ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

Grace Gathering opening and plenary report

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop
Elizabeth A. Eaton

Leymah Gbowee

Keynote speaker

Nobel Peace Prize winner
Leymah Gbowee

Workshop leaders

Keith Anderson
The Rev. Keith Anderson

The Rev. Keith Anderson is a pastor at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler, Pa., near Philadelphia. A thought leader on digital social media and the practice of ministry, Anderson is the author of “The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World” and co-author of “Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible.”

Anderson employs a wide range of social media and digital tools to minister online and offline. He speaks regularly with local and national church groups, synods and other organizations on digital ministry and the impact of digital culture on face-to-face ministry. He has taught at Andover-Newton Theological School, Columbia Theological Seminary and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Anderson holds a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Connect with him on his website at pastorkeithanderson.net.

Vance Blackfox
Vance Blackfox

Vance Blackfox, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the executive director of the Oaks Indian Mission, in Oaks, Okla. He has served the church in a variety of capacities with numerous organizations and congregations, including the Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, ELCA Youth Ministries and Gathering, the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event, the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is a graduate of Texas Lutheran University and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. While serving at the seminary, he developed the Vine Deloria Jr. Symposium and was co-developer of the seminary’s American Indian and Alaska Native Ministry Emphasis.

He has served as youth minister at several congregations and has provided leadership development and cultural education opportunities for countless youth and continues to do so for youth from numerous congregations through InterMission, the cultural immersion and education program of the Oaks Indian Mission. InterMission focuses on teaching youth and their adult leaders about native people and culture and then challenges youth groups to return home to learn from and about people in their neighborhoods who come from cultures different from their own.

James Bosse
The Rev. James Bosse

The Rev. James Bosse is vice president for community and organizational care for Graceworks Lutheran Services, which provides residential and personal services in more than 50 locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. He began his service to Graceworks in 1996 under call from the ELCA Southern Ohio Synod. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, a Master of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a graduate certificate in Healthcare Corporate Compliance from George Washington University. He has completed executive education in strategic management of nonprofit organizations at Harvard Business School and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He is certified in healthcare compliance and is licensed as a nursing home administrator in Ohio. Ordained in 1982, he served as a pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Williston, Ohio, while providing pastoral care at Luther Home of Mercy, also in Williston.

Tiffany Chaney
The Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney

The Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney is pastor and mission developer of Gathered by Grace, an ELCA new mission start in the greater Montgomery, Ala., area serving young adults. She also serves as a member of the ELCA African Descent Strategy Team, Future Directions Table, African Descent Lutheran Association, and the Southeastern Synod Mission Outreach and Renewal Committee.

A bi-vocational pastor, she also is the system director of business development for Baptist Health, a three-hospital health system based in Montgomery. She is a 2012 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, where she received a Master of Divinity degree, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she received a Bachelor of Science in finance, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in health administration.

Antonia Clemente
Antonia Clemente

Antonia Clemente is the founder and executive director of The Healing Center, also known as Trinity Healing Center Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to the intervention and prevention of family violence, sexual assault and abuse. It serves people of diverse faiths, cultures and personal experiences. She has more than 35 years of experience working with the Latino community. In 2000, she founded The Healing Center in response to the growing need to serve women and families affected by intimate-partner violence. It is a place where families can begin to heal and restore hope in their lives. In 2009, she spearheaded a project called The Daughters of the Lotus for teenage girls who witness and are victimized by violence in the home and in response to the epidemic of teen dating violence. The program encourages positive self-image, healing through the arts, goals development, creative activities and community action. In 2010, she saw the need to increase awareness of teen dating violence. Under her leadership, The New York City Teen Dating Violence Awareness was created and is now in its fifth year.

She is passionate about being a catalyst for change; she is dedicated to working with women and children who are marginalized and suffer in silence and envisions the eradication of family violence and prays that her actions will extend globally. She completed a two-year certification program in pastoral care studies with the Blanton Peale Institute and a one-year clinical pastoral education program at Long Island College Hospital and attended City University of New York College of Staten Island. She is a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and has served on the Justice for Women Consulting Committee for the ELCA. Her work has been featured in the documentary film “What Harm is it to be a Woman?” and “I Believe You: Faith’s Response to Intimate Partner Violence.”

