Re:Generate Fellowship

A holistic leadership development program for young North American faith leaders who are exploring vocational issues focused in the areas of food, health, and ecological well-being.

 

Why?

There are too few leadership development opportunities for young faith leaders working on the issues posed by broken food systems, climate change, and ecological degradation, and yet these are issues that faith leaders and congregations need to confront head-on. Through this fellowship, the next generation of leaders will explore and deepen the inner resources needed to sustain their work. This program also provides an opportunity for emerging leaders to consider how they may further engage our pressing ecological issues, connect with their peers, and better tell the story of why this work matters for our world.

Who?

Young (age 40 and under) religious leaders who show exceptional promise are invited to apply for the Re:Generate Fellowship. The 15 fellows selected will be people who already possess leadership experience in the program’s focal areas. Priority will be given to applicants actively working in a community-based project, initiative, or organization.

Cost

The fellowship is free. Tuition, food, and lodging during the fellowship are all covered by the program. The only cost to fellows will be travel. To cover your travel costs you might find support through your church, workplace, or crowd funding. For those without such support networks, some need-based travel funds are available.

What’s Involved

We take a formational approach to leadership development. Rather than a list of do’s and don’ts, we approach leadership as a way of being in the world. Through a series of dialogue-based exercises and conversations in dyads, triads, and as a group, as well as through individual journaling, you will have the chance to reflect on your leadership in terms of how you show up in the world. You will be invited to explore the relationship between the core of who you are, and what you do as a leader. We will also explore the ecological implications of our practice of leadership, taking account of the non-human world on which all life depends. And finally you will have opportunities throughout the week to learn narrative writing skills, exploring the ways that your personal narrative intersects with God’s narrative, and how through story you can share your work with the world.

What Will I Gain

By the end of the week you will have

  • explored your role in systems (e.g. food systems, faith communities)
  • explored your role as a storyteller, using narrative to share your work and vision
  • better articulated the role and function of faith in your work as a public leader
  • practiced working with tools that may enhance the quality of your leadership
  • identified opportunities for partnership with other fellows in your cohort
  • joined a supportive network of peers with whom you can partner in the coming months and years.
  • been inspired to persevere in your work

Fellowship Leaders

Fred Bahnson is the director of the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is the author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith (Simon & Schuster) and co-author with Norman Wirzba of Making Peace With the Land (InterVarsity). His essays have appeared in Oxford AmericanImageThe SunOrion, and Best American Spiritual Writing. His work at WFU School of Divinity has focused on training and equipping faith leaders to create “more redemptive food systems.” After graduating from divinity school, he worked as a peaceworker among Mayan coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, and in 2005 co-founded Anathoth Community Garden, a church supported agriculture ministry that he directed until 2009. He is the recipient of a number of grants and awards, including a W.K. Kellogg Food & Community fellowship, a Pilgrimage Essay Award, and a North Carolina Artist Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction from the North Carolina Arts Council. He lives with his family in Transylvania County, NC where they tend a ½ acre permaculture orchard, terraced hillside gardens, and a dwindling flock of chickens.

Matthew Wesley Williams, M.Div., is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). Matthew is a member of FTE’s senior leadership team and provides leadership, management and oversight for FTE’s strategic initiatives to cultivate diverse innovative leaders for the church and academy. He leads with a passion and interest in leadership formation, scholarship and social change. He brings to this role over a decade of experience within the organization in recruitment, program development and administration. Prior to coming to FTE, Matthew served at the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer at Morehouse School of Medicine. There he coordinated the research, advocacy, and educational initiatives of sixteen community cancer coalitions in ten states in the American South. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center and bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and in philosophy and religion from Florida A&M University. He is a facilitator with the Center for Courage & Renewal and an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

This fellowship is made possible by the generous support of the Byron Fellowship Educational Foundation and Kalliopeia Foundation.


Meet the Fellows

  • 2015 Fellows

    Nathan Ballantine 

    Nathan “Man in Overalls” Ballentine, a child of the church and a 2008 graduate of Warren Wilson College, has been growing food since he was eight years old.  He launched Tallahassee Food Gardens to encourage and assist locals in growing food for themselves and their neighbor.  In 2010, Nathan connected with local good food leaders and co-founded the Tallahassee Food Network (TFN), a regional coalition of the global movement that works to grow community-based good food systems.  In 2011, Nathan, in collaboration with local youth, founded iGrow Whatever You Like, TFN’s community youth empowerment and entrepreneurial urban agriculture program.

