Contributing Scholars accepted during the fall of 2011.
Damien Arthur is enrolled in a Ph.D. program at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. He has completed a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) from Boston University in Religion, Culture, and Personality and graduated third in his class with the honors designation of magna cum laude. His Bachelors degree (B.A.) is in Biblical Criticism and Theological Studies from Gordon College in Wenham, MA.
His Ph.D. is in Political Science and Public Policy. The major fields of his degree are in American Political Development, American Public Policy, and Public Administration. His minor field is in Higher Education Administration and Policy. He is also completing a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Most of his interests focus on the intersections of religion and politics, along with many derivatives of this such as gender, sexuality, and other morality policies. He is interested in the socio-political impacts of religion on the political process/public policy and how these phenomena affect our daily religious and political lives, particularly social, racial, and religious oppression. He hopes, through the State of Formation, to critically, analytically, and rationally question and articulate contemporary and progressive thoughts about difficult questions of faith, justice, and truth in order that we might learn more about one another and pursue a more responsible citizenship. He is an unashamed life-long student, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, a husband to Joni, and a father to Sophia Katherine. You can follow him on twitter @damien_arthur.
Rose Aslan is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Religious Studies, where she specializes in Islamic Studies. Her academic studies focus on pilgrimage, sacred space, and sectarian identity formation in Iraq.
She received her MA in Arab and Islamic Civilizations from the American University in Cairo and her BA in Religious Studies from the University of British Columbia. She has lived and studied in Egypt for over five years, part of that time as a Fulbright Scholar, as well as in Armenia and Iran. With the Muslim Peacemaker Teams based in Najaf, Iraq, she spent five weeks embedded with Iraqi families. She met with Iraqis from all walks of life throughout the country, engaged in intra-Muslim dialogue, and gave lectures about Muslim life and culture in America.
An active community member in the Chapel Hill area, she strives to create connections between people of diverse faiths in the area and participates in several local interfaith dialogue and action groups. She is dedicated to spreading awareness and understanding about Islam in American society as well as bridging the faith divide and contributing towards a pluralistic understanding of American society. She is aspires to become a public scholar, combining her academic interests with her interfaith activist work.
Of the many rules Zachary Bailes learned growing up in Western Kentucky, there is one rule he hope to make a career out of breaking: never discuss politics and religion in public. Zachary will graduate from Wake Forest University School of Divinity in May 2012, an holds a Bachelors in Philosophy from Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY. His journey is best described as interdisciplinary. Becoming an effective rule-breaker requires the ability to think creatively, engage authentically, and relate to varied perspectives. His journey from Western Kentucky has been more than geographic—it has been one of the heart and mind. He seeks to be intentional with social justice and is currently involved with the Institute for Dismantling Racism, an organization that seeks to create an anti-racist identity, culture, and institutions. Zachary writes for Associated Baptist Press, Addicting Info, and Policy Diary as a commentator on the intersection of faith and public life. His own website, Crazy Liberals and Conservatives (www.libsandcons.com), enjoys a strong following on Facebook and serves as a resource for those seeking different perspectives on the issues of religion and politics. His calling as a rule breaker demanded interreligious engagement. He has served on the White House Interfaith Initiative, worked with various religious communities for communal transformation, and created presentations and lectures on how interreligious work can enhance our common humanity. His Master’s Thesis, “The Bloudy Tenent of Civil Religion: Shari’a Law, Roger Williams, and John Cotton,” provided a fresh understanding of civil religion that accounted for the need of interreligious work in the public square. Zachary remains firm in the conviction that religion and politics must be discussed and explored in an honest and critical way in order to transform our communities. Achieving this will require rule breaking, and he is equal the task.
Sarah Bassin serves as the executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change -- a non-profit dedicated to improving Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States. Sarah grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in religion and history from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, She worked as a programming professional at Princeton University's Hillel where she helped form the first American Jewish Committee college chapter. Deeply interested in interfaith relations, Sarah entered the rabbinic program at Hebrew Union College with the intention of pursuing a rabbinate in community relations. During the year in Israel portion of her rabbinic education, Sarah became both a participant and a facilitator for Encounter, helping Jewish leaders better understand the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. She traveled to Iran in November 2008 as part of a civilian diplomacy delegation through the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Having served as student rabbi of Congregation Bamidbar Shel Ma'alah in Victorville, CA, and as rabbinic intern at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Sarah spent the last portion of her rabbinic training as the program manager at the Center for Muslim/Jewish Engagement where she implemented the first comprehensive survey on Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States. She received a certificate in Jewish Communal Service in August 2010 and was ordained as a rabbi in May 2011.
Benjamin Bechtolsheim currently works as the Special Projects Coordinator at the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA). In this role, he manages a wide portfolio of projects, working with faith communities across sub-Saharan Africa to implement public health and development programs. Benjamin currently runs CIFA’s program to consult religious leaders in four sub-Saharan African countries about HIV-prevention technologies, with a specific focus on the emerging technology of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Benjamin first began working with CIFA through a fellowship program jointly administered by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Interfaith Youth Core. During his year as a Faiths Act Fellow, Benjamin launched an interfaith youth group, drawing participation from across metropolitan Washington DC. The youth group continues its work to this day. Prior to that, Benjamin started and ran a community-based health education program in northern Uganda. The program, which worked with village leaders to provide recourse for women who were survivors of domestic violence and to prevent violence against women, continues to this day, and Benjamin continues to consult to the project. Benjamin holds a degree in Political Science from Brandeis University and serves on the board of directors of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. He also has significant experience as a Jewish educator, teaches a fourth and fifth grade class at a local synagogue, leads adult education courses, and has been invited to speak about Judaism, faith communities, and global justice issues in numerous fora.
Ryan Bell is a pastor, teacher, writer and community leader. He served three congregations before becoming Senior Pastor of Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church in June 2005. In 2000 he received his Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and in 2011 his Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Global Studies Department at Azusa Pacific University.
Ryan currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Interreligious Council of Southern California, the Advisory Board of the Guibord Center: Religion Inside Out and as a member of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative. Ryan is a clergy leader and co-chair of the clergy caucus with LA Voice/PICO, is co-founder and co-managing editor of The Hillhurst Review and writes for a wide range of other publications, including The Huffington Post. Ryan lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Elysabeth, and two daughters, Zoe and Sophie.
Sarah J. Blake is an ordained minister with the Church of God, Anderson, IN and is the author of two chapters in Discipleship That Transforms: An Introduction to Christian Education from a Wesleyan Holiness Perspective (Warner Press, 2011). She provides written articles as well as teachings and seminars on topics of special interest in ministry. Her areas of focus include biblical studies, online ministry, disability issues, chronic illness, and divorce.
Sarah graduated with an M.Div. from Anderson University Scool of Theology in 2009 with professional distinction in Hebrew. In addition to two years of Hebrew, she studied two years of Greek and served as a teaching assistant in an introductory greek course. Sarah's experience with religious work includes two years as a co-moderator of the religion and ethics forum on a national dialup service prior to her introduction to the Internet. Since getting on the Internet in 1995, she has moderated several online support groups for people with disabilities. She maintains a web site with information about living with disability and Christian spirituality.
Sarah's work with the interfaith forum and her interactions with persons with disabilities have provided her exposure to worldviews that are very different from her own. In her ministry and writing, she seeks to maintain faithfulness to a Wesleyan reading of Scripture while also respecting the experience and questions of people with whom she interacts.
Patrick Brown, 22, is studying for an MA in Theology at Catholic Theological Union. He is focusing on systematic theology with a minor in Inter-religious dialogue. In the spring of 2011 he graduated from DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema. Raised Roman-Catholic, Patrick has always appreciated the wealth of diversity among the Christian denominations and religions at large. He has worked closely with children and people with disabilities in a variety of both religious and secular capacities. He is constantly challenged and enriched by his relationships with people from a variety of faith traditions, including his fiance.
He is looking forward to enriching his understanding of his own religious identity in dialogue with others. He is especially interested in issues of Justice and peace and how they interact with the religious landscape. He is committed to promoting dialogues of life and action.
