital renewal after infidelity.

Eamon Wilson

Eamon is a counselor at CCEF. Click to read more.

Eamon is a counselor at CCEF’s home office in Glenside PA. A graduate from Westminster Theological Seminary, he is currently a doctoral candidate at Widener University’s where he is pursuing a degree in Clinical Psychology. He and his wife Kathryn serve at Bridge Community Church within the church’s small group ministry. Eamon has extensive experience counseling individuals with anxiety and depression, marriage counseling, and trauma. Eamon and Kathryn have three children with whom they enjoy board games, sci-fi movies, blueberry picking, and saunas.