    Cherice Bock 

    Cherice teaches at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, where her courses include Poverty & Restorative Earthkeeping and Spirituality & Social Justice. She holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. Cherice serves as the editor of the environmental studies journal Whole Terrain. She runs a community garden at George Fox University and enjoys hiking and camping in her home state of Oregon, biking around town with her spouse and two sons, and eating home-grown fruits, veggies, and eggs. Her doctoral work will focus on themes of vulnerability, resilience, and spirituality in caring for creation. You can find her environmental writing on the Whole Terrain blog and an article in Christ & Cascadia, “Sister Willamette: Co-Lamenting with My River.”

    Justin Fast

    Justin is Social Initiatives Specialist at the Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) and a Conference Ministerial Candidate in the Free Methodist Church, USA. As part of the SNAP-Ed leadership team at MFF, Justin provides issue-area expertise on food security and sustainable food systems to nutrition educators statewide. His particular focus is on “policy, systems, and environmental” change to improve the health and dignity of families facing hunger. In 2012, Justin was named a Hunger Justice Leader by Bread for the World. He now serves as Chair Elect of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s Division of Sustainable Food Systems, is organizing Congregationally Supported Agriculture among mid-Michigan churches, and is slowly but surely developing a taste for radishes. Prior to joining MFF, Justin developed and managed Michigan’s first food bank network SNAP Outreach Program and led regional food banks’ federal advocacy efforts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Relations and Policy with a focus on Religious Politics from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Justin and his wife Hannah are soon-to-be parents and reside in Holt, MI.

    Catherine Goggins

    Catherine finds joy in growing food and studying Spanish. Inspired by the Catholic Worker and their agrarian vision, she studied Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech, where she served as the Catholic Community’s Justice and Service Minister. At the Alderson Hospitality House, where she found a second home, she grows vegetables for guests and all family and friends visiting women incarcerated in the nearby federal prison. Catherine loves to bike and bake bread. One day she hopes to work in therapeutic prison horticulture.

    Duncan Hilton

    Since 2011, Duncan has served as Executive Director with the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), training church teams in community organizing practices to develop local mission projects. He has also worked as Training Director for Life Together, the Boston-based Episcopal Service Corps program, and as a Teaching Fellow with Professor Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School in his class, “Organizing: People, Power, Change.” Duncan’s career focus shifted from parish ministry, where he served as a minister for youth and children, to leadership and organizing through his experience in 2010 as Field Coordinator for the Promise Arizona campaign, which registered over 13,000 new voters in the state. He received an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School in 2008 and an A.B. from Harvard College in 2002. He lives in Watertown, MA.

    Jillian Hishaw 

    Jillian Hishaw, Esq., is Founder & Director of Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), a non-profit that provides hunger relief, estate planning and marketing services to small farmers and youth in the Southeast.  She has extensive experience in working in rural and urban communities as it relates to agriculture and environmental grass root efforts across the country. For more information about Jillian and her work, please visit www.30000acres.org.

    Kelly Molzen 

    Kelly’s spiritual path has led her to a deepened commitment to addressing food justice issues from a faith-rooted perspective. She studied Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics at the University of Delaware, completed her dietetic internship at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and received her Master’s of Public Health from NYU.  Kelly is on the board of the Franciscan Action Network and founded the Food & Spirituality Committee of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, which she currently chairs. She has coordinated the nutrition efforts of Bronx Health REACH since 2010.

    Kelly Schaefer

    Kelly is a missionary with The United Methodist Church, serving at the Servant Community, a new faith start in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. She has been working for the last year to start and facilitate an Agriculture Ministry. Using her background in teaching and a passion for creation care and food justice, she is currently developing educational programs and volunteer opportunities for intergenerational groups from around Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as those living in the local jail. Before coming to Wisconsin, Kelly was serving on the admissions team with the Asian Rural Institute in northern Japan, which invites rural leaders from around the world to practice leadership, community organizing, and organic, sustainable agriculture techniques. She has also been active both domestically and abroad in the effort to connect faith communities and address issues surrounding nuclear energy, climate justice, and local food systems.

    Nadia Stefko

    Nadia is an assistant farm manager at Sandhill Family Farms, an organic CSA farm in Grayslake, IL. She is also a candidate for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She aspires to bring these passions together to help build a regional, collaborative network of church-based food production and food security ministries. Prior to attending divinity school, Nadia lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked in faith-based advocacy, the labor movement, and human rights. She and her family live in Chicago.