Tiffany Buchanan is a Master of Divinity student at McCormick Theological Seminary. She completed her Master of Arts degree in Sociology, specializing in Organizations and Institutions, as well as Social Psychology at Northern Illinois University. She also completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Northern Illinois University Magna Cum Laude. Her research at the undergraduate and graduate level has been centered in assessing social stratification at the micro and macro level, with particular emphasis on educational, race, class and gender iniquity. She spent the better part of seven years studying worldview systems as a cultural social fact, which led her on several study abroad trips to Ghana, West Africa which culminated in a theoretical work dissecting the development of the social self. She has served as a panelist for the African American Leadership conference at Northern Illinois University. She has received numerous departmental awards, including the James Massey Social Justice Award and first place research paper award for the upper division, entitled: "Production of the Ideal Conformist." She was the guest moderator for the International Erasing Racism program hosted at Northern Illinois University. She has been a guest lecturer since 2006 presenting her research on worldview systems, some which include: "Race, Racism and Worldviews", "Worldviews, Culture and Socialization", "Relationships, Worldviews and Empowerment", and "Race, Worldviews and Social Healing." She has worked at the collegiate level as Adjunct Sociology Faculty with several universities with extensive experience in both the ground campus and online virtual classroom for over three years. She is the Founder and Executive Director of "Love Learning Empowerment" a non-profit education outreach firm, while also serving as the Executive Director of Royal Dynasty Construction, Inc. Her first book, "Love is the Divine Source of Healing: Lessons on Becoming an Authentic Radiant Woman of God" will be published and available this winter. But of all her accomplishments, she is most proud to be the mother to Renato Gene, her son, a freshman at Martin Luther King College Prep.
Nicolas Cable is an aspiring Unitarian Universalist minister. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in June 2011 from DePaul University with a B.A. in Religious Studies (Concentration: Ethics and Social Justice) and Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies (Concentration: Gender and Sexuality). While at DePaul, Nic was thoroughly involved with interfaith work on campus, serving two years as an Interfaith Scholar, a paid internship to enhance interfaith programming as well as relationships between faith groups and secular groups alike. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Nic also worked as a campus fellow through the Fellows Alliance program of the Interfaith Youth Core, where he mobilized students to engage in interfaith social action projects. His leadership during his undergraduate years was recognized when he received the St. Vincent DePaul Award, the most prestigious leadership award given to two graduating seniors who embody the spirit and leadership of DePaul University. Outside of academia, Nic has served in numerous capacities within all levels of his faith tradition, ranging from youth and young adult ministries and intergenerational ministries to guest preaching and being a delegate to national Unitarian Universalist conferences. His journey continues this fall, as he begins the Master of Divinity program at Chicago Theological Seminary on a Presidential Merit Scholarship. Nic is interested in the intersections of ministry, interfaith, social activism, and human rights. You can follow along on his journey at his website, http://SpiritualRevolUUtions.com, or via Twitter.
Robert Chlala is a freelance author and researcher who has written for multiple academic and news analysis sources, including Jadaliyya and The Public Record. For over ten years, he has worked in communications, organizing and popular education with immigrant rights, juvenile justice and education reform groups in Los Angeles and Northern California. He is currently based in Chicago, Illinois, aiding in several projects around equitable public education and transformative justice, including Teachers for Social Justice and Project NIA. A practicing Nichiren Buddhist with the Soka Gakkai, he sees faith as inseparable from grassroots activism – and Buddhist humanism as a critical means to grasp the interconnections between economic realities/values and a range of social/political crises.
Robert recently spent a year working with Interfaith Youth Core as a Campus Engagement Associate, training young leaders around interfaith action and helping colleges and universities create holistic approaches to religious diversity. His academic pursuits started at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied Political Economy and City and Regional Planning. Working under the tutelage of Ananya Roy and Kiren Chaudhry, he examined USAID-funded “secular” microcredit and Hezb'allah-funded “religious” development programs vying for South Lebanon. His current research looks at the ways in which citizenship has been impacted by the encroachment of the neoliberal “security” state over the last 30 years, and the ways in which faith-based/religious and non-religious movements respond to and redefine the bounds of political/social belonging.
Emily Cobb is the Director of Multifaith Initiatives in the Office of the Chaplaincy at the University of Richmond. In her role, she leads programming both on campus in the greater Richmond region that builds community across lines of similarity and difference. Most recently, she organized the Pilgrimage: Israel program that took Christian, Muslim, and Jewish students to Israel to address effective paths to peace and reconciliation. This new university initiative will continue to work in Israel and other parts of world to explore new and innovative modes of interfaith cooperation.
Emily’s focus is not simply on dialogue, but on working together across faith lines to create stronger, more compassionate communities while deepening one's own faith tradition. She especially loves working with college students as they seek to integrate faith and society.
She received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York with an emphasis in interfaith studies and ecumenical theology in 2010. While studying in New York, Cobb was an intern at Auburn Theological Seminary in the Center for Multifaith Education. She received her undergraduate degree in art history from Winthrop University and spent eight years in marketing and fundraising. In addition, she is a Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor and has been sharing her love of yoga and meditation with others since 2002.
Michael VZ Collins (née Michael VanZandt), 28, serves as a community organizer and advocate for green initiatives and design-build projects in Boston’s underserved communities. Reared in the culturally Catholic mill-town, Lee, of the western Massachusetts hinterlands, Mike’s moral imagination came to formation and received the sacraments with papal approval and under the tutelage of the Sisters of St. Joseph. At Boston College, classes on human rights and normative social ethics merged service projects and political activism to create a forum of applying ethics into praxis. Exposed to the Sant’Egidio lay Catholic community in Rome while studying at the Gregorian, Mike gravitated to issues of immigration and capital punishment. However, thus far, the 150 students whom Mike taught, at what is now Cristo Rey Boston, have had the greatest impact on his personal and vocational development. The multi-cultural, multi-religious urban high school classrooms altered Mike’s sense of vocation and purpose as a student and teacher of religion and ethics. Holding a Master’s in Social Ethics, Mike is presently studying Arabic and Islam part-time while he prepares applications for Master’s programs in Islamic studies, with the aspiration of one day becoming a professor of comparative ethics. He can be reached through multimedia sources such as email (email@example.com) or twitter (@VZCollins).
Andy Cook has a longstanding interest in religion, spirituality, and civic engagement. Growing up in the Conservative Jewish tradition, Andy learned from an early age the importance of asking questions, knowing why one believes what they do, and placing importance on the work of improving our world.
After graduating from Colby College (2009) with a degree in political science and a minor in Jewish Studies, Andy worked for two years in communications and public affairs for the Minnesota House Republican Caucus. This fall, he began a new position at the Regions Hospital Foundation in Saint Paul, Minnesota, supporting the hospital in its mission of delivering quality, compassionate care to all who need it. These educational and professional experiences have helped to shape Andy's world view, and to affirm the value of collaborating with others while maintaining both principle and an open mind. Andy's faith journey includes the preparation and learning for Bar Mitzvah and confirmation, studies at Colby, and teaching experience at his Synagogue's Shabbat Morning Program and at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah. He continues exploring ideas of faith and spirituality with people of diverse religious backgrounds, and seeks to bring his tradition along as we all write our story of humanity and progress.
Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, Baha'i Thought which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha'i Faith. Baha'i Thought received a 2010 Award of Excellence in Internet Communication from the Religion Communicator's Council, a Best of the Web award from The Daily Reviewer, and is featured on the Religion Newswriter's Association website. He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D candidate in social work at Simmons College in Boston, MA. His area of research is the use of religion or spirituality to cope with work-related stress and its implications for burnout.
The Rev. Jennifer Danielle Crumpton received a Master of Divinity in 2011 from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Originally from Birmingham, AL, Jennifer’s ﬁrst career was as an advertising executive, working with clients such as Citigroup and MasterCard. Disillusioned with the strategies of consumerism, she left the corporate world to focus on theological precepts of social and economic justice, and to pursue her interest in feminist social ethics, activism, and interfaith dialogue. Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Jennifer is a Pastoral Associate at Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan, where she facilitates The XY Factor, the spiritual support and social justice ministry for 20s & 30s. Jennifer is the Founding Editor of "Uncommon Voices," the blog of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) and also writes for Huffington Post Religion. She is currently involved in Occupy Faith NYC and a supporting global Family Planning and Reproductive Health with NEP and other United Nations Fund grantees.
Brandy Daniels is a PhD student in Theological Studies and a fellow in Theology and Practice at Vanderbilt University, where her research focuses on the convergences of systematic theology, critical theory, and social processes, especially as they are bound together in the production of identity. She is interested not only in the way theology is overtly deployed for and against racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual equality (amongst others), but in probing the (both problematic and liberative) ways theology subtly undergirds contemporary discourses of identity in contemporary culture. Her current research, for example, examines how doctrines of soteriology and atonement function in the suffering and oppression of LGBTQ teens.
