Our Wonderful Staff


At Briarwood, we believe that God gives us all we need to do what God is calling us to do.  One of the greatest gifts God gives us is a gifted staff.  Our staff is working hard to make Briarwood an excellent summer camp and retreat facility.  They have already renewed relationships and made new relationships, rebuilt the summer program, added new systems for financial record keeping, and reorganized the camp tracking system.


You are invited to come and meet and staff - new and old - as they lead Briarwood Lutheran Ministries into a new era of ministry.

Rev. Robert O. Smith, Director of Leadership Center

Rev. Robert O. Smith, PhD, brings a wealth of program knowledge and leadership to Briarwood as well as deep connections to the area; a Citizen of the Chickasaw Nation originally from Oklahoma, his first call was with St. John in Coryell City.

Prior to Briarwood, Pastor Smith served in the Global Mission Unit of the ELCA Churchwide Offices as Area Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa.


For the past four years, he has lived in Jerusalem, serving as Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Jerusalem Global Gateway. He has held several volunteer positions in the global church, including in the World Council of Churches and as Special Adviser to the President of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan. Pastor Smith holds an MDiv and an MA in Islamic Studies from Luther Seminary (St. Paul) and his PhD in Religion, Politics & Society from Baylor University. He has published several books and articles on a variety of topics.

Christi Cook, Office Manager

Christi joined Briarwood in August 2016. She is our Administrative Assistant and serves the NT-NL Synod office as well as Briarwood in our welcome center. She is a lifelong Lutheran and attends Faith Lutheran in Flower Mound. She loves the beach and spending time with her family. Christi is married to Bryan and they have two children, Hannah and Logan who spend a lot of time volunteering at Briarwood.

Avery Hawley. Community Engagement Manager

Avery is a camper at heart. Originally from Minnesota she spent her summers at camp WAPO in Amery, Wisconsin. She attended school at Augustana University and obtained her BA with a double major in sociology and business administration. She spent her school summers working at GLLM in Minnesota as a counselor for one summer and an Assistant Program Director for two. She and her husband Brayden moved to Texas for his job. Avery had assumed that this would be the end of her camp journey but God had other plans. She is eager to see all that Briarwood is and what it is capable of becoming.  

Geoff Sherman, Facility Manager

Geoff started with Briarwood in June of 2019 being drawn by the beautiful crosstimber vegetation and the opportunity to provide facility support.  He received a BS in Hortictulture from Texas A&M and has also done graduate work in Landscape Architecture at UTA.  Geoff spent four years in the Air Force as a Services Officer followed by a stint in facility management at the University of Dallas.  The majority of his employment over the past twenty-five years has been in municipal government/parks & recreation providing horticultural support in various capacities.  Geoff lives on three acres in Decatur in Wise County with his wife Martha.  They have two children, Jack, a 2019 A&M graduate and Zoe, who will graduate from A&M in 2020.  Geoff and his family are Catholic and are members at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Decatur.

Jerry Gray, Bookkeeper/Marketing

Jerry graduated from University of Southern Colorado (now named Colorado State University-Pueblo) in Pueblo, CO, with a degree in Accounting, in December 1980. Jerry went to work for Defense Contract Audit Agency, an agency within the Department of Defense. Jerry retired as a Regional Audit Manager in January 2016. Jerry also has a Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University, and is a Certified Public Accountant. 


Jerry and his wife Kathleen attend Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound. Jerry is a Stephen Minister, assisting minister, on the Faith Lutheran Day School board, sings in the choir, on the finance team, and serves in other roles currently and has served in many other roles over the past 25 years. Jerry was the treasurer on the Thrivent North Central Texas Chapter board for several years, is the treasurer for Lutheran Via de Cristo of North Texas, and has been on the Briarwood board for three years, serving as the vice chair and now as the treasurer.

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The Briarwood Board


Briarwood is blessed with a very dedicated board. These volunteers share their time, talents and gifts to oversee the ministry of Briarwood, to continually make the camping and retreat ministry new and exciting, and to lift up the vision of an ever-growing ministry. We thank them for answering the call to serve.


All Briarwood Board members can be contacted through the Briarwood email address bw@bwtx.org.


Brandon Cooley

Greg Getting

Jerry Gray

Cathie Irons

Carolyn Knudsen

Pastor Edy Santos

Doug Will

Bishop Erik Gronberg – Bishop of NT-NL Synod, Ex officio



Robert Smith, Director of Leadership Center at Briarwood