Team Agape

Agape Review is blessed with a dedicated team who pour their hearts and souls into everything they do. Spread across six continents, our amazingly talented folks bring to the table diverse perspectives and fantastic skill sets.

Lory Widmer Hess

Prose Editor

Lory Widmer Hess is an American living in Switzerland with her family, in the midst of the beautiful Jura mountains and in dangerous proximity to a cheese manufacturer. She studied English and Education, and has been a teacher, an editor, a graphic designer, and a non-profit publicity coordinator, but her most important lessons have been learned through working with adults with developmental disabilities. 

Lory has always been drawn to the spiritual quest, and to the riches of literature. Her studies and experiences have led her to acknowledge Christ as humanity’s great teacher and guide toward the goal of universal brotherly love. Her writing is inspired by this creative impulse, and she is grateful for the community that can be built through words, even when human beings are separated by distance from one another.

Her essays, poems and book reviews have been published or are forthcoming in Parabola, Enchanted Conversation, Ruminate: The Waking, Kosmos Quarterly, Braided Way, Christian Community Perspectives, Untold Volumes, Amethyst Review, Ekstasis, and other print and online venues. She blogs about life, language, and literature at

Zaher Alajlani

Prose Editor

Zaher Alajlani is a Syrian short-story author, researcher, and translator living between Romania and Greece. His stories and articles have appeared in various publications, including Revista Echinox, Active Muse, Bandit Fiction, The Journal of Romanian Literary Studies, and Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory.

He is a prose editor for Agape Review and a proofreader for the peer-reviewed Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory. He holds a BA in English Literature and Language from Damascus University; an MA in English Culture, Literature, and Ideology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; and an MA in Communication from the University of Indianapolis. Zaher is now a Ph.D. candidate in literature at Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca and speaks English, Arabic, Romanian, and Greek.

Grace Gilfert

Prose Editor

Grace Gilfert is a friend, daughter, sister, and loved by many. This year, she will graduate with a B.A. in English from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She is a prose editor for Agape Review and loves to read and write prose, particularly short stories and classic novels. She enjoys being out in nature and spending time with her family and her dog.

Further, she believes that the best and most beautiful art comes from a deeply religious part of the human soul. She believes in the power of Christianity and sees Christ as a model to live a moral, meaningful life. And despite all the suffering, she loves life and strives to become a better person every day.

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Kellie Brown

Prose Editor

Dr. Kellie Brown serves as Chair of the Music Department and Professor of Music at Milligan University. She is a violinist, conductor, and award-winning writer whose book, The Sound of Hope: Music as Solace, Resistance and Salvation during the Holocaust and World War II (McFarland Publishing, 2020), received one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles award.

Her words have appeared in Earth & Altar, Calla Press, The Primer, Agape Review, and Musing as well as in numerous academic journals such as the American String Teacher. She has forthcoming essays in Psaltery & Lyre, Ekstasis, and Writerly Magazine, and a book chapter for Oxford University Press. In addition to over 30 years of music ministry, she is a certified lay minister in the United Methodist Church and currently serves at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, TN. 

Bradley Smith

Prose Editor

Born and raised in the Midwest United States, Bradley Smith grew up with a passion of serving the Church with his artistic talents. An avid writer, he self-published two novels before graduating high school, and published two short stories with Agape Review.His Christian faith influences his stories as he tries to weave theological truths into his plots and characters. To this day, he continues to refine his craft, creating numerous drafts for his next project.

When he is not writing, Smith is a student at Purdue University, double majoring in animation and creative writing. He spends his days doing freelance graphic design and animation projects, and helping his fellow writers improve their works whenever he can.

Kendra Thompson

Prose Editor

Kendra Thompson lives in Northwest Iowa with her husband, two young children, and a goofy yellow lab named McCain. She has several published articles in Think Christian magazine, poetry selections in the SPECTRA anthology of Salt Lake Community College, the poem ‘Neighbor’ was accepted for the Poet’s Choice book Close Friends and Relatives, and one of her poems about pregnancy was included in the Body Love 4 All zine as well. 