She graduated from Azusa Pacific University with two B.A.’s (in psychology and Biblical Studies), and then went on to Duke, where she graduated with an M.Div. with a certificate in Gender, Theology, and Ministry, and a M.A. in the Humanities, with a certificate in African-American Studies. In addition to my formal education, she was a rider in the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, and a participant in HRC’s 2010 Summer Institute on Religion and Sexuality. When she is not doing “school things,” she is either doing organizing work with POGO (people of God organized, a local branch of IAF), going for a long run, or hanging out with any number of my 21 awesome roommates at the Disciples Divinity House. I am currently pursuing ordination with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Nathan F. Elmore received a M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago, in 1999, back before the dawn of the 21st century. Throughout the 2000s, his pastoral ministry has included leadership experiences in a Christian & Missionary Alliance mega-church in Salem, Oregon, a mid-size interdenominational university church in Clemson, South Carolina, and a small Virginia Baptist church plant in Richmond, Virginia. Emblematic of a vocational shift toward concentrated work in Christian-Muslim relations—focused on peacemaking and reconciliation—Nathan is a practitioner-consultant with Peace Catalyst International even as he serves the Virginia Baptists as collegiate minister at Virginia Commonwealth University(VCU) in Richmond. Currently he’s working toward a M.A. in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations through Hartford Seminary. He writes at www.nathanfelmore.com; connect connect with him at www.twitter.com/elmorelian.
Argrow "Kit" Evans is a third year Master of Divinity candidate at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Her concentration is Homiletics, Women's Studies in Religion, and Peace and Conflict Studies. Kit uses her education, teachings on nonviolence, travels, personal experiences, and relationship with Jesus Christ as a teacher and motivational speaker. The ministry that God has given her is focused on the encouragement of women and young people who are working to heal from violence, abuse, and self esteem issues. Follow her blog and on twitter.
Matthew Zaro Fisher is a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology program at Claremont Graduate University (Claremont, CA). He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Social Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Systematic theology; both from Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI). Matthew is primarily interested in the relationship between theology and science, specifically pertaining to issues in consciousness studies, and how this relationship can facilitate a better understanding of the reality (both physical and metaphysical) in which we all live. His current research focus revolves around how one is to understand the Christian faith’s claim of the human as “created in the image of God” in an evolutionary and neurological context while anchored in the theology and philosophy of the analogical tradition.
Matthew is a progressive Roman Catholic who believes that all faiths (including atheism), traditions, and cultures have an intrinsic value for discerning the nature of the common reality in which we all share. Although Matthew’s area of research is theoretical and speculative in focus, he hopes that a better understanding of the nature of consciousness and its role in human identity will help facilitate dialogue pertaining to practical issues in the church and the world today. Moreover, he believes that a stronger understanding and appropriation of the methodology of science as a primary mode of knowledge for both theists and non-theists alike will constructively impact discussions pertaining to the relationship between religion, secular society, and fundamental human nature.
Myriam Francois-Cerrah was born in London of French and Irish heritage. She completed her BA in Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University in 2003, after which she worked for a year for MEND, a Palestinian NGO in Jerusalem, where she received training in Active Non-violence and Conflict Resolution techniques. In August 2005, she travelled to Washington DC to pursue an MA in Arab Studies, specialising in Middle East politics, on a CCAS scholarship, at Georgetown University. There, she collaborated on the production of a documentary (Arabs and Terrorism, Bassam Haddad) and published current affairs articles. Former Assistant Editor at emel magazine, she continues to contribute to the magazine. In May 2010, Myriam co-organised and hosted the Rethinking Islamic Reform conference at Oxford University.
As a researcher with the European Muslim Research Centre, Exeter University, she contributed a chapter on European Muslim identity to the 2010 report “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies”. She has been the media spokesperson for the Oxford University Islamic Society and the “Inspired by Muhammed” campaign aimed at fostering greater understanding of Islam. She is currently a Contributing Scholar to State of Formation, a forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders.
Myriam regularly contributes to public debates on a variety of issues, including on BBC Newsnight, the BBC Big Questions, The Times, the Independent, BBC Radio, The London Paper, Index on Censorship, The Cherwell, The F-word and others. She gives talks within the Muslim community on a variety of topics, as well as to mainstream institutions such as the BBC, the Scottish Interfaith forum and universities on Muslim related issues. She also provides diversity training for public and corporate institutions (The MET, Clifford Chance LLP, BBC). Myriam is currently undertaking a DPhil at Oxford University, focusing on Islamic movements in Morocco. She speaks fluent French and proficient Arabic and has travelled extensively. Her first love is horses. She blogs at: http://myriamfrancoiscerrah.wordpress.com.Matt Helms is currently working as a pastoral resident at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He was a Religious Studies major at University of Wisconsin-Madison (’07), a graduate of McCormick Seminary (’10), and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) early in 2011. As he wrestles with what his career, church, denomination, and faith mean in a society that is simultaneously interested in spirituality but skeptical of religiosity, he is excited to write with a community that shares the tension of holding individual beliefs in a pluralistic setting. While his background/present was/is predominantly Presbyterian, his experiences with other faiths, denominations, and people who couldn’t care less about religion in general have been an important lens through which he understands his own faith. He brings a great deal of honesty to the conversation as well as a willingness to explore any perspective. Matt lives with his wife and rescue pit bull in Oak Park, writing asinine stories and cheering on his beloved Bears football team when he’s not at church. Unlike most people on this site, he’s never lived abroad or even outside the Midwest, so he brings nothing to the table there except for a love for Chicago and the Chicago-land area.
Eric W. Hendry, Ph.D. in Christian Systematic Theology (Duquesne, 2011), is currently Adjunct Professor of Theology at the University of Dallas School of Ministry. He wrote his doctoral dissertation, Toward a Contemporary Ecumenical Pneumatology, which was an exploration of the person and role of the holy Spirit, as articulated in ecclesial statements issued during the last century by each of the major global denominations of Christianity. Eric taught both graduate and undergraduate students in a Catholic seminary for eleven years, prior to defending his doctoral dissertation; he was the first layman appointed to the role of "Director of Formation," in a Catholic seminary anywhere in the world, and is believed to have been the only non-cleric to have ever held this title or responsibility. Besides his primary teaching interest in Christian Systematics, Hendry designed a year-long university course in Judeo-Christian spiritual traditions, which unexpectedly gave birth to a Jewish-Christian dialogue group made up of his own seminary students and members of the oldest Jewish Synagogue established in North Texas (c.1875). He has introduced a growing number of students to the formative teachings of the Carmelites John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, in his efforts to reacquaint Christians with the historically-grounded contemplative and mystic dimensions of Christian spirituality. Eric previously studied in the Institute of Formation Spirituality (Duquesne), did advanced post-graduate research in Moral Theology (Institute on Marriage and Family), earned an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry (Franciscan), and his B.S. in Communications Media (Fitchburg). He formerly served on the chancery education departments of various bishops in Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas, training lay ministers and overseeing ongoing adult formation programs. He is married, a father, and is heavily active in his daughter’s public elementary school.
Christine J. Hong is a doctoral student at the Claremont School of Theology within the Claremont Lincoln University consortium. She is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church(U.S.A.) and the Pastor for Contemporary Worship Ministries at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, CA. Graduating with degrees in Communications and English Literature in ’02 from the University of Washington, she took up studies at Princeton Theological Seminary focusing on the lived experiences of women within the history of religions and ’05 received her M.Div. Upon graduation she began full time work as an Associate Pastor for a multigenerational Korean American congregation on Long Island, New York. Here she became interested in the spiritual and theological formation of bi-cultural youth and young adults. Her community in Long Island inspired Christine to return to Princeton Theological Seminary to pursue her Th.M degree, focusing on Asian and Asian American Theology. After five years of full time ministry Christine began her doctorate studies at the Claremont School of Theology and is currently pursuing her degree in Practical Theology with an emphasis in Religious Education. Her interests include the spiritual and theological formation of immigrant communities in America. More specifically, she is interested in how context and culture form adolescents’ perceptions of God and gender. She is also interested in interreligious consciousness and self-awareness within Asian American immigrant communities and how this shapes their understandings of the religious self and community.
Chris Hughes is currently a second year MDiv student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and works as a youth minister at a Baptist church. He holds the BA from the University of Kentucky (’09) in Political Science and History. He was honored as a Congregational Fellow from the Fund for Theological Education and as a CBF Leadership Scholar since beginning his theological education. He has contributed articles to the Associated Baptist Press and Ethics Daily on issues of the Christian witness in the political realm, and the full inclusion of all people into the life of the Baptist church. Chris was also published in a book of sermons entitled Waking to the Holy for his sermon, “Forgetting Egypt and Remembering Sabbath”. He is a member of the Academy of Preachers and Eco-Theo, a student group at WFUSD that discusses issues of sustainability and religion. His interests and sense of vocation derive from: the witness of the church in the public sphere, social justice work and advocacy, the art of preaching, sustainable practices, writing, and having good conversations with people. Chris will pursue ordination after graduation, while considering further studies before becoming a minister in a local church. He keeps a blog and tweets @chrishughes34.