    Louis Tillman

    Louis Tillman, a native of Atlanta, GA, received of B.A. in Business Administration and Public Relations from Carthage College. He is currently a second-year seminarian at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, pursuing a Master of Divinity degree for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Louis’ passion stems from food justice, racial justice ministries, and multicultural liberation theology. He currently resides on the South Side of Chicago.

    Joy Williams

    In her capacity as the Regional Consultant for the Central South-East Region of NC with Partners in Health and Wholeness, an initiative of the NC Council of Churches, Joy has partnered with ten congregations to increase healthy local foods for the region through church gardens, cooking demonstrations, and food preservation classes. These churches and several others find ways to network together to gain and share resources to create change within the food system using sustainable practices.  Any activity, whether it is holding a youth conference where the youth are running the workshops or building your own low cost fresh vegetable/fruit juice meal plan or starting a church garden, is done with a mindfulness to protect people and the planet in a just way.  She believes strongly in an ecumenical and multi-cultural approach to working with faith communities. She has a blast organizing culturally sensitive meetings where you might find the group of Lumbee, Latino, Black and White adults singing worship songs, praying in once accord, playing games for team building, and collaborating together on improving access to healthy local foods.

  • 2016 Fellows

    Katie Blanchard

    Katie Blanchard was raised in church-basement potlucks in Northern Michigan. She first learned of organizing for food justice through Presbyterian churches’ solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their campaigns for fair pay and conditions in Florida’s tomato fields. In college, Katie became a founding student leader of the Real Food Challenge, a national student network that organizes universities to support a just, sustainable, ‘real’ food system. Katie is passionate about the movement part of the food movement, especially organizing with young people to build the skills, leadership, and power we need to create a just, resilient economy. She lives with her partner, tiny garden, and many houseplants in Chicago.

    Michael Clevenger

    Michael Clevenger is a Reader in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a former evangelical missionary with the World Race.  He has worked with the UNHCR, Compassion International, YWAM, and local farmers and NGOs throughout Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa and Eastern Europe. Through seeing the ravaging of war and meeting creative peacemakers around the world his eyes were opened to how deeply interconnected the world is and the important role food and resource sovereignty plays in sustainable development and conflict resolution. He is currently the blog director for Rally International, covering sustainable development work being done in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in communities affected by ongoing resource wars and ethnic violence as well involved with labor organizing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in south Florida.  This is all fueled by a caffeine addiction cleverly sustained by working in specialty coffee. Inspired by the agrarian-organizing vision of the Catholic Worker Movement and Mother Maria of Paris’ monasticism into the heart of the poor, Michael hopes to begin an Orthodox Worker Movement with an emphasis on small-scale urban agriculture.  He writes at the intersection of ecology, theology, and community asking ‘what is the good life’ with a preferential option for the poor which can be found at Practice Resurrection. He resides in Orlando, Florida.

    John Creasy

    John Creasy grew up in the suburban North Hills of Pittsburgh where he spent many childhood hours intentionally lost in the forest near his home. When these woods were razed for an upscale housing development a deep sense of betrayal and loss developed and shaped John’s call as a conservationist. John is a founding pastor of The Open Door Presbyterian Church in the urban landscape of Pittsburgh. Through this church-plant John also founded Garfield Community Farm on approximately three acres of once abandoned land in one of Pittsburgh’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Today John splits his time between being the manager of this urban farm and associate pastor of The Open Door Church. He lives with his wife, Alyssa, and three children in the city where they together raise rabbits and hundreds of pounds of food on their 1/10th acre permaculture plot.

    Angel Cruz

    Angel’s interest in agriculture began as a child, growing up in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of rural North Carolina. Growing up, she was surrounded by tobacco farms, Christmas tree farms, and busy helping the family preserve food for the winter. However, she went off to college hoping to get as far away from agriculture as possible. Now she admits that agriculture is an important part of her own identity. Strangely, Angel’s passion for sustainable agriculture began while planting heirloom corn on the deforested slopes of El Salvador. It was the farmers, community leaders, and their families that inspired Angel to keep agriculture in her blood and make it part of her vocation, working towards ways to enhance food security for smallholder farmers throughout Latin America through sustainable agriculture education. Angel believes that as citizens of the US, we have access to some of the best resources and training in the world. Currently, Angel is pursuing a PhD in Agroecology at North Carolina State University. Now, she spends around half the year in the US, in graduate school, taking classes and working on a local food and farming project in her hometown in rural NC. During the summers, she is in El Salvador working with a grassroots NGO and conducting PhD research on sustainable soil management in Christian Base communities.

