The Academy of Church Leadership

The Academy of Church Leadership

Mastering Church Finances Conference

North Park University welcomes pastors, church staff, and lay leaders of all denominations to attend our Mastering Church Finances Conference on June 14.

Conference will cover a number of topics from financial controls to clergy compensation. Lunch, materials, and parking is included with all registrations. A 50% scholarship is also available for anyone affiliated with a church.

Help your congregation realize its full potential with the skills gained from our conference.


Speaker Biographies

Elise BarrettElise Erickson Barrett, Keynote Speaker

Elise Erikson Barrett is the Coordination Program Manager for the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders ( She is a former ordained United Methodist pastor, now in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and is a writer whose book, What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage, received Christianity Today magazine’s “Best Book” award in the spiritual living category. Elise holds degrees from Hanover College (BA, Economics) and Duke Divinity School (MDiv).

Elaine Sommerville

Elaine Sommerville, CPA

Elaine Sommerville is considered a leading national tax professional in nonprofit tax issues. Elaine has been in the practice of public accounting for more than 30 years, concentrating her clientele in the area of nonprofit organizations both religious as well as other types of organizations. Her experience with nonprofit organizations and churches is unique in that she has had the opportunity to assist in the representation of four large case IRS exams involving organizations with annual budgets more than $100 million, in addition to other IRS examinations of smaller nonprofit organizations. This IRS examination experience includes assisting in the representation of several church examinations.

Elaine currently devotes her time to handling various IRS issues, including personal taxation issues for individuals and federal and state compliance issues for nonprofit organizations and churches. Elaine frequently assists organizations in gaining their tax-exempt status with the IRS. Over the years, Elaine has successfully filed more than 100 exemption applications for organizations. She is regularly sought out by other CPA’s and law firms to provide tax services in connection with litigation or regulatory proceedings, has participated in large case IRS compliance reviews, and researches tax issues for special client situations. In addition, she performs several IRS compliance reviews each year for her clients to assist them in staying in compliance with both federal and state regulations. Her firm currently prepares more than one hundred fifty Forms 990 or 990-EZ for nonprofit organizations.
In addition to working with nonprofit organizations in areas of regulatory compliance, Elaine has a passion for training those who work for nonprofit organizations. She is a regular speaker for The Church Network, including teaching a portion of its certified church business administrator curriculum, the Houston Church Co-Op, the Texas State Society of CPAs, the Shelby Systems Annual Conference, and the Texas Society of CPAs. Elaine is an instructor for the AICPA’s 8 hour CPE courses on the preparation of the Form 990. She is a contributing author to PPC’s Nonprofit Tax and Governance Guide as well as contributing editor for various publications provided by Christianity Today. In 2011, she was inducted into The Church Network’s Outstanding Service Providers’ Hall of Fame.

Elaine is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of CPAs and The Church Network.

Micheal BattsMichael E. Batts, CPA

Mike Batts is the managing partner of BMWL. Mike has more than 30 years of experience serving nonprofit organizations in a variety of ways. He advises nonprofit organizations on matters related to board governance, financial reporting, tax compliance and strategy, risk management, corporate structure, international activities, and related topics. Mike actively engages in nonprofit legislative matters at the federal and state levels. He has served on and chaired the boards of nonprofit organizations, both nationally and locally. Mike currently serves as the chairman of the board of ECFA, a national organization that accredits religious nonprofit organizations in the areas of board governance and financial integrity. He served as chairman of the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, a national commission convened by ECFA upon the request of the then-chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, to provide policy advice to Congress, the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the nonprofit sector related to federal tax policy affecting religious and other nonprofit organizations. In 2013, Mike was inducted into the National Association of Church Business Administration Hall of Fame for his significant contributions to the church community. Mike is co-author, together with attorney and CPA Richard Hammar, of the book Church Finance, a “go-to” reference that provides practical guidance for church and nonprofit financial administration. Recently, Mike also authored the book, Nonprofit Financial Oversight – The Concise and Complete Guide for Boards and Finance Committees. Mike is also author of the book, Board Member Orientation – The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service, and he continues to create and provide other practical resources to serve the nonprofit community. Mike is a summa cum laude graduate of Stetson University, where he studied accounting. He received state and national recognition for scoring the highest in the state on the Florida CPA examination. He is also a Chartered Global Management Accountant. Mike leads our national headquarters office in Orlando as well as our Dallas office.

Rob HallRob Hall, Vice President of Real Estate Services, National Covenant Properties

Rob brings more than 20 years of experience to his role as a vice president of real estate services for National Covenant Properties (“NCP”), the lending arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church (“ECC”) denomination. In his role, Rob helps coach churches through the ins and outs of finding the right building for their ministry and getting the financing need to purchase or renovate the space. Prior to joining NCP, Rob served as president of Covenant Development Corporation, as associate director of Technical and Legal Services for the ECC, and as Midwest regional director for Habitat for Humanity. Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Psychology from North Park University and graduated with a Juris Doctor from DePaul University-College of Law.

Ann Hicks, Professor of Accounting, North Park University

Dr. Ann Hicks teaches a challenging subject in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management: Accounting. But Dr. Hicks does it in a way that helps students make sense out of complex information, according to one recent graduate. Describing Dr. Hicks as “a great teacher,” Danielle Paventi C’11 is grateful for her courses and care in teaching. “Accounting has so many difficult concepts,” says Danielle Paventi. “And Dr. Hicks explained them so well. I am blessed to have learned from someone with such knowledge and such a gift for teaching.” Prior to joining North Park’s faculty, Dr. Hicks spent nearly 20 years in senior-level accounting and finance positions in real estate and education. This experience, combined with her passion for teaching and the relationships she is able to build with students, helps her communicate the possibilities that accounting holds for future careers. Dr. Hicks earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, MS in Accounting from the University of Houston at Clear Lake City, and a BS in Finance from the University of Kansas.

Tim O'BrienTimothy O’Brien, Program Director, The Academy of Church Leadership at North Park University & Conference Facilitator

Tim serves as the Program Director for The Academy of Church Leadership. He has had a long career as practitioner (Controller, CFO, Consultant), and Professor of Nonprofit Management. He serves as a Church Treasurer of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL and has provided consulting services to many nonprofits and faith-based organizations. Tim is a co-author of Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations, 3rd Edition to be published in Fall 2018 by John Wily & Co. and has written numerous articles on nonprofit management and development of religious institutes and has served as an international presenter and workshop leader. Tim received his PhD in Organizational Behavior from Union Institute and University, and his Masters in Management from John F. Kennedy University.


9:00–10:00 a.m. Keynote Address Elise Barrett
10:15–11:15 a.m. Financial Oversight Michael Batts
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Taxes & Clergy Compensation Elaine Sommerville
1:15–2:15 p.m. Internal Financial Controls Ann Hicks
2:30–3:30 p.m. Facilities Management Rob Hall