Stories from the ECF Fellowship Partners Program: Summer 2014

September 4, 2014

Ellen Aitken (1997)
ECF and the wider Church were saddened to learn of the death of the Rev. Dr. Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, who died on June 14 after a battle with a very aggressive form of cancer. Ellen was named an ECF Fellow in 1997 and most recently served as Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University and Honorary Assistant at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Montreal. Please see this article for more on Ellen's distinguished life and career.

Kate Alexander’s (2002)
new book “Saving Beauty: A Theological Aesthetics of Nature” was released on August 1. In it she argues that natural beauty is a source of religious insight into the need and way of salvation, and this project develops a theological aesthetics of nature and beauty with an aim toward cultivating a theological and ethical framework for redeemed life as participation in ecological community. Kate is currently Associate Rector at Christ Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Liza Anderson (2010)
spent the summer doing dissertation research at Oxford University as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar. In August she will attend the annual meeting of the International Council of Christians and Jews in Buenos Aires, and then the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Detroit as part of a program for emerging religious leaders run by the Shoulder to Shoulder program. Liza continues working on her dissertation at Yale University, and this fall will be a teaching fellow at the divinity school for Anglican Theology and History I: Great Britain.

Claude Barbre (1995)
will be a plenary speaker on two panels at the Psychoanalysis On Ice International Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, October 9-12. His presentations are entitled "Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Religion", and "Psychosis: Treatment and Theory Today." In addition, he will present a paper entitled, "Citizen Psychotherapist and the Shadow of Activism: Critical Abductions and Faithful Disbelief" at the Annual Conference of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society (APCS), October 17-18, Rutgers University. Claude will also be a keynote speaker at the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP) Annual International Conference devoted to the theme "Prejudice, Shame, and Guilt: Emerging Possibilities" in New York City, November 15, 2014. His paper is entitled: "Daimon Genealogies and Encrypted Secrets: Identifications with the Oppressor and Traumatic Transmissions of Shame, Guilt, and Prejudice.” Dr. Barbre's book chapter, "Django Unchanged: Identifications with the Oppressor and Intergenerational Cycles of Traumatic Hauntings and Reenactment" will appear in Fragments of Trauma and the Social Production of Suffering, edited by Marilyn Charles and Michael O'Loughlin (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014). He has also written the Foreword for the book, The Ethics of Remembering and the Consequences of Forgetting: Trauma, History, and Memory, edited by Marilyn Charles and Michael O'Loughlin (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014). Claude is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Ellen Davis (1984)
was featured in a series of short video series on various aspects of Episcopal liturgy and theology called New Tracts for our Times. In the video, Ellen speaks about the importance of scripture for the life of Episcopalians in North America and beyond. New Tracts for Our Times was developed by ECF Fellow (2012) Joseph Wolyniak under the auspice of The Scholar Priest Initiative. A press release about the series was featured on the Episcopal Digital Network. Ellen is Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School.

Joeseph Duggan (2008)
will be leading a five day retreat January 5 – 9, 2015 entitled The Feast at The Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, CA. The program will be a modified Ignatian retreat offering times for silence, communal prayer, daily spiritual direction, and Eucharist. Joe is currently Priest-in-Charge at St. Francis’ Episcopal Church, Fair Oaks, CA and is the founder of Postcolonial Networks.

Nancy Frausto (2013)
has been named a Fellow by the Beatitudes Society in recognition of her "scrappy church ministry" at Trinity Church and St. Mary's Church (Mariposa) in Los Angeles, which is also the focus of her ECF Fellowship. The Beatitudes Society is a national leadership development organization founded in 2005 that identifies, resources and connects young entrepreneurial faith leaders who are creating new models for vibrant church life and the pursuit of social justice. Nancy was also named a Future50 leader by the University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture, in partnership with the Interreligious Council of Southern California (IRC). The Future50 project discovers, spotlights and supports the rising generation of faith leaders who are committed to the IRC’s core values. Additionally, Nancy is a member of the Council of Advice of Latino/Hispanic Ministries and part of the leadership team for the 2014 Nuevo Amanecer Conference. Nancy serves as Priest-in-Charge at Trinity Church, Los Angeles, a bilingual congregation in a collaborative partnership with St. Mary’s Church.

Jeffrey Gill (2000)
is in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya working with bishops, clergy, and lay leaders of the Episcopal and other Anglican Churches to establish a Peace Institute to support peace and reconciliation among Christians in South Sudan. According to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, the Kakuma Camp is receiving record numbers of refugees for the second consecutive year with a total population approaching 125,000. Since becoming an independent nation in 2011, South Sudan has faced numerous challenges and conflicts, especially amongst distinct ethnic and religious groups. The Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan is one of the fastest growing parts of the Anglican Communion, as noted in ECF Fellow (2013) Jesse Zink’s webinar this past winter. Jeffrey is Rector of Trinity Church in Seattle, Washington chairs the Global Episcopal Mission Network for the Diocese of Olympia.