    Anna Duhon

    Anna Duhon lives alongside the Berkshire Hills where she grew up.  In her work as a social scientist with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program, she explores interconnections between people, nature and agriculture through community-based research and outreach.  Anna completed an A.B. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and an M.A. in Natural Resources and Peace from the University for Peace in Costa Rica.  She is deeply interested in processes of connection and transformation at every level.  Along with her husband, she caretakes a lively homestead and tries to be as present as possible to the gifts of the land.

    Rachel Field

    Rachel Field is a current seminarian at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut and will graduate with a Master’s of Divinity in 2016. Finding her spiritual life enlivened by her former work as a Field Ecologist and Bird Bander, Rachel continues her interest in eco-spirituality through retreat ministry and work coordinating the Yale Divinity Farm. Rachel studied environmental studies and intrinsic value ethics at Washington College. She is a candidate for ordination in the Episcopal Church, and hopes to continue building a community of love rooted in care of the earth as she develops an ecological and spiritual ministry after seminary.

    Kate Fields

    Kate Fields is from Nashville, TN and is a biologist turned seminarian; she now studies theology through a biological lens at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Prior to seminary, she conducted biology pedagogy research, while working in both veterinary medicine and in remedial learning/Academic Support. She has done peace-building and climate justice work in Fiji and broader Oceania and is committed to nonviolence, peace-building, climate justice, indigenous rights, and to developing praxis-based creation care theologies within local faith communities. She serves on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA and also works with BPFNA (Bautistas por la Paz). She is currently in the ordination process with her home church in Nashville (Glendale Baptist Church) and loves to hike with her greyhounds, grow vegetables, promote local food, and listen to folk music.

    Erica Geppi

    Erica Geppi is the North Carolina State Director for the Humane Society of the United States where she manages the organization’s NC legislative affairs and grassroots engagement including faith and rural agriculture outreach. Growing up on a farm in east Tennessee, Erica developed a lifelong passion for the environment, animal welfare and her faith. Her experience includes time spent as a community organizer for the Sierra Club where her work focused on coal ash, hog waste, sustainable food systems and social justice issues. She later went on to serve as the Director of Digital Engagement for Halogen TV, a cable television network producing faith, culture and intentional living content for the millennial Christian audience. She continued her work in film and television managing digital marketing campaigns for Participant Media films including Food Inc., An Inconvenient Truth and the launch of the new cable network Pivot TV. Erica resides in Raleigh, NC with her two dogs Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle and her pet rabbit Huckleberry.

    Elizabeth Green

    Elizabeth Green is the farm manager at Three Sisters in Ipswich, Massachusetts, an organic community farm serving food pantries, restaurants, and CSA members, with a mission of creating more access in the local food economy. Elizabeth has been a production-scale farmer for eight years. She graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a BA in political science. Before farming, she did policy and advocacy at Sojourners in Washington, DC and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and was a community organizer with Boston Faith & Justice Network and Fair Trade Boston.

    Ryan Harb

    Ryan Harb is a certified permaculture designer, community organizer, TEDx speaker, and was the first person in the nation to receive a Master of Science degree in Green Building. In 2010, Harb created a job for himself as Sustainability Manager for UMass Amherst Dining Services. He then began developing one of the first university permaculture gardens in the nation that supplies locally grown produce and hands-on sustainability education to the campus and local community. Within 18 months, “The UMass Permaculture Initiative” went viral and was featured in over 100 media publications including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and on MTV. The project has engaged over 3,500 volunteers and won 8 national awards. In 2012, Harb was invited to the White House to meet and speak alongside President Barack Obama. He was named a “White House Campus Champion of Change”, and UMass Permaculture was voted the top university program in the country that’s changing the world for the better. Now, Ryan is leading one of the first church permaculture initiatives, at West Parish UCC in Andover, MA! www.RyanHarb.org

    Joe Martinez

    Joe Martinez is the Executive Director of Centro de Investigación Educación Reclutamiento del Trabajador Organizado (CIERTO) a new farmworker membership organization that recruits, trains and dispatches farmworkers to agricultural employers in Mexico and the United States.  Joe is dedicated to developing a safe recruitment, verification/assurance system that will prevent recruitment fraud, debt peonage, trafficking and slavery for farmworkers.  Joe has trained and worked to provide a safe, confidential space where workers can develop skills, and build the mutual trust that is necessary to overcome fear and to facilitate their full participation in the value creation process at the farm.