Mark Randall James is a PhD student in religious studies at the University of Virginia, in the Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice program. His studies focus on Jewish and Christian interpretation of scripture and the distinctive rationalities of scriptural religious traditions. Many of his intellectual interests and existential questions arise from his experience growing up within evangelicalism and working as a youth pastor at an evangelical church in Baku, Azerbaijan from 2003-06. As part of his journey towards a more historic and liturgical expression of Christianity, he was confirmed in the Church of England in 2008. He currently co-ordinates the UVA Scriptural Reasoning group, which practices Abrahamic interfaith dialogue through the interpretation of scriptural texts. He also sits on the board of the Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice program. He received a BA in Philosophy from Stanford University in 2003 and a BA in Theology from Ridley Hall and Cambridge University in 2008.
Jessica Joslin is a doctoral student in the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. Her research interests include the changing role of religion in higher education and gender dynamics on university campuses. She has a B.S. in Social Policy and History from Northwestern University and a Masters of Divinity from Harvard University. Jess is also in the ordination process in the United Church of Christ. Prior to coming to Michigan, Jess spent four years living and working in a freshman residence hall at Harvard College, and two years as the student minister at Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Southborough, MA. After graduation, Jess plans to pursue a career as a University Chaplain.
Mary Ann Kaiser Mary Ann received her B.A. in Organizational Communication with a minor in Social Welfare. After college she spent one year living in Nigeria where she was shaped greatly by the cross-cultural experience and relationships formed. She has worked as a hospital chaplain and completed an internship at WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual) in Silver Spring, MD. Between her passion for exploring the mystery of the Divine and her interest in a wide range of justice issues, she is challenged daily to grow in openness, resolution, and kindness.
Omar Kassab was born a Muslim in Germany to Syrian parents. Currently, he is undertaking a Masters in Comparative and International Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. His research focuses on Peace- and Conflict Studies, particularly within the context of the Arab Middle East. He was able to delve deeper into the complexities of this region through on-the-field research and internships while completing his Bachelors in Political Science. In 2007, Omar participated in the student competition run by the German ministry of interior affairs and won the first prize for his essay contribution on “Muslims in Germany – German Muslims”. Parallel to his studies, Omar co-organized several events and meetings on campus in his function as the president of the Muslim student association. In summer 2011, he participated in the first Cambridge Interfaith Summer Programme at Cambridge University, where his interest for interfaith dialogue grew decisively. Given his scientific and religious background, he is very much looking forward to interacting with inspiring people through State of Formation, who share his interest for the interplay between religion and politics in this “post-secular” world. Besides religion and politics, Omar is interested in travelling, languages and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @bassakramo.
Sara Keyes Ray is a fourth-year Master of Divinity student at Perkins School of Theology and a pastoral intern at First United Methodist Church, Frisco, TX. She is deeply committed to ecumenical and interfaith relationship-building because her consuming passion is the eradication of barriers which separate people from each other and the Divine.
She chips away at barriers of language and nationality as an ESL, TOEFL Preparation, and Citizenship preparation instructor at Brookhaven College, Dallas, TX. She is active in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), serving on leadership teams in the Intercultural Communication and Social Responsibility interest sections.
Sara also serves on the board of Teachers Against Prejudice, a non-profit dedicated to dismantling all forms of bigotry through education. TAP uses cinema, television, and other forms of media as educational vehicles to help teachers, students, and communities redefine their ways of thinking and see through the eyes of others.
Her life path has been rather winding already. She spent several years as a marine archaeologist, excavating shipwrecks with the Texas Historical Commission and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology- Texas Operations. However, even her B.A. in Archaeology (U.T. Austin, 1998) had a minor in Religious Studies, so the seed had been planted for a very different future than she imagined while "digging up boats." God is sneaky!Rachel Kinney is a first year student at Vanderbilt Divinity School pursuing her M.Div. She is a member of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Her faith practice focuses mainly on mindfulness and contemplation. She got her B.A. in History and Women,Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rice University in 2009. Since then she has worked in education, crisis services and volunteer training at a rape crisis center. Rachel is simultaneously drawn toward the pragmatic ways to create a more just world as well as the playful and imaginative ways to use theology for personal and societal transformation. This leads her into interesting and sometimes confusing places. Her theological interests include violence prevention, storytelling, empowerment, spaciousness, public health, social justice, reproductive rights and laughter. If you have a conversation with Rachel she will probably mention dubstep or cyborgs.
Jacob Kohlhaas, a native of Algona, Iowa, received his BA with majors in Religion, Art and Communication Design from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, his MA with a major in Systematic Theology and a minor in History from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois, and is currently working towards a PhD in Systematic Theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jake spent a semester of undergrad in Morogoro, Tanzania studying Kiswahili and teaching an extracurricular art class at a secondary school. And has also taken travel courses on liberation theology in Honduras and Christian history in Turkey.
Jake's MA Thesis was a comparative study of the past forty years of official statements made by the ELCA and the Roman Catholic Church addressing the topic of Homosexuality. His research interests include Theological Anthropology (particularly regarding human sexuality), Ecumenism and Ecclesiology (particularly among Catholic, Eastern and mainline Protestant Churches), Natural Law (especially how it conceives of “the natural” in relation to ongoing scientific research), History of Christianity, and Theology of Creation and Wilderness Ethics (especially concerning humanity's role in both protecting and shaping “the natural”). Jake is married with one daughter (and another due in February) and one Chihuahua. When not reading or studying for language exams, he spends most of his time pretending to be a handyman while renovating his family's home.
Sai Kolluru is a senior at Case Western Reserve University majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He co-founded an Hindu organization on campus that focuses on preserving and practicing Hindu, Sanatana Dharmic values and principles with a final goal of Seva, selfless service. On campus, Sai and his team of second-generation Hindu Americans lead regular meditation workshops, have their annual speaker on campus event which brings in experts on Ayurveda, Vedanta, Pantajali Yoga and other aspects of Vedic traditions. In addition, the Hindu organization has started the first-ever Guru Vandhana on campus which means "Reverence to Teacher" through which they honor a professor chosen by the students of the University as their Guru. At events such as these, faith-based student organizations and communities of all faiths and traditions are present. Furthermore, Sai and his Hindu organization visit Bhutanese Refugees in Cleveland every sunday and many celebrations for the Bhutanese community on campus from festivals to meditation and yoga sessions. During their weekly visits, Sai leads a team of interfaith students in projects focused on education, women empowerment, job employment, driving lessons, computer literacy, ESL classes and many others to help the Bhutanese Refugees assimilate towards the American society. Recognized by the Office of Inclusion and Diversity of Case Western Reserve University as well as the White House, the Bhutanese Refugees project has been taken up by many faith communities and student organizations across the country. During the spring break of 2010, Sai went on a 2,000 mile trip around the Midwest visiting 10 universities, several cities, and 5 states connecting local communities with Bhutanese refugees and providing tools to implement various Bhutanese settlement projects. Recently, Sai complete his internship at the White House and hopes to pursue a career in Law and Government in the near future. He also hopes to bring the voices of Hindu-Americans to a national and an international stage and represent the world's largest ancient tradition through the eyes of Swami Vivekananda in the 21st century.
Laura Larson holds a Master of Arts in Religion degree from Yale Divinity School (magna cum laude, 2010), and an Artium Baccalaureatus in Psychology from Georgetown University (magna cum laude, 2008). At Georgetown she performed original research with Dr. James Lamiell in regards to the philosophical and practical implications of psychology on the individual. It was while at Yale that she began to intersect gender, sexuality, rhetoric, and religion. Ms. Larson has been involved in politics and communications for the past three years.
Jason Lemberg currently works as a Youth Specialist for Housing Opportunities for Women (HOW). With the Youth Team he assists in developing programming that compliments and supports the public education system. The youth team works in collaboration with the families and staff of HOW to help break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
In December, 2011, Jason will complete his Masters of Education in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago. His graduate work has focused on the history and philosophy of education. Jason was inspired to attend graduate school following his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan from 2006-2008. While in Kyrgyzstan he worked as TEFL teacher and teacher trainer. In addition to the working at the local school, his duties expanded into community organizing and taking every chance possible to engage in cross-cultural dialogue.
Most notably, Jason and his wife, Amy, had their first child, Benjamin Jason, on August 11, 2011. Their son has become a daily reminder of what is beautiful about life and humanity. Jason's thoughts on faith, religion, love, and philosophy are shaped by a myriad of life experiences. He was raised by a Lutheran father and a Jewish mother. Over the past ten years he has traveled to over 20 countries. He is an avid reader of religious and philosophy writings in addition to comic books and fantasy novels. Throughout his travels and younger days he has had many great mentors of various ages, ethnicity, religions, cultures, and perspectives on life. He owes his life and love to these people.