David Gortner (1998)
and his research team have launched a new website for Clergy into Action, which presents research and stories to aid seminary graduates as they begin their new ministries. He has published “Effective Clergy Leadership in the 21st Century: Are We Up to the Task?" that raised significant questions for seminaries and divinity schools regarding education for the work necessary in effective ministry and leadership. David has now begun a six-month sabbatical during with he will be working on two forthcoming books: Swimming against the Tide: Great Local Leaders in a Good-Enough Organizational Culture (the results of an intensive study of clergy congregational leadership in the Episcopal Church), and Feast in the Desert: Young Adults Creating New Faith Communities and Re-Creating Christianity (a follow-up to a documentary film co-produced by David Gortner and Don Kenyon in 2005). In August, he will present the paper, “The Creativity of Religious Leaders, in Three Movements," and offer a discussion session on his recent book, Varieties of Personal Theology: Charting the Beliefs and Values of American Young Adults (Ashgate, 2013), at the American Psychological Association meeting in Washington, DC. David will also present sessions at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Indianapolis, IN this coming October. Also of note, in January, David will teach a month-long course at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong. David is the Director of the Doctor of Ministry program and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.

Gary Hall (1983)
, as Dean of Washington National Cathedral, welcomed the Rev. Cameron Partridge, the first openly transgender Episcopal priest to the pulpit and altar. This story was widely covered by national news outlets including articles in The Washington Times, The Huffington Post, and this video in The New York Times. Gary also spoke out on the death of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In this op-ed in The Washington Post, Gary addresses how we are to understand the events from the point of a view of faith. He was also a guest for an extended conversation on the radio program State of Belief. Additionally, as extensive restoration and repair work continues at the Cathedral, CBS Evening News featured the craftsmanship of the stone masonry. In the video, Gary shares the important role Washington National holds in the United States.

Charles Hefling (1977)
has published the article, "Why We Mess Things Up," in the June, 25 2014 issue of The Christian Century. This article on original sin, complete with Calvin and Hobbes, can be found here. Charles was Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College.

John Wm. Houghton (1990)
was editor-in-chief of a collection of essays recently published on J.R.R. Tolkien. In Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey, 15 essays by friends and mentors honor Shippey, widely considered the leading scholar on Tolkien, that reflect their mentor’s research interests, methods of literary criticism and attention to Tolkien’s shorter works. John has also been a contributor for the last year to the column "Spiritual Directions" in the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education's newsletter, Connections. John is the Firestone Endowment Chaplain and Chair of the Dept. of Religious Studies and Philosophy at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA.

Jennifer Hughes (2001)
was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor on how Episcopalians view the Church of England vote on allowing female bishops. In the article, Jennifer shares how this event goes beyond ordination and impacts what women bring to Christian liturgical ministry. Jennifer is Associate Professor of History at the University of California Riverside, founding co-chair of UC Riverside’s Institute for the Study of Immigrant Rights, and co-chair of the Religion in Latin America and Caribbean Group of the American Academy of Religion. She serves as Assistant Priest at Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana, California.

Robert Hughes (1972)
has returned with his wife Barbara to Dodoma, Tanzania for the third time to teach a semester at Msalato Theological College where he also serves in several capacities for the University’s Center for Religion and the Environment (CRE). He has previously served as a missionary to Romania, Moldova, and in Russia with the Global Outreach for Addiction Leadership & Learning ProjectProject. Bob is Professor of Systematic Theology and the Norma and Olan Mills Professor of Divinity, emeritus at Sewanee.

Nicole Janelle (2014)
was part of the spiritual leadership and response to the deadly shooting on May 23 in Isla Vista, California that killed six University of California Santa Barbara students and injured thirteen others. As the Chaplain and Vicar of the St. Michael’s University Church in Ilsa Vista, Nicole offered a final benediction to about 16,000 people who gathered at a memorial service at the University of California Santa Barbara shortly after the tragic events. This article documenting the response was widely distributed through Episcopal news outlets. Nicolle also offered a reflection of the events and the various responses that have grown out of it over the summer months in the Diocese of Texas’ blog.