A flash nonfiction essay and two poems about life during COVID quarantine are featured in the Midwest Writing Center’s disaster anthology titled These Interesting Times, which will include an audio portion to appear on public radio in the near future. You can find more of Kendra’s writing on her personal blog, at

Matthew Nies

Prose Editor

Matthew Nies is the author of the poetry book Sunset Dreams (Wipf & Stock, 2019). His work has also appeared or is forthcoming in a number of literary journals and anthologies. 

Nies grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota, experiences and lessons from which he draws on still. He attended the University of Jamestown, where he studied writing under North Dakota Poet Laureate and award-winning author Larry Woiwode. Nies currently lives with his wife and three children in the Washington, D.C. area.

Patrice M. Wilson

Poetry Editor

Born Catholic in Newark NJ, raised in Catholic schools in NJ and NC, Patrice M. Wilson has a PhD in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She had received her MA in English there, with a poetry thesis called “Between the Silence,”and her BA in English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She had worked as a teacher in High School in the Community in New Haven, CT while attending Yale University for a time, and later at Adult Basic Education in the City of New Haven.

She was editor of the very fine Hawaii Pacific Review for 16 years while teaching at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu. She has three chapbooks of poetry with Finishing Line Press, and one full-length poetry collection with Christian publisher eLectio Publishing. Her poems have been published in several literary journals, and have received recognition and honors from the Academy of American Poets UH Competition and other contests. She has read her poems at universities, bookstores, and other venues in Maryland, Washington DC, and Honolulu, including the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Potomac Riverside USA Bicentennial Celebration, and as a lead-in for poet Lucille Clifton at UMD-Eastern Shore. Dr. Wilson recently spent five years studying to be a contemplative nun in the cloistered Carmelite monastery in Kaneohe, HI. She is now a retired professor living in Mililani, Oahu, HI.

Kimberly Phinney

Poetry Editor

Kimberly Phinney is a wife, mother, writer, editor, teacher, and professional photographer. But most importantly, she is a child of God. After surviving critical illness in 2021, Kimberly hopes to use her story to help others find God—and in Him, find themselves. She has been published or is forthcoming in several literary journals and magazines, such as Ekstasis Magazine with Christianity TodayCalla Press (where she is a contributor), Ruminate MagazineHeart of Flesh Literary JournalThe Dewdrop, Amethyst Review, and The Write Launch, among others. 

She earned her bachelor’s in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida and her M.Ed. in English from Liberty University. She studied in the MFA program at Goddard College in Creative Writing and is now earning her doctorate in counseling and community care to help the marginalized and suffering. She is currently an award-winning AP English teacher and department head at a private school in Tampa, Florida, and is working on a poetry chapbook and a book on parenting and education. 

In her free time, she loves to garden and paint with her daughter, drink strong coffee with her husband, and read heaps of books—particularly The Holy Bible and The Great Gatsby—over and over again. She is beyond excited to join the Agape Review team and read your awe-inspiring poetry. You can visit her at The Way Back To Ourselves and see her photography at Phinney Photography.

Brooke Stanish

Poetry Editor

Brooke Stanish writes poetry, short stories, and the first chapters of too many novels from her home in Sunrise, Florida. Her writing has appeared and is forthcoming in various literary journals, including America Magazine, The Windhover, Whale Road Review, The Rectangle, Cantos, and Time of Singing, among other publications. Her critical paper, “The Theory of Everything: Joyce’s Ulysses and Quantum Physics,” received a 2020 Association of Christian Librarians Research Award as well.

Graduating Summa Cum Laude from Palm Beach Atlantic University, Brooke studied English and creative writing while participating in the Supper Honors Program, through which she discovered her love for the classics. The intersection of faith and art is among her main interests, and she aims to write works that explore the intricate connections therein.

Marvin Lee

Poetry Editor

Marvin Lee is a speculative fiction/poetry writer. Member of The Dark Poet Society and slush reader at Quill & Crow Publishing House. Who grew up in the Amazon jungles of Venezuela among the Yanomami Indians.