Jason is training to become a yoga teacher, has an obsession with Glee, equally loves tea and coffee, dreams of writing a play one day, and imagines a day when entire streets in Chicago are dedicated to bicycles. He can be reached at jason.lemberg[at]gmail.com. Check out his Twitter feed @jlemberg for more locations where he writes and shares his thoughts.
Rebecca Levi is an M.A student in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, focusing on ethical issues of gender, sexuality, and ecology in Judaism. Her thesis examines uses of empirical evidence in the Conservative movement’s 2006 decision allowing for the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and cantors. She loves Rabbinic argumentation, is cautiously attracted to process theology, has a love-hate relationship with Kant, is allergic to essentialisms, and despises the “appeal to nature” fallacy with a burning passion.
Rebecca is a progressive Jew from an eclectic religious background. Her mother is a secular Protestant; her father was a Jew who dabbled in East Asian and Native American spirituality. Growing up, she observed her family’s Christianities and Judaisms in both liberal and traditionalist manifestations, spent her teens as an intermittently practicing neo-pagan, and through a combination of intellectual frustration and a deep cultural pull stepped carefully back into Judaism in her late teens and twenties. She has been gleefully problematizing her tradition ever since, and is working towards her Bat Mitzvah this spring.
Andrew "Drew" Love is currently an MTS candidate at Southern Methodist University (SMU) Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX. His area of focus is World Christianity and World Religions. He is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society at SMU and the American Academy of Religion. He holds a BBA in Marketing/Management from the Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business in Lubbock, TX. Born in Macon, GA, Drew grew up in the United Methodist Church. This tradition continues as Drew and his wife, Paige, are members of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. Drew currently serves as Chair of Interfaith Dialogue at Perkins (IDP), a student organization committed to promoting interfaith dialogue and education within the Perkins community and the greater Dallas community. In addition, he is an active participant in the Multicultural Alliance in Fort Worth, TX and the Interfaith Council of Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas, TX. Since discovering his passion for interfaith dialogue and education, Drew has attended several conferences and seminars including the Sharing Our Faith Traditions Retreat sponsored by the Multicultural Alliance and the State of Formation Conference at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College. Community engagement is very important to Drew and he serves on the Dallas Metro Committee for the Dallas Emmaus Community and the Board of Management for the YMCA at White Rock. He also served as a member of the host committee for the 2012 National Day of Prayer luncheon sponsored by Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas. When not feeding his true passion, Drew works as a commercial insurance broker and enjoys reading, baseball, fishing and college football.
Sami Martin graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 2008 and 2009, earning her Master of Arts and Master of Divinity, respectively. She works a youth minister for the Valley Stream Presbyterian Church in Valley Stream, New York. Sami grew up in Illinois and moved to New York five years ago to study liberation theology, specifically focusing on victim-survivor and feminist theologies. As an undergraduate, Sami co-authored and presented a paper entitled “Twisted Pastor: Clergy Abuse as Theological Violation” at the Midwest American Academy of Religion conference. Her master’s thesis was entitled “What Women Need: Surviving Pastoral Assault” and received the highest marks possible from Union. It was chosen to be a part of Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary. Sami enjoys reading and writing and hopes to someday write a book based on her experiences within the church.
Ryan Patrick McLaughlin is currently a PhD candidate at Duquesne University. Prior to this endeavor, he received two MAs from Ashland Theological Seminary (Theology and Religion). His central research interest is animal theology (or that place of nonhuman animals in Christian theology and the ethical implications of that place). Over the past three years, he has published a few articles (including “Evidencing the Eschaton: Progressive-Transformative Animal Welfare in the Church Fathers,” Modern Theology 27/1 (January 2011): 121-146) and spoken at different conferences. Currently, he is adjunct teaching at Duquesne University and Seton Hill University (in the Spring). Prior to and during his academic studies, Ryan worked in various churches. He was a youth pastor (3 years) and senior pastor (1 year) in a Presbyterian Church. He was also a worship pastor for a Nazarene Church (1 year). During this period he was also invited to speak at various colleges and churches. Collectively, this path has made for an ecumenical experience (working and studying in a Wesleyan church, a Calvinist church, an Anabaptist seminary, and a Catholic university). His interest in interreligious dialogue is grounded in his belief that the first question of truth is not “Which proposition is objectively true?” but rather “How do we live together in peace?” This question stems from his interests in liberation theology, trinitarian theology, Catholic social teaching, and ecumenism.
Ela Merom received rabbinic ordination and a Master degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a B.A. in religious thought from the Hebrew University. In addition, long periods of travel in India and meditation retreats with Buddhist masters have deeply fed her spiritual path. For as long as she remembers she has been interested in exploring ways of knowing existence more intimately and lovingly, and cultivating a penetrating direct experience of the world. Ela is Jewish religiously and culturally, but a student of all religions in their essence as they represent languages for seeking the divine; in their richness they manifest the holiness through the creativity of the human spirit. All this she prays is for one end and one end only: to open her heart more and more to hold beauty and brokenness in herself and the world with growing tenderness, compassion, and love. Torah study, mindfulness, movement, drumming and music are her primary tools in this endeavor of reaching the heart of herself and others through prayer, justice and reconciliation work, spiritual direction, and encounters with sacred text. Ela lives and works in Tel Aviv and is mother to precious Shahar and Adi Lia.
Timothy Miner OUnI is an ordained minister and cum laude graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. candidate at New York Theological Seminary. He is a co-founder of the Order of Universal Interfaith (OUnI) which is a new ecclesiastic body with members around the world that seeks to serve people of all faiths through professional ministry and chaplaincy. He holds chaplain credentials for the United States government, local police and hospice organizations. He serves as founding executive director for the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States (CIC-USA). He is also co-founder of the World Interfaith Harmony Week Breakfast program which was the first official activity sanctioned by the United Nation's program. He blogs on "inclusive theology, spirituality and consciousness."
Abby Mohaupt is a Th.M. student at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Her current research is in the intersections between Environmental Theology, Family Systems Theory and Ecofeminism. She holds a Master of Divinity from McCormick (2011) and a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University (2007), where she studied Religion and Sociology. Her theological research and reflection has been intimately impacted by two experiences: her work in a Chicago domestic violence shelter (particularly how survivors of domestic violence draw on their faith traditions) and her summers spent working at Stronghold Summer Camp, making connections between faith and earth. She is a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), where she is interested in multicultural and fully inclusive communities of faith. She lives in Chicago with her partner and three cats, and she can often be found drinking great tea and creating art as a spiritual practice.
Joi Ruth Orr is a graduate of Howard University School of Divinity where she earned her Master of Divinity degree. During her tenure she served as the 2008-2009 Student Government Association President and as a branch chapter founder of Seminarians for Justice. Joi is also a former Program Associate for People For the American Way’s African American Religious Affairs division where she served as a manager, strategic planner, organizer, spokesperson, and co author of the ground breaking Homophobia in the Black Church campaign. She is currently the Director of Organizing for Faith Leaders for Community Change, an organization dedicated to involving institutions of all faiths to be involved in the academic success of children.
Her professional and personal interests include Georgia O'Keeffe, womanism, black folk (and the souls thereof), politics, religion (and certainly the politics thereof), religious symbols and sacred spaces, reducing her carbon footprint, exploring and critiquing the social justice involvement/impact of the black church post-Civil Rights Movement, and building power for justice.
As an aspiring sociologist of religion, a licensed preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, founding member of the Progressive Religion Network, and AmeriCorp alum with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Joi has begun to carve a career path focused on a ministry of social justice and faith based civic engagement.
Jonathan Oskins is a Graduate student currently pursuing an M.A. in Interreligious Studies in the first incoming class at Claremont Lincoln University, the world’s first interreligious theological graduate university, in its member school, Claremont School of Theology. He is the Communications Intern for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN), a non-profit association of Interfaith organizations and agencies in Canada, Mexico & the U.S. He has been a Board Member of the Academy of Judaic, Islamic and Christian Studies since 2008, along with fellow Board members, including Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Dr. George Grose, Dr. Reinhard Krauss, and Dr. S. Scott Bartchy. He received his BA in Study of Religion from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), completing his Senior Thesis/Honors Research for Departmental Honors supervised by the then Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Dr. S. Scott Bartchy. He was an editor of Epoché, the UCLA Undergraduate Journal for the Study of Religion in 2010, and President of the "Bolle Study of Religion Student Organization at UCLA" his senior year. He was also the recipient of a City of Los Angeles Certificate of Appreciation for participation in and planning of Big Sunday: Mayor's Citywide Day of Service. He attended the Los Angeles Pre-World Parliament of the World's Religions Event in Santa Monica, California in 2009, and was the student representative for Los Angeles Valley College to the Valley Interfaith Council event to celebrate and honor those who promote "Harmony in Diversity" in 2006.