    Patrick McLaughlin

    Patrick McLaughlin is a Kansas native and aspired as a youth to practice the healing arts of medicine.  Through church mission work in rural Appalachia, then internships and coursework while in seminary at Emory’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, he connected in new ways to scripture, the land, and the healing call of pastor.  He began to recognize that wholeness of people is inextricably bound to the healing and stewardship of creation.  He is resolute that the paradigm shift our culture needs to find wholeness is literally a return to our roots. To do this, he believes that the church must take a more active pastoral and prophetic role in speaking truth to the powers of capitalism and democracy, rural flight and urbanization, and wealth and poverty, while also remaining committed to gathering at Christ’s Table for human and Holy dispensations of grace and mercy. He believes that as we reconnect with people over the food we raise and eat together, whether in fields, pastures, or at Christ’s Table, we will experience the Body of Christ and God’s Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. These commitments enliven Patrick’s passion for the church and God’s plan for it to make the world whole again.

    Samantha Miller

    Samantha Miller gains inspiration exploring the intersections of environmental and social justice issues, largely through a faith-based lens. She has studied biology, international development, food systems, and environmental justice—recently she completed an MS in Natural Resources and Environment through the University of Michigan.  Currently, Samantha works with a few organizations: she provides resources to houses of worship towards energy efficiency with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, writes grants for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and helps to coordinate the Food Justice and Sovereignty Workgroup through Michigan State University. Samantha makes her home in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Kyle Mitchell

    Kyle Mitchell’s BA degree in Church Ministry led him to teach Religious Education at Kodaikanal International Boarding School in India from 2008 to 2010. While there, one of his students wanted to plant carrots in Kyle’s backyard. Three months later, much to his surprise and delight, the carrot seeds had produced beautiful carrots! This miracle of seed to carrot changed his life so much that he and his wife decided to drop their jobs and go on a farming journey. For 2 years, they interned on organic farms in Vermont, Florida, and Central America. Since 2013, he has been a job coach and assistant farm manager on an urban farm that gives job opportunities and training to adults with developmental disabilities. He and his wife are the founders and coordinators of Project Grow, a youth gardening program dedicated to raising awareness of real food and gardening in their neighborhood. In his spare time Kyle enjoys hanging out in the backyard with his chickens and rabbits, thinking about soil, and trying to figure out how to compost through the long Cleveland winters.

    Katera Moore

    Katera Moore is an urban geographer.  She is the Director of Community Food Education Programs at the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania.  Katera’s previous experience was teaching undergraduate courses in addition to developing and delivering place-based informal science education programming for urban middle and high school students.  She loves to cook (and eat) and is passionate about addressing inequities in the food production and distribution system. Katera received both her BA in Urban Studies and her Masters of Environmental Studies from Penn. Her passion for environmental justice issues led her to pursue a PhD in Earth & Environmental Science and certificate in Africana Studies at The Graduate Center in New York. Her dissertation focused on environmental justice in post-industrial Philadelphia.

    Eva Moss

    Eva Moss grew up in the US Foreign Service and received her BA in anthropology from Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Her research and involvement there focused on religious and intentional communities, as well as local food systems. Since then, Eva has worked with various small-scale farms, businesses, and regionally focused non-profit organizations in North Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Vermont, whereby she has learned from a diversity of sustainable development and regenerative agriculture models. Her vocation in food and agriculture was first inspired by her volunteer work with the Sisters of the Community of St. Mary – Southern Province, an Episcopal Benedictine order to which she will become an associate. Currently, Eva is pursuing a Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP) degree at Vermont Law School. She plans to continue her journey through community-based efforts in support of our farmers, local agricultural wisdom, and the connection that comes from communities formed around food, stewardship, and faith in Creation and each other.

    Monique Stone

    Monique Stone is a Priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, serving as the Incumbent of a three-point parish in the rural-fringe area of the Nation’s Capital. In partnership with her community she has led the church to adopt a variety of food justice initiatives including the Neighbourhood Tomato, a small community garden on the property that provides fresh food to the local Food Access Centre. Monique is relatively new to ordained ministry, having enjoyed a lengthy career as a public engagement specialist in the areas of environmental and social sustainability at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. Her consulting work included projects in the area of climate change, transit infrastructure, urban tree protection, brownfield redevelopment, rural and urban community relations, and urban planning. Over the past two years Monique has been a key leader in the development of a long-term strategic plan for the Anglican Diocese entitled Embracing God’s Future. In her spare time she hangs out with her husband, two kids, and two English-Bulldogs.