John Crossin
The Rev. John W. Crossin

The Rev. John Crossin is a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. He serves as executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was ordained in 1976 and holds a doctorate in moral theology and master’s degrees in psychology and theology from The Catholic University of America. He is past president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists. He has taught at several theological schools, including Catholic University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and DeSales School of Theology. He served as executive director of the Washington Theological Consortium (1998-2011). He was a visiting fellow of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in 1997-98 and was the president of the DeSales School of Theology in Washington from 1987 to 1997.

He is widely published in theological journals and is author of “Everyday Virtues,” “Walking in Virtue: Moral Decisions and Spiritual Growth in Daily Life,” “Friendship: The Key to Spiritual Growth” and “What Are They Saying about Virtue.”

David deFreese
The Rev. David deFreese

The Rev. David deFreese is vice president of church relations for Mosaic, the largest faith-based provider of services for people with intellectual disabilities in the United States. In 2000, he was elected bishop of the ELCA Nebraska Synod. He was re-elected on the first ballot in 2006. He previously served as pastor at First Lutheran in Kearney, Immanuel Lutheran in Bellevue, and Christ Lutheran in Pierce, all in Nebraska. He has also served as an exchange pastor in Tanzania. He is a graduate of Augustana University with a special education and religion degree. He graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and received an honorary doctorate from Midland University.

Chad Fothergill
Chad Fothergill

Chad Fothergill is a practicing church musician in the greater Philadelphia area and holds a university fellowship at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, where he researches the vocations of Lutheran church musicians in their Reformation-era and present-day contexts. He has served congregations in Minnesota, Iowa and Pennsylvania and has held teaching appointments at Gustavus Adolphus College, the University of Delaware, and the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival. He has also been a writer for CrossAccent (the journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians), “Sundays and Seasons,” and the forthcoming “Reformation 500 Sourcebook.” He has presented at gatherings of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the American Guild of Organists and the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music.

Shauna Hannan
The Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan

The Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan is the associate professor of homiletics, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (of California Lutheran University) and is on the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, Calif. She is rostered in the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod.

Hannan’s teaching and mentoring of students (both those new to preaching and veterans) demonstrates the depth of her call to the formation of public church leaders in the world. Her research interests include: preaching public issues, connecting the arts (e.g., film, theatre, music, photography, short-story fiction) and the craft of preaching, preaching the Psalms, and Latin-American homiletical pedagogy.

She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (doctorate), Luther Seminary (Master of Divinity), and Concordia College, Moorhead (Bachelor of Arts), and has been a Lutheran Thrivent Fellow. She presents regularly at synodical events and is the author of numerous publications. She has served on various committees and boards, including: synodical candidacy committees, Association of Teaching Theologians (chair), ELCA Theological Roundtable, Seafarers and International House, and the ELCA Global Mission Board, (2002-2009).

Janelle Hooper
The Rev. Janelle Rozek Hooper

The Rev. Janelle Rozek Hooper serves as program director for Ministry with Children at the ELCA churchwide organization. She also is interim campus pastor at the University of Houston. She writes for "Family Matters" in the Women of the ELCA's Gather magazine and wrote "Heaven on Earth:  Studies in Matthew" for the Book of Faith series from Augsburg Fortress Press. She and her spouse have two children, Sophia and Soren.

Cynthia Ishler
The Rev. Cynthia Ishler

The Rev. Cynthia Ishler has worked for more than 15 years with the Racial Justice Advocates of the Women of the ELCA, helping members of the Lutheran church understand racism and white privilege. Ishler is passionate about helping people understand the insidious nature of racial inequality in our country.

She started her career as a nurse, specializing in hospice care until entering seminary in 1982. After seminary she was a rostered leader in the ELCA, serving three parishes and as a hospice chaplain. In 2005, she returned to nursing and hospice care until retiring in April 2015. She lives in Parma, Ohio, with two cats, Harry and Potter. (Yes – she is a Harry Potter fan.)