His favorite authors growing up were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks. After running out of books to read. Marvin wrote his first story titled Pathway To The Stars. It was about a talking dragon that visited him.

He now spends most of his nights trying to recreate the childlike wonder of that first story. His poetry/fiction have been published in the Crow Calls volumes, Pure In Heart, Agape Review and Synthetic Reality Magazine.

Marvin still lives deep in the Amazon, over 200 miles from the nearest town, with his wife and four kids.

Katharine Armbrester

Book Reviewer

Katharine Armbrester is currently in the MFA Creative Writing program at the Mississippi University for Women.

She is a devotee of Flannery O’Connor and Margaret Atwood and intends to be an equally disconcerting playwright. She thinks Alabama needs one.

William Collen

Film Reviewer

William Collen comes from a family of artists and art lovers; some of his earliest memories are of drawing and listening to music. Interested in arts from an early age, he studied poetry, photography, and graphic design in the mid-2000s. He is currently devoting his time to a study of Christian aesthetic criticism. He also composes music and occasionally paints. He and his family live in Omaha, Nebraska.

William believes that Christianity has something to say to the contemporary art world and to all other aspects of human artistic practice, whether that be “high” art like museum and gallery paintings, “low” art such as cartoons, pop music, and big-budget blockbuster films, as well as everything in between. Currently, he is working on projects which enable the Christian community and the art community to forge meaningful relationships of mutual respect, collaboration, and understanding. He writes reviews and theoretical essays at and has also written essays and book reviews for Artway.

Katie Sampias

Interviews Editor

Katie Sampias lives in Brisbane, Australia, her hometown, with her American husband and three children — two girls and one boy. She has enjoyed creative writing since primary school and when she was 12 years old, won a trip to Vanuatu through her local paper for it. 

She has a contemplative and experiential faith, in which she finds peace and meaning, and has always been interested in the lives of women in different historical periods. She is combining her faith and love of writing a series of historical fiction pieces based on the gospels from the point of view of women. These pieces you can find on her website .

In her professional life, she has worked as a lawyer and in marketing and communications and has lived in three different countries — Australia, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America. 

Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Interviews Editor

Justine Johnston Hemmestad has a published novella called Truth be Told, and a published novel called Visions of a Dream, and she is included in seventeen anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries and Into the Glen, Into the Light

She also has stories published in several magazines, including The Nonbinary Review and Kaleidoscope. In total, she has been writing for twenty-five years. She earned her Master’s Degree in English Literature from Northern Arizona University in 2020, despite a car accident thirty years earlier in which she sustained a severe brain injury. She also has seven children and two grandchildren.

Monica Sanchez

Interviews Editor

Monica Sanchez is a writer, poet, and an artist. She earned her MA in English and Creative Writing with a Concentration in Poetry from Southern New Hampshire University in 2016. She graduated with honors and was part of The National Society of Leadership and Success. Monica was a content writer for an editorial internship called Deliberate Magazine in 2017-2018 and published about 70 articles. Her poetry was published into the historic edition of International Who’s Who in Poetry in 2012.

When she has free time, Monica likes to paint, draw, journal, write poetry and likes to read non-fiction. She has been enjoying reading God’s word and having a closer relationship with him. She is very excited and honored to be interviewing award-winning Christian authors and becoming an Interviews Editor for Agape Review. Monica also feels that God is helping her with her writing career and her poetry. She continues to write for God and following his plan that he has for her.

Tabitha N. Munyoki

Diversity Editor

Dr. Tabitha N. Munyoki is a Kenyan medical doctor currently working with the Centre of Excellence HIV Management (COEHM) as an eMTCT (Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission) lead in Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya. She is a graduate of the University Of Nairobi’s College of Health Sciences and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health in the same institution.

Her love affair with poetry started early in life. She uses her words to inspire and to share cross-cutting issues on mental health, Christianity, and how these two interact. She has published poetry in a recently published anthology, medpoetry: healing words and Agape Review. She is a Christian, a Bible study leader, mental health advocate and bibliophile. Dr. Tabitha lives in Nairobi with her husband and two children.