Christoph Keller (2003)
is currently serving as Interim Dean and Rector of Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas. Christoph was featured in an article this summer that highlighted the ministry he has undertaken to reinvigorate the Cathedral. A program that he helped found as a pilot project, SUMMA: A Student Theological Debate Society, will launch next summer under the auspices of the Beecken Center, the program arm of the School of Theology at Sewanee. SUMMA is a program for high school students and uses theological debate to teach tools for critical thinking, knowledge of the Christian theological tradition, and skills in public speaking.

Jay Emerson Johnson (1992)
recently began serving as the Academic Director of the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation at Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and continues as Lecturer in Theology and Culture at PSR and as a member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. He is the author most recently of two books, Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy (Seabury Books, 2013) and Peculiar Faith: Queer Theology for Christian Witness (Seabury Books, 2014). This past spring he delivered the annual Reynolds Lecture at the Toronto School of Theology and this past June he spoke at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina.

Harold Lewis (1980)
began a new ministry on August 1 as Interim Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Harold retired in November of 2012 as Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he had served for the past 16 years. Harold is also currently a visiting lecturer at the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Robert MacSwain (2004)
participated in a panel discussion entitled "Rooted in Scripture and Tradition" at the inaugural conference of the Society of Scholar-Priests at Duke Divinity School this past June. ECF Fellow (2012) Joseph Wolyniak was one of the organizers of this event. Robert is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at Sewanee.

Brian McVey (2012)
serves as a voice and advocate on human trafficking issues for the Episcopal Church. In August, he worked with Province VI (which includes the dioceses of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa) to offer two webinars about human trafficking and about how congregations can become involved in the fight to end it. As part of a nationwide effort, Brian is heavily involved in pushing for statewide legislation reform that would help make Iowa one of the most inhospitable states for human trafficking. Brian serves as rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davenport, Iowa.

Sarah Nolan (2012)
was awarded an Environmental Stewardship Fellowship by the Episcopal Church's Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries for her work with The Abundant Table Farm Project. Sarah was sponsored for the Environmental Stewardship Fellowship by the Beecken Center at the School of Theology at Sewanee, Tennessee. Watch a video of Sarah speaking about the work she is doing and how The Abundant Table will be partnering with the Beecken Center. The Abundant Table Farm Project was also awarded a $100,000 Mission Enterprise Zone Grant by The Episcopal Church this past May. Read more about the grants in a press release here. The Abundant Table Farm Project seeks to change lives and systems by creating sustainable relationships to the land and local community through a variety of initiatives including agricultural and nutrition education, youth development and internships. Finally, in the midst of this busy summer, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream West Coast Core Tour visited The Abundant Table to learn more about their farm-to-school education and wrote about their time there on their blog.

William Petersen (1970)
became Priest-in-Charge of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester, New York on July 1. His ministry there comes during the congregation's transition between their previous rector of 19 years and the incoming rector who will arrive on October 15. Bill is Emeritus Dean and Professor of Ecclesiastical and Ecumenical History of Bexley Hall Seminary, Consultant to the Ecumenical Office of the Episcopal Church, and the founder and convener of The Advent Project.

W. Mark Richardson (1990)
was awarded the 2014 Genesis Award by the Episcopal Network on Science, Technology & Faith in recognition for his extensive scholarship, teaching, and leadership in the areas of faith, science, and evolution. Read more about the award and of Mark’s work and contributions in these fields in this press release published on the Episcopal Digital Network. Mark is currently President and Dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA.

C. K. Robertson (1998)
became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher. His latest book, The Book of Common Prayer: A Spiritual Treasure Chest – Selections and Explained, offers insights into the history and heritage of the Book of Common Payer and was reviewed in the Summer 2014 issue of The Anglican Theological Review. Chuck serves as the Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Albert R. Rodriguez (2013)
completed teaching the spring course “Emerging Ministry among American Latinos” at Seminary of the Southwest (SSW), Austin He was also reappointed as Assistant to the Chair of Hispanic Church Studies program at SSW and is preparing for a spring course on “Latino Worship in an Episcopal Setting.” Al was one of several workshop presenters at the Diocese of Texas’ conference on congregational growth and formation, focusing on multi-generation Latino ministry. Along with ECF Fellows Daniel Vélez-Rivera (2007), Nancy Frausto (2013), he participated as a new member of the Council of Advice of Latino/Hispanic Ministries in the Episcopal Church. A highlight from the gathering, and central to Al’s Fellowship work, was the formal inclusion and acceptance of the Latino ministry strategy aimed at expanding our current emphasis on immigrant and first generation Latinos to also include native born, English-dominant Latinos. This theme and evolving paradigm of trans-generation Latino ministry was also carried into the Nuevo Amanecer Conference on Latino/Hispanic ministry at Kanuga Conference Center, August 25 - 28. Al is helping to organize the 2015 Clergy Conference on Latino/Hispanic Ministry, being held at SSW October 10- 12, 2015, that will be addressing these same themes.