Darrell Jodock
The Rev. Dr. Darrell Jodock

The Rev. Dr. Darrell Jodock is a professor emeritus at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he was the first to hold the Drell and Adeline Bernhardson Chair in Lutheran Studies. In addition to serving in a parish in Washington, D.C., he has also taught at Luther Seminary, Muhlenberg College and St. Olaf College. At Muhlenberg he founded the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding. Currently, he chairs the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations and represents the ELCA at the inter-religious “convening table” of the National Council of Churches. He also chairs the board of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research and serves on the planning committee for the annual Vocation of a Lutheran College Conference. Raised on a farm in North Dakota, he received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College, Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, and a doctorate from Yale University.

Kathryn Johnson
Dr. Kathryn Johnson

Dr. Kathryn Johnson has been director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the ELCA since September 2015. She has also served as assistant general secretary for ecumenical affairs for The Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland, where she saw in action the struggles and fruits of theological dialogues. She was on the faculty of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for 30 years, where her teaching centered on historical theology. She has a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College, a Master of Arts from Cambridge University and a doctorate from Yale University. She is a life-long Lutheran, a lay person by vocation and is passionate about ecumenical dialogue with many traditions and about religious reconciliation.

Joseph Kempf
Joseph Kempf

Joseph Kempf grew up in the small town of Mazeppa, Minn. This past April, he graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in chemistry. He spent his years at Augsburg engaging the community, using faith as a stepping stone to find common ground and enhance relationships. He looks to everyday experiences for humor and insights when talking about interfaith dialogue, preferring to listen and learn and not to “hold all of the answers.” If there is a single phrase that he tries to overcome in his work with religious diversity, it’s “never talk about religion.” The truth is, he says, from religion flows community and justice, and silence destroys the opportunity for both.

Gwendolyn King
The Rev. Gwendolyn S. King

The Rev. Gwendolyn S. King is a graduate of Gettysburg College earning a Bachelor of Arts in biology and religion. She also has a Master of Divinity degree, with an emphasis in counseling, from Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C. Ordained in August 1980 (in the Lutheran Church in America), she was the fourth black Lutheran woman to be ordained worldwide.

She was also the first woman to serve as a pastor in three parishes and as a college chaplain at Dartmouth College (18 years). As a chaplain, she served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for 30 years. By her retirement she had achieved the rank of colonel, the first African American woman to do so in the history of the U.S. Air Force chaplaincy. Currently, she serves as a sabbatical/supply pastor within the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and the Diocese of Pennsylvania for the Episcopal Church.

She is committed to women and issues of justice. She serves on the Executive Board of the Women of the ELCA and is chair of its Constitutional Review Committee. She is also a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Anti-Racism and Racial Justice Advocacy Team.

Kit Kleinhans
The Rev. Dr. Kathryn “Kit” Kleinhans

The Rev. Dr. Kathryn “Kit” Kleinhans holds the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she has taught since 1993. Her passion is making Lutheran history and theology come alive for people today. She sometimes describes herself as living with one foot firmly planted in the 16th century and the other planted just as firmly in the 21st century. She writes regularly for The Lutheran magazine (now Living Lutheran) and for Christ in Our Home, as well as for scholarly journals. Most recently, she is the editor of “Together by Grace: Introducing the Lutherans,” published by Augsburg Fortress this summer.

Carol Lahurd
Dr. Carol Schersten LaHurd

Dr. Carol Schersten LaHurd serves as adjunct professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and outreach consultant for A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice there. She has been professor of biblical studies and Islam at the University of St. Thomas, Wake Forest University and Fordham University. She has published numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on biblical and interfaith topics, and authored two annual Bible studies for the Women of the ELCA: “Luke’s Vision: The People of God” and “Transforming Life and Faith.” From 2006-2010 she coordinated the ELCA's Middle East peace-making strategy. LaHurd received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College (Ill.), a Master of Arts in English from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is married to Dr. Ryan LaHurd. They have two children and four grandchildren.