Tubanur Yesilhark Ozkan is a Ph.D. student at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Her research is on Theodicy and the Understanding of Evil: The Risale-i Nur as Case Study. Her areas of interest are Christian-Muslim Relations, Modern Islam in Turkey and Europe, Muslim Theology and Philosophy. Tubanur teaches at King’s College in London in the following subjects: Reformism in the Ottoman Empire/Turkish Republic, and Iran; Experiments with Democracy and Civil Islam (Turkey and Indonesia); The Qur’an; Muslim rituals and practices; Islamic Thought in the Republic of Turkey: Said Nursi; Feminism and the Role of Women. She graduated in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations (MA) from Hartford Seminary, USA. During her studies, she worked as the assistant of the Director of Public and Institutional Affairs of Hartford Seminary in recruitment activities, media and public relations, the coordination of educational outreach events, including registration processing and hospitality. Furthermore, she was actively engaged at the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, a regional nonprofit organization that brings together Muslims in Connecticut to provide an understanding of Islam and Muslims through education and outreach. Tubanur is committed to interfaith dialogue, especially to the area of Christian-Muslim Relations since 1998. Tubanur has published several translated books (Turkish into German) and a book review for the journal ‘Reviews in Religion & Theology’. One of the translations, “Auf der Suche nach sich selbst” (In search of oneself) has received an accolade from the Ministry for Education in Austria. Tubanur, who speaks fluent English, German and Turkish and has an understanding of Arabic, was scholarship holder of the Merit Scholarship from Hartford Seminary, the Hartranft Scholarship Fund, and the Studienwerk Klaus Murmann, Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft. Furthermore, she received the 2008 Celie J. Terry Prize, awarded for academic achievement and Inter-faith action in the community. Her Twitter account is @tubanury.
Trey Palmisano holds a B.S. in English with a concentration in Writing from Towson University and an M.A. in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology from the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, MD. He is a 2012 Dean’s Award recipient for Outstanding Achievement in Theological Studies. His M.A. thesis work defended a methodological approach in the ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with particular attention to the concepts of peace and violence. He is a member of the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society, Society of Biblical Literature, and Evangelical Theological Society. A writer by trade, his work has appeared in such diverse publications as the Anglican Theological Review, Sojourners, The Baltimore Sun, and he served for a period of time as a faith columnist for the Baltimore Examiner. His past experience as an educator includes Carver Center for the Arts & Technology, a secondary education magnet school in Towson, MD, where he taught poetics and world literature, and Towson University, where he worked as an adjunct professor of English. He has worked as a curriculum developer creating original lessons and testing material to major educational publishers. He currently works as a process and procedures analyst for a major defense contractor in the Baltimore-Washington area. He was a 2012 participant in the State of Formation National Seminar on Narrative & Interreligious Cooperation.
Tasi Perkins is a Ph.D. candidate in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University and an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. His research interest is narrative paradigms of nonviolence in the liturgies, texts, and rituals of Islam and Christianity. Tasi earned a Bachelor of Science in Biometry and Statistics at Cornell University and a Master of Divinity from Duke University, and recently finished a year of graduate coursework at Boston University. He has promoted peacebuilding through ministerial involvement in hospitals, prisons, and social services, as a Chaplain Candidate in the U.S. Navy, and as the pastor of three congregations in Virginia. Tasi's wife, Kristen, is a doctoral student in neuroscience through Brown University.
Tom Peteet is a medical student at UMASS Medical School, and is pursuing residency in Family Practice and Primary Care. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2004 as a double major in physics and philosophy. Afterwards, he taught math and reading in inner city St. Louis through Teach for America. He is a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher, and graduate of UMASS Mind-body stress reduction program (MBSR). He has travelled to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Uganda to do clinical work, and writes about global health, medical education, ethics, palliative care, and humanism in medicine. He is currently taking an extra year of medical study to do rotations at Concord penitentary, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Tricia Pethic currently ministers to incarcerated Muslim women and is completing certification in Hartford Seminary's Islamic chaplaincy program. Tricia received the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship for study abroad in Cairo, Egypt from 2005-2006 and participated in the Deen Intensive Foundation’s 2008 Rihla. A Master’s degree holder in Near Eastern Studies, she blogs in her spare time at www.thecivilmuslim.wordpress.com. Among her interests are improving women’s access to, and involvement in, Islamic scholarship, the articulation of “indigenous Islam” in the West, and re-injecting ethics into the “fatwa discourse” of the Muslim community. Figures of influence include Hamza Yusuf (Islamic scholar), Michael Pollan (ethical food advocate) and Ina May Gaskin (natural birth pioneer).
Craig Phillips is currently completing a Master's program in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary. Craig is now in the midst of writing his MA thesis entitled, 'Relating to the Universal: Developing Muslim Commitment to Human Rights'.
Craig's has a background in music, Hindustani Classical Music to be specific, and completed a BA (Hons) from Delhi University, India, in 2008 specializing in sitar performance. Craig lived in India for 3 years. He has spent time in Cairo, Egypt, on a State Department Critical Language Scholarship in 2008 for Arabic study, and has travelled to Nepal, Turkey, and Iran. Most recently, Craig travelled to Germany and Poland in July 2011 as a fellow with the Museum of Jewish History (FASPE). A lover of language, Craig has acquired considerable skill in Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, and Arabic through his studies and travel.
Craig holds positions in program coordination and social media management. He hopes to combine his diverse experiences and skills for a career in religious based diplomacy, using religion as a primary tool to build peace and solve conflict globally.
Tiffany Puett is a PhD candidate in the Laurier-Waterloo Joint PhD Program in Religious Diversity in North America. She’s currently working on her dissertation, entitled “The Political Discourse of Religious Pluralism: World Religions Textbooks, Liberalism, and Civic Identities.” More broadly, she’s interested in exploring the ongoing construction of ‘religion’ in a liberal democratic society and the politics embedded in these processes. She’s especially interested in the intersections of religion with education, citizenship, and religious freedom. She approaches the study of religion from a relational perspective, with an eye for hybridity, encounter, nuance, and ambivalence. She aims to contribute to public conversations about religion that emphasize nuance and complexity while remaining accessible and transparent. Prior to her doctoral studies, she directed educational programs at the Temple of Understanding, a historic interfaith organization in New York, and taught in the Religious Studies Department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She holds an MTS in Ethics from Boston University School of Theology and a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two children. Follow her on Twitter: @tiffanypuett.
Michael Ramberg will graduate from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College this June(!). Much to his surprise, as the son of intermarried (but mainly secular) parents active in the Civil Rights movement, Michael found in the rabbinate his own way to carry on his parents’ important legacy. For him the most compelling venue in which to pursue this work of repairing the world is through interfaith coalitions, not only because Jews need partners in order to bring about real changes, but also because interfaith relationships are so nourishing for him. Michael’s focus is standing up for the rights of immigrants, which he does primarily as a volunteer with the New Sanctuary Movement and his synagogue, Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to his rabbinic role as community organizer and activist, Michael relishes his responsibilities working with people to sanctify life transitions. In his Jewish practice Michael is invigorated both by reconstructing the Jewish tradition to fit the evolving needs of people today and by immersing himself in prayer and the study of sacred texts. Michael’s partner just completed her PhD in Education and they have committed to equally sharing the care of their one-and-a-half year old daughter. Michael sometimes thinks that the profound love his daughter has inspired in him gives him at least a glimmer of understanding of the love the divine has for humanity.
Josh Ratner is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Josh is originally from San Diego, California, and spent time working as an attorney for five years prior to commencing rabbinical school. Josh presently lives in Fairfield, CT, with his wife (Elena) and three children (Dimitri, Elijah, and Gabriella). Josh intends to work in the field of interfaith progressive advocacy upon completing his studies. Please feel free to contact Josh at jdratner613[at]gmail.com.
Kathryn Ray is in her first year as a Master’s of Divinity student at University of Chicago. She will also be earning the A.M from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is thrilled to pursue ordination in the American Baptist tradition, following in the Baptist preacher footsteps of her grandfather.
Kathryn is deeply passionate about embodiment theology and how humans express spiritual truths in physical ways. She is a firm believer in the Baptist principles of soul freedom, autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of all believers, and the power of the Bible to preach truths across the generations. She fancies herself somewhat of an ecclesiological anarchist.
Her recent theological reflections are deeply informed by two and a half years in the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps, serving first at a community center in Milwaukee and then as a religious educator and special needs tutor in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. She is excited about the opportunity to integrate these experiences into her academic theological education, and is grateful to State of Formation for providing a venue to do so.
Yaira Robinson is a part-time Master of Theological Studies student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, full-time Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (the environmental program of Texas Impact), and all-the-time married mother to two boys, ages 8 and 11, who make her laugh every day.