    Nathan Stucky

    Nathan Stucky serves as Director of the Farminary Project at Princeton Theological Seminary. Nathan grew up on a farm in Kansas where his love for Christian faith and agriculture first took root. After earning a B.A. in Music from Bethel College (KS), Nathan spent six years doing ecumenical youth ministry on the eastern shore of Maryland and two years farming back in Kansas. After farming, Nathan earned an M.Div. and a Ph.D. (Practical Theology, Christian Education and Formation) from Princeton Theological Seminary. His most recent scholarship considers the integration of theological education and agrarianism, and he sees the Farminary as a locus for enacting that integration. Ordained in the Mennonite Church (USA), Nathan engages Farminary work as integral to his calling to teaching ministry. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.

    Sara Wolcott

    Sara Wolcott is an artist, writer, speaker and minister concerned with climate change. Her concern has taken her to live, research, and work in Africa, Indonesia, India, the UK and now NYC. While working in the intersections of health and agriculture in Tamil Nadu, India, she discovered the critical importance of music, art, dance and other cultural and religious forms. She now attends Union Theological Seminary where she focuses on eco-theology, inter-spiritual engagement and the arts. She has been developing thinking around the potential use of Sabbath for enabling the sustainable development goals and the power of re-telling the story of climate change from the Doctrine of Discovery.  She is an active board member of the Quaker Institute for the Future, the first Quaker think tank dedicated to integrating intellectual and spiritual resources to understand complex economic and ecological concerns. She also loves cloud-watching and listening to live music, preferably at the same time.

    Joy Williams, Returning 2015 Fellow

    In her capacity as the Regional Consultant for the Central South-East Region of NC with Partners in Health and Wholeness, an initiative of the NC Council of Churches, Joy has partnered with ten congregations to increase healthy local foods for the region through church gardens, cooking demonstrations, and food preservation classes. These churches and several others find ways to network together to gain and share resources to create change within the food system using sustainable practices.  Any activity, whether it is holding a youth conference where the youth are running the workshops or building your own low cost fresh vegetable/fruit juice meal plan or starting a church garden, is done with a mindfulness to protect people and the planet in a just way.  She believes strongly in an ecumenical and multi-cultural approach to working with faith communities. She has a blast organizing culturally sensitive meetings where you might find the group of Lumbee, Latino, Black and White adults singing worship songs, praying in once accord, playing games for team building, and collaborating together on improving access to healthy local foods.

  • 2017 Fellows

    Monica Banks

    Monica Banks was raised by her baptist grandparents in Eastern Nebraska.  Monica’s grandmother always said, “Leave a seat for Jesus at the table.”  She spent most of her career as a restaurant manager and corporate trainer, opening restaurants in Kansas City, Omaha, Scottsdale, and New York.  In 2016 Monica co-founded New Communion: Mobile Market and Pantry, an asset-based model of community development centered around food insecurity in the Winston-Salem area.  Monica is currently a candidate for ordination with the North Carolina Commission on Ministry of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is passionate about the biblical narrative of “shared abundance” and believes that real reconciliation begins at the Table.  The experience of the Eucharist outside the walls of the church allows us to truly experience the gospel. Monica is a wife, mother, and current 3rd year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

    Sam Chamelin

    The Rev. Sam Chamelin is proud to call Carroll County, MD home, where he grew up on a family dairy farm and where he now serves as an ordained clergyperson in the United Church of Christ.  Sam is the founder of The Keep & Till, a new church expression founded on the principles of spiritual formation, sustainable agriculture, and ecological responsibility.  He also serves as the Sustainability Coordinator at Gettysburg Seminary (ELCA), where he develops sustainability competencies and sensibilities for a new generation of ministry leaders.  He also serves on a variety of local agricultural boards and councils, where he is a voice for sustainable agriculture and an advocate for ongoing conversation within the diverse elements of the agricultural community.  He is most proud to be husband to Jennie and father to Caleb, Charlotte, and Brenna.