Dirk Lange
Dr. Dirk G. Lange

Dr. Dirk G. Lange, who has a doctoral degree from Emory University, is associate dean of graduate theological education at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he is also the Fredrik A. Schiotz Chair of Mission and a professor of worship. His ministerial experience has covered a wide spectrum of activities, but all are under one umbrella: liturgy in the lives of people. He has written extensively on the topic in ecumenism and liturgical theology, including “Trauma Recalled: Liturgy, Disruption, and Theology.” He is project officer for the global Joint Commemoration of the Reformation being prepared by The Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Rome). He is also a member of the International Joint Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission.

Martin Lohrmann
Dr. Martin Lohrmann

Dr. Martin Lohrmann is assistant professor of Lutheran Confessions and heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary and is the author of “Book of Harmony: Spirit and Service in the Lutheran Confessions.” A native of Walla Walla, Wash., he received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Valparaiso University, a Master of Divinity at Wartburg Seminary and a doctorate at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Luther’s pastor, Johannes Bugenhagen. Having served as a pastor in Ohio and Philadelphia, he now lives in Iowa with his wife, Carrie, and their three children. He enjoys playing rock, blues and folk music.

Mary Lowe
Mary Elise Lowe

Mary Elise Lowe is an associate professor of Religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she teaches courses in contemporary Christian thought, the Bible, gender issues and world religions. Her current research focuses on what the Christian tradition has said about the human person (sin, sex, gender, image of God). She regularly publishes articles on disability theologies, queer theologies, and the work of Martin Luther. Her most recent publication is “Re-Embracing the Body of Jesus Christ: A Queer, Lutheran Theology of the Body of Christ,” in Lutheran Identity and Political Theology (2014). Her latest professional paper is “A Queer Theology of Vocation” presented at the Luther from the Subaltern – the Alternative Luther Conference in Aarhus, Denmark (2015). She is a member of Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Don McCoid
The Rev. Donald J. McCoid

The Rev. Donald J. McCoid served as the executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), from 2007 to 2015, and as the director of this section until his retirement in 2016.

McCoid served congregations in Monessen, Pa.; Latrobe, Pa: and Pittsburgh. He served as the bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod from 1987-2007. McCoid has been active in ecumenical relationships, serving on the Christian Leaders Fellowship of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, and as chair of the Council of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Faith and Order Conference Board and was the coordinator of the North American Committee of The Lutheran World Federation.

McCoid served as the chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops from 1999-2003. He was the United States co-chair for the Lutheran-Orthodox bilateral discussions and was the co-president of the Lutheran World Federation-Orthodox Church international dialogue. Until 2007, he was the chair of the board of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and chair of the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Theological Seminaries.

In 1983, Thiel College conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to McCoid for his Appalachian and synodical ministry. He has traveled extensively for ecumenical work in Asia, Africa and Europe. He served as the president of the National Association of Ecumenical Officers.

He is a native of Wheeling, W.Va., and is married to Saundra Piisila McCoid. They have two married daughters, Kimberly Maravich and Elizabeth Kilpatrick.

Robert Moore
The Rev. Robert Moore

The Rev. Robert Moore is ELCA Reformation 500 representative in central Germany through ELCA Global Mission. He and his wife, Kathy, are based in Leipzig and coordinate the ELCA’s involvement in Wittenberg and Leipzig now through 2019 for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. He has organized 15 tour groups to Leipzig, Wittenberg and other Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach sites. He served for 23 years as pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston and has served on the ELCA Church Council (2011-2016) and the Board of Regents of Texas Lutheran University. In 2013, the president of Germany, Joachim Gauk, awarded him the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian award, and the mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung, awarded him the Golden Honor Pin of Leipzig.

Phoebe Morad
Phoebe Morad

Phoebe Morad is the national program coordinator for Lutherans Restoring Creation, which as a grassroots movement of clergy, lay people, campus ministers, outdoor camp staff and seminary professors, empowers and equips the ELCA to care for creation. Since her master’s thesis investigated why it was so hard to get her fairly progressive congregation to stop using Styrofoam at coffee hour, she seemed the natural choice to go to the Lutherans Restoring Creation’s national gathering of synodical leaders in 2010. Since then, she has led dozens of workshops across the country helping “green sheep” of congregations discover the role they feel most called to in a ministry that is too often mired in despair and guilt. As mother of two young children, an animal lover and hiker, she finds this work feeds her hunger for making her faith relevant and active when not in the pew.