Greta Ronningen (2011)
continues to lead popular retreats at Mt. Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara, CA. In July, Greta led a yoga retreat complete with meditations and guided hikes. From September 11 – 14, she will co-lead guided contemplative retreat with other members of the Community of Divine Love. A flyer with more information can be found here. Greta is a chaplain to incarcerated girls at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and men at Twin Towers Correctional Facility as part of The Good Seed Project.

Robert Royalty (1991)
is on sabbatical 2014-15. He will spend the fall semester as Visiting Professor at Harlaxton College, Lincolnshire, England. This is the overseas campus of the University of Evansville and Wabash College is a partner. In the spring, he will return to Stanford University as Visiting Scholar in the Classics Department. His current research focuses on the Book of Revelation and apocalyptic themes in early Islam. Bob is currently Professor of Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Jane Shaw (1991)
was named Dean of Religious Life at Stanford University and will be joining the faculty in Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies. She will begin her new position as Stanford’s spiritual leader this fall. More on Jane and her new position appears in this press release and news article. As a historian of modern religion, she is the author of Miracles in Enlightenment England (Yale, 2006); Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers (Yale, 2011), which won the San Francisco Book Festival History Prize; and A Practical Christianity: Meditations for the Season of Lent (Morehouse, 2012). Jane served as the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California since 2010. Prior to her tenure at Grace, Jane was Dean of Divinity at New College, Oxford, and prior to that taught theology at Oxford University for sixteen years.

Stephanie Spellers (2008)
has accepted an appointment to serve as Director of Mission and Reconciliation and Adjunct Professor of Church and Society at General Theological Seminary, where she will live on campus and serve on the leadership team for the seminary’s new Way of Wisdom initiative. Stephanie will continue to serve, now on a part-time basis, as Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island. She will also work as a Senior Consultant in the Center for Progressive Renewal, an ecumenical venture dedicated to renewing mainline churches and equipping them to embrace new mission contexts. In August she published her third book, The Episcopal Way, volume 1 in the new Church’s Teachings for a Changing World series from Church Publishing. She and Eric Law serve as the series editors. Stephanie was also the preacher at the Opening Eucharist at the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) this past summer in Philadelphia, PA. Watch a recording of it here.

Andrew Thompson (2011)
has been named Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Ethics at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Andy’s Ph.D. research, for which he was awarded an ECF Fellowship, focused on environmental and social ethics and the work of ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr. His first book, All My Holy Mountain: A Christian Ethical Response to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, is currently under contract with the University Press of Kentucky.

Joseph Wolyniak (2012)
launched a video series entitled New Tracts for Our Times under the auspices of the Scholar-Priest Initiative, with support from the Evangelical Education Society's Evangelism in the 21st Century program and the ECF Fellowship Partner Program. The first two New Tracts feature ECF Fellow (1984) Ellen Davis addressing Scripture and the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry addressing the Eucharist. An article in ENS about the project is available here. Joseph also helped organize the inaugural gathering of the Society of Scholar-Priests at Duke Divinity School, where ECF Fellow (2004) Rob MacSwain presented and Stanley Hauerwas offered the keynote address. In July, Joseph participated in the Religion and Animal Protection Conference organized by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, where he chaired a session and gave a presentation titled "For dissections and trials: The religious roots of animal experimentation in Bacon’s new science" to be published in a forthcoming volume edited by Andrew Linzey. Joseph is a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford and visiting scholar at the University of Denver.

Ellen K. Wondra (1985)
has finished a 6-year term as Academic Dean at the Seabury site of the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation. Now Research Professor of Theology and Ethics at Bexley Seabury, she is taking a research leave this summer and early fall to work on a book on the theology and practice of authority in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion for the series Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology edited by ECF Fellow (1998) C. K. Robertson. Additionally, Ellen has been appointed to the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.

Malcolm Clemens Young (1999)
continues his deep involvement in the development of Ventana School, an Episcopal elementary school in Silicon Valley. Ventana is a progressive, Episcopal school that takes its inspiration from the schools of Reggio Emilia which encourage artistic expression, critical thinking, and investigative learning. This summer Malcolm published his latest book The Invisible Hand in the Wilderness: Economics, Ecology and God. He also participates in the Pacific Coast Theological Society and publishes articles on The Huffington Post. Recent articles on The Huffington Post include The Spirituality of Cities, The Fault in Our Stars and Death, and Persistent Modern Sacrifice. Malcolm is Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos, CA.