    Eugene Cook

    Eugene Cooke began working in the urban agriculture movement in Southern California. He was baptized in urban gardening with a full immersion mentorship with Adonijah Miyamura El in Los Angeles, developing Food Forestry at Crenshaw High school. The apprenticeship deepened Eugene’s awareness of the vital need to restore the soil and encourage tree and vegetable growth in urban areas. Eugene met Rashid Nuri in Los Angeles, and after two years of planning, they both came to Atlanta in 2006 to begin Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. Since then, Eugene has continued growing his skills by traveling nationally and internationally to learn from exemplary local food systems. Eugene has worked in Jamaica with One Love Learning Foundation, in Haiti with League of Hope, and he traveled to Kenya twice to absorb the rich possibilities of small-scale, intensive local food systems. After years of working as an independent contractor supporting urban agriculture organizations, Eugene established Grow Where You Are LLC, to create a structure for the collaborative efforts of local food heroes to yield tangible results.

    Nikki Cooley

    Nikki Cooley serves as the co-manager for the Tribal Climate Change Program at the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP). She is of the Diné (Navajo) Nation by way of Shonto and Blue Gap, AZ, and is of the Towering House Clan, born for the Reed People Clan, maternal grandfathers are of the Water that Flows Together Clan, and paternal grandfathers are of the Manygoats Clan. Nikki received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Forestry (emphasis in ecological restoration and traditional ecological knowledge) from Northern Arizona University (NAU). For her undergraduate and Master’s studies she has worked extensively with the Cherokee Tribe of North Carolina, and now works at ITEP with tribes across the nation, including Alaska, on learning about and planning for the adaptation to current and future climate change effects. In addition, as a river guide and cultural interpreter working on the Colorado River-Grand Canyon and San Juan River, Nikki is the co-founder of the Native American River Guide Training Program and Fifth World Discoveries, was the first Native American President and Vice-President of the Grand Canyon River Guides Association (GCRG), and is a former associate director of the Native Voices Program. She also served a six year term as the first Native American to serve on the board of the Grand Canyon Association (GCA). She is very passionate about advocating for and education about the protection and preservation of the environment and its resources. Nikki fluently speaks her Navajo language and culture, and is committed to encouraging people to continue the path of a holistic respect and knowledge towards food and life.

    Emma Garcia

    Emma Garcia’s journey into work within the food system began in the charitable food sector. After 5 years of coordinating activity among food pantries and other charity sites, Emma began getting to know local small farms and developed connections with organizations across the food system. Feeling as though her eyes had been opened to an unfamiliar and important world, Emma found herself listening to webinars on soil and talking about social determinants of health – there was much to discover within the many facets of the food system. In the last two years Emma has focused her work at the intersection of food security, food justice, health equity, and Christian community development. As the Co-Executive Director of Access of West Michigan, Emma regularly presents on food system topics to a variety of audiences and chairs the Kent County Food Policy Council formation team and the food security workgroup of Invest Health Grand Rapids. Emma holds an M.A. in Ministry Leadership from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Emma and her husband live in Grand Rapids, Michigan in an intentional community house with 6 other individuals and are active in the Boiler Room and 24/7 Prayer networks.

    Matt Gundlach

    Matt Gundlach serves as Garden Coordinator for Blackburn Community Outreach, a Methodist-based non-profit in the rural mountain town of Todd, NC. Matt manages two biointensive garden plots, distributing produce to low-income households in the area, while also facilitating garden internships and volunteer workdays. He is currently working to expand the garden’s reach with both a market/CSA model and a full permaculture design for Blackburn’s Chapel UMC’s property. Matt grew up in Southern California, and after graduating from Biola University spent a volunteer year with Mission Year in Houston, TX, followed by an internship at Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA, which ignited his passion for learning and teaching about sustainable agriculture. Matt is a certified permaculture designer, a poet, a lay teacher at Blackburn’s Chapel UMC, and lives with his wife, Jaimie, who is also on staff with BCO.

    Jonathan McRay

    Jonathan McRay is a farmer, ecological designer, writer, and community peacebuilder committed to the regenerative use of energy from the sun to rushing water, from calories to conflict. He grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee and worked in Palestine/Israel as a journalist, in nonviolent direct action in rural villages, and with a therapeutic community before learning on a community farm and resource center in Mozambique. He also assisted with an action research initiative for watershed restoration, served as the sustainability curriculum coordinator for a small university, co-facilitated the Uprooting Racism Farmer Immersion at Soul Fire Farm, and, for the last several years, lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where he primarily worked with Vine and Fig, a neighborhood education center and therapeutic community that cultivates and celebrates works of mercy, social justice, and ecological health to build a society in which it’s easier to be good. Jonathan is returning home to the Cumberland River watershed of Tennessee to practice his vocation near family.