Nicole Newman
Nicole Newman

Nicole Newman is a native of the Washington, D.C., area and is a graduate of Trinity University with a degree in political science. She is an AmeriCorps Vista alum. She has spent time working at non-profits getting hands-on experience in providing services, building coalitions, coordinating volunteers, working in development and community organizing. She also co-founded a consulting group, Power and People, which helps organizations use the tools of community organizing to create more equitable people-focused organizations. She trains and facilitates conversations for churches and groups and has developed a curriculum called “5 Tips to Respectfully Engaging Communities.” She is a poet and believes in the power of the arts to transform lives and communities.

Richard Perry
The Rev. Dr. Richard Perry

The Rev. Dr. Richard Perry is a professor of church and society/urban ministry at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has served in a variety of ministry settings, including Calvary Lutheran Church in Gary, Ind., and as director of black ministries of the ELCA. He has a passion for bridging the classroom with life in diverse communities and neighborhoods. He has served on the board of the Urban Clinical Pastoral Education Consortium Inc., an agency that provides seminary students with clinical pastoral education experiences in nonprofit and faith-based organizations. He has contributed chapters in “Theology and the Black Experience,” “The Promise of Lutheran Ethics,” and “Faithful Conversations: Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality.” His research interests include bioethics, environmental justice, and ethics and politics in the African American community. He brings knowledge and experience in African American ministry, multicultural ministry and ethics.

Paul Rajashekar
Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar

Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar is the Luther D. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology, the director of the Asian Theological Summer Institute at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia since 1991 and a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Originally, from the India Evangelical Lutheran Church, he has served as a professor of theology at The United Theological College, Bangalore, India; The Gurukul Theological College, Chennai, India; executive secretary for Church and People of Other Faiths at the Department of Theology of The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, Switzerland, (1984-1991) and as dean of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (2000-2012). He has also served the ELCA in various capacities, including as a member of the ELCA Church Council. He is author of many books and essays, including his essay in “Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves, A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World.”

David Sandmel
Rabbi David Fox Sandmel

Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, a scholar of Jewish-Christian relations and an interfaith activist, has served as director of Interfaith Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League since 2014. From 2003-2014, he held the Crown-Ryan Chair in Jewish Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Sandmel earned his doctorate in religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his rabbinic ordination and master’s in Hebrew literature from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish studies from Ohio State University. He was the Judaic Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian & Jewish Studies in Baltimore, where he managed the project that produced “Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity.” He is an editor of “Christianity in Jewish Terms and Irreconcilable Differences? A Learning Resource for Jews and Christians.” His commentary on First Thessalonians appears in The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

Joy Schroeder
The Rev. Dr. Joy A. Schroeder

The Rev. Dr. Joy A. Schroeder, an ELCA pastor, is professor of church history at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and professor of religion at Capital University. She holds the Bergener Chair in Theology and Religion at both institutions. She is a graduate of Luther College (Bachelor of Arts), Princeton Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity), and the University of Notre Dame (Master of Arts and doctorate). She is the author of “The Book of Genesis,” “Bible in Medieval Tradition” series, “Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation,” and numerous other publications on church history, biblical interpretation and the role of women in the church. She served on the task force that wrote “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist.” She enjoys kayaking and translating Medieval Latin biblical commentaries.

Peg Schultz-Akerson
The Rev. Dr. Peg Schultz-Akerson

The Rev. Dr. Peg Schultz-Akerson serves as interim pastor at Lutheran Church of the Master, Los Angeles. She is a certified spiritual director, engages interfaith work and is a member of the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations. She recently presented at a Rabbinic Conference in Colorado with Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan on “The Holy Spirit in Judaism and Christianity.”

She serves as a California Lutheran University convocator and co-chairs the ELCA Southwest California Synod Green Faith Team. A graduate of California Lutheran and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, her doctoral thesis at Claremont School of Theology is titled “Reading the Word with the Heart: Luther’s Large Catechism and the Practice of Faith.”

She and husband, Reg, live in Santa Monica, Calif., where she nurtures her backyard wildlife habitat, enjoys two dogs, a house rabbit, and delights in visits from family, including grandson Finn.