Things that are true about Yaira include: she was raised in Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, by her parents who are social workers and Sufi teachers; she served as Director of Religious Education for two Unitarian Universalist churches before entering seminary to become a UU minister; and while taking an introduction to Judaism class at her Christian seminary, a profound religious encounter set her on an unexpected path of choosing Judaism. A year and a half later, she is now joyfully Jewish. Yaira is part of her Jewish name, though lots of people know her better as Amanda.
Yaira was a 2009 Young Adult Fellow in the Faith & Eco-Justice Fellowship program of the National Council of Churches, and is a member of the 2012 Class of the GreenFaith Fellowship Program. Yaira thinks she’s incredibly blessed to be engaged in interfaith environmental education and advocacy in her work, because while the challenges we face require practical and policy responses, they also require a transformation of heart and spirit. And the global nature of these environmental and human challenges demands that we figure out how to create a respectful and peaceful, religiously plural world. The good news is, that work can begin with each of us, today, wherever we are. Yaira is fueled by gratitude, laughter, and sometimes unhealthy amounts of coffee.
Arielle Rosenberg is a second year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, MA. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Arielle spent the last decade working as an organizer with migrant and indigenous communities in Honduras, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Most recently, Arielle helped found and organize with the Worker Defense Committee, a committee of migrant workers and community allies that worked to fight wage theft and other workers' rights abuses, in Seattle, Washington. In Boston, Arielle facilitates an interfaith group on prison justice and, as an intern with the Jewish Farm School, built a curriculum on Food Justice issues.
Arielle is passionate about the nexus of migration, prisons, and workers rights. She derives inspiration from a chevre of people, including Emma Goldman, Martin Buber, Edurado Galeano, the Pelican Bay prison hunger strikers, and Grace Paley, among many, many others. She is grateful to have the chance to drink deep at the well of Jewish text tradition, inviting voices from generations past to speak sweetly and urgently; to be part of the mending of rent strands of learning and legacy.
Jared Hillary Ruark is a first-year Master of Divinity candidate at Vanderbilt University. In the spring of 2011, he earned his A.B. from Kenyon College where he was awarded Highest Honors in Religious Studies and completed a second major in Economics. His undergraduate thesis explored the relationship between the theological liberalism of thinkers like H. Richard Niebuhr and the social activism of mainline Protestant ministers. Jared's current academic interests include historical Jesus studies, mysticism, 20th century theology, and the Protestant left. He is also interested in the relationship between religious ideology and economic sensibilities, as well as American political economy. In the future, Jared hopes to be ordained in The United Church of Christ. He is interested in a number of vocations, including congregational ministry, non-profit work in the realm of economic development, inter-faith dialogue, and further academic study.
Ikhlas Saleem is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School concentrating in women, gender sexuality and religion, specializing in Islamic Studies and holds a BA from Wellesley College in Religious Studies. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant with Hauwa Ibrahim, a Visiting Scholar and Researcher in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard. Ikhlas is most interested in the intersections of women, culture and development and the role of religion and policy in determining the lives of women. Ikhlas enjoys traveling to warm climates, long dinners with friends and riding her bike through Cambridge and Boston.
Ben Schewel is a Bahá’í and a doctoral student in philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in Belgium. He received his BA and MA from the University of Virginia in philosophical theology. He was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and Belgian American Education Foundation grant for the ’10-’11 year. Ben specializes in the field of process philosophy, broadly considered, as he includes alongside the likes of Alfred North Whitehead certain Neoplatonists, idealists, dialecticians, pragmatists, phenomenologists, and hermeneuticists within this category. Ben is working on developing Whitehead’s philosophy of history according to insights gleaned from the above-mentioned figures, in an attempt to reconstruct science and religion as harmonious forces contributing to civilization’s advance. Ben is very active within the Bahá’í community’s projects of social and economic development (http://www.ruhi.org), the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program in particular. He embraces the Bahá’í community’s approach to capacity building, combining spiritual reflection, scientific knowledge, community action, and systematic learning towards the empowerment of individuals and communities. He hopes that people everywhere will get involved.
Casey Thornburgh Sigmon is a first year Ph.D. student in Homiletics and Liturgics, and is a fellow in the Program in Theology and Practice at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary (MDiv ’10) where she met and married her husband Phillip Sigmon, a chaplain for Caris Hospice in Tennessee. Casey is a native of Kansas where she studied Film and worked as an on-air disc jockey at the University of Kansas (BA ’06). Out of the intersection of theology and popular culture, her passion for a particular field of study emerged: lifting up the connections between the “sacred” and “secular” ritual worlds of art, music, and theology. Casey is a proud ecumenical mutt. She was raised and baptized Roman Catholic, born-again in Young Life, served as college intern in multiple nondenominational church plants, went to a Presbyterian seminary, and is now an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Casey lives in Nashville with her husband, two cats, and twenty-some-odd Disciples of Christ students in the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt.
Becky Silverstein is a third year rabbinical student at Hebrew College, a transdenominational rabbinical school in Newton, MA. Becky holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science from Smith College, where she graduated in 2004. During her undergraduate career, she learned that the definition of engineering was “the application of math and science for the betterment of humanity.” She applies her love for text study, theology, and religious community towards the betterment of humanity by being a role model, educator, and organizer.
As an out, genderqueer rabbinical student, Becky is developing a religious community and personal theology that allows people to bring their full selves to their work and worship. During the 2010-2011 academic year, as a fellow at the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education, Becky co-founded “Queer Interfaith Community (QIC),” a community of queer-identified seminary students who met bimonthly to discuss and reflect on the role of their queer identity in their religious lives. The ultimate goal of QIC is to support queer seminarians and their allies in finding their voices in faith communities through interfaith programming and communal conversation. You can find Becky’s writing, as well as the reflections of other queer seminarians, on queerinterfaithcommunity.org. Becky is an avid Mets fan and loves New England in the fall. Becky is spending the year studying in Jerusalem, Israel.
Simran Jeet Singh is a doctoral student in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His interests span devotional traditions of early modern South Asia, and his dissertation research focuses specifically on the life and memory of Guru Nanak as it has been recorded in the Puratan Janamsakhis. In addition to his studies, Simran serves as Executive Director for the Sikh Spirit Foundation and Chair for the Interfaith Committee for the World Sikh Council. He is likewise a fellow of the American Institute for Indian Studies.
Simran received his B.A. in Religion and Literature from Trinity University, an M.T.S. with a concentration in South Asian Religions from Harvard Divinity, and an M.A. in South Asian Languages and Literatures from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Civilizations of Columbia University.
Simran lives in Manhattan with his wife, Gunisha Kaur, and the two of them enjoy exploring the world together. He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where he developed his love for the Spurs, warm weather, and Mexican food. Simran enjoys working on educational and charitable projects, and he is currently training for the New City Marathon.
Bethany Slater is a full time fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in Manhattan, a halakhic and egalitarian yeshiva that is a community of study, prayer and service. In 2009-2010 Bethany spent one year in rabbinical school at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Before starting rabbinical school Bethany spent four years living and working in the Jerusalem area. While there she managed several small non-profits working with the marginalized and underprivileged members of society. She is an alumna of the Conservative Yeshiva and Yeshivat Hadar. Bethany received her M.A. from Oxford University in Jewish Studies and has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Hillsdale College. Bethany has significant travel experience in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She has a strong background in interfaith dialogue and is passionate about being a part of and supporting intentional communities of faith and action.
Jason Smith is a current Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, where he is pursuing a degree in comparative religion. He received a B.A. in philosophy and religion from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 2009 and completed a summer internship for the Pluralism Project that same year. For two years between college and graduate school, Jason worked as the Youth Program Director for Youth LEAD (formerly Interfaith Action), a non-profit organization in Sharon, Massachusetts, where he oversaw and coordinated the local interfaith high school program and the annual Teenage Identity and Diversity Education (TIDE) Conference at Northeastern University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) and acts as co-chair of NAIN's Young Adult Committee.
Srdjan Sremac is a PhD candidate at VU University Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). He holds BA degree in Theology from Protestant Theological Faculty (NS) and a Masters degree (MPhil) from VU University Amsterdam in fields of practical (empirical) theology and psychology of religion. He published more then 20 articles in local and international journals. He has also authored and edited several books such as ‘The Phenomenology of Conversions’ (2007), ‘Conversion and Context’ (2009), ‘Religious Imagination and Contemporary Media’ (2010), ‘Dangerous Memories and Reconciliation: A Contextual Exploration of Religion in the Post-Conflict Society’ (Forthcoming 2011)and Religion and Identity in Europe: Discourses on National, European and Religious (forthcoming). He participated in numerous international theological conferences. He is the president and co-founder of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Religious Studies and Political Theology in Novi Sad, Serbia. His research interests include practical-empirical theology, narrative psychology of religion, religion and media, political theology and inter-faith dialogue. He lives and works in The Hague, Netherlands.