    Dave Pritchett

    Dave Pritchett grew up the child of missionaries in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, and is grateful for a formative childhood living alongside an indigenous culture. Now he lives in Portland, Oregon, and as an associate medical director for a detoxification center and as a permaculture teacher and designer, he works for the health and recovery of both people and landscapes.  His research and writing combines his curiosity at the interface of ecology and theology, and he has an essay in the recently released Watershed Discipleship Anthology edited by Ched Myers. He enjoys volunteering his skills in organizations like Ecofaith Recoveryand Portland Fruit Tree Project, and cherishes time spent with the Wilderness Way community.

    Alex Raabe

    Alex Raabe is the founding pastor of Table of Mercy, a dinner church in Austin, TX with roots in both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Episcopal Church. Table of Mercy is centered on the belief that there is a need for a community of people excited about food but who hunger for something more. He is also beginning a partnership with a local Episcopal priest in creating a pop up farm church in Austin which is forming a faithful community connecting people, food, and the land. He is passionate about helping people understand where food comes from and how it connects us to God and one another. Working with both dinner church and farm church allows him to proclaim God’s presence in people’s lives from the seed to the harvest and from ground to plate.  He believes gardening, care for creation, and cooking with strangers is a subversive act of faith that unites us in a world which seeks to keep us separate. Alex is a graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (’14) and is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

    Elizabeth Richardson

    Elizabeth (Liz) Richardson is currently serving as Assistant Director of Plenty!, a non-profit organization that nourishes community and feeds hungry neighbors by growing and sharing food in Floyd County, Virginia. She is also a faculty member at Springhouse Community School, where she helps facilitate a culture of connection to self, community and the earth via project-based learning for 7th-12th grade students. Liz grew up on a large family farm on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, which instilled a deep respect for the land and water that sustain us. Study abroad and research opportunities during her time at Virginia Tech furthered her interest in our complex food and agriculture systems, and provided a global perspective from places such as Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. Her vocation is driven by a desire to cultivate self-empowerment within others, restore reverence for creation, and serve from an attitude of gratitude and generosity.

    Danny Szemple

    Danny Szemple is a farmer-theologian, essayist, and seminarian at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He has served two seasons as a farming intern at the Lord’s Acre in Fairview, NC and currently serves as a project manager and chaplain at Peacehaven Community Farm in Whitsett, NC. Danny has published a number of essays on a variety of topics including social justice, food, ecology, and creation care. He is currently working on his first book on the subject of eco-liturgy titled, “With Our Hands in the Earth: Experiments in Eco-Liturgy.”

    Kendall Vanderslice

    Kendall Vanderslice is a baker and writer convinced that food and reconciliation go hand in hand. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Wheaton College (IL) and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, where she studied the importance of the meal in fostering community. As the Head Baker at Simple Church, a United Methodist dinner church in Central Massachusetts, Kendall shares with others her love for a faith made known through the tactile, the taste of bread. She’s a liturgy-loving Anglican based in Somerville, MA, and blogs about the intersection of food, faith, and culture at www.AVandersliceoftheSweetLife.com.

  • Fellow Reflections

    “This experience has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about issues surrounding faith, food, and God’s Creation…I look forward to building on relationships and experiences I have had and I know I will never forget it. Thank you!”

    Kelly Schaefer

     

    “I have never attended another leadership program which so seamlessly integrated so many diverse disciplines, let alone with such an intentional focus on searching and applying scripture. It gives me hope that God truly is reconciling all things unto himself and making all things new. It also validates my desire to apply more systems- and ecological thinking in my church-based and Public Health ministry.”

    Justin Fast

     

    “I’ve never been in a group of people that so deeply cared about the environment and their faith. It’s a connection that I have long felt, but never been as encouraged to work at the intersection of before. There was no sense of desperation or self-righteousness about having to, or being able to fix it all, rather a humility and a joy in doing the work that we are called to.”

    Catherine Goggins

     

    “This experience allowed me to include my faith as a vital aspect of my leadership development.”

    Joy Williams

     

    “The experience was an opportunity to open up about our faith, passions and struggles with others who are going through similar experiences… Overall it was a tremendously rich and inspirational experience that will carry me forward in the months, and hopefully years, ahead.” 

    Kelly Moltzen

     

    “It was great making connections with people across the country working on similar things, getting ideas, and building a network.”

    Cherice Bock

     

    “The most useful thing to me overall was the opportunity to glean wisdom from such a diverse group of young leaders–so many different perspectives, traditions, and life experiences to learn from.”

    Nadia Stefko