Christine Shander
Christine Shander

Christine Shander was raised Lutheran but spent her teenage and college years exploring different denominations, only to return to her Lutheran roots upon graduation from seminary. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2015, she participated in The Lutheran World Federation’s Global Young Reformer workshop in Wittenberg, Germany, which gathered 140 young adults from 60 countries. She is a Christian educator at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Delafield, Wis. She serves as the practice discipleship coach for the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod and is an active contributor to youth and young adult ministry developments in her synod. She is passionate about biblical studies, ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and mental health awareness.

Kirsi Stjerna
The Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna

The Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna is a Lutheran theologian, originally from Finland, with a Master of Theology from Helsinki University and a doctorate from Boston University. After 15 years of teaching at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, she serves now as the First Lutheran, Los Angeles/Southwest California Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology Chair at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University. She is on the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Theological Union and is on the adjunct faculty at Helsinki University. Her published works include: “Women and the Reformation” (2009), “No Greater Jewel: Thinking of Baptism with Luther” (2010), “Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People” (2012, with Brooks Schramm), and “The Annotated Luther, Volume 2: Word and Faith” (2015). She is featured in the video “Morningstar of Wittenberg” on Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther. For several years, she wrote columns for Lutheran Women Today magazine on the spirituality of motherhood. She was ordained in Finland and is rostered in the ELCA.

Debbie Streicher
Debbie Streicher

Debbie Streicher has facilitated and developed faith formation programs for all ages in the congregational setting for more than 25 years. She is president of the Christian Education Network of the ELCA and co-director of Milestones Ministry. She has written several articles for the Lifelong Faith Journal. Streicher also worked closely with Faith Inkubators resources and has consulted and led events across the United States, Canada and Australia for congregations focusing on the importance of establishing faith practices in the congregation and in the home. Her background is in language. She has a passion for family ministry and uses her knowledge and experience learned from teaching foreign languages as a tool to implement systems for teaching about immersion in the language of faith. Her vision is to involve all ages in faith formation, strengthen family relationships through spiritual growth, and empower God-given gifts to do ministry.

Mark Swanson
The Rev. Mark Swanson

The Rev. Mark N. Swanson is a pastor of the ELCA and, since 2006, the Harold S. Vogelaar Professor of Christian–Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has also taught at Luther Seminary (1998–2006) and at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt (1984–1998). His wife, the Rev. Dr. Rosanne A. Swanson, is as an educational consultant in pastoral care at the theological seminary of the Batak Protestant Christian Church in North Sumatra, Indonesia. His research and writing focus on the Arabic literature of Middle Eastern Christian communities, the history of the Egyptian church, and the history of Christian–Muslim relations. He has served as chair of the ELCA’s Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Muslim Relations and contributed a chapter to the recent volume “Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World” (2016).

Sayyid Syeed
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is the national director of the Islamic Society of North America, heading up its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington, D.C. He served for 12 years (1994-2006) as secretary general of the Indiana-based national umbrella organization, which has more than 300 affiliates in the U.S. and Canada.

He earned his doctoral degree in sociolinguistics in 1984 at Indiana University Bloomington. His dissertation was published in 1985 by the Linguistics Club of Indiana University.

He has been actively involved in fostering understanding among world religions and has participated in interfaith dialogues from local to international levels in the U.S. and Canada. A frequent speaker at interfaith dialogues, he has served as a member of the board of trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. In 2000, he was invited to a dialogue at the Vatican by Pope John Paul, and in 2008, he led the American Muslim leadership delegation to meet with Pope Benedict in Washington, D.C.

He served on the taskforce for the integration of Muslims in the American mainstream set by Chicago Global Affairs after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to promote the healthy interaction and involvement of Muslims in mainstream America. He was instrumental in pioneering the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign against anti-Muslim prejudice established by various Christian and Jewish denominations in 2010. The campaign is funded by Christian and Jewish interfaith partners and is hosted by the Islamic Society of North America in Washington, D.C.