Drew Stockstill is currently a senior at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA where he is completing his Master of Divinity. He graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC with degrees in Theatre Arts and Philosophy. He has worked alongside the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya, assisting local Presbyterian congregations in their work in their own communities. He currently works as a Presbyterian Campus Minister at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and is a freelance writer for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Drew is passionate about the interreligious conversation that happens at the global level and how that conversation affects real relationships in communities. Working at Emory, Drew has the opportunity to be part of the work of the Office of Religious Life which seeks to be a spiritual, ethical, and moral presence in the University through its interreligious representatives. He is particularly interested in how ecumenical and interreligious conversations can value the particularities of individuals’ faiths and enrich mutual relationships of respect, friendship, and community engagement. Drew lives in Decatur, GA with his wife Ellen who is working on her PhD. in Literary Studies at Georgia State University. Drew’s email is dstockstill[at]gmail.com and you can follow him on twitter: @dstockstill.
Jason R. Tippitt is pursuing a master of arts in theological studies at Andover Newton Theological School, where he also works as communications associate in the office of institutional advancement. He was born and raised in Tennessee, but he never felt at home amongst the (many) “one true church” groups he encountered there. This may be partly because his fourth-grade teacher was a lovely Christian woman with an equally terrific Muslim husband (who would later be his high-school economics teacher).
A premature “quarter-life crisis” made him an obnoxious atheist before obnoxious atheists were cool, but the right combination of laughter, meds, and music helped him get over himself. Now dual-identifying as a Unitarian Universalist and an Ethical Humanist, this “skeptical seminarian” calls himself religious but not spiritual: He draws hope and inspiration from the very human effort of people working together toward common goals, and he sees religion as a powerful means of uniting people.
Joshua Toepper, 27, is a recent graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary where he received his Masters of Divinity and Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies degrees. Coming from the great city of Chicago, Joshua grew up in a conservative, middle class home and community that lacked cultural diversity. Homogeny was highly valued and few upset the status quo. As providence would have it, his education at Governors State University and a few key friendships, awakened him to a world of culture diversity and pluralism that profoundly shaped him. Ultimately, that season of life would lead him to pursue graduate education in culture.
After moving to Kentucky to attend Asbury, he realized that his passion for cultural diversity had broadened to include a passion for those of other faith traditions. This led him to take several trips to the Middle East and to actively engage in inter-faith dialogue, specially Muslim-Christian dialogue. The friendships that developed have added tremendous flavor and joy to his life.
After graduating, Joshua moved to Houston Texas to accept a job as the director of Student Ministries at the Foundry United Methodist Church. In this current position, he has the opportunity to work with teenagers wrestling with the Christian message in light of their culture milieu. Joshua is also seeking ordination in the United Methodist Church and hopes to pursue PhD studies in the field of world religions. He plans to one day live in the Middle East, learn Arabic, and eat hummus till his heart is content. His prayer is that through dialogue with those of differing opinions, we can learn to respect and display the ultimate ethic in regard to "the other": charity. You can check out his blog and follow him on twitter @joshuatoepper.
Bhikshuni Lozang Trinlae, B.Sc., Ed.M., (भिक्षुणी लोजाङ् त्रिन्ले) is presently a doctoral student in practical theology at Claremont School of Theology at Claremont Lincoln University, where she is conducting research in formal vajrayana Buddhist meditation practice. She was ordained a novice Buddhist nun in Mysore in 1991; took full-ordination Bhikshuni precepts in 1998 in Bodhgaya, India; and is also a priest in the Buddhist vajrayana tradition (Drukpa Kagyu and Gelug lineages primarily).
A summa-cum-laude graduate in physics, she earned her master's degree in education from Harvard University, where she also studied Tibetan language in the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. She taught science and English in India and in Tibet while undertaking contemplative training in vajrayana Buddhism. After teaching Buddhism in Taiwan in the mid-1990's, she founded Mahaprajapati Hermitage in Sagarmartha Mt. Everest National Park in Nepal, where she completed ten years of cloistered, intensive, vajrayana retreat, including two great approaching retreats (शतलक्ष मन्त्र इष्टदेव पुरश्चरण/བསྙེན་ཆེན།). Bhikshuni Lozang is also a trained chaplain and certified instructor in relationship education.
Lauren Tuchman completed a master of arts in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011 and did her undergraduate work in religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her interests include the intersections between religion and gender, as well as between religion and disability. Her website is http://judaism.bellaonline.com
After a 25 year career in healthcare finance and administration, Deacon Martin Watt left the executive ranks to attend St. Tikhon's Orthodox Christian Seminary in the prayerful hope of becoming a priest in the Orthodox Christian Church. He is most interested in better understanding how to engage in interfaith dialogue and interfaith tolerance without giving up the integrity of strongly held beliefs. Deacon Marty grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, and attended Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he earned a BBA in Accounting, and later earned the CPA certificate from the State of Tennessee. He was born into the United Methodist Church, spent his teens and 20's in the Southern Baptist Church, and converted to the Eastern Orthodox Faith in 1995. He was ordained a Deacon in the Orthodox Church in America in 2008. Deacon Marty is married and has two children, ages 21 and 11.
Funlayo E. Wood is a doctoral student in African Studies and Religion at Harvard University where she is a Junior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions. A native New Yorker, Funlayo holds degrees from the City University of New York Degree for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies and the City College of New York where she was a graduate fellow at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies.
An initiated a priestess of Obatala and Iyanifa in the Ifá-Òrìsà spiritual tradition, Funlayo seeks to substantively contribute her voice as a scholar-practitioner of African Indigenous Religion(s). Her research, which centers on theology, philosophy and phenomenology of the Ifá-Òrìsà tradition, has afforded her the opportunity travel extensively (a passion of hers) and to study with many gifted priests and scholars in the US, Africa and the Caribbean. Complementing her academic study, Funlayo is in spiritual training and receives consistent guidance from her master teacher, Chief Babalawo Oluwole Ifakunle Adetutu Alagbede of the Ile Omo Ope Shrine in Harlem.
Funlayo’s greatest joy comes from connecting with others and sharing her infectious energy. To this end, she serves on the boards of the Orisa Community Development Corporation and Creating a Culture of Peace, non-profit organizations dedicated to community building. She is also is involved in many other joyful activities, including hosting guided meditation groups, motivational speaking and blogging at her website Ase Ire. Contact Funlayo at Funlayo[at]AseIre.com.
Christina Yost is a first year M.Div. student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a concentration in Interreligious Contexts. She entered seminary straight from undergrad, where she completed a B.A. in Pre-Theology and Psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University with departmental honors in Religion. She engaged in her first interfaith experience by attending the IFYC’s 2009 conference and was hooked ever since. Following that experience, she co-lead a team of OWU students to Chicago, IL to explore the interreligious relations and dialogue in the city, with a particular focus on Christian and Muslim dialogue. These early encounters, fueled by her own passion for understanding, led her to be engaged in other budding interfaith activities on OWU’s campus and in her own interests and studies. Some of her other recent interests include, but are certainly not limited to, the journey and struggles of ordained women and the nature of community and relationships within and beyond the church.
In her spare time, Christian enjoys reading and photography. Currently, she works part-time as a student associate pastor. Christina aspires to be ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church, where she is currently a certified candidate in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.Evan Young is Campus Minister at United Campus Ministry Center for Spiritual Growth & Social Justice (UCM), an ecumenical and interfaith campus ministry serving Ohio University. He also serves as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens (UUFA), which ordained him in 2010. He served the Ohio-Meadville District of the Unitarian Universalist Association for two years as Young Adult and Campus Ministry Consultant, and he was instrumental in founding and chartering the Hattiesburg Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Evan has served at UCM since September 2005, and received his M.Div. from Methodist Theological School in Ohio in May 2006. He began serving UUFA in 2003, as their student minister; the congregation hired him as a part-time consulting minister in 2006. At UCM, Evan has worked to help the ministry identify, articulate, live into, and strategically carry out its interfaith mission. As the organization's Campus Minister, he develops and presents programs, supervises and works with interns, provides pastoral care and counseling to students and members of the OU and Athens communities, and bears public witness to an inclusive and progressive vision of the beloved community. He works to develop understanding across persistent divisions between faith traditions and to build relationships among the diverse faith communities in the greater Athens area and beyond. Under his leadership, UUFA was recognized by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Welcoming Congregation for its intentional welcoming and inclusion of, and advocacy for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Evan is a passionate advocate for the rights of workers, economically marginalized people, LGBTQ folks, and religious minorities. He lives in an off-grid house in an intentional community devoted to environmental stewardship and sustainable living.