Tim Wengert
The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert

The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert is the emeritus Ministerium of Pennsylvania professor of church history at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. A parish pastor for seven years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, he received his doctorate from Duke University in 1984 and taught on Philadelphia's faculty from 1989-2013. He has written many scholarly books and articles on the Reformation, was co-editor of the English edition of The Book of Concord and translated Luther’s Small Catechism, which is widely used throughout the ELCA. In addition to several books on Philip Melanchthon, he has written a book on Luther’s catechisms. He also wrote “Reading the Bible with Martin Luther” and is general editor of “The Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions.” He co-authored (with Susan Wood) a book on Lutheran/Roman Catholic relations. He edited the first volume of “The Annotated Luther,” from which his translation of the “Ninety-five Theses” has also appeared.

Karri Whipple
Karri Whipple

Karri Whipple is an intimate-justice activist in New York City. She specializes in working with faith communities to develop action plans for promoting intimate justice through worship, education and grassroots advocacy. She believes that intimate justice is a topic that must be discussed not only in pre-marital counseling but in the pulpit, at the communion table, and with our children and teens. She has served as the chair of the Metropolitan New York Synod’s domestic violence awareness task force.

She is pursuing a doctorate in biblical studies and postcolonial trauma theory at Drew University. She is currently a lecturer in women and gender studies at Rutgers University. She also works to raise awareness about gender and religious literacy in the media as a board member of the World Association of Christian Communications – North America Region and the Religion Communicators Council.

Susan Wood
Dr. Susan K. Wood, SCL

Susan K. Wood, SCL, is professor of systematic theology at Marquette University where she teaches courses on ecclesiology, Henri de Lubac, the “nouvelle théologie,” ecumenism, sacramental theology and systematic theology.

Active in ecumenical work, she serves on the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue (1994-present), the North American Roman Catholic-Orthodox Theological Consultation (2005-present), and the International Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (2008-present).

She has published “One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism” “Spiritual Exegesis and the Church in the Theology of Henri de Lubac”; “Sacramental Orders”; with co-author Timothy J. Wengert, “A Shared Spiritual Journey: Lutherans and Catholics Traveling Toward Unity” and is editor of “Ordering the Baptismal Priesthood” and with Alberto Garcia, “Critical Issues in Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Carl. E. Braaten.”

Wood is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Nancy Wright
The Rev. Nancy Wright

The Rev. Nancy Wright grew up in Colorado and received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in psychiatry and religion and a Master of Arts in environmental conservation education from New York University. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, from 1973 to 1984 she served as founder and executive director of the Westside Ecumenical Ministry to the Elderly in New York City. She also worked for nine years at two ecumenical environmental agencies, including Earth Ministry in Seattle. From 1984 to 1993, she served St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, New York City, as a spiritual director. As a Lutheran pastor, she has served Ascension Lutheran Church, South Burlington, Vt., since 2006. She coauthored “Ecological Healing: A Christian Vision” (1993) and authored “Christianity and Environmental Justice” for Crosscurrents (June 2011) and “Living Water,” in “Living Cosmology: Christian Responses to ‘Journey of the Universe,’” edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (2016). In 2012, she and Ascension received a Lilly Endowment Grant for a sabbatical focused on “living water.” She is environmental liaison to the ELCA New England Synod.

Jonathan Rudman
Jonathan Rundman - Grace Gathering music

Born and raised in the isolated Finnish-American communities of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Jonathan Rundman has been writing songs and performing across the country since he was 18. He emerged on the national music scene as a Chicago-based touring artist, generating rave reviews in Billboard, The New York Times, Performing Songwriter, Paste and countless regional publications. Now living in Minneapolis, he continues to tour and record. Jonathan's songs can be heard on radio stations across America, in Scandinavia and England, and have been featured on television's “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “CBS This Morning.” He has performed live on National Public Radio's “Mountain Stage Radio Show” and on Iowa Public Television.

In 2015, Rundman released the album “LOOK UP.” It marks a mature new phase in his critically acclaimed discography. The 10 songs explore themes of technology, linear time and optimism and draw from Rundman's diverse musical influences including Americana, Nordic folk music, and ’80s new-wave pop.

Rundman has also recorded and toured with Kaivama and Arto Järvelä playing Finnish folk music.